Farawayistan bicycle Avaghon X29 green and Avaghon S28 black
Gear

The bikes are here!

We finally bought the bikes! Choosing the right touring bike wasn't easy. We’ve done hours of research, and had countless moments of discussing what bike will be best for our upcoming adventure. And we ended up with something completely different than we expected.

Our first choice was a more sportive touring bicycle with a triathlon handlebar. Robins cycling background made us lean towards this, since there are more positions in which you can hold the handlebar. Sabina isn’t used to it, but she’ll get the hang of it. We were sure of that. Racing handlebars soon became a gravel bar, better suited for the off roads we plan to take.

Steel frame

A steel frame was a no-brainer. This led us to Surly and their disc trucker. Surly makes cool touring bikes with even better names. We preferred mechanic disc brakes over mini V-brakes. The V-brakes will probably do the job just fine, but disc brakes are better suited for all sorts of conditions. We found an amazing store in The Hague that carries Surly, Snel Fietsen. They also make their own touring range that looks very promising. They had great advise for us, unfortunately not a bike for the both of us to test ride.

Hight issues

Then there was another problem with the disc trucker, the wheel size. Sabina is tiny with her 1.62 m, and some bikes, including the disc trucker, adjust the wheel size so it better suits the frame.  It’s probably for the best, because the bike keeps the same dimensions, and will cycle as intended in the original design. It also isn’t supposed to affect the speed, since this will be adjusted in the gearing. You just make more rotations.

Joergen from Parallel, another great store in Rotterdam, told us that we can even work towards a more even wheel size, with adjusting the tyre width. Joergen specialises in wheel building, and is also an experienced bikepacker. 

It’s just too much

But with all these arguments, one thing stayed the same. It would still look like a kids bike next to Robin's, and Sabina just wasn’t up for that. 

Jelle from JustPedal had also been great in advising us about other bikes, like the Kona Sutra and the Salsa Marrakesh. But these have bar end shift levers, so the shifters sit at the bottom of the handlebars. You’ll probably get used to that fairly quick, but it was too big of an unknown for us.

No test rides

Then there was another challenge that came with Sabina’s height. Absolutely no one had something in her frame size to test ride. Only the bigger (read: more expensive) brands do. We went to the Bike Motion fair where we talked to some other cool bike builders. Was it then going to be a Specialized or a Bombtrack? Or are we going to extend our budget and even get a Koga or a Santos?

It was driving us mad, there were simply too many options! At the bike motion we also talked to Ellen from Bicycle Junkies. They made some amazing trips. Her husband and travel companion Elmar is a bicycle mechanic at Bike4travel. We decided to take a look there as well. Robin already did some research on their Avaghon bikes.

A fairly unknown brand which they make themselves. We looked at the Avaghon Racert and the X29, their most recent models.

Marco, the owner of the store immediately questioned our decision for a gravel bar. It isn’t the most comfortable position for a year long bike trip. And handlebar-ends can also provide us with an alternate position.

We took the Avaghon X29 for a spin, and it was an incredible smooth ride. The bike felt like it would keep us going mile after mile after mile. And wasn’t that exactly what we were looking for? Are we going to buy bicycles with straight handlebars after all?

Disadvantages

The bike isn’t cheap, and in Sabina’s frame size there is a bend in the top tube, so you can still reach the floor when standing with the bike between your legs. She didn't find this very attractive, and off course comfort should be the top ruler, but it’s also something for the eye.

Another option is the previous model, the Avaghon S28. This bike however felt super wobbly after the X29. Feeling absolutely deflated, that we still didn’t find the right bikes we drove home. Decision making had to commence soon, our departure date was coming closer and we still need to get a decent number of hours in the saddle to train and get used to the bicycles.

Ego struggles

Oh how an ego can get in your way. Sabina decided to put hers aside and get a second look at the X29. Really, why should anyone actually care what it looks like. We’re not going on a style safari or Paris fashion week. She decided to suck it up and choose comfort. (Zip off pants are still a bridge too far at this point.) We went back to Bike4travel for a second visit, hopefully to finally buy some bicycles.

It all worked out

And sucking up paid off. Marco confessed that after our previous visit, he found out the S28 had a flat front tyre. That explained why it was so wobbly! We test rode the bikes again, and that’s when it hit us. We both had finally found the right fit.

The S28 for Sabina, a neat bicycle that responds fast and still provides a sturdy ride. And the X29 for Robin, a crossover between a mountain bike and a touring bike.

Sabina's Avaghon S28

Group set Shimano Deore
Tyres Schwalbe Marathon Green (50-622)
Brakes TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake
Hubs Shimano LX disc + dynamo
Rims Ryde Sputnik (36 spokes)
Mud guards SKS B60
Light AXA LUXX70 Plus USB
Pedals Shimano Deore XT SPD pedals T8000
Racks Tubus Logo + Tubus Duo Lowrider
Saddle Brooks Cambium All Weather C19 Carved

 

Robin's Avaghon X29

Group set Shimano Deore
Tyres Schwalbe Marathon Green (50-622)
Brakes TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake
Hubs Shimano LX disc + dynamo
Rims Ryde Sputnik (36 spokes)
Mud guards SKS B60
Light AXA LUXX70 Plus USB
Pedals Shimano Deore XT SPD pedals T8000
Racks Tubus Logo + Tubus Duo Lowrider
Saddle Brooks Cambium All Weather C17 Carved

 

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3 Comments

  • Oly Oldguy

    The process of choosing the right bike for your journey seemed difficult, trying to make a decision that will work for both of you for the long haul. Seems like your diligence has paid off. Did your test rides allow you to try the bikes with extra weight added? (simulation of the weight you would have on the bike during travels)

    • Farawayistan

      Hi Oly,

      Good to see you liked reading our blog! That makes us very happy 🙂

      We haven’t tested that yet, since we are still gathering our camping gear. As soon as we’ll have our stuff complete and have a weekend off, (we’re both still working) we are going on a test trip. We’ll let you know how that works out by then!

      For now it’s commuting on the bikes and buying extra heavy groceries to train 😉

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