Bicycle Travel: An Evolutionary Process
Tweaking my bike’s set up is almost as fun as taking long bike rides. It’s a never-ending evolutionary process of trying to build a cleaner, more reliable ride produces the purest, hassle-free travel experience. Each cycling journey provides me with a few ideas on how I can improve the Divide’s set up. Last summer’s family cycling adventure around the island of Hokkaido, Japan was no exception.
After using some of my bike’s kit to outfit my wife and daughter’s bicycles for our trek through Japan’s northern most island. I was in need of a couple of new bags and pouches for the Divide, plus some minor tweaking to sweeten the ride. Here’s a quick rundown of what I came up with.
Quad-Lock smartphone mount. To better access my iPhone 7 Plus while riding, I installed Quadlock Out Front Mount on the Jones Loop H-Bar. The Quad Lock phone case includes a tight-fitting rain cover for when the wet stuff starts flying. Having the iPhone solidly mounted in front of me on the handlebar gives me quick access to GPS apps for navigation, especially when in big cities. It also communications at my finger tips for incoming messages and talking hands-free.
Hafney Bar-End Rear View Mirror. Having a rear view mirror is essential to keeping safe when riding in heavy traffic. The B-Twin mirror became the casualty of a giant gust of wind one morning on Rishiri Island. The blast knocked the Divide over post-holing the handlebar in the ground and snapping the mirror into several pieces. Bye, bye mirror. Though not as big as the B-Twin mirror, the Hafney is well constructed and provides plenty of rear view visibility.
Cameras at the Ready
An Additional Camera Pouch. Successful images happen when preparation meets opportunity. Most of my shooting is done standing over or right off of the bike. If a camera isn’t easily accessible, chances are I’ll miss the shot or not even bother digging a camera out if it’s buried in a bag or pannier. I’m still using the Porcelain Rocket Mini-Slinger for the Sony RX1R II, which is equipped with a 35mm lens for the wide stuff, but now have added Sony A7RII, which is either mounted with a 55mm or an 85mm for portraits and such. To keep the A7 at the ready, I’ve modified a Lowepro 45 DSLR pouch so that it will mount to the handlebar with a similar strap set up as the Mini Slinger.
To keep the A7 at the ready, I’ve modified a Lowepro 45 DSLR pouch so that it will mount to the handlebar with a similar strap set up as the Mini Slinger. Shooting only prime lenses, I now have the ability to make candid portraits at my fingertips while straddling the bike. The Lowepro pouch includes a rain cover unlike the Mini-Slinger, which I procured from an old camera pouch.
New Panniers, Pouch and Pocket
Ortlieb Gravel Packs. The front Ortlieb Roller Plus bags I used as rear panniers have found a new home on the rear rack of my wife’s bike, so I opted for a pair of Ortlieb’s new Gravel Packs. The new bags a little narrower but very similar to the Front Roller Plus panniers I’ve been running with, save for a simplified buckling arrangement. Double instead of single mounting hooks help keep the panniers more secure, especially when the bags are locked down with a pair of ROK Straps that eliminates vibration and rattling.
Revelate Designs Mag-Tank. The zippers on the venerable Gas Tank pouch were beginning to get a tad stiff, so before they began to fail, I opted for a new Mag-Tank with a magnetic latch. With slightly less volume, the Mag-Tank is equipped with a zipperless lid and should provide years of trouble-free service.
Revelate Designs Egress Pocket. Keeping your kit dry in the rain is essential for long-distance riding. I upgraded the Revelate Designs traditional front pocket with their new waterproof Egress Pocket. The pocket’s waterproof material and roll top will keep water and dust out, which is great for protecting documents and sensitive electronics.
Tires, Saddle, and Bike Bag
Schwalbe Marathon Allmotion tires. There’s still a little rubber remaining on the Marathon Mondial tires, so I’ll keep them on for the upcoming shorter rides. But before my next long ride, I’m going to give the Allmotion tires a shot. They aren’t as puncture resistant but as the Mondial tires but have less rolling resistance. I’m assuming a little more risk with punctures to gain a little more speed. That’s the idea anyway. I’ll see how they work out.
Selle Italia Nekkar Saddle. The jury is still out whether I will keep the Selle Italia saddle or not. It’s the original saddle that came with the Divide and was still kicking around. So, I threw it on for a change. After riding with it for a while, I think I may just stick with the Tioga Spyder, which seems to fit me better.
Carrying a Bike Bag. Traveling around China and Japan has put me in the habit of carrying a lightweight bike bag, which is handy hopping trains when the situation arises. Trains in China and Japan allow passengers to carry bikes on board for free as long as they are in a bag and carried by the passenger. I had a fairly light bag tailor made in Shanghai but picked up a lighter, more compact Mont-Bell bike bag in Sapporo that fits neatly in my right rear pannier.
Stuff That Really Works
For those in search of quality kit, here’s a quick rundown of the gear that has worked the best for me. After several years and thousands of miles trouble-free riding, I can personally vouch for their performance and reliability. This is what I’m rolling with today.
Highly recommend the Co-Motion Divide. Gates CDX Carbon Drive Belt. Rohloff Speed Hub. Chris King bottom bracket and headset. Thomson seat post and handlebar stem. Paul Component brake levers and Klamper disc brakes. Jones Loop H-Bar and Gnarwal bar. Race Face flat pedals. Schmidt SON Dynamo. SON Edelux II head and tail lamps. Pletscher twin-legged center kickstand. Ryde Andra 35 rims. Planet Bike Cascadia 29er fenders. Revelate Designs Sweet Roll, Ripio frame bag, Gas Tank, Jerry Can. Tubus Cargo Evo Rear Rack. Rok Straps.
Drop me a line if you have any specific questions.
All in all, the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff is rock-solid expedition platform. It’s a clean set-up that has provided me with thousands of trouble-free cycling miles. Like a fine wine, it’s only getting better as the miles pass by. Continually simplify and refine, but ride. Cheers.