5 great scottish bike routes

courtesy of Evans

Scotland is famed for its fantastic scenery, islands, hills, mountains and get-away-from it all feel. There are also plenty of roads that offer great routes for quiet cycling. Why not pick one of our favourite cycle routes in Scotland and head off for a day or two of fabulous touring?

Lochs & Glens North

Start: SECC, Glasgow
Finish: Ness Bridge, Inverness
Distance: 214 miles

This route follows the NCN (National Cycle Network) Route 7. It is a mix of roads and traffic-free paths. The ride takes you through both of Scotland’s acclaimed national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms, with a huge variety of beautiful countryside and wildlife.

You’ll also pass six lochs, multiple castles and cycle over the famous Glen Ogle viaduct. The route has its fair share of long climbs but equally, there are some great descents.

With more than 200 miles to cover you can split the journey into day-long sections or decide just to ride some of the routes in a day and return to the start by public transport. Be sure to book ahead if you want to reserve a bike space on a train. SeeSustrans


Lochs Glens Sunfall Lock Lomond


Five Ferries Bike Ride

Start/Finish: CalMac ferry terminal at Ardrossan, Ayrshire.
Distance: 71 miles

A legendary bike ride is this island-hopping route on Scotland’s west coast.

The route, as the name suggests, includes five short ferry crossings and 4 cycle sections across the mainland of Scotland.

Many people ride the route in one day, which is possible if you time the ferries and your cycling carefully. Alternatively, you can take your time and overnight on the islands.

A CalMac ferry takes you from the mainland at Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, where you cycle 15 miles to Lochranza. The next ferry heads to Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula.

From Claonaig to Tarbet is 10.5 miles before a ferry to Portavadie on the Cowal Peninsula. The ride to Colintraive is 19 miles and includes a long hill climb with fabulous views over the Kyles of Bute.

Another ferry journeys to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute and then you ride 8 miles to Rothesay. The last ferry of this trip heads to Wemyss Bay and then a bike ride of 18.5 miles back to Ardrossan. Alternatively, you could take the train from Wemyss to Ardrossan.

More details of the route at Five Ferries Cycle

Five Ferries Cycle Arran


Scottish Coast to Coast

Start: Annan, Dumfries & Galloway
Finish: The Forth Bridge, near Edinburgh
Distance: 125 miles

The Scottish C2C was created by the same founders as the popular English C2C this is a new waymarked long-distance route for Scotland.

It takes cyclists through the beautiful rolling countryside of southern Scotland, starting in the small town of Annan on the coast in Dumfries and Galloway and heading north through three valleys, the Annan, Tweed and Esk.

The route then reaches the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh and on to the Forth Bridge, which is one of the great wonders of the engineering world.

You could easily start the route in Edinburgh and head south to the coast of Dumfries and Galloway. See the route guide book, The Ultimate Scottish C2C Guide, priced £11.50 from Bike Ride Maps.


Ring of Breadalbane Road Cycle

Start/Finish: Crieff, Perth & Kinross
Distance: 100 miles (160km)

The Breadalbane “High Ground” area of Perthshire boasts breath-taking scenery and lots of lovely quiet roads. The full 100-mile route is a big undertaking in a single day although some riders will be up for the challenge.
For easier days in the saddle, split the route into a few sections over two of three days.

In the summer, an Explorer Bus allows cyclists to access different start and finish points, such as Crieff, Comrie, Killin and Aberfeldy.

See Breadalbane Road Cycling

Breadalbane Cycle Route


North Coast 500

Start/Finish: Inverness
Distance: 516 miles

Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66, the NC500 travels just over 500 miles in the stunning north-west of Scotland. First created for drivers, the route has become a popular goal for cyclists.
Most cyclists take a week to ride it, although others will be keen to cover it in less time.

The circular route can be completed clockwise or anti-clockwise and meanders through the counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross-shire. Be prepared for long hill climbs and fabulous landscapes.

See NC500

NC500 Route View

Monday bike Style: Rie Coffee Racer


Rie’s “Super Coffee Bike Tourer” came to be when she decided to tour Europe, after her friend Mortimer from Keirin Berlin urged her to do so. Rie decided she wanted to attend various bike events, make new friends and pour coffee from her bike, something she had been doing since 2010 at her job while working for Circles and Sim Works in Nagoya from a singlespeed city bike. This trip however, would require something more capable, so she contacted Hunter Cycles and began to plan for her trip. RADAVIST.com

La weekend

Friday decided not to work and packed the pouring bike for a ride – a jolly ramble with camera, lunch, spare clothes etc.

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not the nicest day – and weather was close cold and misty BUT I was on the bike and had a good ride. Does pass up from aberfoyle and at the other side decided not to carry on to Callandar and instead returned along my route ….

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One of my longer rides as i rarely go more that 100km and also on the bike which i weighed on my return at 25kg … ouch. Will need to take this into account when planning my touring. Epsom salt bath on my return.

Sunday – my friend Jim called to suggest an early ride Sunday am. He has limited time now after his wife passed away 6months ago and with the two girls watching Sun morning telly he had a gap of 2 hours … so my him at his place 8:30am on what can only be described as a peach of a day. Over the Crow north I thought my fork had too much play – think the shop didn’t quite tighten it enough … so quick change and back to the top heading South

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my legs felt good so gave it some welly both sides of the crow but still 2 min down on my best times …. 2016-03-20 09.58.39

Jim was just happy at being out. Coming down the other side we are pelting along 50kmh+ when i hear jim shout ‘SHEEEEEEEPPPPP’ … brake hard … these most intelligent animals wait until you are 20ft away before dashing across the road. Past the corner speeding up and I see yet more Wooly Jumpers on suicide missions (actually more kamikaze as we would be killed) so descent is much more sedate than normal.

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The perfect front Rando Bag

But sadly pre sale already sold out … from their blog

What is a Demi-Porteur bag?

Ever since moving to a bike optimized for a front load I started to push the envelope of how much went in the upper bag vs. panniers.  The goal being that the upper bag would accommodate 90% of my daily bike trasportational needs, and the panniers only come out for groceries, camping trips, etc.  I keep a regular rotation of tools and clothing layers with me all the time.  Add to that things that vary per ride like camera gear, meals, coffee gear, post office runs, etc.  I needed maximum volume and flexibility.  Starting with the basic form of a traditional randonneuring bag, I pushed some of the dimensions and features without going so far that it became a full porteur bag.

While pushing the boundaries of size and volume I also wanted to shave some weight.  The first place I made the weight cut was with material.  The design is able to use all of the strong points of the Dimension Polyant XPac, and avoid most of the features that are considered the material’s downside.  XPac is a three layer laminate, pack cloth on the outer faces, with a mylar center and a cross weave of polyester fiber on the bias for added load capacity and tear resistance.  XPac does not like to be forced into compound curves or situation with high abrasion.  The boxy shape takes care of the first.  Abrasion is generally minor on the bag as it is surrounded by the bars and rack.  The material is highly water proof and light for the amount of strength.

The bags being made by Swift Industries came the closest to what I was going for.  I reached out to Martina during last year’s trip to Seattle.  We hit it off well, and after a bit of back and forth communication, modifications of the overall dimensions and nailing dow the details, the first production sample hit my door.  Honestly, it was everything I had envisioned.  If the full Docena project never made it off of the ground I would still be using this as my primary bag for years to come.  Soak in the picture set, and then I will hit you with the details:


5.28 Docena WP-15.28 Docena WP-25.28 Docena WP-45.28 Docena WP-35.28 Docena WP-55.28 Docena WP-65.28 Docena WP-75.28 Docena WP-85.28 Docena WP-95.28 Docena WP-105.28 Docena WP-115.28 Docena WP-125.28 Docena WP-135.28 Docena WP-145.28 Docena WP-155.28 Docena WP-16By Rando Bag standards this is a huge bag.  It is both tall and wide.  Wide enough to fit 1 dozen eggs, and deep enough front to back to fit a second dozen as needed.  Overall dimensions of the main compartment are 28cm tall x 21cm deep x 30 cm wide.  There is 37cm of space between the inside faces of my break hoods, while I do not have any problems with finger rub, I would not use the bag if yours are any narrower.

The main compartment has a removable partition to keep your loads separate.  Tall bags can quickly become cluttered and challenging to get stuff off the bottom.  The everyday stuff like pumps, warmers and wind breakers stays on the bottom, things I want regular access too is on the top; snacks, camera gear etc.  This could easily split a change of work clothes on the bottom, lunch up top etc.  The partition can be removed much like an old hiking backpack to accommodate bigger items as needed.  There is also a roll closure front for getting to the bottom load without having to enter through the top.  .

Side pockets are standard rando bag style.

The front pocket is full width to fit all your odds and ends including full size road maps (AAA).  The width caries over into the top map pocket, again easily accommodating full size maps and or your electronic device.  Samsung Note 2 and meeting wallet shown for scale.  the vinyl material on the top will also allow for the use of the device touch screen.  The lid has two traditional inner flaps as well as top.  The elastic closures have been moved from the center to corners.  This allows for easier closure while riding.  I generally leave one corner open for quick camera access.

The rear facing part of the bag has two traditional small pockets.  In addition there is an external lock pocket.  No more opening and unloading the bag to find your lock at the bottom.

There are internal stiffeners on the three vertical sides.  The bottom stiffener pocket is external.  In general I have never felt the need for a stiffener there, but use it as a cutting board slot on longer trips.  There are also the four traditional straps Swift uses to secure their bags to a min rack.  I have only needed these for rougher roads.

The bag can be secured to most traditional rando racks with the back stop strap and a decaleur system.  Some type of upper support will be needed for a bag this size.  Working out all of the options in this arena will be a separate post.  My current system of an Ortlieb pannier hook and hacked Nitto lamp mount has been fantastic.  We are refining the design, but it is not yet ready for market.

I may have skipped a couple of details, and there will be some subtle refinements as we move into production.  That said the bag has exceeded all of my expectations, and is 98% perfect.  Delivery time, final cost and total number made are still being worked out over the next week or so.  Much of that will depend on initial interest.  Stay tuned for a presale announcement, Newsletter subscribers will get fist crack at any discounts .

Some pics from this week – mountains and a bike ride

ben ledi -1

Up Ben Ledi – warm on the bottom slopes with all the effort

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wind sculpted snow

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liking the symmetry

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below freezing

mhor ride-1.jpg

that would make the perfect weekend cottage …

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old school OS maps

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mhor ride-7.jpg

rob roys grave (maybe)

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sublime path

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Dream Bike: Raphael Touring


RADAVIST:  Like many framebuilders, Rafi Ajl began his love for the bicycle at a young age but it wasn’t until after graduating from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design that he began pursuing his love for building bicycle frames. Ajl’s background is fine art and as such, his bicycles began functional art. Something you would not only love to look at, but would love to ride and would be able to do so for the rest of your life.

Perhaps it was Rafi’s passion for art, design and the bicycle that drew Geoff from Box Dog Bikes, a local, owner run co-op bicycle shop in the Mission of SF to Raphael Cycles’ work. Or maybe it was the proximity. Rafi Ajl is no longer making frames, but when he was, Raphael Cycles was literally blocks away from Box Dog Bikes.

Geoff wanted a classic touring bike with external routing, fender, rack mounts and a 1″ threaded headset. A seasoned tourer, randonnée, cyclocross racer, shredder of vintage mountain bikes and all-around capable cyclist, Geoff knew exactly what he wanted and has been thoroughly enjoying this bike. As evident by the years of use.

A SON hub powers the S3 lighting and a well-positioned and broken in Brooks saddle cushions and inviting a ride.

Geoffs-Raphael-Cycles-Touring-Bike-24-1335x890 Geoffs-Raphael-Cycles-Touring-Bike-32-1335x890

another of the 7 day 7 wonder series – Ingleheart Bikes

The beautifully-colored layers of rock of the Painted Hills are mirrored in this adventure-ready bike, designed by Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks.

You could find, own and ride this bike! Find out more at http://traveloregon.com/7bikes7wonders

Theatre Thursday: Sloquet Hot Springs

The chaps at Funeral Cycling has been cooking up a new project with support from GT Bicycles, bringing a bunch of familiar brands along for the ride. With such a focus on the perfect bikepacking setup these days, this project harks back to a time – not long ago – where you just got out and got over your heads.

Head over to the Adventures section on their Waypoints site for the full Sloquet Hot Springs story.

The good lady and the new bike

The good lady had her birthday yesterday and it coincided that it was the first day since Saturday that has seen sun.

Saturday she picked up her new bike on cyclescheme – a genesis Tour de Fer touring bike – which has been delayed due to some issues with the fork.

Screenshot 2015-03-11 14.29.39

Was a peachy day – but don’t think I have ever cycled so slowly – she better speed up or she will be touring alone (or still cycling whilst i set up tent, cook dinner, watch a movie and have a wee nap)

But lovely to take in the views and enjoy the sun with a real feel of spring in the air.

M B day-2

The Genesis Tour de Fer is a thing of beauty

M B day-4 M B day-5

My mercian was being shunned by the camera on the Tour’s first run out – but that Reynolds 631 is a beauty too ……

M B day-3

Your Dream Touring Bike

ABOUTCYLING have this great list on their site

I’ve completed an internet trawl to find some of the nicest, most aesthetically pleasing touring bikes getting about and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what’s coming up.

Somehow I’ve ended up with the majority of these bikes made in the USA, so either my taste is for North American builders, or perhaps North American builders are better exposed on the internet. I’m keen to get a more international splash of handmade bikes on this page, so please drop a comment with a bike that you think is just as worthy as these. It has to be pretty special, with nice paint and colour-matched parts – good driveside pictures are also essential.


Out of the 28 bikes on showcase, this is the characteristic breakdown:

  • Handlebars: Drop (20), Flat (8).
  • Brakes: Disc (14), Cantilever (10), Road (1), hydraulic rim (1), V-brake (2).
  • Mudguards: Metal (15), Plastic (6), None (6), Wooden (1).
  • Frame Material: Titanium (14), Steel (10), Stainless Steel (4).
  • Gears: Derailleur (17), Internally Geared Hub (9), Gearbox (2).
  • Shifters: STI (7), Barend (5), Gripshift (10), Downtube (2), Trigger (2), Stem (1), Retroshift (1).
  • Country of Origin: USA (19), Australia (3), Switzerland (3), The Netherlands (3).


This Swiss company works with titanium to make unique touring bikes for purposes from light touring to expedition. We couldn’t pick one to show you, so we settled for three. Many of their bikes use Rohloff 14s hubs, Pinion 18s gearboxes and Gates Carbon Drive. Integrated racks and seatposts, and matching stems finish the Hilite look.

Van Nicholas

This Dutch builder has specialised in titanium over the years, putting together some mighty fine looking touring bikes. The Pioneer Rohloff 29er is unique compared to most touring bikes, in that it can squeeze in wide 700c tyres. Van Nicholas come with all the top end touring gear, including Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff 14s hubs. Matching stems, handlebars and seatposts complete the look.


Breadwinner of Portland (USA) are Ira Ryan and Tony Pereira. These two builders teamed up together “to get more beautiful bikes to more people who ride everyday”. Although I’m not a huge fan of the green, the matching stem and pump look superb, and make sure to check out the headtube badge in Breadwinner’s website – it’s a work of art. The only thing I don’t agree at all with is the use of Shimano Ultegra crankset and derailleurs, as they’re too modern-looking on such a classic bike. If it were mine, it’d be silver Campagnolo components instead.

Ti Cycles

Dave Levy of Ti Cycles has gone all out on this unique ride. In Dave’s Portland (USA) workshop, he has managed to create a titanium frame that looks nothing like the rest on the list, given the hyper extended top tube. The more impressive features include the custom ti racks with integrated mudguard struts, the u-lock holder and the Supernova dynamo light fittings. My only gripes are the use of yellow on the stem and the Shimano road crankset which seems a bit out of place here.

Horse Cycles

Light blue is pretty much my favourite colour, so it is no suprise that this stainless steel Horse by Thomas Callahan in New York (USA) makes the list. It seems a bit more randonneur than most on this list, but given it has custom front and rear racks we’ll consider it a tourer. The colour-matched ‘guards look incredible, as do the racks and fillet-brazed stem. My only gripe is that the crankset does not fit in… at all. A White Industries crankset in silver would make me much happier.


This stainless steel, fillet-brazed beauty is possibly the wackiest ride on this list, and is without doubt the most expensive. Somewhere between a work of art and a very capable tourer, it was built by Joseph Ahearne in Portland, taking six weeks to build, at 10-12 hours a day with no days off. The estimated value is $25,000 USD, which is presumedly made up in labour costs. Interesting features include the high polish finish which exposes immaculate fillet brazing, KVA stainless steel tubing which is much thicker than any other option, Ritchey breakaway parts, additional support tubing for the seatstay/toptube, custom steel racks with a built-in lock holder, a flask holder on the downtube, a super retro Shimano derailleur and a logo panel made of stainless which has been laser cut and left unpolished on the downtube. This Ahearne Flickr album is a must see to understand the level of detail and work that went into this amazing ride!

Chapman Cycles

Chapman cycles touring bike

This touring bike features stainless steel lugs, fenders and fork crown, which looks beautiful against the stealth finish. The fork has a built in dynamo connector, allowing the dynamo wire to run on the inside of the fork leg for a neat look. This wire powers both the lights and the USB plug found on the top of the stem. The Tubus rear rack has been stripped of it’s original paint, and chrome plated, matching the front rack perfectly. Even the saddle has a custom finish on it, the leather replaced and re-stitched to match the yellow cables. More photos on the Chapman website.



It’s my opinion that Firefly Bicycles of Boston (USA) make some of the nicest titanium and stainless steel bikes in the world. The upper bike is setup with Shimano electronic gearing which is normally only featured on road bikes, but has been fitted to work with MTB parts in this case. The lower two bikes have splits for Gates Carbon Drive which works seamlessly in combination with the Rohloff 14s hub – we certainly love our drivetrain. The Firefly lettering is sometimes buffed up to a glossy finish on the downtube and can be chemically coated with anything from gold to a rainbow effect. Other nice features include built-in rear racks, internal cabling, custom dynamo light mounts and stunning titanium stem and seatpost combos. James Medeiros and Tyler Evans of Firefly have nailed these modern touring bikes. More @ Firefly’s Flickr.


Alex Cook of A-Train Bicycles in Minneapolis (USA) has whipped together an incredibly simple and elegant tourer. The material of choice: stainless steel. This frame uses stainless S&S couplers which bring the packed bike size right down to about half the regular length. The A-train custom racks blend right in to this bike.


I was trying to pick one titanium Bilenky tandem, but just couldn’t do it. These two titanium bikes are probably the nicest touring tandems I’ve ever laid my eyes on. The top tandem, which a bit more of a randonneur, has enough purple to be crazy, but somehow still pulls off a very elegant look (in my humble opinion). The below tandem is long-distance touring ready with a Rohloff hub and some schmick looking racks. The frame is without doubt the most impressive part however, as the curvy, retro style is still very functional and even breaks into three parts so that you can easily get it into an plane. These incredible tandems are manufacturered by Stephen Bilenky and family in Philadelphia (USA).

Independent Fabrication

Indy Fab of Newmarket (USA) have been around longer than most, and as a result, have mastered the frame-building trade. The finish on an Indy Fab is generally 10/10 and these look to be no exception. I also have no doubts that both would be sturdy enough to complete round-the-world trips. Here’s hoping they get ridden regularly! Via Indy Fab.


Jordan Hufnagel has put together this georgeous classic tourer in bespoke bike central, Portland (USA). The paint-matched stem and racks are pure class and I especially love the wooden panels that are inserted into the racks. More images @ UrbanVelo.


Tony Pereira, based in Portland (USA), has built this 650b bike up nice and classic. The high top tube, downtube shifters and birch finish give this bike a timeless look. A colour-matched stem, pump and Tubus cargo rack finish the build very well. I can’t help but think the bike would look much better with some brown leather Brooks bartape to match the saddle.


Darren Baum of Geelong (Australia) is a household name around custom bike enthusiasts. His frames are world class and are always dressed with incredible paint jobs. These two bikes have been put together for two cyclists who completed a charity ride across three continents, documented on the website The Long Road Tour. Check out the Baum Flickr for more.


Pilot make their titanium bikes in the Netherlands; the finishing is top quality! On these bikes you’ll find Rohloff 14s hubs, Pinion 18s gearboxes and Gates Carbon Drivetrains. They’re certainly something to drool over.


This custom Clockwork randonneur was too good to keep off the list! Apart from the stunning looks, there are lots of nice design details to be found including a custom mount for downtube shifters located on the top tube. The matching painted rack and leather saddle complete the look.


Keith Marshall from Canberra (Australia) is inspired by Japanese metalwork, but really, the Japanese should probably be inspired by him! This stainless steel beauty is again a bit more on the randonneur side of things, but damn, look at it! It features S&S couplers to break the frame down nice and small, internal cable routing for the dynamo lights and beautiful Llewellyn lugs (these lugs are best in the business btw). More @ Kumo Cycles.


John from the Radavist takes photos of the nicest custom bikes in the world, but also has his fair share of sweet rides! I love the simplicity and colour of his Geekhouse, which is made by Marty Walsh and the team in Boston (USA). John has the colours and tones on this bike right down to the gold bidons – I love the custom racks too! The bike employs a double 50-32 crankset and an 11-36t cassette which gives ample low-end gearing for the type of riding John does. More @ The Radavist.

Vanilla Bikes

Sacha White of Vanilla Bicycles in Portland (USA) had so many pre-ordered frames to build that he no longer takes orders! That’s 5+ years worth, so I hope you’re not lusting for one too badly. This Vanilla is more of a randonneur than a tourer, but given it’s impeccable finish it was too hard to keep it off my list. I particularly love the lugs and the colour matched guards/pump. The stem is a work of art too, check it out on the Vanilla website.


Rivendell are very well known for their touring bikes but this Hunqapillar takes the cake. The diagatube is the most obvious feature on this bike, designed to stiffen the bike up by increasing the triangulation. Wooden guards, a lugged frame construction, retro racks and the Rohloff 14s hub give this bike a distinctive look.

Building a Beautiful Touring Bike

Follow these tips and you can have your very own gorgeous tourer. Remember, it doesn’t have to be custom-made to look incredible!

1. Keep your colours to a minimum. Two colours are enough (not including your black and silver components), three starts to look messy but can be pulled off.

2. Balance your silvers and blacks. Bikes typically look better with a mix of black and silver components. It’s hard to completely avoid black as it’s often found at the lever hood or on the tyres at a minimum. I really like it when silver hubs, silver mudguards and a silver crankset are used with all black components.

3. Match the colour of your seat and bartape/grips. This is the easiest way to make any bike look extra nice.

4. Use metal mudguards. Polished or hammered metal guards are all class. Who cares if they weigh more?

5. Paint your mudguards the same colour as your frame. Colour-matched guards are all class.

6. Paint your stem and racks the same colour as your frame. You’ll notice a number of the bikes featured in this article feature colour matched parts.

7. Use classic-styled cranks on classic-styled builds. There is nothing worse than a modern road crankset on a classic build (see the Horse above). White Industries, Middleburn and Campagnolo make some nice classic cranks.

allaboutcycling – 15 reasons to tour with a Rohloff

exactly How I feel …. well my tourer is normal but my MTB is a Rohloff 


The Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 is the epitome of German engineering. Just look at it!

The Rohloff features 14 gears that are equally spaced over a wide spread of ratios, confined within a sealed bearing hub and weigh a similar amount to a typical mountain bike derailleur system. A singlespeed drivetrain smoothly operates the hub, resulting in hassle free funtimes. Shifting is done via a twist shifter which requires effortless force forwards or backwards to shift to easier and harder gears respectively. Being an internally geared hub, the chain does not have to move between sprockets, which improves shifting reliability and allows shifts to be made without pedalling.

CyclingAbout are pretty much in love with our Rohloffs. They are great when the riding conditions are good and even better when they are not.

If you use a drop handlebar, there are still heaps of options for you available at 12 ways to run Rohloff shifters with road drop handlebars.

Here are 15 reasons why you should also tour with Rohloff:

  1. Rohloffs gears are inside the hub shell
  2. Rohloffs are sturdy
  3. Rohloffs have a wide gear range
  4. Rohloffs are virtually maintenance free
  5. Rohloff drivetrains require minimal cleaning
  6. Rohloffs allow you to shift gears without pedalling
  7. Rohloffs allow you to drop many gears at once
  8. Rohloffs have equally spaced gear ratios
  9. Rohloffs instantly change gears
  10. Rohloffs allow for a straight chain line
  11. Rohloffs are a zero-dish wheel build
  12. Rohloffs are just as efficient as derailleur drivetrains
  13. Rohloff hubs have less dependance on a shifter than derailleur drivetrains
  14. Rohloffs build with shorter spokes
  15. Rohloffs are belt drive compatible

1. Rohloffs gears are inside the hub shell
Do you want your gears hiding, protected in the safe confines of an aluminium hub shell? For touring, of course you do! The Rohloff hub is a sealed unit of cogs which work under a small volume of oil. Being sealed, it is resilient against (to an extent) mud, grit, dust, snow and sand. This means that you will have your gears operating much longer than you would with derailleurs! When the derailleur and cogs get full of grit, conventional derailleur systems have the problem of ‘chain sucking’, often causing bikes to become unridable as the drivetrain becomes seized. With a Rohloff hub, you will not suffer this fate again and will not even be subject to chains falling off cogs or the frustration of slipping gears!

2. Rohloffs are sturdy
A key advantage of running a Rohloff is that there are less parts susceptible to damage. You do not have an exposed derailleur, a delicate derailleur hanger, a brittle cassette or shifters that can fail. Instead these things are inside your hub (except the shifter – more details on that down the post)!

3. Rohloffs have a wide gear range
The 526% gear range provides plenty of gears to get up and over all kinds of terrain. It is not quite as wide as what you can achieve with a conventional drivetrain, so you may miss some of the larger gears. On a touring bike, I recommend setting the external ratio on your chainring and cog to as low as Rohloff recommend. That means that your chainring should be around 2.35x bigger than your rear cog (eg. 40/17). This ratio is roughly the same as 22-34 on a conventional drivetrain! Any lower and you’re better off walking…

4. Rohloffs are virtually maintenance free
Rohloff hubs should get you through a minimum of 100,000km riding and some people have been known to do far more. The only maintenance that you should be doing is an oil change every 5000km. If something more serious does happen to your hub, you will unfortunately have to send it to Germany for a service which is, from what I’ve heard, fortunately often free.

5. Rohloff drivetrains require minimal cleaning
You do not need to get your brushes out! If you’ve ever spent time cleaning conventional drivetrains (or even if you haven’t) trust us, it really is a pain. Getting the brushes between cassette teeth, derailleur pulleys and chainrings is time consuming and annoying. Avoid all this nuisance by using the singlespeed drivetrain of a Rohloff!

6. Rohloffs allow you to shift gears without pedaling
The Rohloff hub allows you to change gears, and be ready to ride without pedaling. This means you are able to choose your gear before you take off at the traffic lights, or select a gear before you pedal on a climb. Very handy on a loaded touring bike!

7. Rohloffs allow you to drop many gears at once
You are able to drop a whole heap of gears in one go. The only limitation is the amount of movement you have in your wrist! I can comfortably change seven gears at once, and trust me, I’ve had to before! Think sand…

8. Rohloffs have equally spaced gear ratios
There is a constant 13.6% ratio change between every gear in the Rohloff hub. This makes changing gears predictable; much like changing gears along a conventional rear cassette. Most other internally geared hubs offer inconsistent ratio changes, which doesn’t make a lot of sense in my mind.

9. Rohloffs instantly change gears
As soon as you change the gear at the Rohloff shifter, the hub is instantly in the targeted gear. There’s no dilly-dallying around here – it’s wonderfully predictable compared with waiting that split-second for a derailleur to change your gear.

10. Rohloffs allow for a straight chain line
Rohloff hubs allow you to run your drivetrain as a singlespeed. The chain line of a singlespeed is perfectly straight.  The chain hence doesn’t have to jump around to different cogs and this ultimately results in less chain wear. Less chain wear leads to noticeably longer chain life and a lessened chance of broken chains. Other advantages of a singlespeed drivetrain are that there is no chain slap on the frame on rough roads and trails, and no chance of your chain dropping off your chainrings. Basically, all the benefits of singlespeed life, but with 14 gears!


11. Rohloffs are a zero-dish wheel build
Rohloff hub flanges are the same height and are spaced equally from the frame on both sides. This means that you’ll be running the same tension on every spoke, resulting in a stronger wheel!

12. Rohloffs are just as efficient as derailleur drivetrains
According to Rohloff data, Rohloff hubs are just as efficient at transferring the power that you put into the pedals and through to the wheel as a conventional drivetrain, and when riding in the mud, they are even more efficient! From my riding experience on a Rohloff, this information feels correct. Hubs such as the Shimano Alfine really suffer here.

13. Rohloff hubs have less dependance on a shifter than derailleur drivetrains
Rohloff use a dual cable system which means that one cable is always pulling the hub into its next gear. Unlike a conventional shifter, there is no reliance on springs inside shifters for making gear changes. As a result, the rohloff shifter has no moving parts which eliminates one element of potential equipment failure: the shifter! Furthermore, as gear indexing occurs in the hub, no cable adjustment is required between the hub and shifter.

14. Rohloffs build with shorter spokes
Rohloff hubs use a bigger hub shell than conventional wheels, and as a result Rohloff-built wheels use shorter spokes than normal. The shorter the spoke, the stronger the wheel! Perfect for touring, as most weight you’re carrying is sitting over the rear wheel.

15. Rohloffs are belt drive compatible
As Rohloff hubs use a singlespeed drivetrain, carbon belt systems are possible! Belts are pretty amazing, we love our Centertrack kit – read all about them at Carbon Belt Drive: Everything you ever need to know.

Loch Lomond ride

Ortlieb Front, Axiom Rear, Arkel Handlebar
Ortlieb Front, Axiom Rear, Arkel Handlebar

Took the touring bike with loaded panniers for a test ride (for future touring)

Nice ride down the canals


Then wee stop at Loch Lomond for a sandwich and flask of coffee. This is the benefit of having 4 panniers on the bike – loads of space.

duck pond infinity pool
duck pond infinity pool


my feathered friends
my feathered friends

A horse is also a dream bike ….


Screenshot 2014-10-26 15.40.11 One of the more extensive builds coming out of the shop this month, this bike has it all. Nickel Plated masked and painted with three color branding.Screenshot 2014-10-26 15.40.32

It incorporates a super rad completely self sufficient lighting system coming from the power house SON 28 Schmidt Dynamo front hub that powers E3 supernova front and rear lights. This bike is completely off the grid!  The internal routing though the fork and frame free the rider up from potential snags and gives the bike a cleaner look.  Custom front and rear racks highlighting the cantilever gourds integrated into the design as well as a custom rear tail light mount that lives quietly under the non-drive side dropout.  It runs a complete SRAM force 22 (11 speed) group with a Wifly rear derailuer and cassette for steep climbs. This Bike was commissioned by Ben Stark for a cross country ride coming up in the spring.  I’ll be doing part of the journey with him and look forward to a bit of open road. Keep your eye out for more photo’s from the trip.

Monday Bike Style: touring ‘tastic

Dave Lipps had his portrait taken in 2009 at Missoula, Mont., while cycling across the country. It was part of a special exhibit at Cascade Lock in May  2014
Dave Lipps had his portrait taken in 2009 at Missoula, Mont., while cycling across the country. It was part of a special exhibit at Cascade Lock in May 2014

Nice pic inspired by my jolly on the touring bike

Mad Rwanda bikers *updated*

In Rwanda and left Kigali to head west to Ruvavu on the Congo border. The road was beautiful and had me dreaming of a touring / road bike ride across the country. The road is great Tarmac very smooth although the altitude starting at 1500m and peaking at 2400m with over 2400m of climbing in the 140km. The car drivers are courteous of the many taxi bikes that ply the roads near the towns and villages.


They have a small pillion seat on the back but are just as often seen carrying sections of pipe, charcoal sacks or bananas. With all the hills the uphill cargo run must be hard bit I have seen quite a few just using the bike as wheels to carry the load as two people push it up. Most have to push up if their gearing isn’t quite low enough.


The odd few hold on to trucks going uphill to save their legs – crazy they are ….


4N4B6651 4N4B6652

Iron curtain – bike path

If you fancy a little historical interest with your cycling, you may want to plan your next riding holiday around the 7,000 Iron Curtain trail, following the route of the symbolic division between East and West.

The partition, which lasted 40 years and was dismantled just a quarter of a century ago, is being revived as a cycle path, from, as Winston Churchill famously put it in 1936 “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” – and a little further.

Beginning in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes, close to the Barents Sea, the trail passes through more than 20 countries, heading down the old border of East and West Germany and finishing on the Black Sea coast in northern Turkey.

It was the creation of a German Green Party MEP, Michael Cramer, who was inspired by a similar project in Berlin which follows the path of the former Wall. He first proposed it nearly ten years ago in the European Parliament.

“If 23 years ago I’d have proposed the creation of a cycle path along the Iron Curtain, people would have said ‘this guy is crazy!'” Cramer told the St Petersburg Times.

The route has now been fully prepared with only signposting remaining.

Cramer added: “There are parts of the track, particularly on the Russian-Finnish border, where you won’t see a car for several days, but then all of a sudden a herd of reindeer will appear!”

On the whole, the route is relatively flat. But most important to Cramer is the symbolic meaning, and the historical details, like plaques along the former border in Germany where people attempting to flee the East were shot dead by border police.

“The trail is not purely a scheme created for sustainable tourism. It preserves the memory of what the Iron Curtain once stood for.

“By leaving these historical features in, it is as though one is riding through an open air museum,” said Cramer.
“The situation [now] is not as grave as it was at the height of the Cold War,” said Cramer. “Russia needs the EU far more than the EU needs Russia. It is imperative that we stand together.”

“He who masters the past,” Cramer said, “is the master of the future.”

See http://www.ironcurtaintrail.eu for more about the trail.

Handy New Website for touring ….

from road.cc – there is also a similar site called http://www.pannier.cc supported by brooks

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 21.02.24

Finding a place to stay on a long-distance ride or a cycling holiday has got a whole-lot easier with this week’s launch of Beds for Cyclists‘ map based hotel browser.

The website takes away the frustration of trawling the internet’s depths for appropriate cycling accommodation on UK cycle routes, by collating the best bike hotels, on the best cycle routes in a new, visually appealing and easy to use tool.

Beds for Cyclists currently features 28 long-distance cycle routes each with their own specific page on the site. Each route page features a list of appropriate, local accommodation options, the route’s start and finish points, its total ride distance, and the type of terrain a rider is likely to encounter.

Routes include known ones like the Sea to Sea (C2C) which takes riders from east coast Newcastle right across to Whitehaven on Cumbria’s west coast which feature on the site alongside some shorter and and lesser known routes.

The site even covers both of Yorkshire’s Grand Départ routes and the bike-friendly hotels in their vicinity – although if you’re planning a visit around the race itself, we imagine you may have a bit of trouble finding somewhere.

The site’s founder, Sam Howard, has pledged that more routes and hotels will be added to the site as the word of his service spreads and new trails are opened around the country.

“This new platform will make it easy for cyclists to find accommodation on any major long-distance route in the UK,” Howard said.

“Our aim is to have a wide variety of cycle-friendly accommodation for every budget, along every major route in the UK. With more and more accommodation providers seeing the potential of the cycling trade and joining the site, this vision is becoming a reality.”

The easy to use interface makes exploring your accommodation options on any of the routes straightforward and has even been endorsed by the founder of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, John Grimshaw.

He said: “I’ve been involved, for many years, in the creation of many fantastic long-distance cycle routes but this is the first comprehensive resource I’ve seen for cycle-friendly accommodation along them.

“It’s not only a really useful resource for the riders, but it’s a great tool for demonstrating the potential cycle routes have to support local businesses, a key factor to developing new routes.”