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9 Hacks for Cycle Touring in Asia

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9 Hacks for Cycle Touring in Asia

Blair Coburn in Siem ReapBy Blair Coburn in Siem Reap   Posted 27th Jun 2017

1. Riding with Clipless MTB pedals and shoes

Adam Platt-hepworth

Riding with clipless pedals (shoes attached), can increase your efficiency, power, control and comfort on the bike which is great for touring, but it's very important to choose the right combination of pedal and shoe. Mountain bike specific pedals (like SPD, Crank Bros) offer durability, easy entry/exit and some movement in the pedal which can ease stress on your knees on rougher terrain.

Roadbike and some mountain bike racing shoes have very stiff soles and no tread for traction which can be dangerous when cycle touring as you are on and off the bike a lot. Make sure that your clipless compatible shoes have ample tread that provide grip and a little flex in the sole which means that you can comfortably walk around off the bike without looking like a baby deer on ice skates, making photo stops and sightseeing a far nicer experience.

If this is your first time using clipless pedals, please practice cycling with them, clipping in and out before the tour, saving you from the embarrassing stationary falls that we have all experienced!

Grasshopper: Adam Platt Hepworth (CEO)

Favourite Tour: All of them

It helps if you can walk comfortably while exploring remote temples - Photo: Northern Cambodia

2. Sun Protector Sleeves

Mr Heang

Our Guide Heang recommends riding with sun sleeves, these sleeves protect your arms from the sun and actually have a cooling effect on your arms as they wick away sweat. Saving you applying sunscreen multiple times a day. There is nothing worse than re-applying sunscreen mid-day to then have sweat and dust stick to your arms. Cambodia has some beautiful red, hard-pack, dirt roads, although we all love to ride them, at certain times of year they can get dusty.

Grasshopper: Mr Heang, (Guide, Cambodia)

Favorite Tour: Cycle Angkor to the Sea


Sleeves as sun protection are more effective than sunscreen - Photo: Silk Islands, Cambodia

3. Windproof Vest (Gilet)


Laos can be hot, hilly and subject to tropical downpours. You find that 2 minutes after putting on a waterproof jacket that you are wetter inside than out, due to the humidity and hard cycling. Windproof vests made of water resistant materials are lighter, more packable and cheaper than jackets…and more breathable (armless)! They keep the heavy rain off of your core yet let your arms get wet and be cooled by the rain. Usually they have a mesh back that helps you cool down and are perfect for the mountains of Laos, providing the perfect balance of weather protection and temperature.

Grasshopper: Touy (Guide & Operations, Laos)

Favourite Tour: Mountains Of Laos


Temperatures can change quickly in mountains of Northern Laos

4. Microfibre Neck Tube

These light-weight neck tubes are incredibly versatile. This was demonstrated best in China. Our “Spiritual Shangri La” tour starts up in the Tibetan foothills of Shangri La where temperatures can get quite chilly. Wearing one of these tubes helps keep you warm by keeping wind off of your neck and face (when pulled up over your nose). In some of the busy cities dust can be a problem and this item made great dust mask. In the southern lowlands the neck tube came into use again keeping the sun from burning your neck and wicking away sweat in a cooling action. They can also be worn under the helmet to help absorb sweat.

Grasshopper: Tim (Guide, China)

Favourite Tour: Spiritual Shangri La


Neck tubes were very handy touring in China's varying conditions - Photo: Yunnan Province

5. Wear Over-shorts

As cyclists we all think it is normal to wear lycra…but we may be the only ones not embarrassed! Some remote villages in Myanmar are more conservative than others. The last thing that we would want to do is shock or disrespect anyone, especially in one of the many beautiful temples and pagodas on tour. Wearing some light over shorts also adds a few handy pockets. Alternatively if you prefer to ride in aerodynamic, lycra only, use lightweight running shorts that can be packed down small and be stored in your jersey pocket for when needed.

Grasshopper: Nay Thway (Guide Leader, Myanmar)

Favourite Tour: Inle, Bagan & The Irrawaddy


Loose shorts over bike shorts are recommended while touring more conservative rural areas or temples - Photo: Inle Lake, Myanmar

6. Cotton Wool in Uzbekistan


Cycling through the arid scrubland at the edge of the Great Steppe, thorns are unavoidable, and punctures inevitable! Changing tubes is the easy part, but sometimes finding the malevolent thorn in the tire can be very difficult. Our local mountain guide who solely rides these spiky hills, showed me a neat trick. Using a piece of cotton wool (pinched from the hotel bathroom), he ran the cotton ball along the inside of the tire, where light strands of cotton caught on the almost invisible thorn, highlighting it to be removed.

Grasshopper: Maksim (Mountain Guide, Uzbekistan)

Favorite Tour: Uz-Biking-Stan

Cotten is great for locating thorns in tires - Photo: Mongolia

7. Ziplock Bags


Across all of our tours we provide you with Ziplock bags. These simple items are just the right size to store your wallet or phone or camera (or a combination of these) and be stored in your cycle jersey pocket. Being re-sealable keeps the dust and dirt out and makes them waterproof, but more importantly “sweat proof”, stopping your valuables getting ruined while riding in hot, wet, dusty, conditions.


Grasshopper: Chakrya, (Operations, Cambodia)

Favourite Tour: Slow Road to Angkor


Ziplock bags are handy in sudden showers - Photo: Touring Thailand/Cambodia

8. Power-bank


We all love taking photos on tour and these days the quality of the camera on your phone makes it the most used item for the job. The problem with that is mobile devices have multiple jobs and short battery lives. So making sure that you have battery is very important. Packing a small powerbank with you on tour means that you can charge your device while away from a power source in the middle of the day, or in remote locations or during a power cut (known to happen in South East Asia).

Grasshopper: Nguyen (Guide, Vietnam)

Favourite tour: Hill Tribes of the Ha Giang



Don't miss a fantastic shot by running out of battery! - Photo: North Central Vietnam

9. Handlebar Bags

Handlebar bags are great for lightweight touring - Photo: Sri Lanka

Nishan (Guide & Naturalist, Sri Lanka)

We provide handlebar bags for all of our guests on tour. Some customers choose not to use them, which is not a problem, but while cycling on our Cycle Serendib tour across Sri Lanka, we see a lot of wildlife. Being “wild” the animals do not usually hang around posing for long, especially when they catch an eyeful of brightly colored lycra! So having your camera nearby is the only way of capturing those magical, fleeting moments… and prove that you really did see that Leopard!

Grasshopper: Nishan (Guide & Naturalist, Sri Lanka)

Favourite Tour: Cycle Serendib



Lightweight touring with handlebar bags is comfortable in this spectacular terrain - Photo: Sri Lanka tea plantations

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