Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
elduderino12
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby elduderino12 » 8 Jul 2015, 10:01am

A shameless plug.

but I have this for sale in the classifieds.

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The perfect tool for the job if the sizing is right.

XT gearing - handbuilt wheels . New bottom bracket and chainset. Ergon grips etc

I believe Alastair Humphreys cycled the length of Africa on a Hardrock :D

iviehoff
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby iviehoff » 8 Jul 2015, 12:03pm

MartinBrice wrote: given that they know so little about bikes that they need to ask on here, they should phone Thorn and buy something new from them, after taking their advice.

I think that's a bit unfair. I've done plenty of expedition touring, learned the hard way by having my bike components and luggage racks fail in remote countries, etc, But there are still many technical details I would come here to ask. I would also come here to ask questions to make sure Thorn/Roberts/etc was selling me what I really needed.

There are people who head off to the wilds without having prior experience of tough cycle touring, and just ease their way into it, and who perhaps might not have done it if they had realised in advance what they were attempting. But more often I have also come across people who went off cycling to adventurous places and found it all too much, and didn't have good instincts on how to keep going. Perhaps OP might benefit from buying a copy of Stephen Lord's Adventure Cycle Touring Handbook to help put things in context.

The thing about Subsaharan Africa one needs to appreciate is that one is 100 times more likely to catch malaria there than Asia, and malaria prophylactics are not suitable for long term usage. I know quite a few "old Africa hands" who got malaria eventually. I've been cycling in some less developed countries on other continents, and really enjoy it, but it is the factor that makes me think twice about a long tour in Subsaharan Africa.

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horizon
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby horizon » 8 Jul 2015, 12:22pm

iviehoff wrote:
The thing about Subsaharan Africa one needs to appreciate is that one is 100 times more likely to catch malaria there than Asia, and malaria prophylactics are not suitable for long term usage.


My experience of Ghana, although I wasn't cycling, showed me that the bike is the least of your problems. Culture shock is the biggest IMV.

What the OP got right was to choose a simple, hardy type of bike with 26" wheels. He should be applauded for that and I hope he/she comes back to tell us more about their plans.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

simonhill
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby simonhill » 8 Jul 2015, 12:58pm

I agree. What snobs. Thorn are at the top end of bikes, some would say overpriced and overrated.

Looking for a steel frame old style MTB is a good idea. I did plenty of long haul touring on a converted GT mountain bike. We would do better to be advising on what to look for, what parts need upgrading, etc. The bike posted above looks like a good starting point.

Also, this is all a bit simplistic and maybe we need to know a bit more about the plan before we make too many recommendations.

MartinBrice
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby MartinBrice » 8 Jul 2015, 4:31pm

I'd like to know how front racks would be attached to those forks firmly enough to withstand the battering of African roads. And I'd agree Thorn are top-end. And what sort of bike exactly would you think might be needed for a tour lasting several months on African roads?

iviehoff
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby iviehoff » 8 Jul 2015, 6:24pm

MartinBrice wrote:I'd like to know how front racks would be attached to those forks firmly enough to withstand the battering of African roads. And I'd agree Thorn are top-end. And what sort of bike exactly would you think might be needed for a tour lasting several months on African roads?

I don't have braze-ons for front pannier racks, but nevertheless you can fit good pannier racks using traditional U-clamps. Admittedly now that I have stopped using the very heavy steel rack that a welder in Argentina knocked up for me when I destroyed a Blackburn on day 3 of my 10 months in the Andes, I did have to do some home-made alterations to a steel tubus front rack to make it compatible with some Blackburn U-clamps I wanted to fit it to, but that was only drilling out a threadless bolt-hole to fit a larger bolt.

For a rough roads long tour, on a low budget, but not wanting to ride a LDC 1-speed tank, the minimalist approach is:

A strong steel frame such as on a simple mountain bike of reasonable quality, no suspension
Steel pannier racks
Components that depend on nothing too fancy so you can replace them, if necessary, with the kind of basic components you'll get anywhere
Probably a good idea for your smallest chain ring to be steel
Some strong wheels
Probably a good bottom bracket that won't need replacing

When I went on a long tour to the Andes, I knew I needed steel racks, but hardly anyone had steel racks unless they welded them themselves, or had them custom built, and the latter wasn't possible at only 2 months notice. Had I known that they were available retail on the continent, I could have had them sent mail order, but no one had heard of them. Thus I broke my racks on tour - I got a welder to make a front rack, and was lucky to get a second hand Blackburn off an Australian when my rear rack packed up, which just about made it to the end. These days Tubus is widely sold, so you can do it much more easily.

But I know I did learn a lot about being self-sufficient on a bicycle from highland rough tours in Scotland and other European countries, where the consequences of problems can be handled more easily when you can't sort it yourself. And by starting my Andean tour in Chile/Argentina, where there was an intermediate level of assistance, I did my further learning gradually.

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Sweep
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby Sweep » 8 Jul 2015, 7:36pm

shane wrote:
Fly to Africa, Buy a local Chinese made pigeon( or whatever the local name is) bike and start pedalling. They cost about $150-300 new and only have one gear. But...Every village then has spare parts and nothing is impossible on those things.

What an adventure

Wonderful pics shane. Thank you.
Sweep

MartinBrice
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby MartinBrice » 9 Jul 2015, 9:21pm

iviehoff wrote: the minimalist approach is:
A strong steel frame such as on a simple mountain bike of reasonable quality, no suspension
Steel pannier racks
Components that depend on nothing too fancy so you can replace them, if necessary, with the kind of basic components you'll get anywhere
Probably a good idea for your smallest chain ring to be steel
Some strong wheels
Probably a good bottom bracket that won't need replacing

Agreed, and that is pretty close to what you'd have if you bought a secondhand Thorn Sherpa. Big something cheap and nasty then putting decent wheels on it could cost a couple of hundred quid, racks are close to £100 each, and replacing the drivetrain can be pricey. A Thorn Sherpa can be had for about £1,300, used from Thorn would be a good starting point.

iviehoff wrote:These days Tubus is widely sold, so you can do it much more easily.
Agreed, I saw many in Patagonia that had problems with aluminium racks. Thorn do good steel ones, I never had any problem with them.

Also I'd add 26 inch wheels - this is not always obvious and some finish up with Galaxies or the like with 700c, which are tricky to fix and find tyres for.

tommaso
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby tommaso » 10 Jul 2015, 7:57pm

Hello, my suggests are: 1- leaving home pedaling, use a cheap bike on that budget (not that Ridgeback, the fork is bent). Try for an old, second hand, steel, rigid mountain bike (Treck 720, Specy rockhopper), or also try for an entry level Decathlon MTB. Going through Europe, before to arrive in Africa will show you if the bike can afford the travel. Anyway you can easily get back if it falls apart. 2- Flying to Africa, save the money of shipping it and buy something there, some chinese MTB or african bike. Better anyway start a found rising between friends, friends of friends, girlfriends and hidden lovers to buy something cheap but good enough for this journey. Enjoy your route Tommaso (sorry for my english, I'm italian and leave in Italy)

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b1ke
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby b1ke » 11 Jul 2015, 9:37pm

A strong steel frame such as on a simple mountain bike of reasonable quality, no suspension
Steel pannier racks
Components that depend on nothing too fancy so you can replace them, if necessary, with the kind of basic components you'll get anywhere
Probably a good idea for your smallest chain ring to be steel
Some strong wheels
Probably a good bottom bracket that won't need replacing


I'd go along with that.

An old 90s Kona, Specialized, Orange or a multitude of others would fit the bill. No need for a Thorn, unless you particularly want one. I'm heading down to Africa in October on an old Tange steel framed mountain bike that cost me £65. The racks are steel, but beyond that, there's nothing special about it.

It's got mounts for a rear rack already and I'll use the Tubus front rack mounting set...

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The bike has two bottle cage mounts and I'll add a third under the downtube hopefully with something like this...

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http://www.farewellburt.wordpress.com - Europe on a Tandem....
http://www.thespokeandwords.wordpress.com - West Africa on a Tandem....

greyingbeard
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby greyingbeard » 12 Jul 2015, 5:31pm

nowt to do with m, take a look at this

Specialized Hardrock Sport - 18" Commuter/Tourer

in the for-sale section on here.

steel mtb tourer with lots of good bits and new bits, should do the job. £150

andymiller
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby andymiller » 13 Jul 2015, 2:07pm

MartinBrice wrote:A daft question. This is a trip costing thousands and the OP wants to do it on a crap bike from eBay: given that they know so little about bikes that they need to ask on here, they should phone Thorn and buy something new from them, after taking their advice. The bike needs to be in tiptop condition: steel racks front and rear - not aluminium. Good quality wheels, 26 inch so they can be replaced. Bottom bracket that can be changed in Africa. Saddle that fits and is comfy for several months at a time. And good tent/sleeping bag/stove, etc.


On internet forums I've often seen the advice to buy an 80s MTB and customise it. A better bet IMO would be to buy a modern steel-framed MTB or MTB frame. The On-One 456 would be my recommendation. The only negative is that it only has one set of battle mounts - but that's something that's relatively easy to work around.

I'd second what you say about steel pannier racks. I don't know whether I am particularly unlucky but I've had problems with both Ortlieb and Vaude panniers so that I now always use 50mm webbing straps to take some stress off the pannier clips and to add a level of security if the break or come undone. I have to say though that recently I have started to think - 'well maybe a trailer wouldn't be such a bad idea': no more worries about stressing the frame, back wheel, or pannier racks - all you have to do is resist the temptation to use their full capacity.

Transmission: I've downgraded to 8-speed so that I could use a stainless steel middle chainring (Surly) and inner chainring. The gear change was initially a bit fussy, but now works fine. Chains seem to be lasting longer then the 9-speed.

I always carry a spare BB cups/bearings and tools to change them. Unless you go the route of buying the 'pigeon or whatever it's called' so you have coterie cranks you might find it difficult to get the parts you need - even in western Europe bike shops often only carry a very limited stock of spare parts.

Lots of experience if you're going to cross Africa, which the OP obviously does not have. My advice is get a job, save loads of money, get a brand new top of the range expedition bike, do many camping tours and only then, go to Africa. It takes years to pick up the needed skills.


Well maybe. Setting off on a really long tour with absolutely no experience of cycle touring and camping always seems to to be a really bad idea, so I'd definitely recommend a shorter tour so you have at least some if of what you might be letting yourself in for - but as others have said people have set off with relatively little experience and learnt as they go along.

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Sweep
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby Sweep » 13 Jul 2015, 6:32pm

andymiller wrote:
On internet forums I've often seen the advice to buy an 80s MTB and customise it. A better bet IMO would be to buy a modern steel-framed MTB or MTB frame. The On-One 456 would be my recommendation. .


Interesting - is it this?:

http://www.on-one.co.uk/i/q/FROO456E2/o ... escription

I'm not very technical on the mysteries of metal, but I get nervous about anything promoting itself on lightness and in the description it says:


"That tubing? It's double butted 4130 cromoly steel with tube sections varying from 1.0mm to just 0.6mm in places."

Isn't that a bit thin for an expedition bike?
Sweep

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shane
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby shane » 13 Jul 2015, 6:58pm

Sweep wrote:
"That tubing? It's double butted 4130 cromoly steel with tube sections varying from 1.0mm to just 0.6mm in places."

Isn't that a bit thin for an expedition bike?


My touring frame has 0.9 to 0.5mm(though slightly higher quality steel) and has cycled 11,000km through Africa plus the same again in Europe. So long as you don't hit it with a hammer or let airport baggage apes loose on it its fine.

Some light reading from its builder :) >> Tubes

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Sweep
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Re: Choosing bike for African tour and beyond

Postby Sweep » 13 Jul 2015, 7:18pm

Thanks for the swift reassurance :)

I have dented one frame (though don't think it's critical) and have maybe been spoilt by a somewhat cheap other old frame which does feel as if I could hit it with a hammer :)
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