Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
Amateur John
Posts: 7
Joined: 9 Jun 2020, 11:56am

Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Amateur John » 9 Jun 2020, 12:31pm

I'm planning to ride LEJOG in a couple of years time and am just starting to get a budget together. I currently have a Ridgeback Meteor 2015 which has been a very reliable bike but in my opinion a little sluggish and heavy. Would I benifit significantly from a bike upgrade or would this bike suffice? If I would benefit then what improvement can I expect?

I would like to cover about 70-100 miles per day, depending on terrain on mainly cycle trails and quiet roads so any improvement would be welcome. I plan to travel via b&bs.

I don't mind spending the money if I get an improvement, but I am a complete amateur on this and with so much choice don't know where to start. At what point do you start to spend hundreds of pound extra just for very small gains. Any advice will be extremely useful.

rotavator
Posts: 467
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby rotavator » 9 Jun 2020, 1:39pm

a little sluggish and heavy
would describe a lot of dedicated touring bikes IMHO :lol: so think carefully before you splash the cash on a new bike.

Ask yourself:
1. Is it comfortable for say 7 hours in the saddle?
2. Is bottom gear low enough for you to get up the hills whilst loaded?
3.. Does it have the fittings for rack/s and mudguards?

If you answer yes to Q. 1-3 then I would use the bike. If your current tyres seem slow or are worn a worthwhile upgrade could be some new tyres, may be Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.
Last edited by rotavator on 9 Jun 2020, 2:00pm, edited 1 time in total.

whoof
Posts: 2365
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby whoof » 9 Jun 2020, 1:49pm

Your hybrid bike has a reasonable spread of gears and whilst by no means light at about 14kg is about the same as most touring bikes.
Three things affect how fast or easy cycling is. Fitness, weight and wind resistance.and comfort

You have a couple of years to work on fitness. 70-100 miles a day and day after day is a reasonable distance especially in the lumpy regions of the country or if you are riding all day into a head wind.

If you change your bike to a tourer you won't save a great deal of weight. If you changed to a road/racing style bike you could easily reduce by 4kg. However you could end up with a lot higher gearing on narrower tyres that you might find less comfortable (or possibly not). You might also be a bit more aerodynamic.

What tyres have you got? This can make a fair bit of difference.As you have a couple of years I would consider changing tyres, work on fitness and what you are going to be carrying with you. For ten to twelve days using B&Bs you should be able to get everything you need into something like a rack top or saddle bag and a bar bag.Try weighing things you are planning to take and see if you have lighter alternatives.For instance for evening wear jeans can weigh four times more than a pair of lightweight trousers. Have a few weekend practices and see how things go.

Amateur John
Posts: 7
Joined: 9 Jun 2020, 11:56am

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Amateur John » 9 Jun 2020, 4:28pm

Tyres fitted are Schwalbe Marathon 700x38c 28x150 and are still in reasonably good condition. Is it worth changing these? The bike only cost £250 new and I bought it mainly for commuting. Wasn't sure that I would commit to commuting loads, hence the low price paid, but turns out that I commute most days a week, 9 months a year.

Bike already has mudguards and panniers and I often load them up with bags to store my work clothes in. I have run for a club for many years so my general fitness is not an issue, but being ride fit is another matter, which I wlll improve over time by switching some of my running to more cycling. I currently weigh about 80kg so could drop that a little.

I'm just interested to know what sort of improvements i can make and what the difference is between a £250 bike and a £1,000 bike. When I look at other people that tour, their bikes are always much more expensive than mine. I would like this trip to be as enjoyable as possible and worry that my bike may not be up to the job. As I said, I'm happy to spend more but only if necessary.

whoof
Posts: 2365
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby whoof » 9 Jun 2020, 5:31pm

Amateur John wrote:Tyres fitted are Schwalbe Marathon 700x38c 28x150 and are still in reasonably good condition. Is it worth changing these? The bike only cost £250 new and I bought it mainly for commuting. Wasn't sure that I would commit to commuting loads, hence the low price paid, but turns out that I commute most days a week, 9 months a year.

Bike already has mudguards and panniers and I often load them up with bags to store my work clothes in. I have run for a club for many years so my general fitness is not an issue, but being ride fit is another matter, which I wlll improve over time by switching some of my running to more cycling. I currently weigh about 80kg so could drop that a little.

I'm just interested to know what sort of improvements i can make and what the difference is between a £250 bike and a £1,000 bike. When I look at other people that tour, their bikes are always much more expensive than mine. I would like this trip to be as enjoyable as possible and worry that my bike may not be up to the job. As I said, I'm happy to spend more but only if necessary.


Marathon are a fine tyre for loaded touring I've been using them in either 1.75 or 2" with 26" wheels for loaded camping touring for the last 18 years. For 15 years this was on a mountain bike that i bought for £45 and converted to a tourer and probably ended up costing about £200. For the past three years I've had a Surly LHT (rrp£1200) that i bought second hand for £500. The different between the two bikes is the more expensive one has better; fittings for racks and mud guards, heel clearance for the rear panniers and when carrying a really heavy load the more expensive bike feels more nimble going around corners. It is not any faster either on the flat or up hill. Both bike have approximately the same riding position. Due to the upgrades i made on the MTB they have similar standard components and therefore the braking and gearing system are of a similar standard and ratios.
If one was significantly cheaper than the other they might not work as well or might not last as long.

Do you have any problems with your gears or brakes?


Personally if i do a B&B tour i do so on an Aluminium road/racing Bike that's about 10kg with light 25 mm tyres (that's as wide as i can fit would fit a bit wider if i could).
I don't carry much stuff. It should be noted that many would not agree with this. I come from a bike racing background and are perfectly comfortable on an aluminium road bike with narrow hard tyres riding in a bent over position. I also weigh 66kg and I'm 173cm.

I would say as you have two years that your tyres are going to wear out sometime, if you are putting in the miles for LEJOG and when you put on new ones try Vittoria Hypers the folding ones with a high TPI not the cheap wired ones from planet X. Also can you preferably borrow a road bike from someone to try? Alternatively test ride one from a shop but this will not give you an idea of how it feels after a few hours.
If you do go down this route make sure you have low enough gears to ride comfortably through Cornwall and Devon.

Amateur John
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Joined: 9 Jun 2020, 11:56am

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Amateur John » 9 Jun 2020, 9:46pm

Don't have any problems with the gears or brakes, just need to adjust the brakes now and then. The mudguards that came with the bike rattle over bumps a lot because the metal attachments to the wheel are too thin. Will want to replace them.

Will definitely consider the Vittoria Hypers or similar when needing to replace them. Should I go for thinner ones? Can my rims even take them? I also have flat handlebars, would they be suitable? I do get numbness in my hands after a few hour and have to shake them out.

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby whoof » 9 Jun 2020, 10:28pm

Amateur John wrote:Don't have any problems with the gears or brakes, just need to adjust the brakes now and then. The mudguards that came with the bike rattle over bumps a lot because the metal attachments to the wheel are too thin. Will want to replace them.

Will definitely consider the Vittoria Hypers or similar when needing to replace them. Should I go for thinner ones? Can my rims even take them? I also have flat handlebars, would they be suitable? I do get numbness in my hands after a few hour and have to shake them out.

I think that they would fit if you ask in the Bikes and Bits section stating what your rims are and you should get a definite answer.



With regards to bars personally i don't like flat bars other than for a mountain bike for off road riding and a folding bike for a few miles. I prefer the multiple hand positions and also the angle which your back is afforded that drops offer. Having said that drop bars on touring bikes is a very British thing most of Europe tour with flat bars. Your hands going numb after a few hours doesn't sound good. The distances you will be doing would require riding 5-8 hours a day repeatedly. You can't simple put drop bars on your bike as it moves your position. Your could look into better more ergonomic grips, bar end extenders or butterfly bars that have multiple hand positions.

Regarding tyre width the has been a reassessment of rolling resistance in recent years. It used to be thought thinner was faster, current measurements seem to show its more a case of quality and even pro racers have now changed to wider tyres so i would say 35mm would be fine and you may find them more comfortable that thinner tyres.

rareposter
Posts: 173
Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby rareposter » 10 Jun 2020, 10:25pm

I think you're approaching it from the wrong end.

Start off with what type of ride you're doing... Self supported, guided, carrying luggage, camping, B&B...? Over how many days? What route, will it be pure road or will it include tiny gravel-strewn country lanes, towpaths, off-road cycle tracks etc?

The faster you're going and the less you're carrying, the more you can aim for a road bike. There are plenty of "endurance" road bikes on the market that are less racey than full on race bikes but less bulky than audax/touring bikes. Specialized Roubaix is a popular model.

The slower/more relaxed end of the spectrum (or the more luggage-loaded) means a heavier, more robust bike like a touring bike or hybrid. Sonder (in house Alpkit brand) do some lovely bike-packing type bikes able to carry decent amounts of luggage.

More off-road/gravel and something like a CX / gravel bike would be ideal. Fast enough on road but capable off road. Specialized Diverge, Canyon Grail, Kinesis Tripster. Loads of choice.

Frankly at this point, worrying about tyres is the last thing on the list. They're a relatively cheap and easy thing to change. Work backwards from the list of questions I posted at the top and that should start to guide you in the general direction of at least a type of bike. Then you can think about budget to further refine your search.

If you want to stick with the bike you've got, you'll need to do rides of approximately the same distance as you plan on covering in a day and see how it is. Comfy? What average speed are you getting? Does that need to be increased? Can you carry the required luggage? ...

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby whoof » 11 Jun 2020, 9:06am

rareposter wrote:I think you're approaching it from the wrong end.

Start off with what type of ride you're doing... Self supported, guided, carrying luggage, camping, B&B...? Over how many days?
...

As per original post; B&Bs,75 - 100 miles a day. Trails and quiet roads.

Amateur John
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Joined: 9 Jun 2020, 11:56am

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Amateur John » 11 Jun 2020, 3:29pm

Yep already thought about what roads I want to travel on. As mentioned, quiet roads and cycle routes including gravel tracks via B&Bs probably unsupported. Currently thinking at the very least of changing my tyres to faster rolling ones but also ones that can be ridden off road. One thing I do know is that I really don't want to be put in a situation where I am forced to go on a road with heavy traffic so will be planning my route carefully.

Part of my planning will obviously have to be working out how long it will take me to get to a destination. My current bike allows me to cruise at about 25km/h on a flat road with little wind. To me that seems on the slow side so that is why I'm exploring options to improve this. I don't necessarily want to go quicker, I just want the option if I need to. And if I encounter strong head winds then I want all the help I can get. I am a club runner so I don't think the lack of pace is due to a low fitness level, but I acknowledge that over time I will need to swap more runs for rides.

The most I have ridden in one day is 6 hours non stop, so taking some advice posted earlier I will have to up that and over several days to see how I get on with current setup.

Looking at the route; is there already a route that has been created using mainly dedicated cycle routes and a few quiet roads or will I need to create one from scratch? I plan to complete it over roughly 14 days.

rareposter
Posts: 173
Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby rareposter » 11 Jun 2020, 5:33pm

Looking at the route; is there already a route that has been created using mainly dedicated cycle routes and a few quiet roads or will I need to create one from scratch? I plan to complete it over roughly 14 days.


There's an almost infinite variety of routes out there, the main challenge is not so much the riding but the logistics and route planning.
One person's idea of "quiet bridleway" is another person's idea of "rocky technical hell" (and that can be very much dependent on what type of bike you end up on).

You often find with National Cycle Network or Sustrans routes that they'll take you 3 miles out of the way to avoid riding a 500m section of main road or they'll be half-signposted through a dozen council estates and towpaths and shared use foot/cycle paths. Some are good, many are not and there's little way to tell the difference until you actually end up on a muddy path signposted as some sort of NCN but really only rideable on an MTB. Worth checking as much as possible in advance rather than relying on a pre-published route taken off someone's blog.

Shreds
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Joined: 19 Dec 2010, 4:43am

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Shreds » 11 Jun 2020, 7:08pm

Guaranteed that if you take too much kit or equipment, you will be ready to ditch it by the time you get to Bristol. If you are doing B&B then keep the extras to a minimum, it will be more enjoyable….and thats whats it all about (or should be).

Don't need to buy a new bike but do consider the lighter the better, and reduce as much rotational weight on the wheels if possible, otherwise you will regret it when you hit the hills and those in Devon and Cornwall may be some of the toughest you encounter until you reach Helmsdale in Scotland.

To do gravel tracks, you don't need a MTB or gravel bike, a good road bike with 23-25mm tyres should be robust enough to cover those issues. Also just consider that main roads in Scotland may be very different to main roads in England in terms of traffic. Plus get a comfortable seat (leather Brooks?) bedded in now. Get training though, the consistency of doing long days in the saddle will impact on all points of contact with the bike…pedals, saddle, bars and of course and very importantly knees.

Jamesh
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Joined: 2 Jan 2017, 5:56pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby Jamesh » 13 Jun 2020, 6:21pm

I'd try some lighter tyres.

I go for folding 28mm tyres which will give good comfort yet will be much lighter.

They should fit the rims you bike has -
Rims: Ryde ZAC-19SL Aluminium 36h

Something with Kevlar in the tyre will prevent punctures.

Also consider butterfly bars to give you more hand positions.

Cheers James

nosmarbaj
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Location: Reading

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby nosmarbaj » 14 Jun 2020, 3:09pm

A lot of replies suggest carrying minimal luggage. While you certainly don't want to carry more than you need, at 70-100 miles/day you'll probably have at least as much waking time off the bike as on it. So depending on what you like to do of an evening, you may wish to carry a selection of non-cycling clothes, suitable for wearing in restaurants, pubs etc. - of course you could wear your cycling stuff in such places but personally I like to have a couple of tops, trousers, non-cycling shorts (in summer), and non-cycling shoes. Also consider how often you want to be washing your cycling kit, which dictates how many spares you need. And what about reading matter, tablet computer (I find my phone's screen is too small for relaxed viewing), camera, etc.?. When I did LEJoG in 2008 I had a bar bag and a pair of panniers for a 12-day B&B trip; if I did it again I'd take about the same amount of luggage.

I'm not saying this is the "right" approach, but it is one way of doing it, and a sporty road bike wouldn't be suitable. Your current bike would work fine. The suggestions regarding tyres are good.

By the way, you say you're planning on doing it in a couple of years - I assume this is because doing it sooner doesn't fit in with other plans. Otherwise with your existing level of fitness and current bike, you could start as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

whoof
Posts: 2365
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Bike upgrade for LEJOG

Postby whoof » 14 Jun 2020, 4:50pm

nosmarbaj wrote:A lot of replies suggest carrying minimal luggage. While you certainly don't want to carry more than you need, at 70-100 miles/day you'll probably have at least as much waking time off the bike as on it. So depending on what you like to do of an evening, you may wish to carry a selection of non-cycling clothes, suitable for wearing in restaurants, pubs etc. - of course you could wear your cycling stuff in such places but personally I like to have a couple of tops, trousers, non-cycling shorts (in summer), and non-cycling shoes. Also consider how often you want to be washing your cycling kit, which dictates how many spares you need. And what about reading matter, tablet computer (I find my phone's screen is too small for relaxed viewing), camera, etc.?. When I did LEJoG in 2008 I had a bar bag and a pair of panniers for a 12-day B&B trip; if I did it again I'd take about the same amount of luggage.

I'm not saying this is the "right" approach, but it is one way of doing it, and a sporty road bike wouldn't be suitable. Your current bike would work fine. The suggestions regarding tyres are good.

By the way, you say you're planning on doing it in a couple of years - I assume this is because doing it sooner doesn't fit in with other plans. Otherwise with your existing level of fitness and current bike, you could start as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

I have have ridden a two week tour including through the Alps on a light weight road bike and have all my stuff in a single pannier with no bar bag
Clothes that double up for on and off bike are useful;SPD shoes, lightweight running tops that can be used as t shirts and base layers, buff, lightweight wool gloves and waterproof jacket Plus light fleece and walking trousers that double as shorts .Technical gear dries quickly so no problem with washing and drying in hotels.

Travelling light doesn't have to mean walking around at night in your the same gear you have been cycling in.