This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be making this week (and this week only) that’ll be sure please all the touring gear nerds out there. It’s based on a thorough scouring of the world’s biggest bicycle industry tradeshow, Eurobike, in search of anything and everything related to our favourite cycling niche: touring and adventure.
The major theme of 2014’s Eurobike exhibition was electric-assist bikes, e‑bikes, pedalecs, whatever you want to call them. Bikes with electric motors.
E‑bikes, of course, have no obvious practical application in the field of cycle touring (though I’m sure someone will prove me wrong). So it was nice to see, despite this emphasis, a proper long-haul touring bike winning one of the coveted Eurobike Awards this year.
Specifically, it was Austrian manufacturer KTM’s Life Lontano P18 world tourer that caught the jury’s eye:
“The Life Lontano includes absolutely everything required for a major trip round the world by bike without losing itself in any superfluous gimmicks. Furthermore, the KTM is proof that design is possible even in highly function-driven travel bikes.”
A quick glance at the KTM shows that the usual considerations for a world tourer had been taken into account for the Life Lontano P18: a reinforced, long-wheelbase CroMo frame and forks with a stable and relatively upright geometry, top-end Tubus racks front and rear, wide Schwalbe Marathon tyres, quality wheels and mudguards, and a Brooks B17 saddle.
Closer inspection also revealed the highly-regarded Schmidt SON 28 generator hub up front, already hooked up to front and rear LED lighting (as you’ll often see on bikes of Northern or Central European heritage), and a rear kickstand designed into the frameset rather than bolted on as an afterthought.
But it’s in the drivetrain department that the Life Lontano P18 stood out, the frame having been specially designed to incorporate the Pinion 18-speed internal gearing system, with an increasingly popular belt-drive system pulling the power through.
(In case you haven’t heard of Pinion, I’ll return to it specifically later this week. I saw it on numerous bikes and it’s clearly here to stay, perhaps the first real competitor for the ubiquitous Rohlhoff Speedhub.)
Hydraulic disc brakes and 700c wheels might deter some from taking this seriously as a world tourer — not to mention the as-yet-unproven long-term reliability of Pinion. Having said that, it’s only a matter of time before some sponsored round-the-worlder puts it through its paces.
I sought the opportunity to test-ride it briefly, and on first impressions it’s lovely — of course — though I’d change out the bar-ends in a flash.
The RRP for the KTM Life Lontano P18 will be a quite bargainous 3,399 EUR, which (it’s always worth mentioning) is more than enough to cycle a lap of the planet on a much crapper bike.
It’s so new it isn’t even on KTM’s website yet, but look out for it as 2015’s bike lines roll out later in the year.
The bike will also be available as the Life Lontano XT, cutting the list price down to 1,899 EUR by employing a Shimano XT mountain-bike drivetrain in place of the Pinion.