In my short time interested in cycling and bicycle touring, I've gotten to try out quite a lot of stuff. I'm the sort of person that has a need to experiment and get to know things intimately before I can make a decision. But even when the decision is made, I always have an eye out for other alternatives. Here are some quick notes about different things I've tried and some conclusions.
Trek 520 vs. LHT - prefer the LHT
I owned a Trek 520 for a few years and it was good but had a tendency to shimmy. Plus, it was sorta ugly with the welds on the frame and fork. No pizazz at all. Bought a LHT and found it to be superior to the 520. No shimmy. Super stable when loaded and descending. Haven't looked back.
SWOBO wool gloves v.s Ibex wool goves - prefer Ibex
I loved my SWOBO gloves when I first got them. They were the bee's knees. However, when I lost one of the gloves I decided to give the Ibex ones a try. Now I prefer the Ibex gloves, especially for cold weather. The knit is thicker and tighter and it doesn't seem to pill as much. They're noticeably warmer than the SWOBO ones. That said, the SWOBOs are still fine gloves, but if I were to just own one pair it would be the Ibex gloves.
SWOBO Merino Bobby vs. Ibex Frisko - prefer SWOBO
I bought both the SWOBO bobby and IBEX Frisko on sale. They're both polo style shirts with a collar. The SWOBO has buttons and the Ibex has a zipper. The Swobo has a useful pocket, the Ibex doesn't. In terms of weight of wool, I thought the Ibex was a little thin. The SWOBO one was just right. Light but had enough weight to it to keep you warm and last a long time. Plus, it has nice contrast stitching and a little chain plate on the sleeve.
MKS Touring Pedals vs. Rivendell Grip Kings - Tie
Simply put, it depends on the shoe I'm wearing. The MKS ones seem to work with the wide toe-box of my Keens better. The Grip Kings seem to support every other shoe except the Keens really well.
Plastic vs. Kleen Kanteens - prefer KK
Plastic still wins in squeezability, of course. However, the KKs will last forever and don't impart a plastic taste. More importantly, you can put coffee, tea or juice in a KK, wash it out and it won't have the same residual taste that plastic would. Just don't bite down on the hard sport top of a KK.
Jannd Rear Rack vs. Tubus Cargo - prefer Tubus
The hardware on the Tubus is tubing, which is super stiff compared to the flexy stays of the Jannd. Didn't think I would notice, but the first tour with the Tubus, the load just felt "tighter." Also, the two sets of rails lets me put the panniers on a lower tier, not interfering with things I have to tie to the top. The Tubus racks also wear a lot nicer. The paint doesn't flake off as easily.
Acorn Bag vs. Ostrich - prefer Acorn
The Ostrich is a good bag in its own right. Affordable. Available. The Acorn is just nicer and there are a lot of great details. Better closures for pockets, main bay opens toward the rider, a lot stiffer fabric and stiffeners. Plus the tan one totally matches my LHT.
Riv Wool Undies vs. Justin Charles Wool Undies - prefer JC
The Justin Charles boxers seem to be a wee bit thicker and more robust wool. I've had to darn my a few of my Rive ones, but the JC ones are still going strong. The extra length of the JC ones also prevent the legs from riding up AS much.
GSI Kettle vs. boiling in a pot - prefer GSI Kettle
The kettle is small and lightweight and looks good. You'll always have nice non-food tasting water for tea with the kettle, instead of washing out a pot you used for dinner.
Dirt roads vs. Paved Roads - prefer Dirt
Though a lot tougher, more remote and demands more from you, I prefer the dirt roads. Less traffic. You can ride two or three abreast. And no doubt, wherever you go it'll be an adventure. Just have a good map and sense of direction and you'll be ok.
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