Posts Tagged ‘Kit’


Bramwell International to the Rescue

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

After 23 months of either wearing my sandals or boots, both were starting to fall apart, Liz has even banned my shoes from the tent because of the smell. I have not even found an insect that’s been willing to crawl inside my boots for months.

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I sent an email to Bramwell International the UK importer and distribution company that deals with Source sandals. Source sandals have green dot on the sole that means if it’s still there then the sandals are in guarantee. Although the sandals are falling apart a bit, they have been through a lot and I had not really cleaned them that often, not mention, they had been chewed to within an inch of their lives for an hour by a dog in Thailand while I was having dinner. You tend to leave shoes outside the house in Thailand. I wore them just about every day through Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and only swapped them for my boots in November when we got to China and the weather started to get a bit chilly. Whilst the green dot guarantees sensible use, it would not cover dog chew and blatant sandal mis-management.

Having explained the ordeals my sandals have been through and the lack of care I have given them, I really didn’t think a new pair would be forth coming….. however…. our trip, and the journey my Source sandals have taken so far, fired some imaginations at Bramwell International and we have been asked to become ‘Ambassadors’ for some of their products, Meindl Boots as well as Source sandals.

This involves using their products, giving feedback and suggestions as well as promoting their products and showing the adventures these products can take a person on. So we have a new sponsor!

Liz, who obviously glides over the earth rather than walking, does not need any new sandals or boots, she somehow seems to keep things looking new. Her front panniers look like they only came out the box the other day. I on the other hand seem to put something on and make it look 100 years old within a few weeks.

So I looked online and in a few shops in Ulaanbatar and chose some new boots and sandals to replace the smelly broken ones. I have chosen the Meindl Maine Men Mid GTX boots and the Gobi sandals. They should be making their way to Asia in a few weeks and I shall have shiny new kit that I promise to clean more than once a year.

So thanks so much to Bramwell International for choosing us to be ‘Ambassadors’ for your kit, it will certainly go on some exciting adventures with us and will definitely see some stunning parts of the world. We look forward to working with you during our Bikeabout trip and perhaps for our future adventures as well. Have a look at their products and see if there is anything you fancy. You have a big choice, Meindl Boots, Source sandals and hydration systems and Gregory backpacks. You can also find out more about Bramwell International on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.

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K-Trade International help us out…

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Our Ortlieb pannier bags are great, we have front and back classic rollers, which are fully waterproof and very durable. However we needed a few spares to help with the wear and tear of being on the road.

Chris managed to locate an Ortlieb distributor in Bangkok – K-Trade International and contacted Uwe the MD to see if he could help us.

We visited their shop, Outdoor Specialists in Bangkok and came away happy with patches to repair holes, buckles to replace lost ones, a map case for Chris and a new set of handles and hooks for one of my panniers.    Chris could not resist buying a Rack pack (medium).  It was not an essential buy, he is just a sucker for shiny new kit.

K-Trade/Outdoor Specialists carry a wide range of Ortlieb products as well as other outdoor products, and their staff are super helpful and friendly. Located in the Amarin plaza, near Chit Lom skytrain station, it’s easy to get to.  BikeZone bike shop is also next door if you want a bike service or need anything for your bike.  They were really nice too.

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Two punctures in two hours!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Having set off at 6.30am we were keen to get 40km done by 8.30am, making the most of the cool temperature. After 21km I felt my back wheel wobbling and cycling was suddenly sluggish. We stopped and it looked like a puncture. So I unloaded the bike, turned it upside down, dug out the repair kit and set about patching up the hole. A tiny shard of metal had gone through the tyre and wedged itself into the rubber.

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All fixes and off we go. 6km later and the back tyre has gone down again, gggrrrr. No choice but to stop and sort it out. Am a bit cross now as we are losing precious ‘cool’ time. Rather than faff about trying to fix it again, I decided to replace the inner tube with a new one and get back on the road. Still have to unload the bike though!

All good and we stop in Banting for lunch, having met Peter, a dutch cyclists, living in Malaysia who has cycled over 100,000km in many counties across the world. After lunch we set off again and about 10km in, my back tyre feels funny again, am i just imagining things? No it’s gone flat again!?!  Now I’m puzzled, there must be something in the tyre that I missed the first 2 times. But no, it was just one of those days, a different spike of metal this time, stuck in the tyre and inner tube. Unloading the bike for the third time that day I was beginning to have a sense of humour failure! Chris helped me change it, whilst dripping with sweat and being attacked by ants, little blighters are everywhere.

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Funny – I’ve done over 5000km and only had 2 punctures in all that time, then today I get 2 punctures in 2 hours! Hopefully that’s the last one for a while. Despite the delays, we still managed to cycle 88km to our destination (whilst fiercely dodging any further debris on the roadside), and arrived about 5.30pm both a little shattered after our long day!

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How long will my ripped tyre it last?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Hit something in the hard shoulder and eventually found this to be the cause of the noise that followed.

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Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on how long this might last with some puncture repair glue.  If you have any suggestions for making it last longer then please comment. It only seems to have gone through the first layer of rubber so its not the tube that you can see.

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Bicycle Touring Self Sufficient Power for Gadgets

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The following details how were are currently powering all the electrical items that we carry with us whilst cycle touring and our aim to be self sufficient for power.  If you have any suggestions that could improve our system then please comment below or email us hello@bikeabout.co.uk. If you think this is a good article click on the share this icon at the bottom of the post for others to read. The information in this blog will eventually go into a resources section on our website that we are working on.

Technical Details and our Description

The items we carry that we need to charge on a regular basis are:

  • 2 iPods
  • 2 camera batteries
  • re-chargeable AA and AAA batteries (for head torches, bike lights)
  • Mobile phone

Pedal Power+ AC Dynamo – Initially we were wary of getting a hub dynamo due to the resistance that it would cause. To our surprise and delight I don’t notice any difference at all. In fact it feels great to know that every pedal stroke is generating free electricity and reducing our need to pay for a campsite or hostel to charge stuff.
Manufacture Specifications

  • Rating 6v3w, Output DC 5v to 600mA
  • Standard 36 spoke configuration 14 gauge
  • Super free running, Weight 750g, Sealed bearings
  • Flange to Flange 92mm, Axel 92mm or 3/8”

Pedal Power+ V4 – It takes about 10 hours of cycling to fully charge the battery, for us this is two to three days of riding depending on the hills.
Manufacture Specifications

  • Capacity 5600mA
  • Input 5V 2000mA
  • Voltage 3.7V

Solar panel – Takes one to three days depending on how sunny it is and our ability to move it into direct sunlight. Having the panel on the back of the bike it tends to be partially shaded by our shadows. If you are using a trailer or possibly attaching the panel to a helmets might be better, although the latter could look silly.
Manufacture Specifications

  • Rated output: 4-12V, 0-1A
  • Solar panel output: 155mA @ 6V
  • Internal battery: rechargeable 3.6V, 1600mAh
  • Lithium Ion
  • Weight: 5.6oz/156g

Hahnel UniPal – This great little unit is small and light and saves us having to carry a different charger for each camera. We love it.
Manufacture Specifications

  • Charges practically all Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer 3.6V/3.7V, 7.2V/7.4V and AA/AAA Ni-MH batteries.
  • Charges most devices with USB port
  • Fine adjustment wheels to easily adjust the charger contacts
  • Unique dual position contacts – to charge a wider range of battery types
  • Separate AA/AAA compartments for a secure fit
  • 12V DC input
  • Charging time approx 3 hours per 1000mAh

Limitations and improvements to our system

The UniPal only works with the solar panel not the V4, despite the batteries of the solar panel and the V4 being similar except capacity. The 12v cable that comes with solar panel somehow regulates the voltage output, giving out 12 volts. The disadvantage of this is that the solar panel’s internal battery is not that big – only1600mAh so it struggles to fully charge all the items we have in one go. We could do with another battery pack in addition to the V4 with a large capacity and the ability to give different outputs ranging from 5v to 19v, that could charge via a larger solar panel or the dynamo. This would power the larger electrical devices.

All of our devices can take a charge from the mains, however carrying all the chargers for each item would probably take up one pannier bag. We have a multi-travel plug that has a usb out so when we do get free mains power we can give some of the items a boost. We have found that usb is a rather slow way of charging and times when we do get access to mains electricity it is generally limited. What would be ideal would be a international mains charger, that could charge at high speed, with exchangeable tips depending on the device that needed to be charged. The difficulty of this is regulating the voltage and amps to match the product.

The future
We have recently brought a netbook computer to help us keep up to date with our blog writing and photo sorting. We are also hoping (fingers and toes crossed) to get a small video camera to capture our adventure on film. This is going to require more power and we still want to be self sufficient for power. We have some ideas on how to do this and we are just finalising our decisions.

Suggestions, improvements and comments to our system are most welcome.

Update

We wrote this some time ago and a few things have changed since writing.  We have another hub dynamo for Liz’s bike and a a V4i for Liz.  The V4i is very similar to the V4 it just has a slight bigger capacity and works with the iPhone.

We have also been testing the V4 with the UniPal we hope that we will at leat be able to charge batteries with a voltage equal or less than the V4.

Pedal Power+ have also given us a usb  international mains charger that delivers a 1amp output, this lets us charge the v4 and other devices quickly when we get mains power.

We shall update this again when we have had a chance to test the new additions.

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