Buying A Touring Bike: The Thoughts Of David Sinclair

Another post in the context of ‘investing in’ a new touring bicycle. A reminder that a few weeks ago I ordered a custom-built Koga Signature WorldTraveller touring bike from CycleSense in Tadcaster. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on the process and some of the component parts; the handlebars for one and the front dynamo hub that generates electricity for another. David Sinclair provided some very interesting advice on the latter point and he’s been in touch again in response to me asking why he went down the route of not purchasing a Koga and opting for a custom-made Hewitt bicycle. Here’s what he had to say:

“Firstly, I ruled out every off the peg bike because I didn’t want drop bars and there’s no point buying a reasonably expensive bike then spending more money to convert it to a flat bar setup…

David Sinclair

(which is exactly what I did back in 2010 when I bought my Ridgeback Panorama World touring bike only to changed the drop handlebars to butterfly bars shortly thereafter)

…so I compared off the peg bikes from Alee Denham’s Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide.”

David Sinclair

Now, despite me having looked at length at Alee’s website, and even having spoken to the man himself a couple of weeks ago for the upcoming ‘buying a touring bicycle’ edition of The Cycling Europe Podcast (you can hear an extract of that conversation at the foot of this post), I never knew that such a thing existed! Strange as it’s clearly mentioned on Alee’s homepage… Full details below.

  • Help you understand the most important characteristics of a touring bike
  • Narrow down the best touring bikes for you
  • Allow you to compare the sizing, steering and gear ratios of 130+ current touring bikes
  • Show you how to buy a touring bike in the right size โ€“ without ever seeing it
  • Keep you annually updated with the latest bikes and technology โ€“ free of charge
  • Make the 600+ free resources on even more useful
Sample extract from the guide

The guide will cost you $19.95 and you can purchase it by following this link. A few weeks ago, prior to ordering my Koga, I would probably have done just that. Back to David Sinclair:

“The guide is also just a great read in general for getting into the spec. you need from a bike. The closest to what I was looking in 2016 was (and still is) the Genesis Tour de Fer 20 but I still wanted to change too much on it to justify buying it and then tearing it to bits; Shimano Deore upgrade to Deore XT right across the spec, new pedals, saddle, bar ends, rear rack, USB charger.”

David Sinclair

Yes, I’m completely with you here David. Exactly the same thoughts that I had, albeit not necessarily with the Tour de Fer.

That led me down the custom build route but, with no specialist touring outlets in Scotland, I looked at Koga (as you have done), Thorn (if you haven’t read the Thorn Megabrochure you are in for a… feast of information on custom builds), Spa Cycles and Hewitt. Eventually I went for Hewitt on the recommendation of a friend of a friend and it all worked out very well indeed, such that my wife and I are now the proud owners of Dwayne the (Surly) Disc Trucker, and Sally the Salsa (Marrakesh). Only the frames are different between the two bikes and were chosen for the best fit; all the components are identical.

David Sinclair

Another custom-build bicycle manufacturer worthy of mention here is Woodrup Cycles in Leeds. I visited their shop last summer and you can read about my experiences here.

“One thing I did find consistently in this is that any bike for sale for under ยฃ2K has skimped on something, most usually the wheels, tyres and saddle. Then in summer 2017, encouraged by your books, we took 6 months off work and did this cycle for our honeymoon: great times indeed!”

David Sinclair

I’m sure they were. Thanks for reflecting on your thought processes David. Much appreciated.

Categories: Adventure, Cycling

What do you think?