Our little apartment is full of bicycles: six of them! It’s extravagant to have three bikes each but each one has its uses.
When we first started bike touring in 2006, we ordered custom built steel bikes from British frame builder Robin Mather. These are one-of-a-kind bicycles. We’ve been around the world on them, rebuilt them in 2011 and continue to ride these classic, beautiful touring bikes. You can see the technical specs of these bikes and read about how we rebuilt them after our world trip.
After our world trip on our steel-framed bicycles, we moved to the Netherlands. During this transition, we had to leave our treasured steel-framed bikes in Canada for about 2 years. At the same time, we wanted to do some longer bike tours so we invested in Dutch touring bikes from Santos. The Santos brand is very well respected in the Netherlands and the UK and their Travelmaster bike is seen as one of the most robust touring bikes on the market.
These bikes have hydraulic brakes and aluminium frames. The frame is stiffer compared to our steel bikes and we particularly like these bikes for more rugged touring (eg. offroad riding). Here’s our review of the Santos Travelmaster bikes (written not long after we bought them).
We live in Europe, and that means we’re often tempted to use the train to get to the starting point of a bike tour. Taking a full-sized bike on a train is possible but not without its hassles. At the same time, we’re also doing a lot of urban commuting and it’s really handy to be able to take a bike on a local tram.
With that in mind, we bought a Brompton folding bike in 2011 and followed that up with a Dahon Speed TR in 2012. We’ll eventually publish a detailed review but in short: the Brompton is great if you want to do a lot of commuting with a little touring on the side. It’s so easy to fold but doesn’t have many gears or much capacity to carry luggage, at least not out-of-the-box. The Speed TR on the other hand is a super little tourer. It feels very solid and is all set up for touring but the folding is more awkward, so it’s the reverse of the Brompton: great if you primarily want to tour, with a bit of commuting thrown in for fun.
Both bikes are capable of towing the Chariot Cougar 1 trailer, which allows us to be on-the-move as a family. This gives great flexibility. A folding bike can go on any train, any time without extra fees. Technically a trailer isn’t allowed on most trains in Europe but the Cougar 1 trailer changes quickly into a kid’s stroller and that is allowed. Semantics.