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One Nifty Way To Carry Your Essential Tools

Posted September 1st, 2012

A few months ago, we received an email from Allen, who designs bicycle bags and sells them under the Tallac brand.

He offered to send us his Behold case for review. We gladly accepted and since that time it’s been carried all over the Netherlands on bike tours and for daily commuting. It also came along on our tour of Belgium and France.

The Behold

What is it? Put simply, the Behold is a compact and robust case that sits in a cage between the frame and a water bottle holder. The case is made of ballistic water-resistant nylon and the cage that comes with the Behold is made of stainless steel. Fitting it to the bike was a breeze.

Here’s a better view of the case, out of its metal cage. When riding, the case is held in place by clips at either end. It’s easy to clip and unclip.

The Behold

What can you fit inside? A basic puncture repair kit is no problem (you’ll need to also carry a pump, unless you take CO2 cartridges along). If you didn’t want to use a handlebar bag, you could also use this kit to carry some essentials like a bit of cash, a credit card and a mobile phone.

The Behold

We like many things about the Behold. It’s well constructed and could be handy if you want a nifty place to store a few essential tools. Because the bag is stored on your frame, it can stay there and you never need to worry about leaving the tools behind.

People who are primarily bike touring, however, may find it redundant. If you’re carrying panniers then you probably already have a full tool kit in one of your bags so you don’t need to carry tools on your frame as well.

We think the Behold is best suited to commuting cyclists, who perhaps also do a bit of touring on the side. For that reason, we’ll be swapping it from Friedel’s touring bike to our primary commuting bike.

 

Keep Dirt Away With Homemade Bike Mudguards

Posted August 21st, 2012

One of the things we love about hosting cyclists is the chance to learn new things.

The latest couple to come through – Bez & Dave – proudly showed us how they’d made their mudguards (or fenders) a bit longer than the standard shop variety.

Using a thin yet relatively stiff sheet of rubber (easily found in local hardware or do-it-yourself shops) and some zip ties, this is what they came up with:

Mudguard Extenders

According to Bez & Dave, the longer mudguards are just the thing to keep every last bit of mud and dirt off your legs and bags – an essential addition to any touring bike if you end up pedalling through a lot of rainy territory.

After we initially published this tip, we heard from Julie and Mark – another cycling couple who’ve also turned their hands to making mudguards.

They are made from damp-proof course, which you can buy in builders merchants. We use nuts and bolts to attach the mudflap.

Homemade Mudguards
Photo by Julie & Mark.

The Stove Tube: Waterproof, Smell Proof and Out Of Your Panniers

Posted August 15th, 2012

Stove TubeIf you carry a multi-fuel stove on tour then you’ll know that it can sometimes be quite dirty and smell of fuel.

For that reason, a lot of cyclists aren’t crazy about keeping a stove in their panniers.

World bike tourists Dave & Bethany think they’ve found a solution to this dilemma: a stove tube. Watch the video to find out more.

New Gear For This Summer’s Bike Tour

Posted July 13th, 2012

This month we’re cycling for over 2 weeks through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. It’s our first extended bike tour with our son Luke and we’ve tweaked our gear to suit bike touring with a baby.

We’ve also acquired some new things, as you do. We can’t blame all of this new stuff on Luke! Here’s the list of recent additions:

1. A Baby!
You probably figured out already that 5-month-old Luke is our most significant addition. We’re excited to take him on his first big bike tour. We’ve already done a few test runs and we’re confident that as long as we go slowly it won’t be any problem to combine cycle touring with parenthood.

Luke hanging out...

2. Chariot Cougar 1 Trailer
“If the baby is happy, then everyone is happy.” That’s our motto on this trip and in order to keep the baby happy, he’ll be riding in the very plush Chariot Cougar 1. We’ve done many shorter day and weekend tours with this trailer and Luke loves it. We’re confident it’s up to the job.

Chariot Cougar 1

3. Vaude Sioux 500 XL Sleeping Bag
We’ve used our PHD Minim sleeping bags for many years now but for this trip Friedel is swapping to Vaude’s Sioux 500  synthetic sleeping bag. There are a few reasons for the change.

First, the PHD bag doesn’t have a zipper. That’s great in winter (when you don’t want a draft to come in from the side of the bag) and also cuts some weight from the bag, but it makes it much harder to attend to a crying baby in the middle of the night.

Vaude Sioux 500 Sleeping Bag

Also, the square shape of the Sioux bag means it will be easy to open up the bag and spread it like a blanket over mum and Luke, if baby just wants to cuddle at night.

Finally, this is a good-value bag that will be fine for summer trips but doesn’t cost too much. By the time next summer comes, Luke will likely get his own sleeping bag.

4. Aeropress Coffee Maker
Aeropress Coffee Maker
For us, a good day of bike touring starts with a good cup of coffee. This is especially true when your nights are broken up by baby! To that end, we’ve recently fallen in love with the Aeropress coffee maker.

It’s light, robust and makes an excellent, strong cup of coffee (the coffee is so good that we’re also using it at home).

Before we bought the Aeropress, we used the “cowboy coffee” method. That technique also makes a good cup of coffee but the process is a little messier and uses more water than the Aeropress.

5. Thermarest NeoAir Mattress
This is another baby-related purchase. Are you spotting a theme yet?

Initially Luke was sleeping on a foam Zlite mat but it’s bulky to carry around and not the same height as our Exped mattresses. The different heights makes nighttime breastfeeding difficult. That’s why we upgraded Luke’s mattress to the thicker Thermarest NeoAir. The NeoAir also weighs a minuscule 230g and is very compact when packed. We hope it will last at least until Luke is 4-5 years old.

Thermarest Neo Air

6. Helinox Chair One
Finally, we leave the baby-related additions and find something for mum and dad: two comfy chairs. Until now, we’ve never carried a camping chair but we’re at that point in life when we want some extra luxury.

The Helinox Chair One is brand new on the market. It’s lightweight (850g), packs down to a compact size and is very comfortable – if a little on the expensive side at €80 a chair (about $100 U.S. dollars).

Helinox Chair

Here’s a review of the Helinox Chair One from two bike tourists.

7. Ortlieb Rack Pack
Things like mattresses, sleeping bags and the Helinox chairs are relatively lightweight but take up a lot of space in our panniers, so for this trip we’re going to put all of these items in a 31 liter Ortlieb Rack Pack. The bag will go on the back of Friedel’s bike.

Ortlieb Rack Pack 31 Liter

8. Xtorm Power Bank
From A-Solar, we bought the Xtorm Power Bank 7000. Between that and our dynamo hub, we should now have plenty of extra power for our GPS, mobile phone and other gadgets.

A-Solar Battery

9. The Behold Tool Case

BeholdThis nifty little tool case arrived for us to review a few months ago but we’ve just now managed to get it on Friedel’s bike.

It slips into a cage which is mounted between your water bottle and the frame, and it’s just big enough for the essentials: a spare tube, a few patches, glue and some tire levers.

The idea is that it’s always there (you don’t need to think about packing a separate tool kit if you’re quickly jumping on your bike to run an errand) and easily accessible. See an Adventure Cycling review of the Behold.

10. iPad 3

Last but not least, we’ve finally caved in and joined the iPad crowd. We bought our iPad 3 more for use at home than on tour but we can definitely see that it could have a place on a bike tour so we’re trying it out. Lightweight cyclists will be horrified to learn that we’re also taking a laptop with us because we just can’t bear the thought of not being able to edit photos and do other work with our normal software. Will we use both? Probably. Do we need both? We’ll let you know…

iPad 3

 

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Of course some of the old favourites like our MSR Whisperlite stove and Ortlieb panniers will still be on the bikes. As for the new gear, we’ll be giving you our full thoughts on it after we return.

What new equipment are you carrying on tour this summer?

Chain-L: A Sticky, Smelly & Highly Effective Lube

Posted June 4th, 2012

Applying Chain-L OilWith over 60,000km under our wheels, we’ve gone through a few bottles of chain lube.

Our favourite up until a few months ago was Finish Line lube (available from REI and Wiggle).

Finish Line is decent enough when freshly applied but disappears after a few hours of rain. Even in dry weather, our chains need regular cleaning and re-lubing to keep everything running smoothly.

Then we heard about Chain-L. It gets raving reviews online and makes some big promises, like 1,000 miles between applications. We ordered a few bottles and distributed them among our friends.

Several months later and the results are in. Everyone who tried it was impressed by how the Chain-L lube performed – once they got past its potent smell. This stuff doesn’t just lube your chain; it can clear your sinuses as well!

Click Here To Read The Full Chain-L Review

Posted in Trip Equipment