Cycling UK Forum - Touring & Expedition

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Updated: 1 year 17 weeks ago

Re: New brand, new adventure bike - views?

15 February 2016 - 8:44am
An interesting new departure for Alpkit. They have a reputation for competitive pricing by cutting out the middleman and sourcing direct, usually from China. They also have something of a reputation for erratic supplies. Things may have improved lately....... Their down sleeping bags were quite well thought of but I gave up waiting for stock to arrive.

I had a quick look at their other bikes and one thing that I noticed, apart from the unusual drive side chainstays, was that their appear to be no pannier mounts but I guess this ties in with them also selling bikepacking luggage. Why not provide them and leave the individual to decide whether or not to use them.

Route Calais to Brussels

14 February 2016 - 10:40pm
Hi all did a search but didn't seem to come up, does anyone have a gpx or tried and tested route from Calais to Brussels?

Thanks in advance.

Narbonne area.

14 February 2016 - 10:40pm
Does anyone know of a cyclist friendly place within 15 - 20 miles of Narbonne. We are planning going on the Bike bus and would like a place to stay for say a week and to go out every day from there, and then possibly moving on to a different place for the second week.
My wife is not now a strong cyclist so we are not going to move on every day this year we have done previously. We have already stayed at Les Volets Bleus. We would prefer a place that does breakfast and evening meal.

Re: Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 10:35pm
A couple of options not yet mentioned:
> Ask a fellow camper who has electrical hook-up (e.g. caravan, motor home, large tent) if they'd mind charging your power pack - I've done this many times and have always found folks happy to help
> Consider a dyno-hub to charge your power pack as you cycle - there are a number of threads on this topic - I'm trying this out this year for the first time (link here)
> In my case I had a power pack and a spare wheel rim for which I bought a dyno-hub and spokes for £40 (and built the wheel) and a voltage converter for £27
> If I'd needed to buy a rim and power pack this would have added maybe another £40, so for £110 you'd have your own power generating system for a bit more than the Power Monkey Solar Charger costs and the sun wouldn't need to shine brightly every day

NB - prices based on Rosebikes products and a 15,000mAh power pack from eBay.

Re: Lonley Planet or Bradt?

14 February 2016 - 10:23pm
Thanks Sweep.
Good comments.

Re the blogging; I have half heartedly completed a couple on the crazy guy site.
Last year I was on a 2 month tour with 3 others who write up their blogs every night.
It drove me mad since they were always complaining about WiFi speeds and/ or misdng out on local life etc.

However I must say I am always eager to read other blogs for helpful info.
Somehow I think I owe it to others to do one.
Is that wrong?

Re: Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 10:14pm
I do not carry a phone so do not have the daily problem. I do however carry a Kindle so would like to top it up at least once a week. For that purpose I carry a battery as suggested above and I have a very small French USB charger. On occasion I have left the battery on charge in a toilet block, but I'd suggest you make your own assessment of the campsite before doing so. I tend to use very small rural ones. Also, on this type of campsite I have found that the power boxes on the pitches sometimes have the French power socket as well as the big caravan job, and I have found that these sockets are ready for use. Since the charger would take very little power I have used those, also keeping an eye on things so that it is not plugged in any longer than needed.

Something I've not tried - a French camper told me that with some of the big caravan type sockets you can insert your French plug, twist through 90 degrees and it makes contact. As I said I've not tried it.

One thing to note - I've only seen it once, but on one site there was a big notice in the toilet block saying not to leave things on charge. I imagine this is not only because of theft but also the danger through people using cheap chargers (you will have read in newspapers about them causing fires).

Re: Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 10:06pm
Thanks for the replies. I have the power monkey extreme which also has solar power. Sounds like it shouldn't be too difficult to keep charged. When I tour I take phone, mp3, Garmin and kindle (which lasts ages).

Re: Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 9:43pm
Wouldn't recommend leaving anything charging unattended overnight in the sanitary block. I did once, went to bed and the next day the device, cable and charger had disappeared. This was on a small site in Bedoin next to Mount Ventoux.

Buy a portable battery charger of reasonable capacity (we now have one that's 15000mAh) and use this to charge your devices. When it's empty, leave it overnight at reception and it'll be full by the time you ride off in the morning.

We also have a very short electric hookup cable to use at campsites. It cost about £8 from Amazon and was really useful for keeping devices charged up. As it's so short it's not practical to run into the tent but of course takes up very little space in your bags.

Re: New brand, new adventure bike - views?

14 February 2016 - 9:34pm
What purpose does the titanium serve?

I'd check out breton bikes' review of the ridgeback expedition.

A complete bike for the price of that frame.

Re: Lonley Planet or Bradt?

14 February 2016 - 9:08pm
I have borrowed a few bradt guides for places i may go from the library and was impressed - they seemed to concentrate on giving a real feel for a place and the political/cultural background. I don't think much these days of books that recommend particularly good places to eat or stay or whatever. Even pre internet that sort of info dated rapidly and was often the kiss of death to anywhere interesting/good value. With the internet/smartphones it is surely almost laser directed instant death. I'd go for bradt and then trust to serendipity, a night free camping or in a flop house or whatever. And don't blog about it - just cherish the memories.

Re: Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 8:43pm
Last summer, going across France, Belgium and Holland to Amsterdam, I used one of those mobile charger things, but made sure I charged it up at any opportunity I got. I found that by being nice to the staff in the campsite, you could get them to plug it in behind the bar and I'd come back and I'd pick it up before the bar closed in the evening or the following morning. I also found plenty of plug sockets in the bars/cafes so I would charge my phone up whilst having a stop. I never found anywhere where I couldn't leave a phone or mobile charger plugged in.

Charging stuff in French campsites

14 February 2016 - 8:27pm
Does anyone know how you charge your phone etc in french campsites? My experience is fairly limited but I thought you had to pay extra for electricity and then you needed one of those caravan adaptors. Are there sockets in the toilet blocks? It was a doddle in Spain as there were plenty of normal sockets on campsites for no extra charge.

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

14 February 2016 - 8:14pm
First ride on them today. Very impressed they roll beautifully

Re: Review of Ridgeback Expedition 26"

14 February 2016 - 7:00pm
With regard to the actual chance of seeing one of these in the flesh as opposed to in a company spec sheet/brochure/web page (which from above it appears Ridgeback may have mis-publicised in some stuff) I may have made progress.

I popped into Balfe's Bikes in East Dulwich* and spoke to Dan (or some other three letter name - my memory for names is terrible) and it appears that he may get a couple of sizes in soon. Well he did phone to tell me so it's more credible than the old shop line about how they have just sold out, some maybe due next month, keep popping back...

Circumstances my end to do with purpose of the bike and storage mean that though I would very much like to see one the purchase of the exped bike will be later in the year (I was honest about this) but it may well be worthwhile for any other interested parties to get in touch with Balfe's East Dulwich and make it well worth their whlle.

It's a good looking well specced bike and apart from its possible use for crossing countries/continents is far more for for purpose for travelling across London than many other fanciful contraptions on the capital's roads.

* East Dulwich, south of the river, just south of Peckham, easy to get to from pretty much in anywhere in London by bike of course - handy stations East Dulwich or Peckham.

If Balfe's get some in they deserve to flog them to all of London - disappointing that no one else seems willing to.

As an aside, I learned in my searches (well I was told this by a staff member) that Evans, although a Ridgeback dealer, doesn't actually display Ridgebacks in any of its stores. They have to be requested. Very odd for a brand with a good pedigree of value and solid build quality. I was told that Evans displays the bikes its customers want/the most popular. From some experiences of Evans I cannot but suspect that the accountancy wonks choose what goes on the shopfloor according to other factors like margin/foor space yield etc. Why else won't you find the Etrex 20/30 in their shops?

Re: Sold secure gold D lock

14 February 2016 - 5:59pm
I think it was the gold rated squire d lock that got opened in just over a minute. Then they upgraded it and it lasted 3 minutes. Not sure about it personally. I'm really wary when there's something that offers a certain level of performance but is about half the price of most of the competitor's products.

If I recall it right you can use bolt cutters on one side to partially cut it then a simple lever attack breaks one side allowing you to twist it open. It's not a lock that locks both sides of the U bar in the cross piece which is probably a weakness. IIRC it's also lighter than most gold rated d locks, even the highly regarded and more expensive Abus granit range. Perhaps the material used isn't as strong as needed.

Re: Lonley Planet or Bradt?

14 February 2016 - 5:10pm
Thanks folks.
Yes I have tried out the local libraries but unable to locate a Lone Planet one.

Re the Bradt...
The chap who has written it for that past few years is now standing down.
He is 70+ and despite living on the island, thinks someone younger should take over.
He has posted this himself on this blog.
Nice guy. He's writen quite a few other books.

Yes, good points about what a book can / should do for a cyclist.

I'll be doing a northern half loop of the island.
30 days Max. Hopefully sheltering from the worse of the monsoon rains.


New brand, new adventure bike - views?

14 February 2016 - 4:39pm
I'm quite tempted by this adventure bike to replace my Hardtail for offroad touring. Seems like a bargain


Not sure about the geometry though, looks like a downhill bike

Re: Sold secure gold D lock

14 February 2016 - 1:50pm
The Abus granit 54 is pretty good and the eazy kf mount is very nice (there are a few mount variants). Gold secured.

I often think it's OTT for touring but if peace of mind is important to you (as it is to me!) it can be added to the frame quite easily. It's relatively light for the protection it provides. The mechanism is nice and smooth and I like that it has a feature where the key can only be removed when it's locked (saves forgetting to turn it all the way). Both ends of the shackle are locked so both bars need to be cut to get the thing off.

Re: Touring Cyclist Club .... a new resource

14 February 2016 - 12:14pm
There have been a few attempts by interested parties to set up similar clubs or groups, with little success. Hopefully this will succeed.

Re: Lonley Planet or Bradt?

14 February 2016 - 11:36am
If you can't get it from your library you could buy the previous edition secondhand on Amazon and then if you like it spring for the current edition. ... 841620211/

It's worth reading the reviews on Amazon: it looks like the Bradt guide maybe the one to go for if you're interested in the history and culture, but it's not going to be much help if you want recommendations for good-value places to stay (but I'm not sure guide books are much use for that any more). As one reviewer puts it:

this is the guide for those who hire a car and stay in 5* hotels
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