Cycling in Brisbane Australia
To get back into biking proper I bought a commuter bike, an Avanti Blade 3 from Avantiplus in the Valley. Got last years model at a great price. However, as much as I love this bike and it was a good commuter it wasn't a great long distance rider. On my first (and only to date) 100kms ride from Brissie to Gold Coast I discovered a few issues I had to fix.
The seat gave me pains in the man bits. I got pins and needles in my wrists and fingers really badly. The gears were not changing smoothly and I kept slipping off the pedals.
As well as bike problems I carried too much stuff. Didn't practice, Didn't eat or rest properly and as a consequence took nearly 6 hours with rest stops. A ridiculously long time. I got beaten by a guy with his 6 year old daughter on a pull along bike. Not a great start.
So as a consequence I've tried to address some of these issues.
I replaced some to the standard components;
First off I have to admit that I bought a bike slightly too small for me, I am 176 cms but the medium is just on the small side. Should have gone for a large or M/L. As a consequence, when the seat is at the right height for the best pedaling the handlebars were very low. I surmised that constantly leaning my weight on my hands wasn't helping my pins and needles. So I got two upgrades. I got a Riser Stem to raise the handlebar height to a more comfortable height.
I also got some Ergo Grips to help flatten the surface. These changes worked out great and helped address some of the painful pins and needles and numbness in the hands and wrists.
After much research I identified that for long distance touring type riding the Brooks saddles were pretty much universally recognized as the benchmark. But...they only got really comfortable after many K's use and they are very expensive. The second choice turned out to be the very affordable Selle SMP TRK saddle. So that's what I got.
After riding on this for a while I can confirm the reviewer feedback. Its a great saddle and you don't need any padded shorts. I am loving this saddle. Very comfortable. Not as pretty and probably not as long lasting as the Brooks but to date I cannot fault it. My commuter is now a very comfortable long distance riding machine.
I also invested in a computer. Now Garmin has the market sown up but...Magellan brought out the Cyclo 500 at a fraction of the price of the equivalent Garmin with the same specs. It even fits the Garmin attachments.
It works great, has a long battery life and records my adventures to Strava. I also allows me to design my own routes, record routes to rerun them and imports routes like the Brissie to the Bay and gives me turn by turn directions. I am loving this computer.
To fix the slipping fears I took the bike for a service. Didn't help. So I bought a bike maintenance book and fixed them myself. I did check for upgrade options as the gear change is a bit slow to respond sometimes but it doesn't seem worth it at the moment. They now work fine for me so I am leaving well enough alone.
I looked into getting some MTB or touring bike shoes and SPD clipless pedals to help keep my feet on the pedals and give me more power to the wheels. I'm not a flamboyant person and I discovered that bike shoes are mostly ugly and garish. The uglier the more expensive they are. Then, after a bit of research, I discovered Muddy Fox and Five Ten. These guys, especially Five Ten, make great looking shoes that you can fit SPD cleats to. I prefer the look of Five Ten but they din't have the one I liked in my size so I went for Muddy Fox. I also bought some multi purpose Shimano pedals with SPD on one side and platforms on the other. Perfect for commuting and short trips. They haven't arrived yet so jury's out on whether these make much difference.
To reduce the weight I got a medium sized under saddle bag and in it I keep a puncture repair kit and some CO2 canisters. To help keep me safe on the commute in the dark nights I bought and fitted some Ebay special lights. I gout some $5 rear red lights that are super bright and perfectly functional. However I did by a good named brand front light as some of the areas I go though are unlit. Won't need this on Brissie to the Bay unless I get stuck on the mountains.
All in all the upgrades have cost around $200. I now have a very comfortable commuter that I can also go long distance touring on.
I'm off in July for a 5 day camping bike tour and looking forward to it more and more.