Monthly Archive: June 2015

What’s The Best Touring Bike?

Tom Allen’s Bike Trip

(Last updated: April 2015.) The range of touring bikes on offer can be bewildering to the newcomer. And so it s only natural that amongst the many questions I get asked about planning a cycle tour, the most frequent is: What s the best touring bike? Trouble is, it s a question with no useful quick-and-easy answer.

I do, however, want to try and answer it to the best of my abilities. So let s begin by putting some broader context around what cycle touring might actually mean to you. Asking a few basic questions of your plans first will make the touring bike choosing process easier. (Now might be a good time to put the kettle on.) What kind of bike tour am I going on?

Unless you have no money (beggars can t be choosers, right?), your ride should dictate your bike, rather than your bike dictating your ride. Resist the temptation to get bogged down with bicycle choice until you ve clarified what your priorities for cycle touring are going to be, and what kind of trip you want to make. What different kinds of bike trip are there?

Well, styles of touring vary along these four axes: Fast or slow Lightweight or heavyweight On-road (paved) or off-road (unpaved) Short-term or long-term Usually there are correlations here. Fast, light, on-road and short-term are usually combined. Slow, heavy, off-road and long-term are likely to be found together too.

These are the main factors that will feed directly into your choice of touring bike. If you re not clear on what you want to achieve with your tour, and how, it s time to go back to first principles. You can always come back to the bike a little further down the road.

Most tours fall somewhere in the middle of these concerns. That s why off-the-peg road-oriented touring bikes are often a good place to start, as manufacturers want to cover as broad a range of customers as they can. Later in this article we ll look at some of these bikes, as well as budget options and more specialised expedition bikes.

What can I afford? Strapped for cash? It is perfectly possible to use any old bike for touring as long as it s about the right size.

You will (eventually) get from A to B on the rusty heap that s been sat in the garage for the last decade. (I know, I know; this kind of rhetoric gets chucked around a lot, usually by people doing tours on absurdly expensive bikes. So here s how I put together a complete touring bike (plus gear and luggage) for precisely 25.17, then rode it the length of a country.) Got some cash but still on a budget? Good quality second-hand touring bikes (or mountain/hybrid bikes adaptable for touring) can be had for a few hundred pounds.

In the long term, expect to spend more time/money on maintenance and repairs than someone making the same journey on a new bicycle. Got a budget for a decent bike? Common touring wisdom is to get the best quality bike you can afford.

Usually, a bike manufacturer will actually manufacture little more than the frame, and the rest of the bike will be assembled from parts made by the same component makers (usually Shimano). Cheap Touring Bicycles If you re just getting started there are several good-quality touring bikes, luggage enabled and ready to roll, that can be had for just a few hundred pounds. Here are some of the most often recommended options: Revolution Country Traveller ( 500) A contender for best value budget touring bike on the market, the Revolution Country Traveller from Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative manages to be well-specified and reliable while costing less than 500.

It s sibling, the Country Explorer, features a steel frame and disc brakes for 100 more. Ridgeback Tour ( 600) The Ridgeback Tour the cheapest of Ridgeback s World series has much in common with its more expensive siblings, but with a cost-saving aluminium frame and basic Shimano gearing. Ridgeback bikes are widely available from UK high-street dealers, including Evans Cycles*, making it a bike you ll easily be able to test ride.

Dawes Galaxy AL At the bottom end of Dawes well-known Galaxy range is the Galaxy AL . Similarly to the Ridgeback Tour, it s built on the same design principles as the rest of the range but with an aluminium frame and budget drivetrain components. Like Ridgeback s World range, the Dawes Galaxy range is one of the most oft-found touring bike lines in British bike stores, including at Evans Cycles stores nationwide and via their website*.

Best Premium Road Touring Bikes Most cycle tourists are not breaking records, but they do want to feel like they ve got somewhere at the end of a day. They ll carry the bare essentials but pack a few personal luxuries too. Roads will comprise the majority of their trip, but they might find themselves on a dirt track every now and then.

They ll usually travel for a few weeks, make a few shorter trips closer to home, and occasionally go for a Big Ride. This broad space is the domain of the high-end road touring bike. Almost all cycle tourists could conduct their travels successfully on any of the following options.

They re all mature, capable machines, tried and tested and with sensible price-tags, in need of nothing more than a Brooks B17 and a rider. Expect to spend between 900- 1500 ($1200-$2000) on a new fully-featured premium tourer, and for it to last many years and handle all of the developed-world road touring you can throw at it. Kona Sutra ( 1200) Kona inhabit the left-of-centre in cycling, producing a fascinating range of eccentric yet extremely useful bikes.

As well as all of the usual considerations, the Sutra is progressively-minded too with powerful disc brakes and plenty of scope for non-touring use. Highlights include the nimble and sporty steel frameset and solid front and rear racks, making it ready to load up and ride right out of the shop. Read my full review of the 2014 model here.

Ridgeback Panorama ( 1300) The Ridgeback Panorama is described by many UK tourers as an underrated bike, coming with plenty of recommendations. This is another steel-framed mid-range touring bike with a sensible, durable selection of components drawn from both road and mountain-biking disciplines. Its road-influenced frameset places it well for long-term road touring.

Read Tim & Laura s detailed review of the Panorama after a 6,000-mile road test. They re widely available in UK bike stores, including Evans Cycles*. Surly Long Haul Trucker ( 1150) While not as easy to find in the UK as the Kona or Ridgeback, particularly online, the Surly Long Haul Trucker is perhaps the most well-renowned of the bikes in this list.

It s a supremely versatile and well-balanced on and off-road adventure touring bike at a price affordable to many, also available in a 26 wheel size for short riders and developing-world touring. You re left to choose your own racks and mudguards. Distributed in the UK by Ison, any local bike shop worth its salt will be able to get you one of these.

For what it s worth, I give out more recommendations for the LHT than for any other touring bike on the planet. Surly Disc Trucker ( 1300) In response to the growing acceptance of disc brakes as a realistic and reliable option for touring, Surly went ahead and produced a disc-specific version of the Long Haul Trucker, the cunningly named Disc Trucker. Everything else about it is the same as the LHT tried, true, and one of the most versatile touring bikes on the planet.

Read my full review here. More Premium Road Touring Bikes The following models have been recommended by readers as fitting this category. Some of them are on the budget end, some straying into the top end, but I ve listed them for the sake of completeness: A side note on top-end touring bikes What I m hoping is fairly clear is that the touring bikes above are pretty much the same bike .

They re all priced within a couple of hundred pounds of each other. They all have steel frames, wide gearing, drop bars but with non-aggressive riding positions, pannier racks or at least rack mounts, hybrid drivetrains cut from the middle of Shimano s mountain-bike and road-bike ranges, and boring saddles (because they know you ll swap the saddle for your favourite but can t sell a bike without one). They re all built primarily for paved roads, but could handle a dirt track or two if need be.

So which to choose is largely a matter of taste. I like the Kona s stiff and nimble riding style. You might like the Dawes s British origins, or the Surly s reputation and ruggedness, or the Ridgeback s road-oriented riding style.

How will you know, though? Simple: enough with the online research go down to your local bike shop and take a few for a test ride. You ll soon know what s right for you.

Expedition Bikes I d like to draw attention to a distinct category of what you might call expedition bikes, as opposed to touring bikes. It s by no means an industry standard term, but it s a distinction that needs to be made. The majority of cycle touring takes place relatively close to home, in the developed world, and for limited periods of time (a few weeks at most).

But occasionally a bike will need to survive for months on end in parts of the world where Western-style parts, spares and mechanical help are simply unavailable. This is the domain of the expedition bike. These bikes are usually characterised by having 26-inch wheels (for maximum compatibility with the tyres, tubes and wheel parts ubiquitous in the developing world), allowing for much fatter tyres to be fitted for unpaved roads, using old-fashioned standard components (such as 8 or 9-speed drivetrains, square-taper bottom brackets, etc), and having frames built for even heavier duty service in the long haul.

They don t necessarily cost more than a top-end touring bike, but they have a slightly different focus in mind. Does this apply to you? Ridgeback Expedition ( 950) New in 2014 and as-yet untested in the real world on a long trip, the Ridgeback Expedition looks to be a contender for best-value expedition-ready mainstream touring bike on the market.

Read my full review here. The best price I can find is from Evans Cycles *. Surly Long Haul Trucker / Disc Trucker (26-inch models) Surly have shown their versatility by producing an expedition-ready 26-inch version of the already super-versatile Long Haul Trucker and Disc Trucker models near-perfect expedition bikes by all accounts.

All the same praise goes here as for the 700c versions above. Thorn Sherpa (from 1300) Thorn s 26-inch steel tourer, the Sherpa, still costs well over a grand, but the Somerset-based company have established themselves as creating ultra-reliable expedition bikes on an individual basis. You ll need to book an appointment with St John s Street Cycles in Bridgewater to get yours specified and fitted to your needs.

Oxford Bike Works Expedition Bike (from 2050) Independent Oxfordshire-based bike builder Richard Delacour is now building full-on world expedition touring bikes based on a specification I designed myself. It features a 26-inch steel frame, hand-built wheels, bomb-proof racks, custom thumbshifters, and tons of other tour-specific touches. Read more about the details of this bike.

Where Next? You ve probably got plenty more burning questions about the ins and outs of adventure cycling, so the best thing to do next is to check out the advice & planning section of this site for dozens more articles on every other aspect of planning a tour. P.S.

If you can t afford any of the above bikes, but you still want to go touring, check this article out.

You may also find the following articles useful:

Volvo and Scania Truck Mechanics Urgently required to work in …

Work Supply AS, a leading employment and recruitment company in Norway, specializing in motor industry, currently have the following vacancies available: 1) VOLVO and SCANIA TRUCK MECHANIC ONE URGENTLY REQUIRED 2) VOLVO SPECIALIST TRUCK MECHANIC – ONE URGENTLY REQUIRED 3) TRUCK MECHANIC FOR ALL BRANDS TWO URGENTLY REQUIRED Positions are available in numerous Main dealers and Approved Garages across Norway. The perfect candidates: Are fully qualified and trained Mechanics/Technicians Have minimum 3 years of up-to-date experience in Motor Industry Hold a full HGV driving license Hold a current EU, British or Irish Passport. (No other accepted). Have good oral and written English skills Are sociable and open for a Scandinavian culture & language We offer: Competitive salary from 33.000 to 40.000 a year (320.000 NOK 380.000 NOK) depending on education/experience/training history an actual hourly rate shall be negotiatedfor every individual application 37,5 h working week ( Monday-Friday) Holiday money ( feriepenge ) Loyalty Bonus Incentives.

Work at recognized, modern Main Dealers in exceptional working environment Minimum 20 month contracts, renewable Housing assistance Work permit, residence permit, tax registration Insurance cover Working clothes & shoes supplied Tools supplied Norwegian language training – optional Personal contact and follow up throughout the whole contract length For more information about Work Supply AS please visit our website: If you welcome the challenge of living and working abroad in a prosperous and nature-loving country like Norway and you meet our requirements, please apply below with your cover letter and CV and we will contact you by return with more information and schedule a Telephone or Skype interview.

Each day brings new offers and job opportunities and WorkSupply AS recruit continuously. *Make the first step to Your Future and apply for a Great Opportunity*!

Truck driver | Work In Finland

Job Description We are looking for our client in Riihim ki truck driving skills for warehouse workers for the summer industrial facility. Tasks consist of all inventory basic tasks such as the reception, transmission and collection of the goods. Applicants require: – The previous warehouse experience – counterbalanced truck driving skills – Computer skills and knowledge of storage systems We appreciate: – Flexibility and good attitude towards work – Good problem-solving skills as well as self-nature How to Apply Please Sign in or Register, and upload a CV in order to see the How to apply details.

Job Categories: Other Jobs in Finland. Job Types: Temporary. Job expires in 25 days .

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Iveco Defence Vehicles

Iveco Defence Vehicles is a brand of CNH Industrial N.V., a World leader in Capital Goods listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CNHI) and on the Mercato Telematico Azionario of the Borsa Italiana (MI: CNHI). Iveco Defence Vehicles is dedicated to delivering innovative automotive and protection solutions to meet the needs of military customers worldwide. The company manufactures specialist logistic, protected and armoured vehicles in its facility in Bolzano in Northern Italy, as well as marketing Iveco’s full commercial range, adapted as necessary to meet the demands of the military user.

In consequence, Iveco Defence Vehicles has a full range of vehicles to meet a broad spectrum of defence applications. Iveco Defence Vehicles has a full range of vehicles to meet a broad spectrum of defence applications. Click here to find out more.

Light multi-role vehicle (LMV) Developed to counter the evolving threat, the LMV vehicle range encompasses 4×4 personnel carrier and patrol vehicles, which combine exceptional mobility, agility and terrain accessibility with high levels of protection against both ballistic and mine attack. Medium protected vehicle (MPV) Available in 4×4 and 6×6 models, the MPV design is based on the Iveco Trakker military off-the-shelf truck chassis, combined with a ballistic steel protected crew cell. This cell incorporates the driver’s cab and cargo, which are communicating, offering more than 13m of volume in the standard 4×4 version, increasing to 16m for the ambulance / intensive treatment unit variant.

Armoured vehicles In response to evolving user requirements, Iveco has developed two families of wheeled armoured vehicles specifically designed to undertake amphibious operations: VBTP 6×6 and SUPERAV 8×8. Through a joint venture with Oto Melara (CIO), Iveco also offers the 8×8 Centauro family, capable of mounting weapon systems from 7.62mm to 120mm. MOTS and Trakker range Iveco Defence Vehicles also has access to the full Iveco range, from panel vans and light trucks through to transporters capable of moving loads in excess of 75t.

Available as 4×2, 4×4, 6×4, 6×6, 8×4 and 8×8, these vehicles fulfil logistic roles for a wide range of defence forces from the rear echelon up to the forward areas. Iveco Defence Vehicles has worked to develop a class leading protected cab, which can be fitted to Iveco’s heavy-duty 6×6 and 8×8 Trakker chassis. The result is a robust, highly mobile, which can operate even in high threat areas.

High mobility range Iveco Defence Vehicles also offers a full range of battle proven, powerful and capable 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 purpose-designed military logistic vehicles to provide tactical support to any military operation in the most hostile environmental conditions.

The whole range can be equipped with a new generation of add-on armour kit.

Iveco Defence Vehicles Headquarters Via Volta, 6 Bolzano (BZ) I-39100 Italy Tel: +39 0471 905111 Fax: +39 0471 905444 Email: [email protected] URL:

Trucker hopes for better driving conditions this winter

Dale Cockins, third from right, receives Canadian Trucker of the Year Award. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Trucking Association By Dylan O Hagan BELLEVILLE Canadian truck driver of the year, Dale Cockins, says more has to be done about clearing snow from Ontario highways. The road conditions last winter were not up to par for 63 year-old Cockins, who lives outside Deseronto.

Cockins has been a truck driver for the past 47 years and has worked exclusively in Ontario and Quebec for the last 20. He says it was especially bad last year. We have Canadian winters here and all hell breaks loose, right?

We saw it especially last winter on the 401, multiple pileups all over the place Everything got cut back so drastically that it s just terrible out here now on the highways in the winter time. They have to do something more than what they re doing, he said. Carillion Canada Inc.

won the provincial contract in 2013 for maintenance and and snow removal for the region of Kingston West, a stretch of the 401 running from west of Kingston to Port Hope. But it was budgeted considerably less money than the company that was awarded the contract the previous year. In 2013, Carillon Canada was given $4,929,211 to maintain the Kingston West area.

It used just nine snow plows. That same year, two of three local salt yards closed, forcing Carillion to work from one central yard in Grafton. Cruickshank Construction held the contract the previous year and was awarded $8,733,528 for highway maintenance, including snow removal.

It used 17 plows to clear that same stretch of the 401 during snowfalls. Cockins says, these cutbacks have gone too far and now may be putting people s lives in danger. We had a great system, we put the Trans-Canada highway through this country back in the 60 s and we ve maintained that highway winter and summer, and especially in the winter time.

But now things have changed because of cut backs and I don t see where the cutbacks save anything because once you ve got a hundred people in a pile up, you re into millions of dollars of damages and people dead and all that. So I want better care taken for the roads in the winter time, he said. Concerns over highway maintenance are not new.

Last year, Conservative MPP Steve Clark called for the provincial auditor general to investigate the impact cutbacks have had. Conservative MPP Todd Smith told QNet News last year that the revisions came after the Liberal government focused its spending elsewhere, forcing the Ministry of Transportation to make cutbacks in its spending. Last year s winter caused five major pileups on 400-series highways across Ontario.

Three of these pileups were along the 401 corridor stretching from Napanee to Cobourg in Northumberland County. This year however, the province has answered the call for better snow removal. It s putting more money into clearing highways this winter, including $8 million that will put 50 new pieces of snow removal equipment along highways in southern Ontario.

The Kingston West Region will also see an extra 5 plows for snow removal this year, bringing the total up to 14. The province says it s also adding 20 inspectors to provide on-the-ground oversight of contractors during winter storms. This includes one inspector for the Kingston West maintenance contract area.

The auditor general s report on snow removal cutbacks has not yet been released to the public.


Appeal after Northumberland man dies following A1 crash

A truck driver from Northumberland has died 24 hours after he crashed into a motorway barrier between Durham and Bowburn. The incident happened just after 7pm on Thursday, June 18, when a white and blue Isuzu Grafter heading north between junctions 61 and 62 collided with a temporary barrier which was in place due to ongoing roadworks. The driver, a 49-year-old man from Newbiggin, received treatment at the scene from paramedics before being taken to the University Hospital North Durham where, because his injuries were classed as minor he was seen and discharged the same night.

The following day a call was received from Northumbria Police to say that the man had collapsed while out with his wife and had subsequently died.

The trials and tribulations of a tramping trucker: But it was ok to wash …

Having endured a gruelling hot and sweaty and quite terrifying week abroad trvelling from Warrington to Lockeren (Belgium) then onward to Dulmen (Germany) through the infamously buttock clenchingly dangerous Mont valley to Mersch (Luxembourg) and finally the homeward bound 2 day drive back into Blighty I was desperate to find a place to park up and to wash. My body odour was starting to make my eyes water with such power that not even the can of trusty Lynx at my side could mask, let alone entice, a throng of semi naked beauties to my bunk. It would be important to point out at this stage, to the reader, finding suitable places to shower when driving a 44ton 25m long articulated vehicle is not as simple as it sounds.

Parking up in town is simply not an option unless you enjoy the burning, agonizing sting of pain as you are battoned across the knee caps by the local constabulary, followed up the even greater pain of a 2000 Euro fine to release the vehicle from the impound. So as it happened I had had to make do with babywipe baths throughout the week, except for the -20 degree cold shower I mannaged to blag whilst delivering goods to the British military base, Dulmen, on the Wednesday. Following this exceptionally short encounter with water that felt as though it had been cooled especially for me by liquid nitrogen, my journey took me through the notoriously dangerous Mont Valley.

Any cleaning that I may have accomplished whilst in Germany, became instantly obsolete whilst taking this particular route, in blizzard conditions at the dead of night. Its Alpine-esque winding road going through an elevation of thousands of feet, with sheer cliff edges decending ito oblivion without even a hint of a safety barrier, had me in a continous beading cold sweat. With my T-shirt resembling a sponge and underpants looking like they belonged to an incontinence suffering pensioner, after consuming twelve pints of cider, body odour was quite instantly back with a vengeance.

It is said animals can smell fear, well the pack of wild Luxembourgian wolves chasing my slow moving, meandering truck, drooling at the mouth for a piece of scared shitless English meat would be testament to that. With my collection complete in Luxembourg the employees from the tyre factory gratefully waved me off, only removing the scarfs covering their mouths and noses once I was out of line of sight. To their relief I had conciously decided not to use their cafeteria facilities for self preservation and had instead cooked my lunch (1can of big soup, 1tin corned beef and a packet of instant rice) on my camping cooker in the car park.

The pungent clouded smell of body odour and fear apparently dissapated sometime the following week. Once through the Chunnel I headed north to Toddington services. Having used the facilities here on numerous occasions before and been pleasantly suprised by them, my stinking days were nearly at an end.

Entering the shop I ignored the pointing, retching and gagging of other customers and duly bought 3 separate shower tickets.

30mins of shower time and 2 bottles of shower gel would surely be enough, I thought. Ripping off my stinking clothes I put my shower card in the meter and was pleased to see 3x 10min on the readout. Jumping into the near scalding water I basked in the glory of starting to feel slightly human again.

Then, turning of the shower so as not to waste any of my precious time, I squeezed liberally huge dollops of shower gel into my hand. Massaging the gel into every pore of my body, a huge sense of relief and joy spread across me as the lather grew and grew until I resembled a slightly off white sud encrusted michelin man. Blinded by the soap, I precariously reached out for the shower button, stumbling until I found it.

Pressing the button I waited for the few seconds it took to start up again delighted at how good I suddenly felt. After approximately ten seconds with no sign of flowing water iIpressed the button again but to no avail. Again and again I hit the button getting increasingly agitated by the situation.

Finally realising there was most definitely a problem I scraped the soap from my eyes and gingerly opened them. The burning sensation that engulfed my eyes was only surpassed at the horror of seeing the digital timer blank. Seething with anger I called out to the attendant that there was a problem with the shower and would he sort it out.

I was met with silence. Calling out over and over again, the deafening sound of an empty attendants booth was all I could hear. With one final moronically agitated, frustrated and stupendously angry scream of “FUUUUUUUCK” I stepped from the shower cubicle.

In blind fury I wrapped my towel around my waist and exited the shower room into the service station toilets. Here I was met with coach loads of tourists of all ages staring dumbfounded at this soap sudded naked man standing before them. Unperturbed I half slipped half walked over to the sinks where I duly started to wash the soap from my body.

Any objective or sarcastic comments were instantly met with an eyes burning through your soul stare. Quickly all vocal parties left the room followed just as quickly by any remaining patrons. Half sitting in the sink with my towel resting upon my lap I continued to wash away the soap from areas that would suffer the most from the soap burn if not washed away properly.

It was then that the service station manager, flanked by two security guards entered the toilets and headed towards my perch. Without giving them so much as a second glance I continued to clean myself in an overly dramatic, hugely pissed off manner. Trying to contain my fury at my present circumstances I completely ignored that fact that these three individuals were now stood directly in front of me.

As soon as the manager opened his mouth to protest “what the fuck do you think your doing?” my anger exploded in an eruption of such magnitude all three visibly took about five steps back. Jumping down from the wash basin I launched into a tirade of abusive and threatening rants at how utterly shit the facilities, management and attendants were. When the manager raised his hands to attempt to calm the situation my anger went into overdrive.

I wanted blood and his seemed like as good as anyones. The security guards, seeing I was finally losing the plot with sanity, moved together towards me. With one final look and warning that they would be eating through straws for the next six months if the came any closer they backed off.

Realising suddenly my precarious predicament should the police be called I strode past the three into the shower room. I then stuck my feet into my open boots and pulled a T-shirt over my head. Grabbing my wash bag and clothes I marched defiantly through the service station still with my towel around my waist.

Passing the crowd of spectators congregated in a five deep line I made my way to my truck seething with anger and embarrassment.Whilst walking through the atutomatic doors I caught the sound of clapping and cheers at what could only be a once in a life time show……..