sturdier touring bike touring

The Pedalshift Project 037: Sturdy touring bikes + opening cans without tools

Sturdy touring bikes need to be able to handle weight… on this episode we delve into some of the ways to make your touring bike even sturdier, and maybe figure out a way to lighten the load a bit too. Plus, tons of oddities and good news from the world of bike touring, and some self-described crazy Russians show us how to open a can with our bare damn hands. Because we can! <– see what I did there?

Hey it’s the direct download link for episode 037
Pedalshift 037 Sturdier touring bikes + opening cans without tools (mp3)

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Have some bike touring or overnight stories to share? Send your pics, audio or a quick tweet – all welcome. Email the show at or call the lightly-used Pedalshift voicemail line at (202) 930-1109.

The Journal

  • MJ in Argentina – less than 2 weeks remain!
  • Amtrak expands roll-on service down the east coast. NYC south to Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta and everything in between (Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star and Crecent routes). $20 and unboxed, just like the Capitol Limited.
  • White’s Ferry goes rogue!
  • Flying with your bike? Check the chart. JetBlue, Frontier and SW are the best (50-75 each way) vs. American and other legacy carriers $150-200 each way!
  • Attention Pacific Coast bike tourists hitting Southern Cal in January — you’ll be hitching a ride:
I just received notice from the U.S. Marine Corps that the Camp Pendleton Bike Path—the only bike access between Las Pulgas Rd. and Basilone Rd. along Interstate 5 (I-5)—is scheduled to be closed for military operations between Jan. 25 and Jan. 29, 2016. Under normal circumstances Caltrans would open the freeway shoulders to bicyclists, however there is a construction project that has closed the shoulders of I-5 in that segment. Caltrans will provide a 24/7 on-call shuttle for bicyclists to pass through the closures in the I-5 corridor between Oceanside and San Clemente. The phone number for the shuttle is (619)385-3267. There will be pick-up locations at the Las Pulgas Rd. parking lot for northbound cyclists, and at the south end of the Old Hwy. 101 bike path at Basilone Rd. for southbound cyclists. Those locations will serve as drop-off locations for the opposing directions of travel. Signs at both locations will include the shuttle phone number. Please share this information and make your plans accordingly. We apologize for any inconveniences in advance.
FYI– The construction on I-5 between Oceanside Harbor Dr. and Las Pulgas Rd. is scheduled to wrap-up in mid-December, so the freeway shoulders in that segment will re-open to cyclists at that time. The on-call shuttle that services that segment of I-5 will cease operation when the freeway shoulder access is re-opened to cyclists.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Seth Cutter
Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator
Associate Transportation Planner
Multimodal Programs Branch
Caltrans District 11 Planning Division

Gear Talk

Open cans without tools

h/t Crazy Russian Hacker (no really, that’s dude’s handle!)

Weight-limits and sturdy touring bikes

I was a PNWer (Seattle) until I, too, relocated to DC.  Now I’ve moved to Sonoma County CA.  I’m replacing my 2011 Fuji Touring bike (stolen), and I appreciated your reviews of the Long Haul Trucker and the Novara Safari (I like it, but still don’t understand why it’s less expensive than the Novara Randonee, which doesn’t have discs?). The Fuji was OK, but it was kind of kludgey and their newer ones are less committed to touring, so that’s out.

I rode to Cleveland via the C&O canal trail, GAP, and roads through Amish Country when I was 270 lbs and had about 100 pounds of gear (front & rear panniers). That destroyed a wheel and my crank (which was probably a little loose).

My issue right now is that I’m 260 lbs and the Safari says it has a 250 lb weight limit. I’m 6’5”, so I’m trying to evaluate that.

“What constitutes overloading on a touring bike?  What are the consequences/weak points of the bike that could be beefed up to handle heavier loads? This is especially important for us bigger riders.”  — David

  • Steel frames are close to a must (can handle the stresses of load over distance way better)
  • Consider building sturdier wheels than come stock on the bikes you’re considering.
  • Find ways to reduce the weight of your gear. Usually you can do a round of weight cuts just by leaving things at home rather than spend money on ultralight gear. Maybe ditch the cooking gear altogether? Go bivvy or hammock over a tent?
  • Consider a trailer. Remove that weight from your bike and you might be able to skirt the wheel builds altogether.


Johnny K brings the leather care knowledge (part 1, part 2), plus kick sleds for winter touring
First Pedalshift Meet up in New Jersey with the legendary PBJar Matt!
PBJar Matt

Five star reviews!


Thanks to all the reviewers! You rock!


The Pedalshift Project theme is America courtesy of Jason Kent off his self-titled solo album. Check out his band Sunfields‘ latest release, Habitat, wherever cool music resides. And a little birdy tells me Jason’s recording some new music. More when I know…


  1. Ethan says:

    Re: Amtrak roll-on service from NYC to Miami. I was initially super excited because I’ve been eyeing biking the Florida Keys. Then I did some research.

    I live in Albany NY, which is ~3 hours north of NYC. There’s no baggage service from Albany to NYC. So I’d have to find another way to get my bike to NYC. Such as drive. Bummer.

    NYC to Miami takes most of a weekend. For someone with a limited amount of vacation time, losing 4+ days getting to and from the trailhead is a bummer.

    One of those fancy sleeper cabins that everybody is raving about would run me $400 each way. Expensive. Bummer.

    Not sure this is something I can really take advantage of.

    • Tim Mooney says:

      Yeah definitely not ready for everyone’s use yet — the rollout is painfully slow compared to what was promised last year. It’s also not a way to save money or time… I’m using Amtrak rewards points for a trip in January to Florida and the time it takes to get down there from DC definitely eats up a day each direction (although overnight on the way down, which is nice).

      I think we can look forward to the Albany route getting the roll-aboard service at some indeterminate future date… that would be a way to get you out of town car-free to NYC or even Toronto (if I recall the routes correctly). That can widen your touring options or even just your range for weekend trips. For instance, my weekend trips could only range out 30 or so miles from DC, where I’d camp, then return. It doesn’t have the same fun vibe as going deeper down the C+O. Now I can ride further out, enjoy more time on the bike and then train back. Of course, this doesn’t help you til they add Albany’s routes, but at least it gives you the ability to consider a weekend tour further out (say, a couple day ride on the Erie Canalway west, then grabbing the train in Syracuse back).

      It’s by no means perfect, doesn’t help everyone, and could use a lot of expansion… but it’s something new to play with for sure!

  2. Ethan says:

    Re: weight limits on touring bikes. I’m 6′ 6″, roughly 200 pounds. I ride a 63cm steel touring bike. (Yeah I know good for me.) Here’s my thing: when you’re this tall (like David is) all of your clothes, your tent, your sleeping bag, all of it is just bigger. And bigger is heavier. Saying “cut down on your cooking supplies,” yeah, maybe, but for me a pair of shorts weighs more than my cook pot. See where I’m going with this? Pack lighter clothes, pack fewer clothes. This is something I’m still struggling with. Interesting challenge.

    • Tim Mooney says:

      Good point… I’m about the same weight but ahhhh… let’s just say not 6’6″ 😉 so I live in a different context. Thanks for sharing that!

      Shaving weight from gear is such a personal thing… we all have our favorite “heavy” piece of gear we know we can replace with something lighter, but for some reason we prefer it (the Green Dragon stove for me, for instance). If rolling heavy is the choice, a trailer is probably the best bet.

      Another option is to change up the touring style… we’ve been talking about this in the context of self-supported touring. That’s not the only option. Ride with others and split up the load? Organize a trip with a SAG wagon and a bunch of friends or family where the drive rotates once per day? Ride solor but leave most of the gear at home and hit restaurants and motels? Or, build up that touring bike so it can handle the load and go for it… lots of options, some pricier than others, some that come with compromises, but options galore!

  3. PBJ Matt says:


    It was fantastic to meet you, and I’m honored to come into possession of the bike that had been so prominently featured on the podcast!
    My two regrets are:
    1. I didn’t have you sign the bike frame.
    2. I didn’t have a ready to make pb jar of overnight oats to pose with and then pass along.
    I haven’t had much time to fiddle with the bike yet, but I will surely report back as soon as I do!

    Thanks again for traveling up and making the sale!


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