Our route will take us through a huge variety of environments and terrains; weaving our way through the Takla Makan desert, across many open and windswept steppes, and over 4000+ m passes. The high load capacity (and concomitant low gearing) of the Quike will allow us to travel long times and distances on terrain unsuitable for motor vehicles or ordinary bikes.
Due to the nature of this trip, Quikey has been built to carry loads up to 200 kg, as we are expecting to endure week-long stints without water or food access. A huge range of adaptable spare parts and repair gear will have to be carried on-board, thus making sure we are able to fix whatever problems we may encounter during our 12 month journey. The constantly changing terrain and weather means a large range of suitable clothing and hardware will also need to be carried, to allow us to adapt to whatever situations we may encounter.
Quikey will be unique in that it will have a removable protective shell enclosing it. Many other bike expeditions have encountered problems of frostbite and hypothermia due to being exposed to the elements whilst riding. Although we are not expecting a great aerodynamic advantage from our shell, it should provide us the shelter we need to avoid having to completely stop and set up a base camp, without risking hypothermia.
There are a few core characteristics of the Quike that make it the ideal vehicle for the Steppe by Steppe journey.
- Having four wheels means that you don't have to balance on those steep, rocky inclines. It also means we won't wipeout on slippery surfaces.
- The Rohloff and Schlumpf combination ensures that all our gearing is internal and protected from the elements, and we can switch to any gear instantaneously whilst stationary. Oh, and it also means a gear range of 1300%.
- Despite not being the first choice for remote cycling touring, BIG hydraulic brakes are a safety measure for our massive load.
- A Cro-moly frame will be easier to repair in remote areas, should the need arise
- We decided on 26" wheels as they are the most universal rim size (so we can find spares in Tajikistan), and we can get the best, toughest downhill tyres and rims in that size too.
- Placing the Rohloff at mid-drive means we aren't using it as a hub and can go super-strong, super-simple for our rear wheels. It also gives us better chain clearance.
- Although the cycle tourer generally tries to avoid this, the four-wheel arrangement gives us an unbelievable amount of luggage space (maybe not such a good idea!!).
- The recumbent seating position is oh-so cruisy.
- We chose to have the LH driver as steerer, since most countries we'll be visiting drive on the right side of the road.
Of course, making these selections does mean trade-offs and compromises in regard to vehicle weight, and possibly for doing remote repairs on the more specialised equipment (eg. Rohloff, Schlumpf, suspension forks, hydraulics) that is supposed to never fail...
Only time can tell whether we have made the right decisions...
So far, the design & construction process (as guided by the great Paul Sims) has been quite successful and a lot of fun.
If you're that intrigued, here's a list of specifications for the Quike.