I’m really pleased to be partnering with a small handful of bike and equipment outfits this year. In no particular order:
I’ve had a good working relationship with Kona since 2007, when they supported Andy and I on our early adventures with their steel Explosif mountain-bike frames. Since then, they’ve helped get a bike out to Armenia for Tenny, replaced a broken frame, and supplied a great training bike in the form of the Honky Tonk.
This year I’m taking their flagship expedition bike for a spin — a bike I’ve been wanting to try out for some time. Named the Sutra, you won’t find it on many ‘top touring bike’ lists, due to Kona’s slightly reclusive and leftfield position in the cycling world, but the Kona Sutra is a beautifully well-thought-out machine for all but the most extravagantly remote of tours.
Cascade Designs, based in Seattle, are responsible for some of the most well-respected brands in outdoor equipment; MSR, Therm-a-rest and Seal Line being three of them.
And Seal Line’s range of dry sacks have been keeping my gear safe from the endless rains of the Pacific North West, though I suspect that they’ll come into their own during another trip I have planned for later in 2012…
Despite incurring the wrath of the world’s more adventurous cycle-tourers by discontinuing the legendarily indestructible Marathon XR, Schwalbe have brought in a wider range of touring tyres, each specialising in one particular style of journey. Since I’m mainly spending 2012 on asphalt, I decided to take the fast and light Marathon Supremes (700x35C) for a spin.