What bike do I need?

by Brett Seychell on August 21, 2012

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If you’re planning on cycling more than 20,000 km, then you want to find a bike that you’re going to be friends with.

It’s too difficult to tell you what bike is best for you and too easy to tell you that the more you spend on your bike, the less hassle you’re going to have with it. Neither is the case.

For me, I’m riding the same bike that I bought to ride the 5km journey to work to. I popped into Evans and bought something more based on price and the fact that I thought I’d never really use it more than twice. Little did I know then how close we would become.

If you want to know a little more about that story, click here.

By the way, I’m in no way promoting or endorsing Evans. There are plenty of much smaller, more specialised and passionate independent retailers that care about what you ride and why you ride it. If you can, go local, but analyse the advice and the person that’s giving it (including me and this blog).

My bike is a ‘Globe’. I know, I hadn’t heard of it either and neither have most bike shops I have taken it to since. I’ve now learnt it is part of the ‘Specialised’ family, a more familiar brand. Kimmi is riding a ‘Marin’, which seems to be familiar to most people that care.

Either way, both bikes are at the cheaper end of the UK market, and both are hybrid based. I didn’t want a road bike as I don’t like the  handle bar grip, but that’s personal preference. Saying that, there have been far too many roads where a road bike would suffer, so I’d advise against it for that reason alone.

What Matters:


Your tyres. We are on Marathon Plus tyres. Haven’t had a puncture in about 5000km. We’re on our second set, changed the first after 8,000km. Changed in Iran to the ‘best you can get’ and got four punctures per day on average. each.  If you don’t have good tyres before you set off, don’t stress about it. Just make sure you get them while you are still in Europe as you will struggle in the smaller cities, especially India and Sri Lanka.

Your gears. You’re going to use them a lot, so before you buy your bike, make sure they are a good brand and are of particularly high endurance.

Your front and back racks. Get steel, not aluminium. You won’t be able to replace them easily if the aluminium snaps on route and you want to be able to carry more weight than not. It doesn’t matter what brand and they are a little more expensive, but worth it.

Your bags. As big as you can, get four per bike and get Ortlieb bags. That’s it. No other brand. Everything else breaks and/or leaks. Trust.

Your pedals. We very nearly left with average everyday pedals. Our SPD cleats, are quite simply our most treasured possession. They make all the difference on the hills, but more importantly, cycling in the wet. Get the ones that can be flipped to be used with normal shoes, as when you stop in towns for a couple of days, you can ride with your flip flops or whatever to pop down the road.

What Doesn’t Matter:


Weight. Seriously, don’t stress about it. It certainly isn’t worth paying more money to save 200g on the weight of your sleeping bag or the weight of your bike. If you’re thinking about cycling around the world, then you shouldn’t be thinking about trying to make it easy. When we cycled through France, we were carrying magnums of wine in our bags.  You will forget about weight the second you set off, so don’t think about it before.

Your seat. A lot of people that have never done long distance cycle touring are going to tell you that you are going to get a sore ass beyond belief. Both Kimmi and I have been on the same seat that came with the bike, with no regrets. I don’t thnk they are particularly special and are certainly not designed for what we are doing, but they do the job just fine. Interesting to note though, that we also tried to use special padded cycling underwear and hated it. Did much more harm than good!


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