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New Santos Travelmaster Touring Bikes!

Posted November 26th, 2010

Oh, we tried to resist. We attempted to tell ourselves we didn’t want or need new touring bikes but in the end the lure was too great. Today, we gave in to temptation and put in our order for new Santos Travelmaster touring bicycles.


Santos Travelmaster Test Ride

What are we getting? Here are some of the important changes from our previous bikes:

  • Aluminum frames. Yes, aluminum. We know that’s a bit of departure from our traditional bias towards steel but Santos assure us that there’s nothing to worry about. Only a small fraction of their customers choose to go with the Travelmaster in a steel version. As Robbert – the owner of Santos Bikes – said to Harry & Ivana: ‘They do not break! And if there is any problem, we will send a new one’. Okay then. We’re willing to give it a shot. Aluminum is also lighter, cheaper and there’s no issue with corrosion. Much though we love our old steel bikes, we did have a few minor issues with rust. Hopefully this is now a thing of the past.
  • Anodized. Our new bikes won’t have any paint. Instead, they’ll be anodized (in the same way as many bike parts are). That means no paint to be chipped off or scraped the next time we drop our bikes.
  • Magura_HS33white_2009setMagura Hydraulic Rim Brakes. Like the aluminum vs steel argument, we’ve traditionally favoured V-Brakes. Mostly, we weren’t familiar enough with hydraulic brakes to feel comfortable with them. Since then, we’ve done a bike repair workshop and learned that the maintenance isn’t that hard. We’ve read some good reviews of Magura brakes (see Tom’s thoughts on their disc brakes) and we feel these have been tested enough by other tourers that we can take a risk. Yes, the cables could conceivably crack in transport, but damage could happen to any part of the bike. If Lady Luck isn’t on our side, we can always put V-Brakes back on.

What are we sticking with? Derailleurs! There’s a lot of hype about Rohloff hubs at the moment. We can certainly appreciate the engineering behind them and they have their advantages but at the end of the day they’re expensive. The extra cost buys a lot of derailleurs, and we’ve had no big problems with our derailleurs on tour. We understand them. We can fix them. Any bike mechanic can fix them. If we have to, we can take the derailleur off entirely and ride single-speed for a while. We don’t even mind cleaning the gears and chains regularly.

How did we choose Santos? The condensed version of the thought process that led to us buying Santos Travelmasters goes like this…

Playing with the cameraFirst we looked at our $100 touring bikes. We bought them second hand and cycled over 5,000km on them. They’ve done very well for the price but now both racks are broken. The wheels are looking pretty fragile and the cassette isn’t exactly new either. We could easily pump $500 U.S. into these bikes. If we did, they’d be in much better shape but they still wouldn’t do some of the things we’d like. For example, there’s not enough clearance for really wide tires and the wheels are 700c. We prefer 26″ wheels for international touring.

Robin Mather Touring BikesOur thoughts then turned to our custom built Robin Mather steel touring bicycles. They took us around the globe and we love them BUT they’re in Canada. Getting them to our home in Holland without flying home to personally pick them up will cost money (quite a lot of it), hassle and time. These bikes also probably need a few hundred dollars of replacement parts and upgrades.

So, after our Denmark bike tour we started seriously thinking about new touring bikes. We’d seen Santos bikes before. At least half our Dutch bike touring friends seem to have a Santos bike, and then there are riders like Cass Gilbert, Steve Fabes, Dennis & Marijcke and James Bowthorpe. We could see the quality immediately and we liked it. More importantly, everyone we talked to was positive about their Santos bike and the customer service.

We went out to the factory in Sassenheim and had a look around, which (let’s be honest) only fuelled our bike lust. All those shiny bikes in one spot…. It’s very hard not to be tempted! Here are a couple pictures from our test ride and fitting.

Santos Travelmaster Test Ride

Getting Fitted For Our Santos Bikes

Marco Meijerink's Old Bike

We can’t wait to pick them up. Just a week or so to wait, and then we’ll have new bikes!!! Expect a full review in the new year, after our 3-week trip to Spain.