A touring bike of the quality of a Santos Travel Master of a Koga World Traveler is unprecedented. With these bikes, you are almost certain that you will encounter any problems along the way. But ask yourself, is that really what you want? Is it worth the investment? I believe it is not necessary. Better said, I managed to cycle from the Netherlands to Singapore with a simple second-hand road bike.
In this article I explain how I did that. Step-by-step.
My way of cycling is as light as possible. The fewer choices I have to make along the way, the more focus I can have on the environment. The lighter the bike, the more convenient it is to get somewhere. I therefore bought a second-hand hybrid road bike for €195,- on the Dutch Ebay called Marktplaats. I started to convert it – as best I can into something sturdy enough for a world trip.
Here the bicycle. A Centurion, I had never heard of the brand. But she was standing in the corner of a garage all deserted. What was important to me is that the bike would have mounting points for a luggage rack. Preferably an iron frame, but it has an aluminum frame which is also fine.
If you prefer a heavier bike, I recommend converting a mountain bike. A mountain bike is more off-road resistant and could possibly good for front and rear bags.
Not unimportant, check the frame size. That can save you a lot of injuries.
I did a test ride on this bike and rode in one way across the Netherlands. I found out that a gel saddle is anything but comfortable for long distances. Furthermore, the tires are a bit thin for off-road, but the bike seems sturdy enough for some luggage.
Let’s check what I can do with it.
I made a number of adjustments immediately. Wider tires on it (28c) and a Brooks B17 saddle. A Brooks saddle is nice for long distances, I learned that from the stories of Dutch bicycle adventurer Frank van Rijn.
With the underlying idea of being able to travel and survive independently everywhere, I started preparing the bicycle for luggage.
I mounted mudguards (not recommended with snow or off-road cycling). A aerobar for hanging luggage on the handlebars. Two bottle holders for carrying two 1.5 liter water bottles. I also mounted a Tubes carrier on the back of the bike. A bicycle pump on the frame. Clipless pedals are a bit inconvenient for touring, so I also replaced the pedals.
The idea was to attach the tent to the aerobar at the front. Furthermore, a maximum of three additional bags can be mounted on the back. I was advised to create more space because for the trip I wanted to make three bags would be not enough. Still, I am convinced that you get used to everything, the more space you have, the more you get used to luxury.
But then suddenly I started to have doubts. Not that the bike was not good, but I didn’t like the colors that much. Not my taste, the gray color. Then on a rainy day I took the whole bike apart and gave the bike a new color.
The good way is to sand the frame well, give it a base coat, then a finish coat. I sanded the bike and immediately sprayed the gray with a burgundy red color. It stayed on the bicycle the whole journey.
Afterwards it was not a good idea to do this in my bedroom, the particulate matter is not really recommended. But.. I was very happy with the result.
It was, simple but effective. A nice, light bike with an aluminum frame. On the way I changed the handlebars, these were made of metal which caused cold hands in the mountains.
Two small Vaude bags on the back, with a bag for random items on top and a bag with my sleeping bag. Two frame bags and the tent mounted on the handlebars. And a CatEye odometer.
It looked like this in its entirety.
I cycled with it from Rotterdam to Singapore and the bike got a place of honor at the Marktplaats office.
If you choose to travel this way and with the experience I have, I would advise you the following:
- Keep in mind that spokes will break, so bring a tool to adjust spokes and a tool to remove the cassette to replace spokes in the rear wheel;
- Get to know the bike well and solve problems yourself, follow instruction videos for example from Park Tool;
- Don’t just watch the videos, but really practice, spokes, stick tires, etc;
- I have been helped so many times on the road and that has brought me very nice contacts, even most of the people I got to know were because I was unlucky along the way (yes, take this indestructible Travelmaster!);
- Tinkering with your bicycle is soothing and you build a special bond with it, in fact I kinda entered into a relationship with the bike.
Good luck and if you have any questions send me a message.