Bikes: The Contenders

For the past couple of months, while I’ve really started to hunker down and get planning and training for this trip, I’ve been debating what bike to use.  Certainly I’m convinced that my Merida Cyclocross is not suitable for this sort of cycling.  For much of the past year, I’ve been considering getting a pure road bike, which would be a significant performance upgrade in terms of my road cycling efficiency and race pace.  But a pure road bike is also not suitable for this sort of planned cycle touring.

Thus, I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing bike shops and manufacturer websites.  And there are quite a few really nice looking bikes out there!  But just because they are stunning to look at and they could do the job, doesn’t mean that they’re really suited to it.  I mean, Miranda Kerr is also easy on the eye but I wouldn’t necessarily want to take her on a bicycle trip across America.  Then there are the many high-end bikes I’ve seen have had all sorts of fiddly gadgets (cable-less systems, electronic gears, hydraulic brakes etc) that I simply don’t understand, let alone would be able to fix – talk about high maintenance!

So what are my bike contenders (so far)?  

Dawes Galaxy Excel 631

I admit, I know nothing about this bike.  I didn’t even have it down as a contender until about 5 minutes ago.  About 6 minutes ago, I realised that in the several bike touring blogs I’ve read, there’s been an almost reverence given to the Dawes brand – almost as an inkling that the blog-writer wished they had got a Dawes rather than whichever wheeled steed they were actually mounting.


And… Yeah, it’s a nice enough bike.  Classic styling meets drop-handlebars, Steel-frame with Reynolds 631 Double-Tubing (whatever that is, but I’ve read mention of it frequently!), Triple Cassette, strong enough for plenty of baggage and Schwalbe Marathon tyres as standard.  For the mechanical parts, Dawes have taken a real pick-and-mix of Shimano Road and MTB groupset components.  £1,300.


Charge Plug 4

For about a week, I virtually had this bike as my laptop wallpaper – it’s a good looking bike!  Nothing too fancy or garish (except for those white-wall tyres!), just understated good looks.  Or maybe I’m just a sucker for matt black…


Okay, so this is maybe more of a wildcard contender.  Aluminium frame and Carbon forks don’t really scream “Carry Capacity” or “Durability” yet I’ve heard of it completing the gruelling TransContinental race across Europe.  With its rack and fender pannier-mounts, and twin cassette, Shimano 105 groupset, this is a decent bit of bike for the money.  Maybe more for the TransAmerican race, than a Pond-to-Pond tour though.  £900.


Genesis Tour De Fer 20

Indeed, Genesis introduce this bike pretty well: “Expedition-ready straight from the box – just add rider, luggage and a strong sense of adventure.”  Sounds perfect!  What more can I say, other than that 2 out of the 3 bike shops I’ve spoken to so far, their instant first recommendation was this.


Reynolds 725 Chromoly-Steel frame, full Shimano Tiagra groupset with triple cassette, disk brakes, front dynamo-hub, Schwalbe Marathon tyres, front & rear pannier mounts with space for handlebar-bags also.  Really what’s not to like!  Oh, it’s £1,500.


Also in contention but grabbing my interest to a far lesser extent are the Ridgeback Panorama (£1,150) and the Trek 520 Disk (£950), with the Claude Butler Regent a budget option (£600).

But for now, I’m veering towards the Genesis.


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