I'm touring with this awesome new custom-made Chebici bike. And by “custom” I mean the frame is built specifically to my body dimensions, to ensure an ergonomic riding position.
It's a Chebici bike, built by the owner Vesa Rauttu. He is quite a character - 69 years old and still building some of the best custom bicycles around. He strives to create the best possible build for each individual, so that the bike is made to last. He doesn't hold with today's common attitude of making products as cheaply as possible, to be discarded as rubbish when something inevitably breaks. This culture of disposable goods is a wasteful drain on our resources, and both manufacturers and us consumers are responsible for upholding it.
I met him in 2015 when I needed to replace a rear tire while touring. By a friend's recommendation, I visited his shop. We got to talking and he pointed out some issues with my riding position (arms and back too straight, wrists too bent, saddle too high). He spoke in length about the anatomy of riding and the problems that could occur in the long-term from incorrect ergonomics. Quickly impressed by his knowledge and skills, I brought up my round-the-world dream and needing a bicycle for the trip. Soon enough, he took my physical measurements on an adjustable bike contraption where he can set the perfect tube lengths and handlebar distances. And after some months of discussion and planning, he designed this unique frame specifically for me.
The frame is the most important part of a bicycle. It's like the foundation of a house, it needs to be solid and well-made. It's made of steel, as with most touring bikes, where durability is very important. All other components need to be high quality, but without using fancy high-tech solutions. If something breaks in a third world country, you don't want to be stuck for a month waiting for spare parts to be shipped from Germany. It's much better to favour standard sizes and solutions.
- Shimano disc brakes
- Mavic Crossone 28" wheels
- 2" (50mm) Vittoria Randonneur tires
- 11-speed cassette
- Tiagra triple brifters
- Shimano M324 combo pedals
- Shimano Alivio crankset
- Selle SMP Extra Gel saddle
The marked improvements compared to my old bicycle:
- Wider tires. I used to tour on 32mm ones, and going off asphalt was never a pleasant experience. Hopefully these tires will present a smoother ride on uneven surfaces.
- Brake-shifters. My old bar end shifters were okay, and it's nice to see with a quick glance what gear I'm on. But I don't feel safe in traffic while constantly taking one hand off the handlebar. And I'd like to be able to shift gears while standing in steep uphills.
- The Selle SMP. This saddle replaces my old Brooks, which is relatively high maintenance, too slippery, and simply not comfortable enough even after 10000 kilometers.
- And of course the hugely important frame dimensions.
Some photos of the bike in its natural habitat: