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.

Next steps...

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.

 

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Comment by Ian Morrison on April 23, 2016 at 10:28am

Sounds great, well done and a good write up.

Comment by Playdough on April 23, 2016 at 9:12am

Interesting read, because I've done a very similar thing myself.

 In 2010 I bought an Avanti Explorer, much the same as the Blade but with suspension forks. I'm 179cm and have a medium size frame, so you're comments about handlebar position resonate with me. It was my commute until I bought the Brompton in 2013. 

Some of my upgrades have worked out well, some not so.

Good- rack fitted from shop. Mudguards, dynamo lighting system, Brooks Flyer saddle purchased last week, so far so good and much more comfortable than the stock Avanti saddle.

Not so good- Ergo GP3 grips, the 'bullhorn' type. Purchased when I put the rubber Zero grips from the Avanti unto the Brompton, the GP3's give me pins and needles after a while (handlebar position?) and one of the horns snapped the one and only time I came off the bike. Planning to get butterfly bars and an adjustable stem to fix this. I also regret fitting thinner tyres, planning to get some 35mm Schwalbe Marathons soon.

I also had a bad run with the Cyclo. not one but 2 units failed out of the box. Happily using a Garmin 810 obtained using frequent flyer points.

Comment by JamesD on April 22, 2016 at 5:27pm

Great read and worthwhile modifications.  For what it's worth, I would think the size bike you are on sounds ideal.  Going to the next size up while it makes the bars higher, it invariably moves them forward so you still wind up leaning too far with too much weight on the hands and wrists.

I have un-naturally long legs (according to my LBS) and I bought a  larger frame and while it felt OK in the short term, longer rides were not so good.  No amount of adjustment would bring the reach back to comfortable.  Note this will vary with your core strength and flexibility, both of which I was lacking.

Excellent that you have achieved a comfortable fit, enjoy the ride!

Comment by Peter Smith on April 22, 2016 at 12:42pm

Actually I just checked my Topeak Morph pump and I have the Road Morph model.

Road Morph

Comment by Peter Smith on April 22, 2016 at 12:35pm

I carry one of these on my Trek flat bar road bike. The Topeak minimorph is a great little pump and you can ditch the CO2 canisters and carry a spare tube. See the website here mimimorph

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