Over the years we’ve owned a variety of bicycles, most of them suitable for touring. It seems extravagant to have so many bikes but each one has its uses, and since we don’t have a car we don’t feel too guilty about our extensive collection.
In recent years, we’ve also added a couple trailers to our stable of touring bikes, as we make the transition from touring as a couple to touring as a family.
Read more about our:
- Custom-built Steel Touring Bikes
- Santos Travelmaster Touring Bikes
- Brompton and Dahon Folding Bikes
- Circe Morpheus Tandem
- Bakfiets.nl Cargo Bike
- Radical Designs Cyclone IV Trekking Trailer
- Cougar Chariot 1 Bike Trailer
Custom-built Steel Touring Bikes
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.
Santos Travelmaster Touring Bikes
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 two years. We still wanted to tour, however, so we invested in Dutch touring bikes from Santos*.
With hydraulic brakes and aluminium frames, these bikes were noticeably different from our steel-framed touring bikes but no less enjoyable to ride. Here’s our review of the Santos Travelmaster bikes (written not long after we bought them).
*Friedel eventually sold her Travelmaster, to make way for our ‘family SUV’, the Circe Morpheus Tandem.
Brompton & Dahon Speed TR Folding Bikes
Why folding bikes? Here are three good reasons:
- We live in Europe and often 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 challenges.
- A lot of our riding also consists of urban commuting, so it’s really handy to be able to take a bike on a local tram.
- If you want to fly with a bike, it’s possible (with careful packing) to include a folding bike as part of your luggage allowance, saving big on airline fees.
With that in mind, we bought a Brompton folding bike in 2011 and followed that up with a Dahon Speed TR in 2012. In addition to our “normal” touring and commuting, we took both to Cuba for a month of touring.
Although both fold, they are very different bikes. Briefly: 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 is slightly less suited to carrying luggage and tackling steep hills. 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. As long as you call it a stroller, you’ll have no trouble at all.
When our family expanded to two children, we needed once again to re-think our transport options. Could we find a bike that would comfortably carry two kids, handle touring as easily as commuting and (ideally) allow at least one of the kids to actively participate in cycling?
We found our answer in the British-made Circe Morpheus, complete with a Rohloff hub. We’ve not yet ridden it any great distance but we already love it. Our oldest son sits up front with the kiddy crank installed and can pedal along. We’ll probably put the younger child on the back in a car seat and (once he’s strong enough to sit up) in a bike seat.
If you live in the Netherlands and have kids, it’s almost obligatory to have a bakfiets! Although they aren’t really suitable for touring (you could, perhaps, use them for trips to a nearby campsite), they’re ideal for commuting around town and carting several kids around at once. Ours is the Cargo Bike Long from Bakfiets.nl and we bought it second hand.
Radical Designs Cyclone IV Trekking Trailer
When our son Luke was born, we had to re-think our packing strategy. As a baby, Luke could simply travel in his Chariot trailer (and we could still carry our panniers as we’d always done).
By summer 2014, however, we no longer had a baby. We had a toddler who was taking up increasingly more space. His back seat filled the rear rack and carrying back panniers was no longer an option, so we invested in the Radical Designs Cyclone IV Trekking Trailer. We love it! Read our full review.
Chariot Cougar 1 Trailer
When Luke was born, like every other family out there, we needed a stroller. At the time we were living in a small apartment so we placed a high value on things that could do more than one job.
Happily the Chariot trailer fit that brief perfectly. It’s both a stroller and a bike trailer, and switches seamlessly between the two modes.
This trailer isn’t cheap but it’s very robust. We used it extensively for 3 years, both for daily trips around town and for longer bike tours, and it’s still in great shape and ready for kid number two!