Bikes, Bags and Bike Tools

Wow, it has been a while since our last post where we wrote about our tent and other camping equipment. My week off from writing and updating the blog turned into almost a month. But, now we’re back and it’s time to move on to our choice of bikes, bags and bike tools you need to carry with you.

Justin’s Bike – Surly Troll

Regular readers will know that we had (just) a few issues with Justin’s bike. We had to get a replacement rim sent to us on the road. So grateful to WTB’s wonderful customer service and Stephan in Frankfurt for helping us to rebuild the wheel. Although, I’m taking undue credit for saying us. It really was only Justin who worked on the wheel with Stephan while I chilled out with his partner, Nina, and chatted about cycling.

Then, of course, there was the issue with the crank arm, which broke when we got to Torrevieja. We still can’t believe the timing of it as it happened literally as Justin rode over the final curb outside his mum’s place.

Justin bought the Surly from a cyclist in Scotland through eBay. He had bid on a couple of bikes before and not won. We kept our fingers crossed for this one as the seller was selling it complete with panniers, frame bags, phone holder, the lot. If we got it, it meant he was sorted and we would only need to sort my bike and bags out.

At the last minute, he added another £25 to his bid, and it was that extra that clinched it.

When the bike arrived, Justin put it together, and everything seemed fine. The rims on both wheels were as good as new and of course we couldn’t see the tissue that caused the rust inside the crankshaft.

The seller was really nice and offered to pay for a service when he sold Justin the bike. Because Justin knows so much about bikes, we told the seller to put the money towards our fundraiser, which he did.

We don’t think a service at a bike shop would have made any difference on the journey. They wouldn’t have checked inside the crank either – who would think to check for tissue stuffed inside the shaft? And the cracks only appeared on the rim when we were on the road.

But other than those few issues we had, Justin was pleased with his Surly. It was a comfortable ride, especially with the Brooks saddle and the wider tyres.

Those who are interested in more detailed specifications on the Surly Troll, click here.

Reija’s Bike – Helkama Women’s S5000

I had a bike I was using in London, a Specialized I really liked, but it was rather old and only had seven gears. I wanted a few more to help me up the big hills.

It was challenging to find a suitable bike for me. Partly because I’m on the shorter side and partly because I don’t like the crossbar being too high.

When I was about seven, I tried a bike with a high crossbar, fell off the saddle and hit my vagina on the bar. After that, I have always avoided bikes like that. I like to know the old vagina is safe from painful accidents like that.

Anyway, I was starting to sweat a little with only a couple of weeks to go until the start day and I was still without a bike.

Then I found it. My perfect bike. From a small bike shop in my hometown of all places. It cost about a third of what Justin’s bike would have cost if he’d bought it new. Something I might have mentioned once or twice when we kept having issues with his bike.

My parents picked up the bike before we got to Finland. There was only one left in the shop, so it was a good job they did. I was a little nervous about going ahead with the purchase without test riding it first. Although, it was a smaller gamble than taking our flat without seeing it first.

Anyway, my mum had a test ride. She found it comfortable, so I knew it would be comfortable for me, too.

I couldn’t have been happier with my bike. It is light and has the perfect range of gears (2×10). I never ran out of gears even when climbing on the edge of the Pyrenees.

For more details, click here. Unfortunately, the page is in Finnish only. I might need to offer my translating services to them!

Panniers and Dry bags

As I mentioned above, Justin’s Surly came with all the gear: Ortlieb front and back panniers, Surly frame bag, Bontrager handlebar box and Topeak rear box.

All we needed was to set my bike up. We chose the 25 litre panniers by Ortleib. I only had panniers at the back, but for the next ride, I will have them at the front, too.

Because I only had panniers at the back, I also ended up with a lot of stuff in two dry bags which were good, but a bit of a pain in the arse. Not to say made me look like a bag lady on a bike.

I carried the dry bags on top of the back panniers, and whenever I needed something from the panniers, I had to take the dry bags off first. Luckily, we generally had nothing in my panniers that we needed during the day.

But how we organised our stuff on the bikes is a matter of a whole post on its own.

Carrying all the gear at the back of the bike, made it rear heavy too. Most of the time, this was not a problem, but I really felt it when going up steep climbs. And it made it a bit wobbly when travelling downhill at faster speeds. It would have made the bike more balanced to divide the weight more evenly between the front and the back. Next time – a lesson learnt.

The dry sacks we had were one 35 litre and two 13 litre bags by Mackenzie.

Justin carried the larger one at the back of his bike, and I had the two smaller ones. The smaller ones I had will be surplus to requirement once I have panniers at the front, but the large one is a must have.

It was the perfect size for our tent, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, towels, and pillows. And it did what it says: it kept all the above perfectly dry.

Our one complaint was that they didn’t close properly at the top. We put plastic bags at the “mouth” to both stop water splashing in and things from falling out. Interestingly, they have now changed the design to fix the issue.

Bike Tools

This goes without saying, but of course you carry with you all the tools you need to make quick roadside repairs. Justin’s the bike tool man. I am clueless. I seriously need to get better at fixing minor issues on the bike. At least I need to be able to fix a puncture.

I think I could do it. But I’m not sure since I’ve never had to do it. Justin’s so quick at it, it’s easier just to let him crack on. Maybe next time I’ll insist he’ll let me do it. We’ll see. I’ll make sure we get photographic evidence when I do.

Anyway… we carried with us the following tools, many of which Justin has had for around 25 years! Talking about quality gear.

  • Lezyne multi-tool
  • Park multi-tool with alloy keys and screw driver
  • Spoke key to tightening/loosening your spokes
  • Line extractor in case your chain snaps and you need to join it back together with a split link
  • Tyre leavers
  • A pump and puncture kit – goes without saying
  • Two spare inner tubes

Next time, we’ll also have a couple of co2 canisters to fill the tyres up quicker.

And that’s it. Our bikes, bags, and bike tools summed up. Now all that’s left is clothing and then that covers what we took with us before moving on to other things.

Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.

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3 thoughts on “Bikes, Bags and Bike Tools

  1. That was really interesting and, like you, I can’t bear a high cross bar. I agree about the vagina bit but also I need to know I can reach the floor with my foot when I stop! xx

    1. Yes, reaching the floor is a must. That was another challenge when looking for a bike. Being shorter than average, it wasn’t easy to find a bike in the right size and with a lower cross bar. I even considered looking at kids’ bikes!

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