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10 Cool Things We’re Taking Bike Touring

December 15th, 2010 21 comments


Wow. Have we ever got a load of new gear to try out.

We’ve bought much of it down at the local camping shop and via Wiggle. Some treats have been given to us for Christmas and we’ve borrowed a couple things from companies so we can evaluate how well they work.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about these products in the new year, but for now we thought you’d like to know what 10 cool things we’re taking with us on our bike tour of Spain. Maybe you’ll find a Christmas present on this list, for yourself or your favourite bike tourist.

e3pro1. Supernova E3 Pro Lights

Small and powerful. We love the metallic colours too. This little headlight is mounted on our bikes, attached to our new hub dynamo and ready to light the way in case we’re coming home late from the tapas bars in Spain.

We already have a very good feeling about this light, and other bike tourists like it too. (For back lights, we’ve used the battery-powered Superflash lights for quite some time now).

2. SON Hub Dynamo

SON Hub DynamoThis is the biggest upgrade in touring comfort we’ve made in a long time. We now have our own dynamos in the hub of our front wheels.

This will power the Supernova E3 pro light and, in future, will also power our mobile phones, camera batteries and other small gadgets we take on tour. For this trip, we’re curious to see if we detect any rolling resistance from the dynamo.

3. Silk Sleep Sacks

_mid_meru_silk_sleeping_bag_inlay_cover_1339559_73246This single change to our gear has lightened our bags by about 1kg. Before we were using homemade sleepsacks out of an old cotton sheet. They were comfortable but bulky and heavy.

Our new silk sleep sacks from the Meru brand weigh just 130g each and are about the size of a soft drink can when rolled up.

4. Sea To Summit Folding Bowl

xbowl-backpacking-bowlThe Sea To Summit X-Bowl is a collapsible bowl. It’s made of food-grade silicon with a hard base that doubles as a chopping board.

At over 2 inches deep and quite wide, it looks big enough to hold a healthy serving of pasta. Because the X-Bowl folds flat, it barely takes up any room in your bags. There are also handy measuring marks on the side of the bowl.

Buy it for $15.95 on REI.

5. Sporks!

sporkWe might be the last people in the world to get a spork but we were given 2 of them recently, so we’ll drop our heavy metal cutlery in favour of the lightweight versions. For those who don’t know, a spork is a combination of a fork and a spoon.

See a whole range of sporks – from plastic to titanium – on REI.

6. Topeak Super Tourist DX back rack

topeaksupertouristdxWe bought these racks primarily with commuting in mind, not touring. For international touring over long distances we prefer a higher-end steel rack.

However, it will be another few months before we get back to Canada and can salvage our Tubus racks from our old touring bikes. Until then, we’ll use the Topeak Super Tourist DX for bike touring. They should be fine for short-term, relatively light weight touring.

Buy it from Wiggle or Amazon.

*Update: We’ve had these racks for 2 years now and they’re performing very well indeed. We’ve taken them on 2 bicycle tours (of Denmark and Spain) as well as numerous weekend trips and we’ve used them general commuting. Great value.

7. Gorillapod (for SLR cameras)

gorillapodslrOur last tripod seized up after being strapped onto the handlebars and exposed to the elements for one too many rainy days. We’re hoping the Gorillapod fares better.

Already we love the way we can wrap it around anything. It feels very secure, even when screaming down hills with a camera attached to the handlebars!

Buy it for $80 on REI.

8. Exped Sleeping Mats

Exped_synmatWe have a Synmat 7 and a Downmat 7 to test out from Exped, since our old solid-core mats were just too bulky for a trip that involves a plane journey with limited luggage space. We’ve already slept a couple nights on these and found them pretty comfortable, although they do take a bit of time and effort to inflate.

Buy the Synmat for $149 and the Downmat for $229 on REI.

platypuswine9. Platypus Wine Preservation System

We bought this on whim because we do like a glass of wine after a long day of cycling but we don’t like to carry the glass bottle around.

Will this be the solution or will it just be an unnecessary extra bit of bulk in the panniers?

Buy it for $9.95 on REI.

10. CTC Bicycle Bag

BikeBag300For this trip, we don’t want the hassle of finding and packing our bikes into boxes (not to mention the question of where to store them) so we’re taking a leap of faith and putting them in the CTC bicycle bag instead.

We’re reassured by this experience and hope our bikes won’t be damaged. If it works out, this will be much easier than boxing up bikes for a flight.

Buy it for £12 on Wiggle.

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20 Responses to “10 Cool Things We’re Taking Bike Touring”

  1. woollypigs says:

    Yup you can’t go wrong with the SuperNova, thanks for the link.

    I too have the SON hub, there is some drag but honestly nothing that you have to worry about. Compared to the drag you and all your panniers create.

    We have some silk liners too, you will only pack them up in their little bags ones or twice, before you just leave them in your sleeping bag when you pack up in the morning :)

  2. Stéphane says:

    Hello Friedel and Andrew,

    We tested the Sea to Summit bowls on our trip in Spain along the Camino de Santiago last September and were really impressed! Fairly light, strong bottom and takes no space!

    Another gadget that we will be taking with us next year on our big adventure and which you’ll probably like is the E-Werk power supply and charging unit from Busch & Müller (the same company that makes the SON dynamohub): http://www.bumm.de/.
    It plugs onto the dynamohub and you can select the output voltage and current that you need. Worked perfectly for our phones and small camera batteries. We will be using it to charge a Veho portable battery next year (http://www.veho-uk.com/main/shop_detail.aspx?article=124). This way we’ll always have some spare power!

    Hope you enjoy your Spain tour!

  3. Looks like some great new toys. I really love the lights, so I look forward to hearing about them. I have friends with the Exped mats, and they swear that the mats are more comfortable than their beds.

    Best of luck, and happy holidays!

    Glenn

    Do You Wabi Sabi?

  4. Hi Friedel an Andrew

    We tested the Sea To Summit Folding Bowl and they are just great. I dont know you but It may not be enough for serving the monstrous cyclist pasta. We love it for soup, cereal, porridge.
    Next, the Gorillapod is one nice litel gadget that work fine. You can hook it to anything. One smart piece of equipement.

    But the best new toy off all is your new bike! :o)

    Merry Xmas

  5. Doug W says:

    Ooh! This looks like a lot of fun stuff. Can’t wait to hear about how the dyno/light combination works for you. Still on the fence about whether or not to go that route.

    We played with those folding bowls a lot in the store, but ultimately went with the Fozzils since they were soooo light and flat. Probably very similar though.
    http://www.rei.com/product/784593

    Hope the bag protects your new bikes well. It takes courage to pack brand new bikes into a bag and trust it in the hands of baggage handlers.

    • friedel says:

      Interestingly, the CTC says that bikes in bags are no more likely to get damaged than bikes in boxes. I might be eating those words after the flight, but I’m happy to put myself and my bike up as a guinea pig for your benefit :)

  6. sz says:

    I don’t have a spork either ;)

    How much does that cycle bag weigh and how small is it when rolled together? Is it small/light enough to take along on a tour?

    • friedel says:

      SZ, we’ll be doing a full review on the bags and when we do I’ll weigh and measure their packed size for you. They are not as compact or as light as I’d like. I’m guessing it weighs about 600g and when it is folded neatly it might be about 1 inch thick and slightly bigger than a sheet of A4 paper. We put it under our dry bag, which sits on top of the back rack. Just yesterday, I saw a lighter alternative that was apparently purchased from a bike store in Amsterdam. I’m going to check it out.

  7. Hugo says:

    What kind of taillight do you use?

    • friedel says:

      Hi Hugo, we’ve used a battery powered light called Superflash for quite some time now (several months or maybe even a year).

      http://travellingtwo.com/resources/planet-superflash-bike-light

      I’ve updated the article with a link as well. Thanks for asking!

      • Hugo says:

        Thanks.
        Apparently Supernova also has an E3 taillight
        in 2 versions, 1 that can be mounted on the seatpost and the other on the backrack. I’m curious how they are connected to the dynamo though(if you also have a E3 frontlight.)

    • woollypigs says:

      Yes there is a tail light, I got the one attached to rear rack. The way I have it attached to my rack, it fits nice and snug and you really don’t see it when the light is off.

      I have been told that it is very bright, though I haven’t seen it :)

      The power comes from the front light, that is the reason for the two sets of wires going in/out of the SuperNova front light. So Hub -> Front light -> Rear light.

      The power stored in the front light keeps the rear light shining nice and bright for over 3 minutes.

  8. Darrell says:

    Hello

    Recently pointed to your website from the SantosRiders Flickr group. I will enjoy reading your adventures and tips.

    I bought a Santos Travelmaster last year. I aspire to trips like yours but work and family commitments prevent that at the moment. I am limited to short tours in the UK and maybe Europe for the next few years.

    I am interested in your experience with the Son dynamo. When I bought my bike I specified a Rohloff Hub but was otherwise trying to shave costs so decided against a dynamo. My understanding was they are great bits of kit for running a light but others have not found them that useful for charging phones, ipods, etc. How have you found them? I might be tempted to upgrade when it comes to doing any longer more remote tours.

    Thanks

    • friedel says:

      Hi Darrell, nice to see you here! We have so far only run lights off our SON dynamo. We just didn’t have time between getting the bikes and our Spanish trip to properly research the various options for charging. That is our project between the Spanish tour and our upcoming summer adventures. We’ll keep you posted!

      In the meantime, this might give you some food for thought:

      Chris & Liz’s experience with a hub dynamo for charging gadgets...

      • Darrell says:

        HiJust to let you know PedalPower+ have a new product which I am thinking of buying. It is called the Super-i-cable and has an internal cache battery. It is not on the webite yet but is available to order. Essentially, you can charge all items on the go but also have some charge in the battery while the bike is not moving. Much cheaper than the eWerk with cahce battery. I’ll let you know what it is like when/if I get it.

      • friedel says:

        Great, thanks for sharing Darrell!

  9. Darrell says:

    Hi. Thanks for the great link to the bikeabout site. I came across the page (below) on the Cycletourer site about charging electronic items on the go, including some info on the SON hub dynamo. I wondered how far you had got with charging your eItems on the move using the SON. Would love to know your experiences before deciding whether to get one and rebuild my front wheel! Cheers

    http://www.cycletourer.co.uk/cycletouring/electrogadgets.shtml

    • friedel says:

      Hi Darrell, it’s still on our “to do” list to sort before any touring this summer. I’m afraid we’re not much help yet, but I hope we will be in the coming months.

      • Darrell says:

        Got a new front wheel with SON hub. Had it laced to a Rigida Sputnik 36 hole rim. Going to get an eDelux light and am considering which battery charging solution to go for!

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