Over a year ago, we began a whole new style of bike travel, when we put our sturdy Long Haul Truckers in storage and started touring on the unlikeliest of bikes – the Brompton folding bike. Almost immediately, we knew that these funny little folding bikes would be capable of great adventures, and the seed was planted to write a sort of “how to” guide for other folks interested in self-supported travel on the Brompton.
We rode our Bromptons from Central Oregon across Montana to Glacier National Park. We traveled with our Bromptons via train, plane, and car across the West Coast to various bikey events. We flew across the planet with our Bromptons to explore New Zealand. All told, we pedaled these little guys approximately 5,000 miles, fully-loaded with all of our camping gear and other necessary travel accessories (such as cameras, computer, metalsmithing kit, etc.).
And we know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Brompton is an amazing little machine that can take you places that it was probably never intended to see. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can treat a Brompton like a Long Haul Trucker, and we are always extremely vigilant of the amount of weight that we carry and how we attach it. While we fully trust that the Brompton can handle a responsible touring load, we recognize that we have pushed our Bromptons beyond their stated purpose, so we have always traveled this way at our own risk… which is why our how-to book is “Unauthorized.”
Introducing… The Unauthorized Brompton Touring Guide
The Unauthorized Brompton Touring Guide is 41 pages of in-depth information about how to set up your Brompton for touring, how to pack, how to maintain your new touring machine and troubleshoot any issues you might have on the road. You’ll also find links to videos we made while traveling on our Bromptons and external links to helpful resources.Read More»
Let’s just get it out there – most bike kit and jerseys are plain awful. They either scream LOOK I’M A RACER or fall on the same hackneyed design cliches (i.e. flames and skulls on men’s jerseys and flowers on women’s). Thankfully, within the last few years there have been many options for more subdued biking clothing. We have always been intrigued with Road Holland‘s classy and austere jerseys but never were able to see them in person. They offered us an opportunity to try out some of their gear and hopped on it! Road Holland sent us two jerseys to write about. I got the midnight blue version of the Utrecht a quarter zip short sleeve jersey and Laura received the Breukelen, a full zip long sleeve jersey.
I have to admit, at first it was my previous Epicurean Cyclist and randofile leanings that attracted me to the Velo-Orange Grand Cru cranks. They are definitely easy on the eye with the fluted cranks, 50.4 bolt circle and the way the wide range double creates a nice concentric ring pattern. Modern Shimano cranks, in my opinion, are ugly and look more like some Alien/stingray/circular saw mashup that look out of place on steel bikes.
I get this question a lot and finally got around to making a longish video describing my kit and rationale. Prior to our New Zealand trip I always brought a Nikon DSLR and a point and shoot. My current Nikon is a D700 which I love and feel is more or less the perfect camera for me. I carried it on our trip from Oregon to Glacier National Park and loved the images but hated the weight and bulk (esp. on the Bromptons). When that trip was done, I swore I was through with big DSLRs for touring and searched for a good alternative. Just around the same time the Micro 4/3rds cameras looked like they were maturing. I pulled the trigger on an Olympus EP3 and eventually a Lumix GH2 and haven’t looked back ever since.Read More»
A quick video review of the Leatherman Squirt PS4 which has quickly become my favorite EDC and bike touring multi-tool. Super small and super useful.Read More»
Combining interests with bicycle touring is a great way to keep bicycle touring fresh and attracting others who may not identify themselves purely as hardcore touring cyclists. One of the activities I’ve most enjoyed while touring (this is no big surprise to long-time readers) is fly fishing. I actually learned how to fly fish WHILE on tour. On our first 15 month ramble around the United States we were constantly camping by idyllic streams, rivers and lakes. I would look longingly at people fishing and thought that would be a great way to relax after a day of riding. It would also provide a different way to interact with the environment, rather than just pedaling through and pushing on. I ended up taking a class in Fortworth, TX about 6 months into our first big tour and have been fishing ever since!Read More»
There was recently a flurry about mirrors on our Facebook Page after I posted an Amazon link to the Take-A-Look mirror. Opinions on mirrors are varied. Some swear by them, others think they are the epitome of Fred-om and a fashion abomination. Say what you will, we think they’re infinitely useful and are an underrated safety tool.
The Showers Pass Elite Pro rain jacket has the most superlatives in front of it than any other Showers Pass product, so it must be a good awesome product, right? In the spirit of lightening and optimizing our gear, I was on the search for a lightweight yet waterproof jacket. I have a Showers Pass Elite (sans Pro) jacket which I like for commuting in during the long wet and cold Portland winters. However, since we were heading off to New Zealand during their “summer” I wanted to find something that was a lighter weight, packed down smaller and was still waterproof.
We’re beginning a really in-depth series of gear reviews of stuff we’ve tried over the years. So check the site every few days for a new review!
When we switched from Long Haul Truckers to the Bromptons we had to change pumps as well. I was using the Park Adjustable Frame Pump, which worked well with the Surly LHT but was too large for the Brompton. I wanted something small, not too heavy, well built and had a flex hose to reduce the chance of snapping off a bicycle tube valve.Read More»
Three years ago, almost to the day, we left our then-home of Long Beach, CA, on what would turn out to be a fateful bike trip to Joshua Tree. By the time we had returned home, we knew that we would soon be selling everything we owned and leaving on an incredible adventure. Never would we have dreamt that such a decision would lead us down this amazing path – or that it would open so many opportunities to show the inherent joys of bicycle travel.
A blast from the past. Having a picnic on one of our early tours.
Our time in New Zealand disappeared astoundingly fast, and now we are back in Southern California, figuring out our plans for the rest of this year. While we are still wrapping our heads around everything that happened and all that we learned (particularly in terms of bike economics), we are more convinced than ever of the benefits of bicycle travel.
In another couple weeks, we’ll be heading up to Portland, Oregon, which will be our home base this summer. It may sound counter-intuitive, but we’ve decided to step back from the continuous movement of the past year(s), so that we can promote bicycle travel in new ways and to more people. As we’ve been traveling, we’ve been making hundreds of mental notes about projects we want to work on that would help inspire other people to travel by bike and support bike travel. The time to act on these ideas, we’ve realized, is now.
While we won’t be actively traveling, we’ll still be here on this site, sharing many of the stories that haven’t yet made it online. We’ll also be taking our enthusiasm for bicycle travel off the website and to various events around the US. A lot of the details are still in the works, but you can expect a number of opportunities to meet up and hear us speak.
After 4,000 loaded touring miles on our Bromptons, we also want to share all that we’ve learned about adventure travel on these sturdy little bikes. We’ve been hinting about this book for some time, but we’re committed to finishing it over the next short while. (If there’s something you want to know, email us!)
And don’t forget the videos! The Kiwi Chronicles will certainly not be the last series of short videos we make about bicycle travel. We had an incredible experience filming and creating each of these videos, and we’re looking forward to taking the camera out on a variety of shorter-length trips to show the accessibility of bicycle travel.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we’ve taken some time to think about why bicycle travel is such an incredible way of exploring a place and why someone should consider it. What is bicycle travel? Watch and see.
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our 2012 2012 calendar or some of the fun bike-themed t-shirts we’re designing.)