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My Bike How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I bought the frame a few years ago and built it up myself with bits from a MTB I had that was in good nick but rarely used. Hence the 26in wheels and rim brakes, but it’s turned out to be a champion bike. Apart from constant daily commuting, it’s also done some Mawsons, carried me from Paris to Barcelona and just done a week on the Munda Biddi in WA. Most of the old bits are gone now; I think just the gears, crankset and brakes are left.

Frame

Yeah, Surly LHT. It’s great. I think all the crap that Surly says about them on their website is basically true. So stable and reassuring at speed or under load. I remember being amazed that the forks didn’t snap off after some of the mistaken shit I threw at it on the Mawson.

I can't see myself buying a whole Surly bike though; they're a bit dear for what you get (in Australia, anyways.)

Forks: I think it’s worth mentioning that I love the flex in these forks. It really softens things up, and I think it’s something you don’t get with straight steel forks made for discs. An upside of rim brakes IMHO.

Gears

Nothing wrong with 9 speed. And I am a fan of the triple up front. I don’t recall ever thinking, “Gee, my lowest gear is too low.”

Shifters

Gevenalle shifters deserve a place in heaven. They have made the whole drop bar thing work for this bike. On dirt, being able to grab a handful of gears while on the hoods and with your hands on the brakes is a game-changer.

Brakes

It is pretty rare that I want the bike to be going slower rather than faster. Even if you’re descending on dirt on an uneven surface in the wet with a heavy load it’s normally traction that’s the problem rather than running out of brakes - even rim brakes. Of course discs are nice and more reassuring etc, but they can also be a hassle when you’re packing your bike for a plane, and if you need a new wheel on a tour etc. I really don’t know if I’d go rim or disc if I had to replace the bike. These days all the best frames seem to be disc, so probably disc when it came to it. Pads for rim brakes are important of course. KoolStops are mandatory.

Rims

Again with the whole 26in vs 700c thing. Hmm. I do think that 700c roll nicer on rough roads; it’s noticeable. On the other hand when I cracked a rim in France I got a second hand 26in wheel from the local bike rental place in a small town on a Sunday morning fitted in half an hour for 60 Euro total. That would not have happened with anything 700c or disc. Through axle? - “Qu’est ce c’est, monsieur?”

Tyres

Marathon Mondials do have a nice pattern. They feel slow on tarmac, but they are good all round and I like them on dirt. It’s a pattern that will get you most places. For extra traction you can run them at even lower than their ideal off-road pressures without pinchflatting them in my opinion. Pump them up hard and they are good but not great on bitumen. I don’t think they are puncture resistant though, and I can’t yet comment on how long mine have lasted, but they are holding up well. I recently met a guy whose first set had done 25,000 km and whose second set was on 15K so I’m hopeful. As for the tube/tubleless debate I’m not qualified and (for now) I’ll leave tubeless to people who are confident with it.

Racks

My Topeak Super Touristers have not broken yet, and guess what? At home I even have the slide-on shopping basket to match. True.

Panniers

Okay. Ortlieb. Anything Ortlieb will work and not break. I do not even bother looking at other brands I just get Ortlieb. One day I hope even my clothes will be Ortlieb.

Front bag

This is worth its own section. That little bag is sensational. At home I switch it between bikes. Touring, it takes valuables, camera, first aid, tablet, phone, snacks, maps etc. On the many occasions when you are surrounded by toothless people waiting to rob you for drug money while you hop off the bike to go into a shop or whatever it just clips off and comes with you.

Cages

Arundel. You will never go back after Arundel. Note the big one too. That is BBB and takes a standard 1.25l bottle from the supermarket. This and a bidon is enough for a day in cool climates (for me). The little one underneath is meths for the Trangia (yeah I know but I’ve had the Trangia since 1982).

Mudguards

I love mudguards. I don’t care what anyone else says; I am clean and they are dirty.

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