‘This is how we chose our bicycles’ is the second part of the part of the series “This is how… by TwistingSpokes.com”. How to choose a touring bicycle is maybe the most covered subject about bicycle traveling, so again we will not talk about how to choose a touring bicycle but rather give you an insight on how we chose our bicycles.

We both had decent bicycles already and they were fine for the small trips we had done prior to deciding we wanted to travel long term by bicycle. So we set out on a mission that would take us around 6 months before we had our new bicycles in hand.

The bicycles we already had were from the brand Cube from their series of touring bicycles, they were both 28 inch wheels with aluminum frames. We never had any issues with these bikes just not sure if they would be up for the task of a multiple year journey through some of the remotest places you can cycle. Also the comfort level could be increased. Decision was made we needed new bicycles.

We read many blogs and looked at websites of bicycle manufactures. We were living in the Netherlands where bicycle touring is quite developed and there is a range of brands. We did consider the possibility of building our own bicycles but due to the fact that we were both very busy in our jobs at that time we decided to look for a ready to go bicycle from a Dutch brand.

Experience from the last 19000km has proven that you can ride any bicycle and make it! We have met Trikes, Tandems, 28′ skinny tires, folding bicycles, secondhand, really the whole range and they all had a blast! 

The price range was also important for our decision making. As we wanted a really strong set up we were willing to pay a bit more and hopefully get a strong bicycle, with less issues along the way. We found out that there are a few classes of bicycles and the price follows very steep. At the time of our research on bicycles we had the opportunity to see and test most Dutch brands at an exhibition called the “Fiets en Wandelbeurs”. This is an exhibition focused on cycling and hiking so a pretty good place to see new gear and meet the people behind the brands.

We had read many good reviews and blogs about Santos bikes and we did very fast fall in love with the Travelmaster design, features and customizing options. Although we already had an eye for Santos bikes we tried to open our minds to other brands in the same price range. The brands we looked at were Avaghon from Bike4travel.nl, a really nice bicycle with many options and for sure up for the task! The other brand was a German brand but widely available in the Netherlands called VSF Fahrradmanufaktur also a good bicycle a price class lower than Santos and Avaghon.

There are a few technical aspects which we had to make a decision on Aluminum vs Steel and Derailer vs Rohloff. We read up on the issues with frames and could see that frame breaks do occur but quite rare, modern steel bicycles have a very thin metal frame which is not easy to weld so this makes it almost as difficult as finding a guy who could weld an aluminum frame. So on the frame choice we made a personal choice as there are pros and cons on both sides. Derailer vs Rohloff yes a widely discussed subject, we wanted simple and being able to fix it ourselves on route so for sure we went with the derailer.

The VSF Fahrradmanufaktur style of riding was not as well performing for us as the Santos and Avaghon so we were now down to 2 brands. We went to a few different bicycle shops in the Netherlands and had a chat about the bicycles and tested them with their set up. We decided that it would be nice to have the bicycle shop close by in the start up phase with our new bicycles and focused on Bike4travel.nl as they are located in Rotterdam.

We went there a few times before we decided on the Santos bicycles, we were happy to have made the choice and could now focus on getting the right set up. At the shop Marco and co. did a good job on helping us getting the measurements done, the colors chosen and the bicycles ordered. We chose a set up with derailer and not a Rohloff hub because we wanted to be able to fix everything ourselves. Also the initial cost of the Rohloff is quite steep. We think that in the long run the cost of both is about the same, but the cost for a derailer system is more spread out. We have made the right choice for us. Our bicycles now have names and we are very very happy with Mojo and Isaba. They are really our partners on this journey and we have many conversations with them on our cycling days 🙂

As you know we have cycled more than 19000km on this journey and around 4000km before we left so 23000km on the bicycles and we have had very little issues along the way so a great bicycle: the Travelmaster from santos bikes!

List of changes, issues and how they were fixed:

Read more in our review of the Santos travelmaster

  • Pressure leaking from break handle Mojo
  • Complete change of cassette, chain and break pads – done by Bisiklet Gezgini, Istanbul
  • Broken anti overturning handle bar stopper Mojo – fixed by Bisiklet Gezgini in Istanbul on warranty
  • Change of tires – done by ourselves in Mardin, Turkey
  • Breaks pads changed – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Change to winter tires – Almaty, Kazakhstan and back to normal tires in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Broken front derailer cable Isaba – changed in the Gobi with spare by ourselves
  • of course a few flat tires along the way which we fixed on the spot.