Final Preparations, Launch Date & Customizations

Ah. Yes.  Here we are.  In the midst of the final chaos of preparing for an open-ended multi-year cycling expedition.  It appears it doesn’t matter how many years ahead you start to plan, feedback from other cyclists indicates that this is just part of the process.  They’re also telling us that this is the most stressful part, which is good to know.  Even though we’ve been burning the candle at both ends for the last few weeks, we’re also feeling excitement and a sense of accomplishment.  We’re almost ready to head off on our grand adventure!


Launch Date

As you might guess, things are moving along quickly now.  It appears that we over-estimated what we can accomplish in a given time period (anyone who knows us understands that this is not unusual!) so we’ve pushed our launch date back by a month.  We’re leaving at the end of May or beginning of June at this point.  It’s necessary, considering we really need to tidy up a couple of major projects before leaving.

Latest Bicycle Customization: Standoffs for our Racks

As Kai has been building up my bicycle he came up with a great idea to use standoffs to create a stronger base for our racks.  Kai’s detailed explanation of the standoffs follows:

 “Similar to Thorn‘s use of a standoff on their tandems to provide rack clearance around disc brakes, our design seeks to eliminate a problem we’ve read about numerous times involving heavy loaded touring and rear rack eyelets; namely rack eyelets failing/breaking-off mid tour thanks to heavy weights and the constant pounding experienced by a bike’s rear end.  Amazingly, all non-integral rear racks designed for rigid frames that I’ve ever encountered mount to the bike using a single rack eyelet on each dropout (not counting the largely stabilizing purpose of the rack bosses commonly brazed to the seat stays up near the seat stay bridge).  Adding any weight on a rear rack ends up placing a ton of stress on that tiniest of steel bits.

I contactedSJS Cycles (purveyors of the Thorn line of frames/bikes) to ask them about these parts after I stumbled across them on their site.   I wanted to know what they used them for but was surprised when they explained their real purpose.  From the response I received, it appears they overlooked the strength angle in their design, focused as they were on the “standoff’ purpose of the part.  No matter – for us strength was primary.

We figured that if we were able to mount our racks using both eyelets (two on each dropout) instead of only one, that we’d double the strength of this failure prone region.  We also decided to increase the size of the bolt that the rack uses to mount to the standoff from a 5mm to a 6mm, further increasing the strength.

So, on the advice of a friend, we chose “303” stainless steel, the variety commonly used to make your garden variety stainless bolts and screws.  This alloy is easy to machine and decently resistant to rust.  As with most things in life, these tiny parts ended up as time consuming custom add-ons given the unique and different spacing of the eyelets on our two frames and the unique and different obstructions posed by design variation in our drop-outs, rear racks and frame tubing.

Following the many hours graciously donated by our friend to design, source material, fabricate jigs, construct and then individually fit each part to each rear drop-out (thank you, thank you, thank you!), our bikes are now hopefully (keeping our fingers crossed) immune from this common long-distance touring ailment.  Hopefully no broken eyelets for us!  Only time will tell.”

One of the two standoffs on Kai’s bicycle


One of the two standoffs on Sheila’s bicycle

Stay tuned for New Photos of Our Bicycles

Sheila’s bike is 99% finished and our next post will be a photo shoot of our bicycles and some additional customizations, so stay tuned!


2 comments to Final Preparations, Launch Date & Custom Standoffs

  • Interesting, we ourselves were wondering how to deal with this. To be honest hadn’t put much thought and just beefed up our spacer and bolt, but now this is a major consideration! Thanks for posting, super helpful!

    • Kai


      Thanks for the comment! Between the stainless rack “standoffs” (and larger mounting bolts) and a breakaway rear derailleur bolt I, for one, feel much more confident about tackling a long distance tour on a frame with a rear rack and a conventional drivetrain. We’re very curious to see how these “solutions” ultimately work out. Several past ultra-long-distance tourers (Ian Hibell comes to mind) have taken even more radical steps to beef-up their frames with custom gussets, integral front and rear racks, etc., so it just seemed natural to think about what we could do to our frames to minimize the chances of frame failure while on the road.

      Good luck with your own planning and we look forward to following along. 🙂

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