Monday, November 21, 2011

Building a touring foldie Part 2

All that gadget jibba-jabba...
I am not one of those that would stinge on outfitting my bike.
On the road, anything can happen.
So, be prepared to outfit your bike with a recovery kit. All you need, are spare inner tubes, a patch kit, tire levers, bicycle tools and a CO2 emergency inflator.




Standby, lights, action!
I have yet to find a set of bicycle light that is effective and bright enough to illuminate my path.
Right now, I had to settle for a pair of Cateye HL-EL520s on the cockpit.
I fitted them as twin lights on a Minoura Space Bar. This maximises space usage on the handlebar without compromising handling.
When you tour, I think its wise to invest on a set of good lights.
What would be ideal: are the rechargeable lights. I found a Niterider light Damansara Uptown. But their prices are ridiculous.
The best option in phase two of my lighting quest, is the Sigma pro series. We'll have to wait and see how things develop as new stuff are going to come in at their agent: KH Cycles.




Satellite navigation - the early years...
I've upgraded my Garmin GPS76csx to an Oregon 300.
For its size and ease of use, its the best handheld GPS system to date.
The Oregon can be mounted on a bike.
All you need, is a piece of plastic foot. And believe me, the retailers here are taking full advantage of the rarity of the item.
They charge a bomb for the gadget. I paid about RM100 a piece for the Oregon mount.
In the early days, I took out the Oregon out for my training rides in Hulu Langat.
Later, this GPS became an essential tool in my first Century ride.
As a follow-up, I later settled for a Garmin EDGE800 bicycle GPS.
The investment was hefty, but well-worth it as the EDGE is able to provide ride datas and also record your route.
Information from your rides can be uploaded via Garminconnect.com.
The heart-rate monitor, speed and cadence sensors became an indispensable tool. It allows you to keep track of your health, and at the same time, measure your speed and cadence.
And speaking about element protection, the EDGE800 had lived up to my expectations...





Solar power
To power up devices, I have a Power Monkey battery pack.
This came with a Solar charger and in my earlier review, I mentioned it as a piece of crap.

Yes, when it comes to harnessing the power of the sun, this gadget is next to hopeless.
But, I have a 'Plan B'.
To get the job done, I have two Sanyo Eneloop powerpacks. This ought to re-charge the EDGE800 and my LG Optimus 2X smartphone...




Staying in touch
I nearly mothballed my HP Mini 5013 netbook.
This is an indispensible tool if you want to stay in touch with your family and friends.
Initially, I toyed with the idea of having a prepaid broadband account. I bought it, but it didn't work.
Tried to apply for a data package from Celcom and was told that I was 'blacklisted' under the MCMC act. 
So, having studied the options, it was a no-go.
But lucky for me, I was able to add a data package onto my cellphone's existing line. This is roughly about RM60 more.
Now, best of all, my LG Optimus 2X smartphone can be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
I tested this during a tour of Malacca and it worked.
As far as the Mini 5013 is concerned, it became a top-billing communication tool.
I also use it to upload photos.
Since this is a really crude laptop, I can't expect much out of it...


Points to ponder...
So, let's say you've got your folding bike, planning a trip and want to rig it up to haul long-distance, you might want to consider some good quality stuff.
No point getting cheap-ass low-quality stuff that you would regret later.
Stuff like racks are not cheap. And there's no substitute for such equipment.
If you are purely looking for a touring foldie, weight and speed is not the main criteria.
You must keep a lookout for bikes that can accept a rack system as well as capable of bearing every kilogramme you are going to strap on it.
On the bikes alone, any foldie with a disk braking system would be a bonus! 
I found this on the Bike Friday Pocket Llama select edition. 
There was also a guy from Singapore who rides a Flamingo with disk brakes.
As for the drivetrain, I said earlier that an 8-speed bike is able to take on any terrain. If the gradient is too much, you might as well get down and push.
Another aspect of health and well-being is lugging your own First Aid Kit. I told people that this may add on to the bulk, but you'll never know when you need it.
My motto here is: "Be Prepared".

NOTE: On my next touring foldie series, I will elaborate a bit on camping and all that cooking gear. So, please stay tuned!
 
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