Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Travel Master

I've been back from my shopping trip to Amsterdam almost three weeks now and in that time have been able to cover  a few miles on the bike. So these are my considered first thoughts. It's gorgeous!

I thought I had got the old commuter bike well set up, what with road tyres, Brooks saddle and Ergon grips but the Travel Master is just a revelation. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't contorted by the old bike but after 20 miles or so the lower back started to ache, the hands craved a new position and I just had to get off and stretch. 

I've not had this with the new bike and feel 30-40 miles could be done before any significant rest was needed - it is just so comfortable. It also rock steady carrying the front and rear pannier and the power is easily translated to the road - it just seems to eat the miles! The butterfly handlebars were a shot in the dark but I knew I wanted more hand positions than a flat bar offered but don't like drops for touring so I went for it - no regrets at all. They look a bit different and have been the subject of a couple of comments but they work and that is what I wanted. 

The other shot in the dark was the Rohloff Speedhub internal gears. This was the most expensive non standard option and was a significant portion of the bike cost. I decided on them mainly as they are: very robust and very much maintenance free (compared to a derailleur set up). I was also influenced by the number of long distance touring cyclists who use them, such as Mark Beaumont, James Bowthorpe, Ivana Coria and Harry Kikstra, and Cass Gilbert to name a few as well as Eric's recommendation at the shop. So far they are working well, I like being able to change gear while stationery, the range is more than adequate for touring and I don't find them too noisy (some people comment they can be noisy particularly when new). I am so used to thumbs shifters though I keep forgetting which way to turn the handle! Certainly not a required option but I like them and am sure they will last well.

I am planning to ride a mixed surface, variable terrain, 40+ mile route this weekend with full panniers so I'll know more then but I don't really anticipate any problems - just need to decide on my route now!


  1. Hi Darrell

    The new bike looks great - think that would be good enough to go round the world on!

    One small question, do you know what make and model the kick stand is? I've decided to accept middle age and buy one...



  2. Matthew

    Might not make the whole world before I shuffle off it but hope to cover some serious miles over the next 20-25 years.

    The stand is a Pletscher single leg rear kick stand such as this one for a tad under £17.00.

    Anyway, it's not about middle age it's about being sensible (maybe it is middle age then). You're travelling with fully loaded panniers. Do you want to have to keep leaning the whole rig against walls/fences/trees/railings or even lying it down on the floor? I don't - plus you can pose the bike for pics in front of majestic vistas for the blog!

  3. Cool travel bike! I would do that for my next travel! Thanks for the post..

  4. What a beauty that bike is! Can you comment on the tires?

  5. Bromptonboy

    Thanks. I do like my bike.

    I use Scwhalbe tyres. My all round tyre is the Marathon Supreme 26 x 2.0 which is pretty hardy and very comfortable on a loaded bike and over rough ground. I also have others. Some Marathon Plus 26 x 1.5 which are great, bombproof, commuting tyres but with a harsher ride, Marathon Winter 26 x 1.75 for use in the snow and ice (and OK on tarmac too if a little noisy and buzzy) and Durano Plus 26 x 1.35 which I got for fast touring. While they are lighter they're not a comfortable as the Supremes and so I slow down more over rough ground !

    If I had just one set it would be the Supremes. Very good rubber.

    Hope that helps?

  6. I have the Marathon Plus 26x1.5's on my Touring - Commuting bike (a Thorn Rohloff Raven Tour) and agree about the harsh ride. My commute is mostly on gritty glass strewn shoulders - I haven't had a flat... yet. I have been lusting after one of those Santos TravelMaster bikes. The Gates Belt drive option seems intriguing.