Brothers Alexandre and Gregory have been touring the world on two Montague folding bikes. You can read about their journey here (22 countries and over 10,000 km so far). Below is another guest post with an overview of the gear they’re using on tour.
We left France with two X50s and we have now an X50 and a Paratrooper Pro. They have slightly different setups so I’ll describe them both.
Carrying Bags and Panniers
We left France in summer and then followed the sun for a year, from France to Australia. When it started to get cold, we headed south. This way we just needed a 3 season tent, light sleeping bags and summer clothes. A single 70 liter backpack would contain everything we needed, and we would just attach some water to the top of the bag. The idea was to be able to fold the bikes quickly, carry the backpack easily and be able to hitchike, or catch a train or bus (which we did many times). We attached the tents at the front with bungee cords. One problem with this setup : all the weight was at the back, the center of gravity was high and when climbing a very steep road, we had to lean forward to keep the front wheel on the ground.
To put a normal backpack on a traditional rear rack we used 2 bamboo pieces to widen the top. Light and easy to replace.
For New Zealand in winter we then bought front bags and Axiom Low Rider racks which are made especially for suspension forks. We had 4 season tents, bigger sleeping bags, warm clothes, and more food and water to carry for the additional camping we did.
These racks are not designed to support much weight (max 20 pounds I think) and frequently break if you overload them. They are aluminium, which is also makes it difficult to find someone to weld and fix them. Anyway, we managed to fix them ourselves with metal collars and plumbing joints. All good. You do have to remove them to fold the bikes and fit everything in the bike bag.
The back rack on the X50 is just a normal one with a quick release on the seat post. Aluminum again, which was a mistake with all the abuse we put it through. A leg broke but we were able to fix it with metal collars.
The one on the Paratrooper Pro is a bit different because of the disc brakes. I couldn’t find a quick release one so it’s attached underneath the seat post with 2 bolts. The bike can still fold with it attached so it’s not a problem, and it’s stronger as well.
Saddles We started with extra soft ones, then changed to leather Brooks saddles which I really liked. After my X50 got stolen in San Francisco and Montague sent me a Paratrooper Pro, I kept the original saddle and I’m happy with it. It’s quite firm and comfy. Anyway you have to try them to find the one that suits you best.
Bike computers When you travel long distance with a lot of wild camping, you don’t have the luxury to charge your smartphone or GPS so we have normal bike computers. We like the Sigma BC1009. I have a CatEye which is quite nice too.
Kick stands We’ve tried plenty. They all broke. We gave up. We’ve met other touring cyclists who had the same problems. Not many kickstands are designed for the weight of a fully loaded touring bike. The original of the Paratrooper Pro is still here, but I use it only when the bike is lightly loaded.
Gears We have 3×9 on each bike. We upgraded the X50s to Shimano LX because they come with 18 speeds initially. Riding with all the weight of touring often requires a wider gear range. The Paratrooper Pro already has 27, and provides good gear ratios.
Like many touring cyclists we use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires which last around 5000-8000 miles. They are good of course but very pricey. We will try other brands next time. I’m sure they are not alone on the market and if we could save some dollars, that would be nice.
Along the way you inevitably break something and it’s always good to have some metal collars (hose clamps), cable ties, duct tape, various bolts, washers, nuts and of course tools with you.
We had no problem with the bikes themselves. They fold well, and have no cracks or geometry problems. The folding system itself seems to be indestructible.