For anyone imagining a world tour of their own, deciding which gear to use can be as daunting as plotting the route itself. Plenty of options, limited cash, contradictory reviews- you could spend a month comparing cassettes without spending a minute on an actual bicycle.
Here’s how I made it through the smoke and mirrors and got some good gear.
First, close all your browser windows opened to various bike companies and bicycling.com’s gearfinder page. Uncheck everything from your shopping carts. Reduce, breathe, and then open a single browser.
Search for your local cycling club’s page. If you don’t live in a place where there are enough people to form a small gathering, check out a goodly-sized city within about an hour’s travel of your place. As you dig up a club or two, explore their sites to see if they recommend a particular cycling outfitter or bike specialist. Write down a few names, and see how often they come up between various message boards. If there are no obvious leads, post a question to the group asking who to turn to.
Every wise cyclist has a gear guru from whom they learned the force.
Mine is Matt Lodder, the Cycle Surgeon. Working out of Cary, Matt has a slew of high recommendations from loyal fans that pointed me to his mountaintop. Just kidding, have you seen Durham? His figurative mountaintop, where the sages live. Matt has tons of experience and knows every inch of a bike and all its possible combinations. For a tenderfoot like me, having someone invested in my idea and generous enough to offer me a two-hour consultation, free of charge, gave me the confidence to sort through the many options on the table. I finally stopped comparing and started ordering.
There will be lots of specs you’ll have to work out, but most of these depend the kind of trip you want to undertake. Mountain bikes, touring bikes, ultralight bikes, and crank forwards all offer different journeys, not just a different style. Sure, you can make your bike as all-purpose as you want by not blinking an eye between highway and hinterland. However, while you can cycle from London to Tellicherry on a penny-farthing, it’s best that you came to that decision with the help of a wisened Yoda. After all, if you’re doing it to look odd on the road, you might as well get a recumbent and be ten times more comfortable.