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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Choose a Bike for a Long-Distance Bike Trip

By Megan Maxwell
A bike is the most crucial piece of gear you will need for your long-distance bike trip. It’s important to find something that suits your needs, but don’t worry too much about getting the most expensive bike you can afford. One of the first people to bike across the country did it on a bicycle with wooden wheels! Your determination is what will ultimately help you succeed on your trip; the bicycle just makes it a little easier. 

the best views are at the top of the biggest climbs!

What bike features do you need?  For most routes, you should get a road bike or a hybrid. If you’re doing a mountainous dirt trail, such as the Continental Divide Trail, then you should get a mountain bike. A hybrid bike would be good for a route that is a combination of paved road and dirt trails. A road bike is a good option for routes that are primarily paved.

However, you don’t have to completely stick to these guidelines. I bought a hybrid for my upcoming Pacific Coast bike trip because it was a good deal and it met all of my other requirements. Plus, with wider tires I’ll be patching my tubes less.
  • Make sure the bike has multiple braze-ons. These are tiny holes in the frame or attachments on the frame which allow you to attach a bike rack, pannier mounts, and water bottle cages. If your bike doesn’t have braze-ons, you can still get a rack that attaches to the frame, but they are more difficult to find.
  • Get a bike that has around 21 gears. There will be a front and back chain ring (aka sprocket). The most important thing is that there are three chain rings on the front one because the third helps with the steep uphills.
what will your terrain be like?

Money Saving Tips:  Bikes can get really expensive if you buy them brand new. I could easily spend $1000 on a touring bike, but that is equal to my entire trip budget.
  • Browse your local Craigslist ads for a bike that fits what you are looking for. I bought my bike off of a local seller for $150 and it would have been $500 new.
  • Check out second hand bike shops as well. Often you can find a good, used bike for a fraction of the cost it would have been new.
  • Always ride the bike before you buy it. Switch through all of the gears to make sure they are working well, test out the brakes, and make sure it’s comfortable.
  • Keep up with your bike maintenance. Keep the tires pumped up, the chain well oiled, and the on a bike storage rack in a dry place when not in use.