Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What worked, part 2

Before adding too the list of accessories that worked I should say something about my bike. When I allowed the idea of touring to become closer to reality the Novara Safari was one which fit my  sub-$1000 price limit. Research exposed the limitations and weaknesses as well as the much longer list of advantages. When REI made the all steel 2011 version available to members at a 20% discount and free shipping it was impossible for me to resist taking the giant step.

A saddle, raised handlebars, fenders and different tires accounted for the most significant additions and modifications. Its frame size (XL), long wheel base and 29er wheels make it a very large vehicle that suits me well. Concerns I had about sufficient low gearing were unfounded. Fully loaded it was very obedient and quite forgiving. Its natural flex when loaded smooth any but the worst road surfaces. Fitted with Shimano Deore throughout (except for the SRAM Attack twist shifters) it should be a durable bike.

Two significant parts on the Safari did fail. After having two broken spokes on the OEM Novara Long Haul Touring rear wheel in a matter of a month or so it was evident that a replacement was necessary. The replacement was built by my Friendly Neighborhood Bike Shop (Bikes and More) using the Deore hub and a Salsa cyclocross rim. There’s more to say about that wheel later. Five days into my tour one of the bolts holding the rear rack in place sheered off. I was able to use two zip-ties to take the bolt’s place and had no further problems with it. Upon my return Brian and Paul at Bikes and More removed the offending bolt and replace both with stronger stainless steel.

Obviously, the bike you ride should feel right and work well and, except for the above issues there have been no significant problems. Of course, part of this arises from having competent people add things like the fenders, raise the handlebars, install the front rack and do general maintenance. As part of their competent work is the professional manner in which they attend to minor issues or adjustments.

The original equipment Continental TownRIDE tires (700c x 42) were satisfactory, but many tourists touted Schwalbe Marathon Plus as the tire of choice (700c x 38). I departed on my ride with more than 2000 miles on the Marathons and had no fear that they would fail before completing my ride. A misplaced, knife-edged shard of shell was about the only thing that was going to compromise these sturdy tires. My sense of security has not been damaged by this unlikely failure.

My rear wheel replacement was a Salsa Delgado Cross. It was this rim that failed and ended my tour. As disappointing as this was I have to credit both wheel builder and rim manufacturer. “Never saw a rim fail like that,” was the paraphrased but identical observation of both. Salsa replaced the rim and Bikes and More built a new wheel.

I have only one negative thing to say about the Topeak Morph G pump. It’s damn hard for old eyes to see the little pressure gauge numbers. OK . . . put the glasses on! Other than that minor thing, it was a perfect companion. Both my Messenger Mirror and Click-Stand did their jobs perfectly. They have been discussed previously. A last minute, impulse purchase of a Walmart branded Genesis helmet also proved its value. With more vents the Bell Genesis I had been wearing it was cooler and was as comfortable as any helmet has been.

Water bottles have always been something I have but seldom think about beyond their obvious use, until I purchased a Camelbak Insulated bottle. How much insulating can be done with a plastic bottle? Much more than I anticipated. Several hours under an August sun turned cold water to cool. Remarkable!

I am fully confident that without a broken rim I would have been successful In making my round trip. Being on the road that long was uplifting, but did take me out of touch of those who mattered and with whom I would have preferred having more than text message contact. As with most of life, adjustments will have to be made if I tour in the future.

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