A Thorn Nomad MK2, described by Thorn as "The ultimate affordable Rohloff equipped expedition touring bike."
The bikes key feature is it's Rohloff 14 speed hub gear which has a similar ratio of gears to a standard dérailleur set up but spreads the ratios equally between the gears. The workings of the Rohloff can be seen here, they are all self contained in the rear hub with just a single sprocket front and rear, this means you must put total reliance on the hub, but maintenance and wear are minimal. The bikes other key feature is it's load carrying capability, not only does it have to carry me, but it also needs to carry all my equipment spread between four pannier bags, a bar bag and the top of the rear rack.
Probably my biggest source of kit procrastination was my tent. I ended up spending twice as much as I originally planned; but as it's going to be my home for the following x months it seemed justifiable.
The dual vestibules mean I can store kit on one side and access \ cook on the other. The side entrances are fare easier to access than a typical tent with a door in the front, especially for a big chap like me.
Andy Howell's review swung it for me, so as long as he isn't getting a back hander from Terra Nova I'm hopefully on to a winner.
Subscribe to the blog for a full review as it gets put to use on the Trans Am.
The companies bumph is as follows:
The Superlite Solar 2.2 uses the same inner tent as the Solar 2, but the flysheet now has a door on both front and back. Not only does this increase access to the excellent storage of the Solar 2, but combats the main problem of a transverse sleeping arrangement; there's now no need to climb over your colleague to get out of the tent.
Using the same fabrics as we use in our Laser range we have been able to keep the weight to a fraction over 1Kg each, when carried between two people. An excellent year round back packing tent just got better.
drinkSAFE-systems Travel Tap for use when water supply is from a dubious source. It's key features are:
- Purifies and filters water instantly
- Replaceable maintainable purification filter cartridge
- Maintainable integral sediment filter
- Supplied with ‘drink direct’ insulating carrier (blue with internal ‘Reflecton’ insulation ), adjustable lanyard and protective rubber dust cap
- Auto shutdown system will always protect
- Can be re used stored and re used until end of filter life
- Full user operational technical guide included
- 1 year warranty
Many thanks to DrinkSAFE-Systems for providing me with a bottle for my trip.
Most long distance cyclists chose Ortlieb, but after personal recommendation I have gone for the similar looking Vaude Aqua Back and Aqua Front. They offer the following key features:
- Waterproof roll closure
- Removable shoulder strap
- Reflective elements
- QMR attachment system
- Hardback Pro back plate
- Inside pocket
- Volume 24 litres
- Measurement 43 x 34 x 16 cm
- Weight 1.05 kg
I chewed over the down \ synthetic debate and decide that the smaller pack size of a down bag was of benefit to a space deficient cycle tourer! AlpKit were my company of choice for this purchase and after a few emails back and forth regarding the bags suitability to my height and girth (they do 3 sizes), I confidently went for a regular size. It's a really comfy bag with plenty of room for your feet to move and feels lovely and warm. It has some nice touches too, such as a storage bag, a compression sack and a zipped internal pocket, ideal for storing a secure cash reserve whilst cycle touring.
AlpKit gear is available here http://www.alpkit.com/shop/
AlpKit came up trumps again with their Airic range of bed rolls. I went for the "Wee" version as it is shorter and lighter which cuts down on the weight I need to carry on the bike. I don't expect this to be as comfortable as my king size memory foam mattress at home, but it should give me a good nights kip!
Get yourself one here.
SanDisk Sansa Clip+
It's been years since I've had an MP3 player and although I'd never cycle with ear phones in, the thought of some music whilst chilling at a camp site or having audio books to listen to really appeals to me on a long cycle tour. This little match box sized Sansa Clip+ caught my eye and had rave reviews online.
The build quality is great and the sound is just gorgeous even with the supplied headphones. Other features include an FM radio and the ability to record voice, great for taking notes about things during the day that you may want to blog about later. You can also put a micro sd card in the side to upgrade the memory capacity, mines a 4gb player, but I had a 8gb micro sd card so I popped it in to up the player to 12gb. To top that the battery life is a whopping 15 hours and it charges off of USB.
This was one of the best gadgets I'd bought in a while.....until...!
XMI X-mini II Mini Speaker