Before thinking about this trip I didn’t have a touring bike because I had just made do with my steel fixed gear bike that would take a rack. It did mean zigzagging up any particularly steep hills and the bike wasn’t very stable as all the weight was over the rear wheel due to the lack of front rack. I’m also able to carry a one man tent on my aluminium Ribble, but luggage space is limited. For a nine month trip I decided I needed a bike with gears that would be more suited to carrying luggage.
Good off the peg options seemed to be the Surly Long Hurl Trucker, Salsa Vaya or Kona Sutra. However, they all had things I would want to upgrade before heading off for nine months, such as the wheels, saddle, racks and mudguards. I then made a visit to Paul Hewitt in Leyland, Lancashire. They offer two touring frames, the Cheviot or the Cheviot SE. They both have the the same geometry, but the SE is a step up as it’s made from Reyolds 725 tubing rather than 631. They are both off the peg frames, but then fitted to the rider by Paul Hewitt and all the components can be customised for the individual.
I mulled it over and decided to get a Cheviot SE. I visited the shop again for a bike fit and at the same time decided on options like wheel specs, gear ratios, brake types (I’d planned on getting discs, but for various reasons Paul convinced me to stick with rim brakes), the number of bottle cages, gear shifters, rack types, kick stand. This was more expensive than an off the peg bike, but as it meant I didn’t need to start spending money on upgrading any of the components it actually made a lot of financial sense.
This is what I opted for:
- Hewitt Cheviot SE frame
- Hewitt hand built 36 spoke wheels, Rigida Sputnik rims, Shimano XT hubs (same spec as Philippa’s wheels)
- Shimano XT rear mech
- Shimano XT triple front mech
- Deore 26 / 36 / 48 chainset
Shimano XT cassette 11 – 34 (lowest gear is 20″, opposed to ~65″ on my fixed gear bike!)
- Tubus Logo rear and Duo front racks (to match Philippa’s racks)
- Tektro CR720 Cyclocross Cantilever brakes
- SKS mudguards
The lugwork on the frame is beautiful.