Day 124 – Bits and bobs

I replaced the seals and regreased the insides of my rear suspension (DT Swiss SSD 225 air shock) yesterday. Fantastic shock by the way. Not a hint of dirt or wear inside. This is the first time I have serviced the thing in 7000km.

Suspension in for a service after 7000km (Samarkand, Uzbekistan) / サスペンションの7000kmぶりのサービス(ウズベキスタン、サマルカンド市)

Suspension in for a service after 7000km (Samarkand, Uzbekistan) / サスペンションの7000kmぶりのサービス(ウズベキスタン、サマルカンド市)

The Lizzard Skin suspension boots have played a large role in this I think. They keep all the dust, water, and dirt off the shocks, so wear on the seals is decreased.

It is very easy to take this shock apart. Put the end in a spanner, and then just screw the housing off with your hand (make sure the air is totally removed before taking it apart!)

Makeshift workshop in my hostel room - Samarkand, Uzbekistan / 工場兼部屋(ウズベキスタン、サマルカンド市)

Pre-Departure (2 days): War on Weight III

Today’s savings: 292g
Total savings to date: 1038g

Today the maps were in my sights. I removed all areas of the maps that I do not plan on going to, and in that way saved 292 grams. This brings my total amount saved to date to over 1 kilogram. Considering that wieght is the same as one litre of water, that’s a very important saving.

Maps cut / 切った地図

Pre-Departure (3 days): Website updates

Some updates to this website today:

  • My profle. Let’s you know a little bit more about me.
  • Detailed gear list. It’s massive. Any comments about things you think I should be taking but haven’t listed, or things I have listed that you think I don’t need would be most appreciated. The list was organised while referencing to the organisation of Martin Adserballe’s comprehensive gear list.


Pre-Departure (11 days): War on Weight II

Today’s savings: 689g
Total savings to date: 746g

Right. No holds barred today. All handles in my sight were removed. Shaver handle, toothbrush handle, cone spanner handles, chain whip handle…

Who needs handles 4 / ハンドルなんて要らない!④

Who needs handles 2 / ハンドルなんて要らない!②

Who needs handles / ハンドルなんて要らない!

Who needs handles 3 / ハンドルなんて要らない!③

As for the shaver handle, if you’re using the Gillette Mach III, then the little stub is just big enough to hold between the thumb and forefinger for an exciting shave. I say exciting because for the first few shaves, there is a tendency to push to hard. Expect a few chainsaw massacre episodes…

I also put my fourth form sewing class skills to the test and made a roll-up tool case for all the ‘hope I don’t need to use these too often’ tools.

Tool case / 道具巻き

I call it ‘The Brick’. 2.2kg of metal. Argh.

Tool case open / 道具巻き

From left to right, top to bottom: Suspension/Tyre pump (spare), spokes and cable ties, bike multi-tool, spanner, crank remover, chain whip, bottom bracket socket, cone spanners, plier multi-tool, expoxy resin (for seat repair), freewheel socket, grease, fibreglass cloth, hacksaw blade, length of chain and various bolts.

Pre-Departure (13 days): The war on weight

Today’s savings: 57g
Total savings to date: 57g

Today begins a series of posts on reducing the weight of my gear that I’ll be taking on the trip. Not one measley one gram will escape my obsessive eye. This war on weight is in part inspired by another recumbent rider, also called Rob, who is currently slowly being grilled like an English Rice Pudding under the Chinese sun on his way through a 25,000km trike ride around China. Hang in there, Rob!

Today I removed the unneccessary tools from my bike multi-tool. The ones I removed are not only small and useless (take a look at the ‘pliers’ there – they are too small to be of any use), but they are also found in much more substantial form on my large folding pliers multi-tool.

Saving Weight / 軽量化

Saving Weight 2 / 軽量化 2

Saving Weight 3 / 軽量化 3

Pre-Departure (37 days): For video viewing pleasure

I was never too happy with the fact that viewing videos on my site required viewers to click on a link, and be taken to an outside site (Google Video). Therefore, I have changed things around a bit where the videos now open in a popup window, along with a short description of the video. The videos are hosted at YouTube, which in my opinon has better playback quality.

There is also a new video on the videos page that shows how to remove the hydraulic damper cartridge from the HPVelotechnik Meks Carbon AC suspension forks. Some moisture had found its way into the sanchion tubes of the forks, so I needed to take it to bits to dry it out. A simple enough procedure of removing the bottom 6mm bolt, and then removing the damper cap along with the cartridge.

Pre-Departure (113 days): Bike suspension boots

The HPVelotechink Street Machine GTe comes with front and rear suspension as standard. I upgraded to the lighter Meks Carbon AC front shock and DT-Swiss rear airshock. While both shocks seem to be very high quality, the reality is that they are moving parts that are affected by water and dust. Therefore I’ve added shock boots (covers) to both the front and rear shocks.

Front shock
Front fork boot II / 前のサスペンションのカバー 2

Front fork boot / 前のサスペンションのカバー

Rear shock
Rear shock boot / 後ろのサスペンションのカバー

The front boot was especially tricky to get to fit correctly. I had to cut it to fit. The photo is of the nicely done side. The other side, which I did first, is a bit of a mess – but it should do the trick.

Hopefully these skinned lizards will help the suspension to last 12000km to London!

Pre-Departure (130 days): Downhill is rediculous

OK, so this bike is hard going up hill. But I’m sure (I hope) that it’s just about getting my legs used to the new movements. I’m sure speed up hill will increase.

However, going down hill is another matter. It’s incredible. Not only is it fast, it holds the corners far too well. The long sweeping corner on the way home from work that scared the living daylights out of me even going 30km/h around on my road bike, can be done at almost 2 times that speed with no qualms what-so-ever. I was half way round the corner yesterday and happened to look at my speedo – 57km/h. I wasn’t even trying to push it. Kind of scary when you think of the possible carnage should I hit a patch of grit on the road.

Braking is also amazing. The disc brakes really pull the bike up very efficiently. It is hard sometimes to tell if the back wheel is locking when going downhill though. With wind in the ears you can’t hear it skidding.

Pre-Departure (142 days): Bike has arrived!

Ah yes. After many months of waiting and confirming what I wanted, the bike has finally arrived. The bike is a German made HP Velotechnik Street Machine GTe (review: Bentrider Online), but I ordered it from Myron at Blue Ridge Cycleworks in Virgina, USA. Basically, Myron has a set price for the frame-set (frame, shocks, rear carrier), and then the customer tells him what other components to put on it. After reading some stories of cycle tourists ending up having to finish their tour short because of faulty cheap components, I went for good quality components.

Blue Ridge Cycleworks was good to work with. I would reccommend them to anyone not in a hurry. They have the cheapest prices I could find on the net (I emailed about 20 recumbent dealers in the US), and Myron seems to know his stuff. Do be aware however that they are only a ‘part-time’ shop – as stated on their website. Plenty of chilled out patience is required.

The bike was shipped in two boxes, so there was quite a lot of putting together to be done. However the bike is pretty self-explainatory. They only trouble I had was getting the bolts for the swing-arm joint to line up. But that could have been alleviated by having another pair of hands.

it'll do the trick

First impressions of the bike were ‘this is heavy’, and ‘this is smooth’. Heavy compared to my road bike, that’s for sure. But try carting 25kg plus of gear across the Eurasia continent on a road bike. I am glad the GTe is solidly built. The suspension is very smooth. No pogo under hard pedalling.

It prooves to be seen how long it will take my legs to get used to the new pedalling movements.