Tyres, Saddles & Bottoms
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Simple things make for an enjoyable ride, but if these are ignored, you will SUFFER !!!
FIRSTLY, invest in some good puncture-proof tyres. We have cycled thousands of miles on our Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tyres (recommended & fitted by Thorn) with less that 5 punctures over five years, in total. And all of those were caused by either nail-like thorns or chunks of broken bottles. Sadly, these tyres are no longer available for our 700c wheels, so now we ride on Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres. Both these tyres combine a set of essential features…
- Long lasting & durable
- Amazingly puncture-proofing
- Reasonably light-weight
- Good rolling (i.e. not too knobbly), yet grippy enough of riding on dirt & gravel tracks
- Strong side walls
So do not skimp on your tyres. Buy the good ones…. they are not that expensive. We believe that the Schwalbe Marathon range is the best out there. And you do see a lot of them on the cycle paths of Europe.
SECONDLY, invest in a good and reliably comfortable saddle. You will be sitting on it all day long, so make sure that it fits your bottom. We love our Brooks B17 leather saddles. These are a traditional design that has stood the test of time. The first few hundred miles can be a little tough going, but the saddles soon “breaks in”, so that they soften and mould to the shape of each rider’s bottom. Thereafter they are a dream to ride, for years and years. They are built to last. Tim has a Brooks Flyer Saddle (sprung) that is over 30 years old and still going strong. Brooks also make a range of leather-free, vegan Cambium saddles. We have not tried these, but if they carry the Brooks name, they are sure to be well built and comfortable. Even, if you do not go for a Brooks saddle, make sure that whatever saddle you have is comfortable to sit on all day long.
AND LASTLY, invest in a good pair of padded lycra cycling shorts, or “paddy pants” as we call them. We wear our regular shorts, trousers or skirts over the top (obligatory in India or Iran), as we do not like the so-called lycra-cyclo-fashion look.
Having a good pair of padded lycra cycling shorts means that you can cycle all day long without getting a sore bottom. We wear ours for up to two days before washing. We always tour with two sets to allow a switch over whilst a used set has been washed and dried. We often dry our last pair of lycra cycling shorts on the top of our pannier bags as we cycle along. Just in case you don’t know, one wears the cycle shorts next to the skin…. no other underwear, so there is no chaffing. Some people use “chamois butter” cream that helps to relieve chaffing and potential “saddle sores”.
It is important to try the lycra shorts on, as manufactures’ sizes and fits vary widely. Buy the thickest padding (“chamois”) you can. Check how long they are rated for (e.g. ride 4hrs+ OR 6hrs+ etc.). Tim likes Endura lycra shorts and Alysun has bought a great set from Decathlon. We do not use bib-shorts (the ones with built in shoulder straps), as these are difficult to use, without undressing, when needing a pee at the side of the road.
BEWARE…. Lycra shorts are gender specific, as the padding is designed differently to protect the male & female private parts, so do not buy the wrong gender fit for you because they will not work. Double check the gender in the shop (or online) before buying.