Saturday, June 6, 2009
Jack's Gear Notes
The Surly Travelers Check is working out well. The Travelers Check is basically a Cross Check with couplers. It’s a good all-around bike that can be dressed up for touring or dressed down for general riding. I’ve enjoyed the bike on day rides and now a short credit-card tour and look forward to two weeks on the Blue Ridge Parkway soon. The chain stay length is a bit shorter than the Long Haul Trucker and there are no braze-ons for front racks, but still a good bike for touring and a more affordable choice if you are looking for S&S couplers.
I could not be happier with the Carradice Camper Long Flap saddle bag and Ostrich handle bar bag. Together they provided plenty of cargo room (before over-stuffing, which you can easily do with both). People have thru-hiked the AT with less pack space. Together they should provide enough room for many days on the road if packed wisely.
The Carradice bag sits mostly in my slipstream which is a good thing if you are riding into a strong head-wind. Most of the weight is carried in front of the rear axle (also a good thing) and I didn’t notice any ill effect on handling having the weight so high. The Ostrich bag sits on a Nitto front rack putting the weight on the fork, not on the handle bar, so loading it heavy is not a problem.
Another handy item is my parking brake. I’ve tied a loop of elastic cord around my handle bar and slip it over the brake lever when I park the bike. The bike stays put even in a stiff wind. This is a useful thing even if you don’t use a kickstand.
And then there’s that. I’ve had a mental block keeping me from putting a kickstand on my bikes for years. Now that I have one, I love it. No more laying my bike down in the dirt and no more bending down to pick up a loaded bike. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen folks lay expensive bikes down on pavement or have them fall over after being haphazardly leaned against something.
Metal versus plastic fenders. I have plastic fenders on my Sequoia and metal fenders on the Surly. Yes, the metal ones weigh a bit more, and cost a bit more, but I think they are worth it. They are much more durable and should last years. I’ve had a few toe strikes before I got used to the overlap. Now, I don’t even think about it when I adjust my pedal stroke to miss the fender in a slow turn. It quickly became automatic. If I’m in a slow uphill turn, I’ll unclip my outside foot and pedal through the turn with my foot back a bit.