Although there is a long way to go, we have covered 3500km in 35 days and crossed 9 countries and Europe, giving us a good test of our kit so far in this Cycling East Adventure and I’ll explain what has worked well so far here. Normally when I say good things about kit it breaks the next day so fingers crossed as I’m starting with the best:
1. The Tripster ATR frame and fork has been perfect, incredibly comfortable, impressively stable and fast to ride and a whole lot of fun! It will be interesting to see if the handling changes when the fatter tyres get put on for Asia! I just can’t fault it, all the niggles have been dismissed, like the head tube initially felt too long, but after all these days riding I know it’s the perfect height for comfort/speed needed on a adventure like this. 2. The Aqua Pure water bottles. I hadn’t use these before but they really can be filled up anywhere and then just by squeezing them hard it filters everything out. We have used them a fair bit and they have proved really useful and reliable so far. It just makes finding water easier and reduces your plastic bottle waste.
3. Morvelo cycle shorts. Simply fantastic I couldn’t imagine how a short could be more comfortable for this trip. I feel like they were custom made for my ass. Yes the bibs have been hot at times here, but when they hold up your shorts and make riding so far, so much more tolerable I am stoked. Since writing my review I had one saddle sore day so down to 9.5 out of 10.
4. Ortleib AquaPack padded bag for SLR or smaller system camera. I have had this camera bag for years, It’s strapped to my bars and it’s still as good and waterproof as day one. You really can’t fault it in any way given the amount of rain we’ve had.
5. The Garmin e-trex GPS is fantastic. Loaded with open source Velomaps it’s prevented wasted time getting lost, we’ve found hidden castles, campsites and superb back roads with ease. I now can’t imagine the time wasted and frustrations of not using it! It’s really waterproof, shock proof (fell out of jersey pocket onto road twice) and when used with the Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar cell, we never run out of battery life!
So onto the failures or disappointments, but there haven’t been many:
1:Axiom Monsoon panniers. Part of me hopes this is just a one off and a bad day at the factory, but Marion had one pannier just explode along an entire seam. I use these panniers because they are incredibly light, waterproof and aerodynamically slick mainly from using heat welded seams not stitching, however they don’t overlap nor are they taped that well, hence the catastrophic fail. Panniers are dead to me #bikepacking is the future!
2: Karrimor X Lite air tube roll mat. Now I hesitate a bit here because it lasted longer than expected, but I had very low expectations because they are just so light and thin. The issue was the fabric has worn thin and air seeps out after 35 nights use. I was so impressed last summer that I bought another one for Marion that is going strong still. I replaced mine with a Decathlon equivalent in Istanbul so we will see if it is better!
3: Shimano external bottom bracket, as most people know these things are made of cheese, a really soft cheese too, occasionally they last a while but 3500km and its loose, creaking and done. I used a brand new 105 one. I planned to have upgraded but for Chain reaction cycles’ incompetence in sending something out in time.
4: Seat clamp on the Tripster. This never really held the post well from day one, it’s just too thin I think, the upgrade to a Cannondale double clamp in Germany was perfect and has been spot on ever since.
5. Spokes/Alu nipples on the CX crosslight wheel set. I had one break in the Czech republic and I think they are probably too thin and heavily butted for how much kit I’m carrying. They laterally flex a fair bit under cornering when heavily loaded it seems. However they are good wheels for lighter riding and have been true from day one. To be fair since the spokes went I’ve had no recent issues from some seriously heavy abuse so I will reserve full judgement just yet.