Big Adventure. Small Wheels.
For the past few months, we’ve been hatching a plan for our next trip. Hitting the road again was never a question of ‘if’ – but ‘when’ and ‘how’. You may have noticed that we’ve been hinting about our next adventure, about changing a few details of the ‘how’ of our traveling. As the details have started to come together, we’ve gotten more and more excited about what this next journey will be. And now that we’re here at NAHBS, it’s finally time to let you all in on the big secret…
Look up at the changed header for the blog and you’ll see the name of our next trip… “Big Adventure. Small Wheels.” What do we mean by ‘small wheels’? Meet our new touring bikes…
We’ll be putting our trusty Surly Long Haul Truckers in storage to travel on Bromptons. Why? Riding around on a Brompton is simply a fun experience, and being able to fold them into a really tiny package is just cool.
Our plan is to pair the cycling with train travel. We think more people should get out on bikes, but we also think the train is overlooked as a contemporary means of travel. Since the two go together so well, we’re going to focus our whole next trip on the joys of bike and train travel. As much as we love our Surlys, they feel sluggish compared to the Bromptons, and they’re just not as simple to take on multi-modal travel.
So, meet Brompton… The Brompton is a folding bike with 16-inch wheels. It has the smallest and neatest fold you can get in a folding bike. The design has been around since 1988, which means that it’s a mature product that performs like a ‘real’ bicycle.
You may be wondering about the tiny wheels. Will we really be able to tour on these bikes and ride them up and over the mountains? Yes, we think so. The Bromptons are geared in such a way that we have almost the same range of gears as we had on the Surlys, they’re just broken down into a smaller number of gears (six). Because they’re geared so well, the small size of the wheels doesn’t affect the handling the way you might initially think, and we don’t have to pedal harder or spin faster in order to keep up with a larger-wheeled bike.
What about the carrying capacity? The Bromptons are decidedly smaller than the Surlys and are not intended for hauling around as much of a load as the Surly. But that doesn’t mean they can’t carry gear. Brompton makes a great front touring bag that’s approximately the size of a pannier and a half. We’ll be using these bags, as well as a second bag on the rear racks (likely a backpacking-style backpack). We will have to pack lighter and carry fewer items with us, but we see this is a blessing. Even though we were continually lightening our load on our last trip, we still had 70 or so pounds of gear by the end. That’s just too much stuff and too much weight! As soon as we figure out our reduced selection of gear, we’ll share that here.
Like before, we’re trying to not overly plan our route. We’ll be starting from Portland this spring and heading East, across the northern part of the US and into Canada. For both of us, one of the greatest parts of the last trip was meeting people along the way and interacting with all of our wonderful readers. So we hope that you’ll all come along on this journey as well! If you have suggestions for places we should check out, please let us know.
As we’ve been riding around on the Bromptons, we’ve started to notice something… we’re smiling a lot! These bikes are zippy and playful and fun to ride, not to mention rather head-turning. We’re having so much fun already – and we can’t wait to take them out on the open road!
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