When you are away from home and riding your bike for more than a couple of weeks, you find that packing is a balance between comfort and excessive weighing down your bike. Often, I am surprised how much you don’t need to bring on a bike tour, especially one where the climate is fairly stable and warm as it was while I was in SE Asia for three months.

Pick components that are likely to last long, and not fail. If they do, pick components that are easy to repair or replace while you are touring. I don’t put things on my touring bike I cannot fix. Steel or aluminum? Some cyclists favor steel over aluminium for long-distance touring because it doesn’t flex as much as aluminium, and it is easier to find someone to weld your bike in a remote area. In reality, you won’t encounter this issue, especially if you are riding for a short period of time, so choose something you like. I like the idea of “bomb-proof,” tough tour bikes so I have a steel touring bike.

Frame/Fork Surly World Troller 4130 Chromoly steel with S&S couplers
I am constantly surprised by how many bike tourists don’t have a bike with S&S couplers, which allow you to break your bike in half to put in a suitcase and avoid airline buy azithromycin antibiotic fees. It takes about an hour for me to remove racks and fenders and finagle into a suitcase, and bit less time at the destination. Aside from couplers, the best part of the frame is its adaptability. It can run disk brakes or rim brakes and accommodate a decently sized tire, making it an economical choice as I think about future tours to more rugged areas where disk brakes and a suspension fork will be essential.
Crank with three chainrings — stock from Surly Long Haul Trucker*
Cassette SRAM 9 speed
Chain KMC Rust-Buster
Derailleurs — stock from LHT*
Handlebars Jones H-Bar Loop Aluminium 660
Brakes Tektro 857AL V-Brake
Brake Levers Avid FR-5 Lever Set Black
Shifters MicroShift XE Marvo Double/Triple 9 speed Trigger
Wheels 26-inch Shimano LX hubs and Alex DH19 rims
Tires Continental CONTACT Plus (formerly named Touring Plus)
Seatpost Surly stock
Saddle Terry Women’s Liberator X
Rear Rack Topeak Explorer aluminium
Front Rack Jandd Low Front Rack aluminium
Panniers Rear: Ortlieb Back-Roller Design; Front: Ortlieb Sport-Roller Classic
Fenders PlanetBike Cascadia aluminium 26”

Since I want to quickly reassemble my bike, I added “quick disconnects” to break my cables into two parts. The whole process of adding these to my bike was further complicated by Surly not having housing stops built into the frame, expecting you to run full housing. Why, Surly? Whyyyy? The reasoning is that you should remove the rear derailleur from the frame while stowing it away during transit, however, the risk of your derailleur hanger getting bent while flying is not that high if you pack it thoughtfully. And I do not have a bike stand in the places where I reassemble my bike so it is more difficult to adjust shifting upon arrival.
Ritchey Quick Disconnect – Derailleur (2)
Ritchey Quick Disconnect – Brake (1)
Cyclist Choice QBA967B Double Housing Stop 28.6mm (2)
Cyclist Choice QBA967A Single Housing Stop 31.8mm (1)

I also purchased a very nice Co-Motion Co-Pilot case to protect my bike and ensure it doesnt look too much like a bike case. Be warned: It is expensive. But worth it. After you pay for a bike frame with couplers and a case, the money you save on airline fees pays off after a few trips. Mine is one more roundtrip flight away from paying for itself!

*My old touring bike was a Surly Long Haul Trucker (complete) and I transferred the drivetrain components to the new frame. It didn’t work out. The front derailleur from the road-style frame doesn’t work on the mountain bike frame.

I overpacked. I will admit it was nice having three jerseys and three bike shorts because things don’t dry super fast in SE Asia, but it was a lot of clothing. The pants were necessary for visiting temples and the lightweight hiking version I packed did great in the heat. I ended up needing rain pants even though it was the non-rainy season because the weather in Vietnam is cooler and rainier than the rest of SE Asia. Additionally, I picked up a disposable rain poncho and used the water-resistant jacket for chilly mornings in the mountains. This is what I would pack if I were to tour SE Asia again December-March. No bike jerseys next tour. Instead of stashing essentials in a jersey pocket, I can use my handlebar bag to store them.

On-Bike Outfits
3 cycling shorts
2 wool t-shirts
Pearl Izumi capri
Lole capri
Sombrio mountain bike shorts
2-3 sports bras
3 socks
Outdoor Research water-resistant jacket
REI rain pants
Cycling cap
Giro gloves
Louis Garneau SPD shoes

Off-Bike Outfits
Columbia hiking pants
T-shirt or tank top
Prana dress
Adidas soccer shorts

Depending on where you are, not having spare parts or the proper tools could prove disasterous. I err on the cautious side, packing spare parts.

Allen key set
Multitool, including needle nose pliers
Chain lube
Spare chain
Chain checker Park Tool CC-2
Chain breaker
Thick grease (for seatpost, bolts, etc)
Tri flow
Mini pump
Flat kit
2 spare tubes
Folding tire(s) as spare(s) – This really depends on the availability of tires in your size where you are traveling
Spare brake pads
Spoke tool
2 spare spokes
Spare brake and derailleur cables
Spare bolts
Spare cleats
Rebel Wipes for cleaning bike easily / WetOnes for cleaning hands afterwards
Zip ties
Duct tape
Coupler wrench with pedal wrench
Coupler grease

Handlebar Bag Broad Fork Bags Banana Hammock
Computer Cateye Padrone wireless
Lights Cygolite Dash 350 front and rear
Phone Holder Topeak DryBag for iPhone 5
Water Bottle Purist 26 ounces
Water Bottle Cage Whatever cheap one the shop had
Bike Lock Kryptonite Keeper with two keys
Helmet Giro, lightweight
Cargo Net For strapping things to rack
Ankle Strap For pants

Small shower gel
Small shampoo
Travel pack tissues for the loo
Hand sanitizer
Chamois butter
Bug spray
Floss (can be hard to find and/or expensive in Asia)
Shaver with spare cartridges
Travel towel
Tampons (extremely difficult to find in Asia) and pads
Hair ties
Eyeglass cleaner/cloth
Nail clippers

Sony NEX-5T camera with 2 SD cards
Lenses: Sony 19 mm, 35 mm, telephoto 55-210
iPad Air 2
Belkin Ultimate Lite Keyboard Case
Outlet with two USB ports
Apple cord
Micro USB cord
Universal charger adapter
Camera case
Camera sleeves
Lens cleaner swabs
Headphones (2)
Headphone splitter
Phone battery pack
Speaker Boombotix Boombot Rex

Passport photos for visa
Photocopies of passport
Credit cards
Debit cards
USD for visas
First aid kit
Ibuprofen, anti diarrheal
Lock for hostels
Dry bags
Day pack
Sewing kit

Journal with pens
Electrolyte power – You can find it in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore

Side note: Every cycle tourist has their own way of packing, favorite brands, etc. I have great respect for my touring buddies and their gear choices. In the ideal world, you start with the basics and your touring bike/gear will evolve as you ride more, and further.

Changes for the next dream tour? Suspension fork with remote lock out, knobbier tires and disk brakes for touring in South America. See? I am still building my gear four years after my first bike tour!