Appendix A: Equipment Reviews

Cantilever brakes are useless. The same Paul's touring cantilevers that never gave a squeak in California conditions (even fully loaded on mountain descents) just don't cut it when you're doing 1500m descents in the alps down roads like Grosse Scheidegg. I am definitely not going to do my next European tour on my Heron touring bike. I will get a custom frame built to take long reach calipers instead. Even when those squeal, they don't have the shuddering failure modes I experienced on the cantilevers. As far as I can tell, the only advantage of cantilevers is that you can use tires wider than 32mm. My last 10 years of touring have informed me that if I need tires that wide, I might as well bring a mountain bike.

Campagnolo Record carbon brake levers should be standard equipment on touring bikes. They paid for themselves on the first cold descent, and will pay for themselves every kilometer after that. I've written plenty about them elsewhere, so enough said.

Roberto found some Sea-To-Summit lightweight (1oz) dry bags that do wonders for your ability to compress gear. They come highly recommended and will replace my use of Oven cooking bags for keeping stuff dry. They are clearly superior to the Reynolds Oven cooking bags that had been my mainstay since I met John Forester in 1995.

Torelli Master rims have to go. They make it almost impossible to change a flat in less than optimal conditions, and any rim that breaks steel core tire levers will prove problematic. My next tour will be done with Velocity Synergy rims.

This is the second time I've shredded a 25mm tire on a tour of the alps. The suspicious section is the ride from Interlaken Ost to Meiringen over the bike path. I need to either use heavier duty tires or learn to walk the section that says walk your bike. Mike and Roberto used 28mm and 32mm tires with no problems, but my brother didn't have any trouble either with his 25mm, so it might be that I am just too aggressive on that particular trail.

The Sigma Sport MHR 2006 altimeter/cyclocomputer was satisfactory. Its altimeter was as accurate as the Suunto that I used to carry, and its cycle-computer functions mostly work. Unfortunately, once in a while the computer will zero out its current speed, something that can be fixed on the fly by twisting the computer out and back in. That the unit might do so is very disturbing, however, so this unit gets mixed reviews. We are likely to return our units because of this flaw.

The Panasonic DMC-FX3S digital camera ($200 from Costco) is an ideal touring camera. A single charge lasted well over half the tour before the battery read two-thirds full. I believe a single charge could easily last a 3 week tour if you don't use the preview feature too often (easy to do if you carry large capacity SD cards). I am extremely satisfied by how rugged this camera is. All pictures by me and Roberto were from this camera.

The following equipment was carried over from previous tours and still proved their weight: Polar bottles, Endurolytes.

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