Chukker rim requires longer presta valve stem.
Deep V rims of the Velocity Chukker for bike touring
After a recent post regarding wheels for bike touring and commuting
I decided to get a set of Velocity Chukkers
. Just received these wheels today, several days earlier than expected and wow! I really like this new beefier rim and of course, yay now I have serviceable hubs. With a front and rear wheel combination built with thirty six spokes there is a noticeable feeling of confidence for loading the front rack. Twenty five pounds? No problem, not that I load that much weight over the front wheel but when and if I want to it's not going to be an issue.
Most noticeable difference between the Velocity Chukker Wheels
and my older Velocity Dyad Wheels
is the rim depth. Not a huge difference just needed a slightly longer stem for the presta valve to comfortably clear the rim with easy access for a pump. Fortunately I had a couple of 48 mm stem length tubes in the shop. So, if you're someone interested in the Chukker Wheels
note that you need a presta valve stem of at least 41 to 55 mm however I would suggest getting a stem no shorter than 48 for ease of pump use. For added convenience this is a common stem length found on 700c Slime Tubes
with presta valves and are available at many department stores if you find yourself in a bind needing a replacement tube while bike touring or commuting.
It's not that I like the Chukker rim better than the Velocity Dyad
but I like the hubs much better than the sealed cartridge hubs of my '07 Dyad Wheelset. Also, it's worth noting that because of the 135mm hub width I was able to change out the rear axle spacer for a nice easy fit with 130mm drop outs. I'm not particularly fond of black spokes and the color of the wheels had nothing to do with my purchasing decision but the machined side walls were a better price on sale. Although the thirty two spoke front wheel of the Dyad set never posed an issue when loading the front rack it concerned me when I found some lateral play in the front hub and took it to a shop in Colorado to have them look at it. The shop had pressed in some new cartridge bearings and a few weeks later there was some (though not as much) lateral play. So, I have decided since then that having hubs I can use cone wrenches on is better for maintenance reasons. Speaking of which due to the beefier rim design of the Chukker I know these wheels require minimal truing as I rarely needed to adjust the slightly less rugged Dyad wheels. When combined with the Vittoria Randonneur Trail II RFX
in the 700c x 35mm sizing it provides substantial durability for getting off road for some trails or off road touring.
New X Series Saddle Shape
Selle Anatomica has improved the "weak" points.
My original Selle Anatomica Titanico
Watershed saddle was in need of a new top from having stretched over the years and the threaded adjustment bolt was on its' last bit of threads. Considering how much it would have cost to get a new cover and after reading several reviews of how those older original models had problems with the rails bending I decided to get a new saddle with chromoly rails instead.
I don't mind investing in quality particularly when it's something that can be rebuilt or repaired over the next several years. Given the information provided by Selle Anatomica's new design methods I feel very confident in their new line of products particularly after having purchased the NSX model for my off road touring bike.
First of all the newer model Selle Anatomica X Series Saddle
has a much nicer shape from the original design. Dubbed as their "Flex Fly" design the patented slot creates two separate wings which move or "flex" independent of one another providing a comfortable leather saddle which requires no break in period.
Secondly, the newer design also supplies a longer threaded adjustment bolt which allows the saddle to continue to be stretched further than the older models for longer life of the leather. It may have been possible to simply replace my old saddle's 44mm bolt with the newer 55mm bolt available direct from Selle Anatomica but as I mentioned I preferred to invest in the 4130 chromoly rails, another factor contributing to the saddle's longevity.
I began to notice that the old nose piece design on my '07 Titanico saddle wanted to sort of pop off the end of the frame after the shorter 44mm adjusting bolt had been pushed to its' maximum limit of adjusting the leather. The following quote from the Selle Anatomica product site is another reason I chose to invest in their new frame and nose design.
"While the replacement tension bolt is compatible with older models, we recommend that you not tension the saddle past the point where the nose piece can rest fully and safely on the frame
Yeah, I can concur that statement with the photo at left showing where the leather broke on my old saddle from having tension on the adjusting bolt at its' last threads for the past few years. Photos below show the differences between the older adjusting bolt design on left and the newer, longer adjusting bolt of the X Series Saddle
V shape of older Titanico model
Older Titanico model with shorter adjusting bolt and without threaded sleeve as on the newer X Series saddle.
New nose design of the X Series Saddle not only provides a longer adjusting bolt but has a reinforcing threaded sleeve as well.
The X Series
saddle is touted as Selle Anatomica's work horse saddle for both heavier riders of up to two hundred fifty pounds and for high mileage riders of a hundred miles per week. You might assume then that this saddle would be stiffer and less comfortable with their product description of reinforced dual laminates and thicker leather, however like my other two Selle Anatomica saddles this X Series Saddle was also comfortable on its' first test ride.
So far what I am really liking about the newer X Series model
is the much more contoured shape. My older Titanico shown at left needed to be sanded along either edge in order to prevent chafing on my inner thighs. During my last ride with this saddle I noticed it was beginning to rub again but only on my left side and was most likely due to the saddle needing to be adjusted again. However, because it was so stretched over the years that's how I determined it was time for a new saddle.
Fortunately for me I never had the problem of the rails bending on my older Titanico model but it always concerned me after hearing about it being an issue with several other owners of the same saddle model.
Although the new X Series model
is sixteen grams lighter for you weight weenies out there this saddle actually feels sturdier. After changing the saddle frame materials to chromoly steel they also changed the geometry of the frame which is something that most likely lends itself to the new shape of the leather's top cover.
Upon receiving your saddle you are provided with where to find installation information regarding how to setup your saddle to achieve optimal comfort and performance from your saddle as well as where to register your saddle's warranty information. Selle Anatomica Saddles
are still made in the US and continue to offer innovative ideas and products to provide customer satisfaction. Use any of the links provided or click on top image for information or to purchase your Selle Anatomica X Series Saddle
Links related to this topic:Made in USA, Selle Anatomica TitanicoSelle Anatomica NSX Mountain Bike Saddle ReviewMaking the Hard Feel Easy, Having a Good Bike Saddle
"Roll on brother, like wind inside the wheel"
Relics of old wheels and bike parts still find some use as repurposed bike art in Durango, CO.
Leatherman Tool easily removed broken spoke
I decided this year to replace my touring bike's wheelset for a couple of reasons.
1. My experience with cartridge style bearings is that I don't like them. I received a rather high quality wheelset from a company I won't say who and I was told that one to two millimeters of lateral play in the hub was normal. Yeah, I disagree there shouldn't be any lateral play in the hub of a wheel and so I'm sticking with good old cup and cone hubs.
2. Do I really need forty spoke wheels for my bike touring needs? No and this is mostly due to the fact that my experience with quality wheels is simply that a hand built wheel or "how" a wheel is built vs. machine built wheels provides a significant difference in wheel maintenance. This translates as quality hand built wheels require less frequency of truing than a machine built wheel.
A lot of information is available regarding this topic and I'm not going to venture into the philosophical kaleidoscope and never ending debate of wheel building, wheel engineering, or physics. There's been plenty of banter about what is the minimum number of spokes for a solid bike touring wheel. Forty on the front and forty eight on the rear has been a rule of thumb by a few wheel building experts. I agree that if someone plans on hauling uh, how much weight are we talking about hauling on a bike with that stout of a wheelset? That's how you find what wheelset is really necessary for your own bike touring and commuting needs. Refer to previous post regarding Loaded Touring Bike Weight
On the other end of the spectrum are road bike wheels with twenty spokes which have to be trued too often when used for bike commuting, let alone touring. I have heard folks complain about feeling scandalized by their local bike shop for selling them a bike for commuting that didn't have the wheels needed to meet the demands of pot holed roads and minimal load carrying. These days the wheel size options for any bike that can be used for commuting in 650b, twenty niner, 700c and of course twenty six inch wheels provide varying strengths, weaknesses and efficiency differences. For example a thirty spoke twenty six inch wheel is sturdier than a thirty two spoke 700c wheel but the 700c wheel provides better rolling efficiency. Personally, for my commuting needs the efficiency variable between twenty six inch wheels versus 700c wheels has never been an issue. For mixed terrain of dirt, gravel, pavement, potholes and load carrying capacity for commuting the twenty six inch wheel has always performed admirably with much less need of truing maintenance. Tire selection of course also contributes to wheel maintenance as a larger touring style tire while providing load bearing qualities is also better at absorbing bumps and providing a type of suspension absorbing quality between the riding surface and the wheel. Of course for longer miles of road touring the efficiency of a 700c wheel dominates.
My own experience with a thirty two spoke twenty six inch wheel has kept me from "upgrading" or changing to a 650b wheel. While riding my '93 Bridgestone MB 1 to run some errands this past winter I heard a front spoke break so I immediately stopped, quickly removed the broken spoke with my Leatherman Tool
, spun the wheel and was pleasantly surprised to find that the wheel was still holding true! I was able to finish my ride of approximately seven or eight miles without issue so I could repair the wheel when I got home at my leisure. A broken spoke on my road bike with twenty spokes on the front wheel wouldn't have been as uneventful. So regardless of wheel size here are the basic characteristics that contribute to a quality wheelset for bike touring and commuting. There essentially four basic categories of a complete wheel and consist of a rim, spokes, nipples and hub. That's it, so it's actually very simple to determine what is a good quality wheel set for bike touring and commuting.
1. Rim: Double walled rim construction. Absolutely, I have heard of folks being happily content with single walled wheels being used specifically for gravel road riding but for tried and true commuting and touring purposes a double walled rim is a must. Velocity, Sun Ringle, Sun CR 18 and Mavic Open Sport are a few examples of quality rims with established reputations for bicycle touring and commuting.
2. Spokes: At least thirty spokes. A quality built wheel set like those provided with a Mavic Open Sport
Rim and Tiagra hubs have an established reputation of durability. Sheldon Brown praised the Shimano Tiagra hub as rivaling even more expensive top of the line hubs at a modest price, not to mention the ease of servicing the hubs. This is the type of wheel that can be used for demanding commutes or light weight bike touring and can easily handle weekend bike camping getaways. Stainless Steel Spokes. Yeah, ever worked on a bike with galvanized spokes, hahaha, quality wheel sets are going to be built with quality spokes, duh. DT Swiss spokes are worth making mention as they are commonly used on some of the finest wheels available. Good stuff.
3. Brass nipples are common and many new alloys are making better spoke nipples than those qualities offered by brass. Weight and corrosion resistance are the two most touted qualities of alloy nipples. However, regular lubrication of brass spoke nipples when a wheel needs to be trued for instance, is enough to keep the corrosion from setting in on the spoke nipple for it to be an issue.
4. Hubs: As I mentioned there are two basic types of hubs commonly available today. Sealed cartridge bearings and cup and cone bearings. Don't be fooled by a sealed bearing to mean cartridge bearing. Some of the descriptions of a sealed hub does in fact contain cup and cone bearings. If you find some good wheels at your local bike shop and they have the tools to service the cartridge bearings and you plan to ride mostly for commuting or local touring then the hub construction wouldn't be an issue. However, if you plan on servicing your own bike or want to be able to have the wheels serviced wherever you might be in the world then get cup and cone bearings for their serviceability. Determining your needs for a quality bike wheel set need not become rocket science. Determine your own personal needs or what you intend to use your bike for. Reference some of the leading touring bike manufacturers and see what is being installed on their rides. Thirty six spoke front and rear touring wheels can last for many thousands of miles of loaded touring. Many folks who know how to appropriately pack and load their rigs for bike touring or bike packing are sharing their information online. As we were taught years ago in Oregon to load more weight on the front wheel than the rear was based on the idea that the front wheel is not bearing the load of your body weight like the rear wheel is. For that reason having a thirty six spoke wheel in the front as well is a good idea. Some folks don't like how a bike feels or handles when packed that way but for all practical considerations of wheel maintenance it is the preferred method. Some of our favorite wheels for bike touring and commuting are listed below for information or to purchase. I have only listed four wheelsets, two for 700c touring wheel size and two twenty six inch mountain bike wheels for touring and commuting that can be used for disc or rim brakes. My favorite rims are from Velocity and I have been enjoying a rather maintenance free set of touring and commuting wheels for several years. The Velocity Chukker Wheels consist of thirty six spokes front and rear and are available with machined or non machined side walls. 26" Wheels for Bike Touring and Commuting: Sun Rhyno Lite MTB Wheel Set 26" x 1.75, Deore 8/9-Speed QR, Black 32 spokes Sun Rhyno Lite MTB Wheelset 26x1.5 Black Rim Brake 36-Hole Shimano M525A 8/9/10S
700c Wheels for Bike Touring and Commuting:Rims: Sun CR18 Rim, Hub: SHI M430 8/9sp BK 32H Sun CR18, 36H, double walled, silverHubs: Shimano M430, 8/9-speed, quick release, silver
| || |
All the wheel sets listed here are double wall rim construction, thirty two or thirty six spokes and serviceable hubs.
Hot Weather Tips for Bike Touring and Commuting
Follow your Shadow
A fun summer trail riding buddy.
Several years ago an old friend gave me some pretty solid advice (no, it wasn't my dog) to "follow your shadow". There were some other rather esoteric connotations left for me to derive from that but for practical considerations of helping to stay cool if your ride gets too hot is to put the sun on your back and follow your shadow. It's rare that I find myself in such a situation where I feel that I have needed to change course or direction to avoid being over heated but on a couple of rare occasions it has been good to know. Lightweight convenience, small hydration pack
For example while riding through a long stretch of hot, dry, barren portions of New Mexico I found myself riding into winds of over twenty miles per hour. It wasn't too bad at first but after thirty minutes or so I realized the wind was drying my perspiration so that my body wasn't cooling properly. It was an oddity and something which hasn't occurred since due to the rare combination of elements at the same time. Riding directly into the sun and extreme wind in an extremely arid climate with no shade even though I was exercising it was like riding into a very hot blow dryer. Because I was familiar enough with the area I knew I could make it to a shaded desolate truck stop before my skin was damaged from what felt like a cooking effect. If I had thought of it I probably would have turned on to a side road for a bit and "followed my shadow" for a bit help my parched face and skin to cool off. Fortunately it wasn't necessary and that experience, including a few similar ones have given me some solid preparation skills for riding in hot weather.
I have been reading a bit about proper hydration methods for cyclists lately, if just to check in with what folks are fussing about these days. Debunking myth of coconut water being better than regular water, whether or not you need an electrolyte drink, adding salt and or sugar to your water for better absorption. That's all fine and whatever that is but when I start reading about "how much water you should take on a fifty mile ride" I immediately holler out nonsense! Oh sure, I will only consume twenty ounces of water on a fifty mile ride on a hot summer day under ideal circumstances. Fine, but if I get a flat, or some other haphazard event such as the winds decide to kick up off the Gulf from a different direction that wasn't in the weather forecast (which occurs quite often) then the amount of time to ride that same distance can double when riding into strong winds. I am not a worry wart or an overly prepared "expect the worst, hope for the best" type of bike folk. Rather, based on personal experience I take enough water for hydrating under ideal conditions as well as if my ride decides to last twice as long or longer than planned. Another factor besides summer heat is humidity. Humidity has been much less challenging than the blow dryer effect in New Mexico but is certainly another consideration as to how much water is needed to ride x number of miles.
My favorite method of simple hot weather bike touring or commuting hydration has been the use of a small seventy ounce hydration pack for convenience. Most folks ride the same bike to commute on and maybe have another bike for touring. I have four or five bikes I like to use for bike commuting and a few I like to ride for bike touring and camping and depends mostly on the type of terrain I will be riding. My point being that having a hydration pack makes it easy for me to pack my helmet light, a rear light clipped to the hydration pack, multi tool, tire levers, patch kit, a few snack bars and a couple of spare tubes in different sizes so that whatever bike I'm riding I'm prepared. I like the smaller size particularly for summer as I hardly notice the weight and is very comfortable to wear in a cycling specific design. I also appreciate the blue color of the pack as it seems to be sort of cool and refreshing visually when I'm not wearing it. High Sierra
offers smaller hydration packs that are well made and very affordable. I have been using mine for three years now and it still looks brand new. After replacing the bladder reservoir this year I'm sure I can get a few more years of use from it.
following shade with bucket hat
For longer full day bike touring during the summer months I don't have to carry as much gear, particularly warm clothing or cooking equipment. For a typical day of bike touring which consists of forty to sixty miles having at least one full insulated water bottle with my hydration pack works very nicely. An excellent choice for this is the Swig Savvy Insulated Water Bottle
that can be used with hot or cold liquids. Very durable quality steel water bottle with three different bottle caps included.
At the end of a long hot ride I don't like drinking hot water but this type of water bottle keeps it just cold enough when I add ice before my ride so that the water temperature is not an issue, even after a long day of hot weather bike touring. During the winter it can be used as an excellent coffee or tea thermos for either bike commuting or touring.
While preparing to finish up this post I asked the girls here what one item would they recommend for hot weather bike riding and they agreed on a shade hat. Good idea as they asked questions about the hypothetical ride circumstances their top two suggestions were sunscreen and a sun hat. Like a day at the beach, I got a good chuckle out of it and I like their attitude. Sure, sun hats work well preferably off of the bike as I prefer to wear a helmet particularly over rough terrain trail rides.
However, I used to wear my old Kavu Bucket Hat
for all my summer rides as shown in photo of mountain biking in Sedona, Arizona. Yep it was hot and I kept the sun on my back for most of the return ride home. That old hat lasted several years until my puppy decided I needed a new one and chewed it to pieces while he was teething. Since I still have my Kavu Visor
which has lasted even longer than the Bucket Hat and Kavu Strap Cap
. Kavu products, at least the hats anyway are made in the USA based out of Seattle, Washington. Excellent summer head wear on or off the bike.
I wear a helmet when I ride and there are cooling benefits to be said for wearing a helmet. Well ventilated, sun deflecting, built in visor and when combined with a Head Sweats Shorty Beanie and Helmet Liner
it's an excellent combination for beating the heat. This prevents sun burn or heat getting to your head through the helmets air vents as well as an excellent solution for keeping sweat out of your eyes. The shorty model doesn't have long ties on the back that could blow around in the wind on to your face in an annoying manner.
This is another on of those products that I have owned for several years and continues to work as designed.
Links related to this topic:Variation of Hydration, Got WaterLittle Hydration Pack That Could, Can and Will
Old School style of Pasela Tour Guard tires
When you hear bike touring folks run down their list of must have qualities in a tire for touring most common is durability and flat protection. Schwalbe and Vittoria are perhaps the two leading tire manufacturers meeting those demands in a touring tire.
Selecting a tire width for touring is where folks differ and this is mostly due to what the rider feels comfortable with in terms of performance and handling over their most traveled surface. Another consideration is how much stuff gets packed into panniers which is another consideration for wheel stress. Some touring tires bear the weight of loaded racks and panniers better than others. When I rode with Schwalbe Marathon tires
in the 700 x 32 size it felt as though the tires provided suspension between the road surface and the wheel's rims. However with the same tire in the 28mm width the ride was so harsh that I was regularly having to true the rear wheel. As the tire's casing was so robust and solid though hardly wider than my Velocity Dyad touring rims the tires seemed to echo every rough surface reverberating to my hands. Over rough asphalt it was tolerable but over gravel and dirt roads was when the wheels took most of the beating. Sure I never ever got a flat with those tires even when I rolled over a patch of goat head thorns for a quarter mile or so that had accumulated on the tire to the point where they were scraping on my fenders. I still didn't get a flat!
I currently own a pair of very robust Vittoria Randonneur Touring tires
with their Ultra Shield flat protection. They are thick, heavy tires that require a bit of pushing on most rides. Over gravel roads or trails they are exemplary with more tread depth than my Schwalbe Marathons and really seem to roll faster on or off road. It is also the widest tire I have ever installed on my road touring bike at 35mm and they just barely clear the full fenders. When I ride over very loose gravel or rocks I can often hear the tires throwing debris around under the fenders. During fall wet weather riding some times wet or partially wet leaves would get stuck in the narrow clearance between the tire and fender.
There is a brick and cobblestone pathway near our house that is perfect for testing how a tire feels over an irregular surface. It's not so much that it's bumpy it's that some tires actually feel that they grab and drop into each perpendicular groove between the bricks and rocks along the path which can feel very disconcerting. Even the robust size of the Vittoria's felt that way and I attribute it more to the tread design than anything else as it is designed to handle loose stuff with dirt and gravel.
Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard 700 x 32
Checking ride quality of tires over a nearby brick pathway.
As I mentioned most bike folks want ultra durability and unlimited flat protection. Usually the trade off is a heavier, slower rolling tire. So, if the topic of touring tires is all about efficiency isn't anyone producing a lighter weight, faster rolling tire with quality flat protection and enough durability to justify having a faster rolling tire?
While packing my panniers for a regional bike tour I mindlessly tossed a Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard
folding bead 700 x 32 tire that I have kept either in a pannier as a spare for long tours or in a tool box when not needed. I rode with these tires more than ten years ago on an old mountain bike I used for commuting. I remembered how fast those tires rolled although other tires offered better flat protection. I decided to order a second tire to match my old spare to see how I would like the ride.
First thing I did was "hit the bricks" with them as previously mentioned and the Paselas
rolled over all those grooves like they weren't even there. Not once did the tires grab or get hung up in the grooves along the surface, not even in the curve where tires that don't perform well or perform even reasonably well always seem to grab. Next I took the tires for a fifteen mile jaunt as the wind was kicking up pretty good and set a course that would best challenge the rolling resistance, or lack of resistance of the tires. As with any tire review I simply fill the tire to the manufacturer's recommended pressure. For the Pasela TG's it's ninety five, same as my old Schwalbe Marathons
and both tires are made of 66 tpi whereas the Vittoria's are 30 tpi and run at seventy psi. Weight differences are 640 grams for the Schwalbe Marathon 700 x 32 and 360 grams for the Pasela Tour Guard in the same size. Schwalbe has added a disclaimer stating that their flat protection technology does not increase rolling resistance, I'm sure that's true but the weight difference of the tires is significant enough to be noticeable. I say this after having swapped the Vittoria's which weigh in at 760 grams, which is twice the weight of of the Paselas.
This summer I am going to enjoy riding these tires for increased speed on hot days and high winds. When I feel the need to pack a lot of stuff for full touring rides I will use the Vittoria's for extra girth and added flat protection. For everyday commuting in areas of broken glass and regular road hazard debris the Paselas are an excellent choice. This is an excellent light weight fast rolling tire for bike commuting or touring .
Links related to this topic:Vittoria Touring Tire reviewBest Budget Tires for Bike CommutingFavorite Gravel Grinding Tires
From Mountain Bike to Commuter Bike to Touring Bike
Large Handlebar basket rests atop front rack
'93 Bridgestone Catalog with fun illustrations
'93 Bridgestone MB-1 as I had found it with stripped threaded 1" steer tube and broken fork dropout.
New fork, shorter riser stem and sweeping ergonomic bars provides instant commuter bike conversion.
Converting an old steel frame mountain bike can be accomplished and identified as two distinct phases of the bike's transformation. Here is a precise definition of conversion; a substitution of one component for another so as to effect a change:
What begins as a simple, no frills basic vintage trail bike instantly transmutes when handlebars and stem are swapped out for comfortable commuter handling and posture. Adding a set of fenders, a rear rack and some efficient tires for commuting and oala, presto, ta da, it's a mountain bike for commuting. Yay!
So, what makes a touring bike different from a bike for commuting? Well that depends on some other factors when you are considering all the bikes available on the market defined as commuter bikes including three speeds and such. For this topic of converting a mountain bike to a touring bike the only difference to "qualify" this bike build project as a touring bike is the addition of a front pannier rack.
Nothing is at all lost in this process after all when it's all said and done the mountain bike that began the project still exists as a mountain bike that can be used for touring.
Like most avid bike folks who appreciate a high quality frame I love the old steel mountain bike frames and in particular those with lugged design. One name comes to mind when reminiscing over the golden era of steel lugged mountain bike frames and that's Bridgestone.
Back when folks would pour over Grant Petersen's Bridgestone catalogs a following was quickly established and today you might hear the term "BOBISH" referring to the Bridgestone Owners Bunch. Described as some bike folks who "stuck with steel through the aluminum and titanium years".
Setting aside all bike cultish nonsense there are some genuinely practical reasons for preferring a solid old steel lugged mountain bike frame to build up as a dependable commuter touring bike. If steel frames feel better than the more rigid aluminum frames than a lugged frame from Ritchey Logic tubing is something of a Cadillac in frame design. If you're one of those folks who feel that 700c or Twenty Niner wheels are a necessity for bicycle touring, check out Darren Alf's Co Motion Pangea
that he's been riding for at least a couple years now and continues to ride as his bike of choice to fit his bike touring lifestyle. Complete with 26" wheels of course.
So my point here is to say that the tried and true twenty six inch wheel is not dead, far from it. Recognizing the fact that a high end bike company like Co Motion is successfully producing and selling a three thousand dollar touring bike with twenty six inch wheels and some guy is out there riding the thing all over the world enjoying every trip he goes on then do yourself a favor and consider your own possibilities of building up an old steel frame mountain bike for touring or commuting.
This is not the first bike I've built up and converted to a touring bike. I love my old Diamond Back Ascent EX though it has a very long top tube and required more comfort consideration with a complete overhaul of the cockpit. Which brings to the point of swapping out those old stems, which is the number one part to convert an old mountain bike especially for touring. Tom Ritchey's patent eight inch long flat stem and bars though perhaps some of the finest components you will ever encounter on vintage mountain bikes is a brutal combination for a touring bike. Some folks find it suitable enough to simply add bar ends, the most popular being the Ergon line of ergonomic grips and bar ends. However, for this conversion project I decided to go with sweeping handlebars as an ergonomic approach to improving the ride comfort in which case bar ends are not used.
Enjoying how this bike handles for both touring and commuting.
Bike packing seems to be gaining more popularity particularly with off road enthusiasts wanting to explore gravel roads and trails. It's a different method of implementing bike bags and gear typically with the use of frame bags, seat packs, and handlebar bags. Smaller front racks are often used to help stabilize the handlebar load but not always. It makes sense for those riding conditions described that having low rider panniers on conventional front touring racks might inhibit ground and cornering clearances for particularly rugged terrain. My purpose of pointing this out is that it might make more sense when converting a mountain bike for touring that setting the bike up for bike packing would be easier.
Not necessarily. Regarding bike handling characteristics for me it's knowing how the bike's steering characteristics and overall feel of handling with a load as being more or less predictable that determines my choices in bike packing. So, is this a touring bike for bike packing? Of course it is I just prefer to use a tried and true low rider front rack with the steel construction of the Minoura FRP 3000
. This is essentially the only additional bike accessory needed to convert a commuter bike to a fully loaded touring bike. This helps shed light on the process of converting an old mountain bike as it goes through it's first phase as a commuter bike before making it to touring bike status.
Links related to this topicBridgestone MB 1 Threaded Fork Reviews A Bike for All SeasonsHandlebar Favorites Build a Touring, Trekking, Commuter Bike
Looking for a new touring bike with a steel frame, good components, rack, fender braze ons, disc brakes, with wider tires than a conventional road bike for a price at or approximately a thousand dollars. Wouldn't it be nice to find a bike that meets all the criteria of quality touring bike standards with a customized bike fit system designed specifically to meet their customer's needs? I was looking for just such a bike when I found the Fitwell Bicycle Company Fahrlander
and Fahrlander II
Fitwell Bicycle Company Fahrlander bike offers an excellent design for bicycle touring and commuting
Fahrlander frame geometry is in keeping with traditional touring bike frame design.
As a former bike shop owner one of the most appreciated offers from Fitwell Bicycle Company is their rebate offer
of up to one hundred fifty dollars to ensure your new bike is assembled and tuned by a qualified bike mechanic of your choosing. This is proof of a company caring about their customer's bike fit and ride satisfaction. Visit their site to download the rebate form
that must be filled out by the service provider.
Internet bike sales have effected local bike shop's sales as big box company's are able to offer bikes at prices well below suggested retail and with free shipping. Most notably has been Bikes Direct, an online bike superstore that had my customers asking me if I could complete with the prices and then asking me if I could assemble the bike for them once it arrived. Of course I offered the service but I did not offer the same tune up specials available if they had purchased a bike from our shop. That having been said, due to my experience of shop service and bike sales in a very competitive market it is refreshing to find a company that has built their bikes as it specifically pertains to customer satisfaction with local bike shop loyalty in mind. In short they are basically saying "here is an excellent bike and here's some rebate cash to give to your local bike shop to ensure the bike operates safe and properly". It's a beautiful thing.
Fahrlander is designed to fit for bike touring
Fitwell Bicycle Company "Morgan" Fit for leisure rides.
Fitwell Bicycle Company's "Riley" fit for touring bike
Fitwell Bicycle Company "Alex Drew" fit for roadies.
Fitwell's Fahrlander and Fahrlander II is a quality bike designed as a touring bike and of course would be an excellent choice for bicycle commuting. Providing a comfortable frame geometry for a more relaxed riding position the Fitwell name derives more from three or four options of posture or style than it does actual bike fit in the technical sense of the word.
Photos on the left depict the four riding styles or "fit" as described at their company site. Every bike designed and built by Fitwell Bicycles fits one their four bike styles. Their first style called the "Morgan" refers to a very upright riding position with a bike designed for leisure commuters or a porteur bike.
For the touring bike being discussed the riding style is dubbed the "Riley" and the Fahrlander
and Fahrlander II
are designed to provide that riding posture. This is an excellent posture for bike touring and has been discussed in another post. Remember, after purchasing a bike from Fitwell Bicycle Company
entitles you to the rebate so that your local bike shop can help you get the bike dialed in for an even better fit.
"Alex or Drew" fit (style) is a couple of options providing roadies with the more or slightly less aggressive riding style for aerodynamic comfort and performance and have a couple of bikes built for that particular style as well.
This is all meant to clarify what the company defines as "fit" which I would refer to as style or posture. Anyhow, I'm going to point out a few things about the Fahrlander as a touring bike.
Around here we have become quite fond of our Minoura front racks and if you want to install a front rack on the Fahrlander take note that the fork does not have braze ons for cantilever or linear pull brake options, it is strictly a disc brake fork without midway threads on the fork for mounting a low rider style front rack.
I am pointing this out for folks looking for a new touring bike as there are front racks available that would certainly work with the Fahrlander but it does limit some of the choices. That having been said there are the threaded braze ons needed at the dropouts for both a rack and fenders both front and rear. As the Minoura MT 4000sf
is designed to accommodate disc brake and comes with clamps for suspension forks the clamps could be made to fit solidly with the additional axle mount design. Or for a lighter weight solution there is the Axiom Journey Suspension and Disc Low Rider front rack
As far as gearing is concerned both the Fahrlander 1 and Fahrlander II have double chainring cranksets. They are compact cranksets at 50t and 34t but for touring you really want to be using a triple geared like a mountain bike. Fahrlander I is a nice nine speed cassette whereas the Fahrlander II has the current ten cluster. Shimano 105 drivetrain group is a very nice setup but the Tektro Lyra disc brakes have very few but mixed reviews, mostly from folks installing on their own rigs. Discounting possible installation errors on part of the reviewers I do know that the rotors included with the Lyra calipers are reported as being much thinner than avid bb7's for instance. For proper brake setup and tuning is advised to use the rebate from Fitwell Bicycle Company for your local bike shop.
Weinman Rims with Novatec sealed cartridge hubs are coupled with bladed spokes to provide some durability for a bike described as being designed for "adventure". Maxxis Columbiere 700 x 32 tires provide some flat protection in a grooved semi slick design that wouldn't perform really well on trails.
In summary I really like the Fahrlander 1 and with its' current price tag it would still be worth using the rebate to swap out the crankset if needed for loaded touring. However, if you ride mostly on the flats or do more credit card style bike touring none of that is an issue. Slap a rear rack on with a nice handlebar bag with a trunk bag or rear panniers and have fun! I'm sure either of the Fahrlander models can handle it no problem.
Note that I have included a link in an older post to a free bike ergonomics ebook
written by Juliane Neuss. Wherein she describes four basic riding postures similar to those adopted by Fitwell Bicycle Company. It's an excellent resource for understanding some of the aches and pains experienced while riding a bike with solutions to most common complaints. Click on photos or links provided in post for more information or to purchase.
Links related to this topicEffective Posture for Commuter Touring Bike
Ergonomic Bike Comfort
Review of Tenn Tempest Pannier Rain Cover
Elasticized edges and metal button straps
Affordable Quality pannier rain covers from Tenn
My ten year old Axiom Cartier Panniers
have been in need of some good rain covers. After several years of being exposed to all sorts of weather conditions and UV rays the material (although very faded) of the old panniers is holding together quite well.
I considered replacing those old panniers with something similar as I like the design of the metal mounting hooks and swivel lever lock that holds them securely in place on front racks for bouncing along trails and such. I also have come to appreciate the heavy duty bungee and hook that not only keeps the panniers from swaying in turns but they also don't rattle like a lot of Ortlieb panniers with their locking mount system. After several years of service the bungees were wore out and so rather than buy new panniers I ordered the axiom replacement pannier bungee
for each..While I would love to try the newer axiom seymour panniers
the top mounting hooks and lever have been replaced with Rixen and Kaul adjustable hooks. It's an excellent mounting system getting excellent reviews and will be the next set of panniers I get before the end of the year. Until then I thought it a good idea to find some good quality pannier rain covers
other than those available from axiom.
So, when I say I found some good quality rain covers, I sure enough did. Finding a reasonably priced set of quality pannier rain covers
wasn't easy. As the rain covers from axiom combined with cost of newer model panniers previously described plus the cost for covering my older panniers I might just as well have purchased a set of Vaude Aqua Back Cycling Panniers
that I have been considering.
Decisions made with budget constraints help me to find creative solutions to these considerations. After finding the Tenn Tempest Waterproof Hi Viz Bag Cover
for ten bucks a pair with a better quality attachment system than any other pannier rain cover I looked at. Two elasticized straps placed at bottom of rain cover are stretched up along the backside of the pannier then attaching with two high quality metal snaps on top. It's an excellent design and feel much more durable than the Camelbak Rain Cover
from a previous review. There is nothing wrong with the rain cover from Camelbak and it works great with my Camelbak Capo Hydration Pack as well as a pannier rain cover as is described in my other post.
Fortunately both of these rain covers can be adjusted to perfectly fit all of the panniers I currently own including but not limited to Trek Pannier II Pack
, Delta Compact Panniers
and axiom Cartier Panniers
, subject of this post. Although the adjustment of the cinch style elasticized bungee sewn in around the perimeter of the Camelbak cover is more versatile, the Tenn Tempest Cover
is very durable made of a,coated polyester with reflective trim and a nice high visibility greenish yellow that's very nice looking. Despite being made of a thicker more durable material these rain covers are surprisingly packable with ability to fold small enough to stuff in my pocket if need be. I have read reviews of water proofing panniers vs. getting a pannier rain cover where the most common complaint regarding rain covers is the backside or inside of the pannier being exposed to water and leaking through to the pannier's contents.
Perhaps it's due to the fact that I have previously used waterproofing spray on my Cartier Panniers but what I have considered more importantly is drainage. Due to the design of pannier rain covers the water that gets in pools up in the bottom of the rain cover. When that happens and the bottom of the pannier is soaking in that pool of water then the stuff in the pannier is likely to get damp if not soaked depending of course on how the bottom of the pannier is designed. To remedy this it is preferable to have a pannier made of a sturdy enough fabric for adding a grommet hole. It's an easy fix that works very well. Grommet kits
are easy to use and very inexpensive with lots of other uses for do it yourselfers. If you're looking for an affordable quality waterproof pannier rain cover the Tenn Tempest Hi Viz Bag Cover is an excellent choice.
Links related to this topicCamelbak Rain Cover, Versatile for Wet Weather Rides
Kids know to get rest for their cooking classes
It has become quite silly around here with tents with the girls teasing me about my love of tents. When Lisa catches me looking at tents on the internet she immediately says "oh no, we don't need another tent". However she does find it humorous when I get excited about setting up all the tents at once.
Yay! Let's build tent city in the back yard. With Lisa's kid's cooking camp out this year we had the opportunity to set up a few of our tents but not all of them. Usually the girls sleep in the Dome workshop and the boys sleep in their Slumberjack six person tent
. This year however, while I was on night duty as usual the girls were freaked out by some spiders or roaches that crawled on them while they were sleeping on the dome shop floor. So I rendered immediate assistance by pitching the Mountainsmith Genesee Four Person, Three Season Tent
and my old Coleman Cobra Peak 1 two person tent
. These are the three tents shown in photo above and each has been an excellent tent for the price. We purchased the Mountainsmith tent
for the girls to sleep in with a couple of friends for car camping trips and it performed just as well as our REI Passage 2 two person tent that me, Lisa and the dog slept in under thirty to forty mph gusty wind conditions. However these are not tents for bike touring unless of course you are riding with a support vehicle such as with some bike tour companies.
I have three tents to choose from for my personal bike touring needs and each one offers its' own unique qualities. Only my fifteen year old Coleman two person tent has been discontinued and the only tent like it is the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent
. I have heard that the new Coleman Enyo or something like that was meant to replace the old Cobra Peak 1 but the Vango Banshee looks most similar. As sentimental as I am about my old Coleman tent as it weighs slightly more than three pounds with the MSR groundhog stakes and not using a footprint as it hasn't been necessary for fifteen years now. Anyhow, when I got the tent out for the a couple of the girls to use Lisa made it a point to say in a very serious tone "you tell them to be very respectful of that old tent". So I did in my own way have those teenage girls respecting that tent by telling them how old the tent was and that in the fifteen years of owning the tent only one other person, on one single occasion has slept with me in that tent, that being their mother. Teenage girls love stories like that and it's even better when they know it to be true.
Consisting of a single pole design the tent naturally needs to be staked out. This has rarely if ever been an issue even when I used it at a Walmart parking lot where I pitched it where folks let their dogs crap. How in the world I avoided pitching that tent on a pile of dog shit is a mystery. When I woke up the next morning I had to carefully step to avoid the dozens of piles on the grass. The all mesh body of the tent is excellent for summer camping and provides a wonderful airflow, the best of any of the other tents. Although the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent is a two pole design it requires stakes and has the same common complaint as my old Coleman. "That's a one person tent"! Lisa refuses the idea that it's actually a two person tent which is probably why we only slept in it together once. Folks are saying the exact same thing about the Vango Banshee two person model, so whatever, it's a very nice tent for bike touring and camping. Solidly built, excellent in heavy winds and rain, even in snow where the old Coleman was popular with winter enthusiasts and is how I heard about the tent being of such excellent quality for the price.
Nice ventilation at rain fly peak
Vango Banshee 200 is popular with some bike touring folks
Nice size, shape and vestibule storage
Last year I picked up an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 one person three season tent
. Two reasons, free standing model, absurdly inexpensive, a bit taller than the Coleman providing more headroom when sitting up. I actually felt a bit spoiled setting up the Alps Lynx 1 as the free standing style is so simple and easy.
When using the rainfly and when in very windy conditions it is necessary to stake the tent out. Single entry with vestibule it is a very nice tent that absolutely cannot be beaten for the price. I could criticize it in comparison to the Coleman Cobra Peak 1 tent where I have two entries, two storage vestibules, built in roof pockets and more compact pack size. However, after getting an Outdoor Research 5L dry bag
for stuffing the tent body and rainfly into I pack the longer poles and stakes in their own bag inside my thermarest mattress on rear rack so it is not an issue.
Another option with this tent and the next two tents is ability for a "quick pitch" or minimalist shelter. This is where you simply pitch the rainfly and foot print or ground cover. It's not an option with the Vango Banshee or Coleman Peak 1 tents due to their inherent design of needing to be staked down. Having a minimalist shelter option is nice to have when you just need or want some shade. In New Mexico while riding across vast open areas of desert with no shade at all it's a nice option to avoid heat stroke or if you get sun burned.
Love the large vestibule storage area.
This year I picked up the REI Quarter dome 2 two person tent. I was surprised to find no bike touring specific reviews for this tent. It's by far the best tent I own though I haven't had an opportunity to use it much. I did get to set it up just in time for a torrential down pour with all the tropical thunderstorms we had earlier this year and it was rock solid.
Heavy wind and rain and it didn't even flinch and I suppose this can be attributed to the pole frame design. Although it is a bit more complicated to set up,which is Lisa's only criticism of this tent. However, it is very spacious for a two person tent, dual entry, two vestibules, very lightweight at just over three pounds and I was also able to fit the tent body and rain fly in the Outdoor Research 5L ultra dry sack
for carrying on my front rack with poles and stake tucked inside my air mattress on rear rack.
Aaron's Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 Tent
Photo shows four panniers from both front and rear of my touring bike racks with a hydration pack tucked in the rather spacious vestibule without interfering with entering or exiting the tent.
It's impressive how much extra room and storage has been provided by the tent's innovative pole frame design. There are some rather odd functions to the design that I don't prefer and that is the plastic holders on the ends of the poles.
I will get some more photos of this tent and get another post made for this with more descriptive photos and information when I have an opportunity to use this tent camping or on a bike tour. After all, we know how much I love my tents, eh honey?
As much as I like this tent it is a bit cost prohibitive priced at three times what I paid for the Alps tent but not much more than the Vango Banshee 200 two person tent. Also, this tent is free standing, well ventilated and a couple pounds lighter than the Vango Banshee.
There are lots of reviews touting the Vango Banshee two person tent
as an excellent choice for bike touring but I have to say for the price and features of the REI Quarter Dome 2 I preferred to spend the extra money not only because it's a lighter weight tent but one that is more spacious knowing that Lisa will be much happier with the dog not sleeping on top of her. Click on any of the links or photos for information or to purchase. REI Quarter dome 2 is only available at REI.
Links related to this topicAlps Lynx 1 Person TentThermarest Sleep Travel ProductsCookstoves for Bike Camping
Oh yes, another tent for bike touring that one of our warmshowers guests touts as his favorite tent for bike camping is a three person tent. He enjoys having the luxurious space of a three person tent even when touring alone and despite the fact that the tent weighs a bit over five pounds. Personally, I wouldn't tote that thing hundreds of miles but he didn't seem to mind at all claiming he had given up on traveling light.
This is the type of tent for two person bike touring where each person carries a portion of tent to help with excess weight and bulk of packing. For example I heard of a couple who loved having the extra space of a larger tent so while he packed and carried the tent body and poles, she carried the rainfly and tent stakes. They love having what they referred to as "a palace of a tent" compared to whatever smaller lighter weight tent they had previously used. Aaron's Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 Tent
is shown in photo and I wanted to share his enthusiastic appreciation of his tent by including it in this post.
Who has a strong inner guideline and does not need the approval or admiration of others can stay himself in all circumstances. Nobody can find a point of attachment for harm. He never has to adapt his heart, but he can let it determine its own course, in freedom. Learning the easy way by being prepared
Here are four basic guidelines that have helped me not only to be prepared for the random stuff that can be thrown in one's way on the road of life but also some concepts and ideas to assist others needs as well. These are guidelines passed along to me from my father who has always shared with me the importance of leading a healthy active lifestyle which I feel is very important in today's techno driven gadget filled world.
1) "You can learn it the hard way or the easy way".
This is typical of someone who learns the power and value of integrity. Growing up and appreciating having an authority figure to respect whether it's at home, work or school is a gem of an experience. Ideally this lends to a compassionate mode of dealing with people in the "real world" who might need to be told those very words and perhaps even in a harsh tone is appropriate. It's not a threat or black and white thinking of right versus wrong it's more a matter of choice and natural consequence.
Keep this in mind as you pack your kit whether it's a ten mile bike commute to the office or a back roads adventure through several third world countries. Each scenario has potential problems and more often than not many potential disasters can be averted. For example I have a very small bottom bracket tool and crank arm puller that I take along on very long bike tours. Sure they add weight to my kit but I noticed myself taking it for granted when I needed these tools as the repair of simply tightening a bottom bracket cup that had loosened was uneventful.
We each have our own set of criteria which pertains to innumerable scenarios. Is it really alright to blow off learning the language where you're going or could it mean learning it the hard way for you? Not understanding currency exchanges, not taking a bike lock to work when you know it's more than a bit risky? You might get a block from the house without your bike lock and say to yourself "oh no I'm not going to learn the hard way" consequently going back to get your bike lock. Whatever the situation it's a good seed to have planted when needed.
One can learn a lot of one's faults, but one must have the freedom to make them. The quickest way to learn is by experience, which is a severe master, and with freedom and an open mind. Learning can be fun. It doesn't hurt anything to walk your bike
2)"Nothing has to be perfect".
I consider one of the most disruptive "qualities" of technology is the implication that we are achieving some level of perfection. No longer having to stop at the corner gas station to ask for directions to locate an address, technology has made life so much easier in many ways than it was just ten years ago, or five years ago or even last year. Ironically, although many things seem easier there is so much more available and taking place than before that the pace of day to day living is conducted faster. With a need to keep up with various technology such as kids being issued tablets at a public high school there is an additional learning curve necessary to perform basic tasks. This extends to the parents' need to understand that same technology just to interact and understand what is being expected of kids these days. With internet marketing, google maps and the vast social media networks even small business is feeling the pinch to keep up with current technology trends. Thank goodness for so called "glitching out". Phones glitch, are actually quite fragile, drop calls, GPS directs you to the wrong location and we are reminded that no we're not perfect, technology is not perfect and more often than not it doesn't have to be to simply get the appointed task completed. Also I might add that since the techno trend also consists of more user friendly gizmos one doesn't have to possess a rocket science intelligence to make use of the opportunities that technology has to offer.
I don't use bike apps any more. Sure I tried them out, saw how quickly they drained the phone's battery and because I prefer to have my phone for making or receiving calls, getting some photos or using GPS to navigate home I preferred to make sure I had plenty of phone battery. If I were to get turned around the bike apps I tried didn't have a navigating function so I didn't see the point in using a bike app.
Arriving at a long steep climb after already having rode forty miles in fifteen to twenty five mile per hour gusting head winds I then thought "now why don't they make a fricking app for this hill?". It served as a humorous reminder that I was getting out riding long and hard, feeling good about myself and my bike I had built despite the tough conditions. Point was it didn't have to be perfect for me to enjoy my ride.
When I had my own bike shop I had a customer ask me for a very obscure sized tube. He explained he had just come from Santa Fe and the "fancy bike shop there didn't have it". I looked through some old tube boxes that had been collecting dust and when I handed it to the customer he started laughing and said "you know that fancy shop there they were putting micrometer dial calipers on their brake rotors and they were rude. I think they just need to get out and ride those bikes Then I find this tube at a funky little shop like yours". I didn't take offense and could relate to the customer's sense of humor while he reminded me that nothing has to be perfect.
Perfectionism is mindset that eats at you and your happiness. Saying yes to being imperfect can turn that around. Portland homeless person with a bike
3) "It's fair for everyone".
This is for the have's versus the have not's and not feeling the need to compare, feel victim to circumstance nor feel guilty if you are fortunate enough to find yourself living the good life. It's one of my favorites and kinda imbibes the first two.
Is it fair that your bike was stolen even though you went to great lengths to lock it up? Should you sulk in the corner and pout like a victim and say "ah crud, I guess it's fair for everyone, must have been some sorta bad karma?" Not at all, somewhere along the line that bike thief made a choice to learn something the hard way. You don't know everything, you don't have to even though the unresolved pain and anguish of having been cheated will most likely linger for awhile as it does with most folks who are prey to any sort of crime. Be proactive, get another bike, find something to build that was better than what was stolen or perhaps you will come upon some funky old relic you just have to have because it just has so much darn character. If that doesn't help then by all means see a therapist for the anger issues so that you don't hurt someone.
I have had four bikes stolen over the past few years. The last one had me that kind of furious and it was quite awhile before I began to change my perspective just enough to shake it off and move forward with my life. I may have over compensated a bit for the loss but so what I used it as inspiration to fuel some really good work. Though to be honest I kinda hope to find that bike rolling around town one of these days.
While visiting my homeless brother in Portland, Oregon I met quite a few homeless folks who were living that way by choice. Most of them had determined that it was an appropriate lifestyle choice for whatever personal reasons or unresolved reasons they might have had. Some seemed to be running from their problems and some were definitely creating more for themselves and others. Portland's Street Roots Newspaper provides homeless folks with a means for making some cash by peddling the paper on the streets. Sometimes the "it's fair for everyone" idea is all that was keeping some of those folks cheerfully moving forward with some meaningful work despite their circumstances.
Don't demand the best place, recognition, perfection - not from others and not from yourself. Just show your value, and you will earn your rightful place. If your value is part of you, no one can take it away. Life smiles back when your being yourself
4) "You can do whatever you want, it's who you are"
Be yourself, that's enough of a task for any of us these days. Adopting someone else's ideas of right and wrong, being duped into short changing yourself or believing you are better off because after all some other person knows better than you what's good for you. Sometimes that's true but the goal is to move past that. Bikes are a great way to explore who you are, what you want and what you don't want. If you prefer leisure cycling to challenging hard endurance rides so what. If you enjoy challenging yourself once in awhile by seeking out some tough rides that's probably what you should be doing. Besides the many health benefits that bike touring and commuting have to offer there is the personal satisfaction of setting and meeting goals that you yourself put in front of you. I stayed off of my bike for a long period of time sort of as an experiment to see how that might effect my life for better or worse. It had definitely been of no improvement whatsoever. I started to feel isolated, not in touch with the community and simply not enjoying life as much as when I did get more long hard rides in.
Bike camping is an activity I cherish as I feel recharged and refreshed after getting outdoors with nature. I enjoy the gear that my kit consists of and the quality or funky lack of quality of some of it. Doesn't matter it's still fun and I learned how much I missed riding and embracing those activities by not doing them. I didn't find anything to replace it with and that could simply be because I didn't want to. By learning what you want you find out who you are.
Don't bother too much about all those big things happening around you, take care of your life and needs according to your own ethics. Very often the rest will follow. Trying to answer to something else, which lies beyond your immediate understanding, will seldom bring any solution. Your own simple, direct view is often the clearest one.