Bicycle components and accessories
Your cycling journey should be fun. Your bicycle should be in good condition. What bicycle components and accessories should you use? On this page we give you an introduction into, what we believe are the best bicycle components.
A bicycle has many components, so lets have a look at some of the more important accessories including the bike hard ware as frame, brakes, shifters, levers etc. and the choice of your bicycle bags.
There are two ways to look at a new bicycle: you buy a bicycle of a specific brand or you build (or let it build for you) a bicycle. The choice is not easy.
The more you learn about bicycles, the more you find in every bicycle an element you would like to see different. However, when you start investigating your bicycle, the first thing you will check is the frame.
A touring bike should have solid rims. Again, the weight of the rim is of less importance compared to the strength. I have been using several types over the years.
During my first long journey I was using a Mavic X517 rim. This was recommended to me, at the time and soon I found out this was NOT the rim I needed. It was too light for what I did. I had an argument about it with the manufacturer of my bicycle, Koga Miyata, who claimed it was much "lighter" then the Mavic D rim. The D rim was about 200 gram or so lighter.
I have later on used Mavic D rims which were excellent. During a bicycle journey in Laos, I cycled into a whole which damaged my Mavic rim completely.
In Bangkok I changed to Bontrager Mustang, which turned out to be equally great. The back wheels was faster wearing out than the front wheel.
In 2007 I change that to a Rhyno Lite rim, which I still have as spare. But in 2011, the front Bontrager was worn out too.
That was the moment to change back to Mavic X618. Like the Bontrager and the Mavic D this is an excellent and rock steady rim which is probably one of the best for bicycle touring.
Touring bicycle racks
What will be your choice for your favorite touring bicycle rack? The discussion goes on and on. I have had several different racks and here is my story with bad racks.
The story for a good rack is the same as the story for a good rim. Better a little more weight then an easy breaking rack. At this moment Tubus is the best possible option.
My own front rack is solid iron, maybe a bit heavy but in case something breaks I can easily let it weld on the road. It was handmade in Simao, took 2 hours and US$ 8 and has never caused problems in the last 5 years.
Is Shimano the best and only option for your bicycle components? Of course not. However, I like them as they are easily available.
In many cities in Asia, I was able to do repairs with cheap Shimano materials, despite the fact the cheaper Shimano materials were of lesser quality, I still prefer it over other no name brands.
The best way is, of course, the have a spare set of the most fragile material with you.
My bicycle is using mostly the Shimano XT or XTR but some is simple LX. The discussion about what is the best mostly depends on personal experiences.
What is your pedal choice? There seems to be an endless choice of pedals available. How do you choose the pedal which is right for your bicycle journey. Clipless? Toe clips?
Or just ordinary flat pedals? A simple question it may seem, but it requires a bit of preparation before you leave.
Of all bicycle accessories, brakes are of some of the most important things on your bicycle. Although many touring bikes still are equipped with V-brakes, it might be worth to have a good look at the brake of your choice. Safety, as usual, comes first
Bicycle panniers and bicycle bags
Some cyclists do not pay much attention to their bags. "As long as I can carry my stuff, it's good enough", some say. However, using good bags makes your journey more comfortable.
Good solid panniers are another essential part of your bicycle.
You want to keep your clothes and spare parts dry and at the same time your bags needs to be comfortable, easy to use and light weighted. You do have to carry them some of the times.
Bicycle Handlebar and saddle bags
Are you going to use a saddle bag or a handlebar bag? I've been using both and my choice for long distance cycling is a handlebars bag.
The reason is that under the saddle I have some extra space to slide my tent and sleeping bag. It depends of course how you pack.
Maintenance is essential, bring spare parts, lubricant and some old cloth. And yes, your bicycle will perform better if you keep it clean. Some cyclists I met don't care about that, but I feel better on a clean bike.
Of clothes are important too. Are you going to use cycling jersey or shorts? How about overshoes with cycling sandals? Or would you prefer to use cycling shoes? Most important question is... where are you going to cycle? Is it in cold areas, then you need something that dries fast and easy but at the same time is warm. In tropical climate a cycling jersey might be too warm (for me at least). Here is more about cycling clothes
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Never go out on the road before you have read our recommendations regarding the materials you should bring!