For a bicycle touring, you don’t need an expensive touring bike. Any bicycle that you already have may be suitable for bicycle touring. And if you don’t have one and have a limited budget, then you can build the one by yourself or buy any bicycle from nearest bicycle store or from the local flea market. In 2017, in the summer, I did my first bike trip. I had very little money and needed to buy a bicycle. In shops, tourist bikes cost about $1000. And I needed a reliable touring bicycle for around $500-600 max. So, I decided to build the one by myself.
I bought a slightly used aluminum MTB frame and a cheap suspension fork (because rigid forks were more expensive). Other parts I bought in the store and they were new. Wheels were laced by myself and I’ve had no experience in a wheel building before, but thanks to the youtube videos I’ve learned how to lace wheels. And after almost 5000 km, everything was fine including my wheels. So, it’s not that hard to build a bike by yourself.
The parts I have used to build my touring bicycle:
- Frame: Slightly used aluminum MTB frame – $60
- Fork: Slightly used Zoom suspension coil fork – $15
- Rear Hub: Shimano Deore M525A 36h
- Rear Rim: SunRingle Estate 36H 26″
- Rear Tire: Schwalbe Marathon 26×2.0
- Front Hub: Shimano Deore HB-M615 32h
- Front Rim: WTB SX24 32h (Really old rim. Found it at home)
- Front Tire: Cheap 26×2.0 tire from Decathlon store
- Brakes: Avid BB5 Disc Brakes
- Crankset: SRAM S600
- Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Power Spline
- Shifters: SRAM 3×8 Twist Shifters
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM x4
- Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus 3×8
- Chain: 8 speed SRAM PC-830
- Rear Rack: Topeak Explorer Disc
- Handlebar: Nashbar Trekking Bar
- Saddle: Noname wide saddle from old Giant Yukon bicycle
- Stem: Inexpensive BBB steam. It was sold at a huge discount at the local store
- Pedals: Wellgo (the cheapest I have found)
What I did not like about this bike
On this bike, I cycled almost 5000 kilometers and the only thing I had problems with was the bottom bracket. Truvativ Power Spline bottom bracket started to creak after 3000 km. But this problem began to arise only after heavy rain. Every time when the rain came to an end, I dripped the oil in the bottom bracket and the sound disappeared. This problem happened 5 times and I was always able to fix it with the help of oil. As for the crankset itself, the SRAM S600 is a wonderful and reliable crankset for bicycle touring, but it’s better to buy a square, not a power spline version.
Why 8 speed and not 9 or 10 for bicycle touring?
8 speed is cheaper and more reliable. The 8-speed chain can last much longer than 10 speed, and it can be replaced very cheaply. Some people may say that the 8-speed chain and the 10-speed chain has the same wear rate but even if it’s true, for the price of the 10-speed chain, I can buy two 8-speed chains. Two chains will last longer than one.
Also, you can always find a replacement chain. If you have 10-speed bike, then you can only use 10-speed chain. If you have 8-speed bike, then you can use an 8-speed chain, 9 and even 10. Because 10 and 9-speed chains are compatible with the 8-speed system. So, you will have a better chance of finding a replacement chain. But 9 speed is also good because you can use 9 speed and 10-speed chain.
Twist shifters for bicycle touring?
Right now, twist shifters are the best shifters I’ve ever used on a bike to switch gears. During my travel, I often had to switch gears and often I had to switch 2 or 3 speeds at a time. Twist Shifters coped with this task perfectly because you can shift more than 1 gear in one twist. I never knew that they are so comfortable.
Bicycle Touring Gear
Now let’s move on to things. During my trip, I used Vaude Aqua rear panniers. They are slightly larger than Ortlieb Back Roller, and the Vaude Aqua also has a plastic plate on the back. It gives the rigidity and reliability.
On the top of the rear rack, I have also used a cheap duffel bag (the one that you take with you to the GYM 🙂 ). When it was raining I was using the rain cover from the 60l backpack. Inside this bag was my sleeping bag, sleeping pad and sometimes a bottle of cola and some food. When I made stops, it was convenient to get food from this bag.
Bicycle Touring: Front Handlebar Bag
In front, I had the Roswheel handlebar bag. It is not expensive, but it is not waterproof, so I put the bike tools into it (after putting them in a plastic bag). Also, inside was a selfie stick.
Bicycle Touring Gear: Other things
For navigation, I used the Garmin eTrex 20 and I think it’s the best GPS for biking and hiking. Also, with me I had:
- Deuter Orbit +5 Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- 2 Pairs of socks
- 2 Pairs of underwear
- 1 Bicycle jersey
- 2 Pairs of T-shirts
- 1 Cycling shorts (padded)
- 1 Normal shorts
- 1 Military surplus Gore-tex rain pants
- 1 DHB rain jacket
- 1 Fleece jacket
- 1 Thermal underwear (Top/Bottom)
- 1 SealSkinz waterproof socks
- 1 SealSkinz Waterproof Cycling Cap
- 1 Camping Stove
- Camping Pots
- Hammock (Like this one)
- Tarp (L Size)