In part 1 I wrote about the decision making process when choosing a touring bike frame, in my case the (Surly Troll / World Troller). Although really, the first decision to make is which wheel size suits the type of touring you have planned. This article looks at my choice of wheels and drive-train, individual components and the reasons for choosing them.
This bike build was going to be experimental, it was also clearly going to be expensive. I know what I want this bike for and had researched the right components to build a no-compromise, all purpose tourer. It would mean specifying high end, expensive components. A lot of which I had no experience of.
Cycle Touring Wheels – Hubs
Front wheel hub
One component I had no experience with but was absolutely determined to include is a dynamo hub. See my article on ‘Dynamo Hubs for Cycle Touring’ here. I like the idea of being able to generate my own power for my electrical kit, this being especially important should I tour into the back of beyond. After lots of review reading, I opted for the relatively new ‘Shutter Precision PD8‘ dynohub. I cover my decision making process in my previous article but basically the ‘SPPD8’ uses a different internal arrangement than most hub dynamos, which is proving to be very reliable. Price wise, it’s on the money, a touch more expensive than ‘Shimanos’ offerings but is half the cost of the top-draw ‘Schmidt Son‘.
Rear wheel hub / Drivetrain
Certainly the most expensive component on the bike and possibly the decision I considered most. Traditional derailleur driven gears were the component that had gave me the most headache on previous bikes. Bent derailleur hangers, chain wear, worn cassettes and so on had required constant tinkering, maintenance and repair. The way to eliminate this headache was to build my rear wheel around a ‘Rohloff Speedhub‘, see my article here.
The Rohloff hub eliminates the need for a number of components that a derailleur driven bike requires. There is no derailleur to be bashed or clogged with road muck, no derailleur hanger or front mech to be bent or snapped. No rear cassette to wear out and only a single front chainring required. There’s no shifting of the chain so wear is minimal.
The ‘Rohloff’ also makes splitting the S&S coupled frame much easier than with a derailleur. A ‘Speedhub’ can be fitted using an external gear mech box costing an additional £130. The external control box allows you to disconnect the cables easily and reconnect them without indexing. It also protects the cables much better from the elements than the internal mech cable connections. And, should a cable snap or seize, the Rohloff gear selection can be made via a 8mm spanner.
The Rohloff is a mechanical masterpiece which seals your complete gear system within the rear wheel hub with its inners constantly bathed in oil. They’re super reliable with very few reports of failure. The few reported fails have been quickly resolved with excellent customer support. However, ‘Rohloff’ do have its critics. The main complaint is should the hub completely fail internally there’s very little roadside tinkering that can be done. Rohloffs will almost certainly need to be sent back to the manufacturer for repair.
Another downside of the Rohloff Speedhub is the price, at nearly a thousand pounds this component will need some serious consideration. I’ve made the leap and specified one for this build. It is expensive, but when you off-set the cost of parts that are no longer required, combine this with the hassle-free extended life and the excellent reputation of the Rohloff, I’m reassured enough to try one out.
Touring Bike Wheel Rims
The ‘Velocity Cliffhanger’ are really solid extra wide mountain bike rims. They’re twin walled but without eyelets and available with machined or polished sidewalls, the polished black are stunning. The Cliffhanger is horribly expensive at around £50 per rim, especially so when compared to the Ryde Sputnik at around £17. Also, the Cliffhanger isn’t that readily available and there’s not much info to be found on the web. It was this article on ‘Going Slowly’ that really persuaded me to go with the ‘Sputniks’.
The ‘Ryde (Rigida) Sputniks’ are a really solid rim which has become a loaded touring standard. They’re twin walled with double eyelets connecting both walls for maximum strength. The Sputniks sidewalls are super efficient and hard wearing for rim brakes, which is a consideration. My ‘Surly World Troller’ will be built with mechanical disc brakes but the frame has canti pivots too. Should I have disc fail, there’s nothing stopping me run canti’s with the Ryde Sputnik rim. They have a great track record too, most tourers go for the 32 hole with only the really laden opting for the 36 hole rim.
Cycle Touring Tyres
All my previous touring has been on road with 700c wheels and slim tyres. Now with this off road ready ‘Troll’ build I want as much air beneath my wheels as possible. I have always relied on ‘Schwalbe Marathons’ and reliable they’ve been. I instantly specified the ‘Marathon’ again but Kevin at Ghyllside Cycles had other ideas, he recommended the ‘Surly Extraterrestrial‘. These are monsterous in touring terms at 2.5 inches, they really fill fenders….I mean mudguards! From Surly’s website –
The ExtraTerrestrial tire was meant to serve as a heavy-duty off road touring tire that shines on hard pack surfaces. It uses a nylon breaker in the sidewalls for cut protection, a molded pattern for anti-cut propagation, and a Kevlar cap under the tread to protect against flats. The ET tire uses a distinctly directional tread pattern and its width yields more traction than you might expect from a tire with such little rolling resistance. The tread is low profile with a file tread in between tread blocks. The ExtraTerrestrial tire has enough width and traction for the soft stuff and won’t bog you down on smooth or hard surfaces. It’s made to be durable and versatile and is at home on tour or on the trail.
Build costs to date
- Surly Troll Frame £450
- S&S Couplers, installation, repaint and decals £625
- Rohloff with external box & OEM2 axle plate £970
- SP dynamo hub £95
- Ryde Sputnik rims, DT Swiss DB spokes, brass nipples and wheel build £160
- Crank Set SR Suntour £40
- Chain KMC 8 speed £20
- Surly Extraterrestrial Tyres + tubes £140
- Bottom bracket – Shimano UN55 £25
- Surly Tuggnut £25
- Pitlock front and rear wheel locking skewers £40