Like on our first bicycle trip, from Germany to South Korea (1998-2000) we saddled on Hardo Wagner bikes. There as also as now we traveled with steal frame bicycles because there are two major facts that are important on long bicycle trips: at first a steal frame is not so inflexible like a aluminum frame. So it offers a little bit of suspension at itself, but the second and major reason is, if a steal frame is broken you can repair it in every town, an aluminum frame you can leave in the trash (mostly). Well we've where lucky to ride our trips without any problems from the frames. That this isn't every time like this we could see on some frames from other cyclist.
With our old bicycles from our first trip, from Germany to Korea we had easily made this new trip in South America. The reason why we changed our bought some new once was the new gear system. We decided to travel with a Rohloff Speedhub and for this reason the modifications where a lot so we decided to saddle up on a new frame with some special extensions for the Speedhub system.
The bicycles (frame and fork)do what the have to do. After 2 years, (without our accidents a part), there is countable problem to tell about.
Well, we've got some broken spokes, around 8 times, but this was a problem in the beginning and the reason wasn't the bike frame or fork, no, the reason was a dam mal production from the Mavic rims. The material was too soft or I don't know but after we changed the rims we've got no broken spokes anymore.
Also we've got some flat tires, around 8 times, but the reason was mostly the same problems with the rims. The tubes inched so with the broken spokes from the inside.
Mun Suk had had his heavy accident on the 17.12.2005 with a truck. On a sunny day on a straight country road mostly without any traffic, a truck kicked her from the road. The truck crushed her directly in the trailer and they're in the installed Zarges aluminum box. At first I thought the frame and fork is in very bad condition but after a totally check only the rim from behind had had to be changed. Well the frame from the trailer and also the box got some god deformations but with a hammer and some wood I could removed mostly this deformations, so we could continue with the same stuff our trip again.
My luck wasn't so good our I was too lazy, so as we started on the 24.08.2006 to leave Cochabamba I didn't saw a parking taxi on the right side and as I checked my bicycle computer for a second, well ´the next second I was thinking, why the hell I'm flying now. But after a further half second I realized on my hard landing that there was something unaccepted and after I locked up I saw my bike and the frame wasn't really in good condition. Three times twisted so there was no chance with any reparation. In Bolivia I couldn't find anything so I had have to order a new frame from Germany. To order the new frame wasn't the problem but I had have to wait around two months in Cochabamba because in Germany they need so much time to get one frame ready and also the German Post DHL took some time, oh what a wasted time!
After our last trip with an ordinary chain gear system we decided for this trip to change from a chain system to the Rohloff Speedhub system. Well chain systems are also good enough and in many countries, you will find material if you need some but the main reasons was the comfort ability with the Speedhub and, and this was more or less at first the main reason, if you have to transports your bike many every time you have to be very careful with your chain gear system because here you can get very easy some broken or damaged parts. With a Rohloff Speedhub system this problems are snow from yesterday, because there is no gear system outside. Everything is inside the box. Also the chain runs every time straight and not like with the chain gear system in an angle.
The only not so good point for this system is there is no possibility to repair this stuff outside Europe or to find some material like spokes, because they e.g. have a special, shorter length as normal once. But in fact this gear system is so strong and well manufactured, so I think you won't get the possibility, in a lifetime, to get this system broken on your ride. Only don't forget to take same spokes in advance with you on your trip.
With around 50°C. in the shadow our temperatures under -5°C. there was no problem for this system. Also Mun Suk's accident with a strong torsion movement directly on the axle couldn't damage the box. There was only a little bit of some oil lost on Mun Suk's bike (no coincidence with the accident because it started before) but with the information directly from Rohloff, as they told us, there was no problem to worry about and also only with some drops of oil inside the box, this system will probably work and work.
Front: Model Tara
Behind: Model Cargo
In the front for the fork and behind we have equipped our bicycles with carrier from Tubus. The are made in CroMo steal and very strong.
This system is stronger as I expected. Also after my accident there one side of the front carrier was damaged and broken I could fix it directly in town.
2 x Mainstream-MSX SL 55
2 x Mainstream-MSX ML 55
(since 07/2006 in change for two SL 55 panniers)
2 x Mainstream-MSX CLS 55
This bags a strong and water proof and this was a main reason to decide them.
Well as I described, the bags a strong and well designed. There is no major problem to tell about. Only maybe the material of the hawk could be a little bit stronger. I think this is a little bit to soften and after months of using them we've got some broken once. So take two or more en reserve with you for a longer bike trip.
2 x Bob Ibex
On our first trip we traveled with one Bob Yak and the experience was good enough to decide for this trip that both of us will travel with a Bob behind. We know that we have too much stuff with us, but really we won't want to miss anything from it. This bikes and all our equipment is our home for this trip, for the cold and the hot time, for the sunshine or rainy period, for some small trekking tours beside and, and, and. So this is the reason why we have so much stuff with us and for this reason we traveled with full equipped panniers and a trailer behind too.
If it is flat our downhill you wont feel the extended weight of the trailers, only on your way uphill you have to push your bike little bit harder or better to change earlier the gears to a number smaller. The quality of this trailers is very good, they are strong and some time they can save your life (like Mun Suk's because with her accident and without a trailer I'm sure that she was falling down directly under the wheels of the rolling truck).
The suspension system of the Ibex is not bad but the quality isn't the best. E.g. on my bike the suspension sometimes is jumping to much.
Both wheels with Schwalbe Marathon XR 50x559 (26 x 2,00)Btrailer tires are Schwalbe Marathon 47x305 (16 x 1,75)
After 7500 km the tires are still in good condition. The rear tires still have 40 % and the front tires around 60 % or more of reserve. We've got around 12 flat tires at all and mostly the reason was with the problems of the rims. Only 2 times we've got some flat tires on our bikes and the reason was a very small and strong steal cord from a burned steal wired car tire. The tires from the trailers or not so strong protected as the bike tires. So there we've got more flat tires, around 5 times, from some more ordinary problems.
f/b. Mavic XC 717 changed to Mavic 221
Well as I told before the company Mavic equipped us with expensive but bad produced material. First we didn't recognized this problems and we thought the problems lies down with the spokes but after inspecting well our bikes in Mendoza I could saw at all entry points for the spokes some brakes in the rim and after a short discussion with our dealer in Germany I've got the information about a bad production series. Normally I wasn't happy for this reason to buy again some Mavic but in fact there was no alternative at all.
2 x Western Mountaineering Sequoia
2 x Fleece Inlets
In fact that we have to cover temperatures from 20°C down to -15°C we decided to travel with down sleeping bags because they are more flexible in a wide temperature range. We know that we have to take good care of them because the down doesn't like humid climate. Also for the very cold areas or stand alone in the tropical areas wed have some fleece inlets with us.
At this moment we are very happy with our down sleeping bags. They still have good loft and we can use them mostly on our tour. We are also very happy to have them and not have to use the South American system in the hostels that is only very heavy and very cold too.