Real touring bikes: Canadian Rockies

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Another round of bikes from all over the world, attracted to the picturesque peaks of the Canadian Rockies.  Germans in particular are quite fond of the north country, although they travel to many destinations.  I’ve recently encountered two German couples, separately, traveling with a baby of one year or less– it seems the Chariot is a preferred method of hauling live cargo.  The following bikes were spotted between Jasper, AB and the Montana border.  A self-contained ACA tour of the Great Divide Route from Banff to Whitefish was a goldmine of great bikes and characters.  In the Yukon I managed to capture almost every bike I saw; more recently, I catch a little over half.

Two bright beams approach from the northbound shoulder of the Icefields Parkway.  I leave my light on all the time as well, and readily spot the piercing LED from afar.  Approaching, both parties come to a halt and exclaim, expectantly and knowingly, “Germans?!”.  If you see a bright dynamo light coming down the road, “German?” is usually a good guess.  I am right; of course, they are not.  I tell people I’m from Alaska.  We speak about the growth in popularity of dynamo lighting in the US and the General influence of German cycling equipment.  Upon closer inspection, they are riding perfect examples of German tourers: Rohloff hubs, Magura hydraulic rim brakes, Schwalbe Extreme tires, Tubus, Ortlieb, Schmight lighting, SKS fenders, ESGE kickstand, Ergon Grips, and stout aluminum Idworx frames.  Proudly, only the pedals are from Shimano.  A limiter keeps the handlebars from turning more than 90deg, which prevents damage to the hydraulic brake line and the headlight.

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Kiwis on tour riding 26″ wheels, both are riding Jamis mountain bikes with Vaude panniers.

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Americans on Kona Sutra touring bikes with Ortlieb panniers.  These are the second pair of Sutras for this couple; their other Sutras have been used for several longer tours and now reside at the winter residence down south.  It was time for some new drivetrain parts on the old bikes so it was decided that new bikes would solve the problem.  That’s the third, and most expensive approach to drivetrain maintenance– new bikes.  Note disc brakes with rim brake mounts.  I’ve seen numerous lowrider racks mounted to cantilever posts as shown.

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I finally captured it!  People stop and point and poke at my Pugsley all the time.  Tourists in Banff particularly enjoyed it.  A vacationing German couple asked if the framebag contained a motor.

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Not a touring bike, at least not yet.  As I often say, “it’s not a touring bike until it’s on tour”.  Likewise, when it’s out on the open road, it’s a touring bike no matter if it’s made of carbon or features full-suspension.   Just a town bike in Banff, but this Kona Explosif caught my eye. It’s hideous, unless you grew up reading mountain bike magazines in the 90’s.  Technically, this bike was a little before my time.

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On the Divide, a wide variety of bikes are to be found but most feature proper mountain bike tires.  This Trek Marlin 29er is a two day ride from home in Calgary, and less than ten miles from the start of the Great Divide Route in Banff.  This rider approached the local bike shop with a budget and list of anti-specifications: the bike could not have hydraulic disc brakes, it could not have an air or oil fork, and it could not have 26″ wheels.  The result was an inexpensive 29er which came in way under budget, to his surprise.  A simple reliable bike doesn’t require a hefty price tag!

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A full suspension 26″ wheeled carbon Norco.  The rider enjoyed the ride and claimed not to have any issues mounting racks.

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Nothing to see, but another statistic.  A young German woman on a Giant XTC mountain bike with front and rear racks.

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This is by far the most unique bike I’ve seen since Alaska, and perhaps for the entire summer to come.  Tim SanJule constructed this bike of parts and tubing from several other bikes, building on lots of real world touring experience and improving upon his last touring bike, an old steel Specialized Rockhopper.  A second down tube, or diagatube, was added for strength and to prevent shimmy while loaded.  S&S couples were sourced from a Craigslist bike, the eccentric bottom bracket (EBB) from a KHS tandem, and the tubing from a variety of old bikes.  The parts are described as “tough North American stuff”, referring to a mix a Paul, White Industries and Phil Wood.  A vintage Sachs front derailleur and a short cage Dura-Ace rear derailleur add some flair; don’t shift into the small-small combination or the chain will go slack, but the short cage derailleur shifts better and reduces chain slap.  Both front and rear Avid BB7 disc calipers are operated by a long run of exposed cable from the top of the fork and near the BB, respectively.  The housing stop on the caliper itself has been removed.  Cromoly Tubus Cargo racks are mounted front and rear and the fork features multiple braze-ons for bottle cages and racks, a la Salsa.  This rider is leading a dozen riders on a self-contained ACA tour of the Great Divide Route from Banff, AB to Whitefish, MT.  The following bikes are from that group.

Tim grew up in the same small cowtown I did.  We comprise the entirety of cycling culture in, or from, Cortland, NY and make for a curious pair of bikes and riders.  Tim pedals in a climbing helmet and a well-worn pair of Converse Chuck Taylor athletic shoes.  When I was a “mountain biker” in high school, I used to ride in my “Chucks”.

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A carbon Trek 29er, purchased several years ago in preparation for riding some of the Great Divide.  In that time, this rider has accumulated lots of gear to suit his needs but was bursting at the seams of his bikepacking-inspired setup.  An Old Man Mountain rack is mounted in front with Ortlieb panniers, as it was decided that a rear rack would place unsafe stress on the carbon frame.  Slow speed steering is described as “heavy”, which can be especially hazardous when climbing loose surfaces.  Seven separate Revelate Designs bags are hidden here.

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A Rhode Island based rider on a Tout Terrain Silkroad with “the works” from Peter White Cycles in New Hampshire: a Rohloff Speedhub, an Shimano Alfine dynamo hub, B&M lighting, Schwalbe Marathon Extreme tires, and T.A. cranks.  He was a bit disappointed to have had a puncture with his highly specialized, and expensive touring tires.  I assured him that such things were normal, and quite possible on any tire.

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An early 1990’s Bridgestone XO-3 with a Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost and a Girvin suspension stem, comprising a simple short-travel full suspension system.  This bike also wears a pair of older (vintage?) Schwalbe XR touring tires.  S&S couplers have been installed.

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A first generation Salsa Fargo with Revelate framebag and panniers, wearing an uncommon Schwalbe tire, the Marathon Plus ATB in a 40 or 42mm dimension.

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I took a liking to this bike, a Surly Karate Monkey with Rohloff, Revelate bags, Continental Mountain King tires, and a small pair of Jandd panniers on a rear rack.  The Revelate Tangle bag is nice as it leaves enough room for both water bottles to be used.  This one fits the frame nicely.

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A Niner S.I.R. 9 steel frame of Reynolds 853 tubing.  A nice clean build with an attractive older White Brothers suspension fork, pulling a BOB trailer.

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An eight-year old custom titanium Seven 29er with S&S couplers, also with an older White Brothers fork.  The White Brothers forks were the best, and only option when 29ers first arrived.  They continue to be made in Grand Junction, CO.  This bike was wearing a pair of WTB Nanoraptor tires, the first true 29er tire available, first offered back in 1999.

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