Our Kiwi Odyssey in New Zealand is fast approaching, only three weeks away. We are busily reading ourselves and gear for what promises to be an excellent adventure.
Building on adventures to Japan last summer and fall, we’re making a few upgrades to our bikes in preparation for our Kiwi adventure. In conjunction with necessary bike inspections, routine maintenance, and tune-ups, each of us has made a couple of upgrades to our bikes.
Jones Loop H-Bars for Three
Comfort is king in long-distance cycling. To get that I’ve been running with the Loop H-Bars going on five years and love them. For the past two years, I’ve had a Jones Gnarwal attached for getting aero and off of my hands while riding. The unique bars feel great during long days on the bike and are excellent for touring. I see more, and more of them mounted on touring rigs and bikepacking on the internet
The Loop H-Bar has 45º hand grips that offer a wide range of comfortable hand positions that help put the rider in a more upright riding posture, which put less pressure on the hands. There’s ample space to mount gadgets and kit. The underside of the loop provides an excellent mounting platform for a handlebar roll.
Cycling long distances with a standard flat top handlebar offer few hand positions.
So, Annie and Mia set their bikes up with a pair of narrower 660mm Jones Loop H-Bars with a set of ESI chunky foam grips as well. I’m running the wider 710mm bars on my Divide.
Being Mia’s a growing teenager and has almost outgrown her size Small frame, she swapped out her shorter stem for a Thomson 100mm 10º stem, which should get her through another year or so before she needs a larger frame.
Both installations require the brake and shifter cables to be lengthened due to the short cable set up with the flat top bars on each Giant XTC mountain bike. I had the length of the cables adjusted at a local Giant bike shop in Shanghai where we had purchased two bikes. The bicycle mechanic left the cables a little long to facilitate the attachment of handlebar bags and avoid any kinking.
Schwalbe Almotion Tires for the Divide
As the miles add up, tires wear out, and it’s time to change out the rubber on the Divide before venture down to the land of Kiwis.
To change it up a bit, I’m going with a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Almotion tires rather than my tried and true Mondial tires. With a less aggressive tread design, the Almotion should provide a little less rolling resistance than the bolder, deeper tread of the Mondial tires.
With the Almotion tires, I’m assuming a little risk of punctures and less grip off-road, but it the more efficient rolling speed should be worth it. The Almotion is tubeless capable, but I’ll stick with inner tubes to avoid the added hassle of transporting tubeless tires on an airplane.
Being folding tires like the Mondial’s, I’ll be carrying a spare Almotion tire just in case.
Pedals, Shoes, Racks, and More
In addition to lengthening the cables, the mechanic adjusted the spokes to re-true the rear wheel on Annie’s bicycle, where some of the spokes had worked loose while riding in Kyoto. Annie also put a new rear rack on her bike, as the previous Giant rear rack had a defective weld that had broken while in Japan as well.
Mia’s made the jump to clipless pedals. She’s set her Giant XTC up with a pair of previously owned Shimano XTR Trail Pedals and got a set of Shimano SPD mountain bike shoes. So far, so good. We’ll see how the new pedal arrangement works out for her in New Zealand. She also swapped out the original Giant saddle, which got ripped while in Japan, for a Sella Italia Nekkar, which seems to fit pretty good.
She’s also toying with replacing her Porcelain Rocket Fusion saddle pack with a Portland Design Works Bindle Rack and a larger waterproof bag to increase the carrying capacity, which was a little less with the Fusion pack. Mia’s XTC doesn’t have mounting points for a rear rack, so she’s been running with a pure bikepacking set up thus far, and it’s worked pretty well. The Bindle Rack has a similar setup as the Fusion pack but will allow for increased capacity.
Annie upgraded her pedals with pair of Wellgo mountain bike pedals for a better, more secure grip.
We’ve been out on a couple of test rides to get the new components dialed in and to ensure all is in working order. We’re running with mostly the same set up we used in Hokkaido last summer, except for the above changes. It’s a tweaking process, and we’ll keep you posted.
Comfort is king on the road, and I think we just made a positive step in that direction.