Click on the links below to see how we set them up when touring. The bikes were named around Kvinesund when we stopped to pick up some more Rod Sprit, and Damae couldn't resist buying a couple of stickers.
The Troll (Damae's bike).
The Moose (Stan's Bike)
We launched ourselves into our first major cycling holiday on the cheapest bikes we could find and suffered no major problems. We might have been very lucky but I am not convinced that had we spent Eur 1500 each on bikes the trip would have gone much better.
After umming and aaahing for some time we purchased our touring bikes from our local Halfords in late spring 2004. The bikes cost us each Eur 330, plus extras at the time of purchase these being panniers and trip computers. We tested the bikes out during a number of weekend trips in 2004 and early 2005 in the Netherlands covering around 1500km in total.
The bikes seem to be a hybrid with a man's frame rather like a mountain bike but with standard touring wheels and forks. They are identical with 21 speed Shimano indexing dérailleur gears, and modern brakes.
We subsequently added around Eur 250 per bike to the figure with new saddles various small bags for handlebars, and triathalon bar bike pump etc. The biggest single purchase was Shimano click pedals (SPD). These proved to be a most excellent addition to the bikes (pedals and sandles together costing Eur 130 per bike).
I suffered from virtually none of the problems with my knees that I had experienced on shorter trips in previous years. The main advantages are being able to pull when cycling as well as pushing and never having to think about if your foot is sitting in the right place (which reduces sideways loads on your knees for example). The sandles were comfy enough to walk in and we didn't bother taking any other footwear.
The other main expense was a matching set of his and hers Terry saddles. The standard ones supplied with the bikes were just too uncomfortable even with good padded cycle shorts. The Terry saddles were harder albeit more comfortable after 100km than the originals. Worth getting a good saddle.
The triathalon bars did not get used as often as in Holland where long flat sections in to the wind make the bars ideal. They were still useful as they provided a place to hang things off. In addition by resting hands on the elbow pads you could sit more upright which was a welcome change sometimes. We have had comments from experienced cyclists who question the wisdom of fastening items so high up on the handlebars. In practice we have experienced no problems, the total loading being something around 5-6kg. The steering is not affected that much, probably by the same amount as a pair of lowrider panniers. The advantage is that we have a lot of ground clearance with the bikes set up like this. The lowest parts (excluding dérailleur) are the rear panniers which are 14" off the ground.
The maintenance problems on the whole (1100+km) trip were having to replace the brake blocks, tightening a few spokes on my back wheel and tightening up the handlebars (which we had loosened off to get the bikes in the boxes for the outward flight). We didn't even suffer a single puncture nor excessive tyre wear. The wheels were remarkably straight at the end of the trip (that is until we got back to Schiphol).