Gear for the Tour D'Afrique

(Permitted by British Airways' baggage allowance.)


The bicycle I am taking has been custom built for the trip. In summer I went to Mosquito Bicycles to have my ideal frame geometry fitted. Shortly afterwards, they sent CAD drawings which I forwarded to XI'AN Changda Titanium Products Company Ltd. in China who, after much e-mail dialogue confirming drawings and amending measurements, fabricated a titanium cyclocross frame to my exact geometry. The whole process from being fitted to delivery of the frame took nearly three months. Ordering the components took several weeks worth of research and discussion over Skype with my (very patient) friend Phil.

See the Bikes page for the full specification of the Ti bike.

Luggage: From day to day we'll be carrying a lot of water, a spare tube, multitool, puncture repair kit, mini pump, camera and small first aid kit. Since the suspension seatpost doesn't like most saddle bags, I'm using a Topeak Touring Pannier Rack and an Altura Rack Bag which sits on top of the rack. Two bottle cages on the frame will store about 1.5 litres of water and a 2 litre Camelbak will supplement this.


Laptop: Up until last week, this was going to be my trusty IBM Thinkpad X31 (upon which most of this site was developed) but tragedy stuck and the hard drive ground to a halt (literally). In preference, I am taking a Samsung N140 netbook with an Intel Atom N270 processor. The manufacturer gives a battery life of 11 hours, and in practice I have gotten close to 8 or 9 hours. Since I will primarily be using it just for writing briefly as we travel, this should be perfectly sufficient.

Mobile Phone: An old Sony Ericsson K610i feature phone. The battery life isn't amazing but passable.

Smart Phone: A Sony Ericsson M600i. This will primarily be used to log data.

Navigational Aid: Garmin E-Trex Vista HCx GPS unit for location updating. Since no maps were available for the Africa region, I will be using converted map tiles from Open Street Map. In addition, I will attempt to tracklog the unmarked sections of road so that I can contribute back to the project. See the Tech section for a description of how I will use location data.

Heart Rate Monitor: A wonderfully ugly cheap heart rate monitor from Decathlon.

Cycle Computer: A cheap and cheerful wired Cateye V8 8 function cycle computer. Wired for reliability, stem mounted for style.

MP3 Player: Sandisk Sansa Fuze 8GB - not an iPod, and it allows me to plug in micro SDHC cards. Coupled with an 8 GB card and the ability to sideload music from my netbook, this should give me enough variety for the trip!

D-SLR: My trusty Samsung GX-10 (a clone of the Pentax K10D) accompanied by a 17-50mm Tamron lens, a good all round lens.

Compact Digital: A Fujifilm Finepix F200 EXR picked up in Singapore. It has a HUGE sensor so takes some astonishingly sharp photos at low light.


All of my gear has to fit into a locker sized 50cm x 65cm x 85cm.

Tent: Since we will be camping every night, a fairly hardwearing tent is desirable. I'll be using a Terra Nova Voyager tent, a large 2 person tent with a packed weight of just over 2 kilograms. Quite easy to pitch and they have good reviews. With a large groundsheet, just in case it is wet.

Sleeping Bag: 3/4 season Vango sleeping bag which carried me up to Everest Base Camp.

Sleeping Bag Liner: Silk sleeping bag liner from eBay. Bound to fall apart, but cheap.

Thermarest: Middle of the range Thermarest from Cotsworld Outdoors.

Bags: 2 x Mountain Equipment 70l duffle bags.

Cutlery: A bright blue plastic bowl, mug and plate set. With a knife, fork and spoon that all clip onto each other!

Headtorch: A cheap wind up headtorch and a more formidable battery operated headtorch. Plus, a cool hat which has LEDs built into the visor! (Courtesy of Tarpo Ltd, Kenya.)


Jerseys: 3 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve CUCC cycling jerseys. Hopefully their bright green colour will mean every motorist will see and be aware of me!

Shorts: 2 pairs of Endura Hummvee 3/4 length baggy shorts with 4 various pairs of padded cycling shortsto swap between.

Gloves: Specialized Body Geometry Gel

Shoes: Specialized Body Geometry Sport MTB Shoe. Brand new for the trip, hopefully they'll be comfortable.

Helmet: Specialized S-Works Helmet. Well worth the investment, and can barely feel it on my head.


Chains: A further two SRAM 1050 chains.

Chainrings: One spare 50 and one spare 34 tooth chainrings.

Cassette: One spare 12-25 Shimano 105 cassette.

Tubes: Lots - about 6 spare Schwalbe road tubes. In addition, I'll be carrying 4 puncture repair kits and 5 sets of sticky patch kits.

Seatpost: Specialized Pavé seatpost from another bicycle. Lightweight, carbon. Will probably use for the smoother sections.

Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Avatar Gel from another bicycle. With 'pressure relieving' sections.

Rim: Mavic Open Sport. If my wheel needs a new rim, I don't think the extra weight of the Open Sport will be that much of a concern!

Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Elita bottom bracket that came with the crankset. I'm hoping that the Hope bottom bracket will last the entire trip.

Gear Cables: Spare Dura Ace inner and outer cables.

Brake Cables: Spare Fibrax braided stainless steel cables.

Bolts: A whole load of various bolts - for holding the pannier rack and bottle cages on, to SPD pedal cleat bolts, to the leather tensioning bolt for Brooks' saddles.