Bicycle Adventures: Important information before a bicycle trip


Cycling Adventures Await! Discover why a bike expedition is not just a journey, but also an active getaway exploring new places. Get prepared with panniers, maps, GPS, fitness, and formalities. See why Extrawheel gear is a must-have on your route!

Bike Adventures: Important Information Before Your Trip

When we think of bike trips, as enthusiasts of this extraordinary mode of transportation, we don't have to pack suitcases or stand in long airport lines. Our bicycle is not just a means of transportation; it's a companion of adventures that opens the door to unforgettable experiences. Do you dream of camping under the stars after a day full of challenges on two wheels? This is exactly what bike trips offer to enthusiasts.

Why Choose a Bike Trip?

Biking is much more than just getting from point A to point B. It's a way to have direct contact with nature, to explore new places and cultures actively. There's nothing more satisfying than reaching the summit of a mountain with your own pedal power after a tough climb. Bike trips are also more budget-friendly compared to traditional vacations involving hotels and car rentals.

During bike trips, you can explore the world at your own pace. It's not just about traveling; it's also about active leisure. Every kilometer covered on a bike is not only a healthy physical activity but also an opportunity to observe nature, meet new people, and discover distant places. It's something you won't get on an airplane or in an air-conditioned car.

Planning the Route:

When planning a bike trip, it's a good idea to start by defining your goal. Do you want to cover a specific distance, conquer a particular peak, or explore a specific route? Your goal will affect the entire route planning process. When going on a bike trip, you also need to prepare your equipment properly. The right bike, tent, sleeping bag, and stove are essential items for the journey.

Next, consider the route. When embarking on a bike trip, it's worth looking for interesting routes and places on the map. Route planning is not just about choosing the fastest way; it's also about discovering hidden treasures along the way. Mountain trails, picturesque country roads, or rough paths – the choice depends on your taste and biking skills.

Maps and GPS:

During bike trips, maps prove to be invaluable. Detailed maps of the regions you plan to pass through will help you find suitable routes and places to stay. It's a good idea to mark not only the main goals of your trip on the map but also potential camping spots or interesting tourist attractions.

In today's digital age, smartphones with GPS functionality are extremely helpful for navigation. You can install special cycling navigation apps that help you track your route and progress. It's also a way to save energy because you don't need to carry many paper maps with you.

Preparation and Formalities:

Before embarking on an unforgettable bike journey, there are many things to consider. Preparing for a bike trip involves not only taking care of your equipment but also your health and travel-related formalities.

The first important step is to take care of your health and fitness before the trip. Riding a bike is not the best idea when you are sick or undergoing treatment. It's also a good idea to find out if you are traveling to a country with a higher risk of tropical diseases (mainly Central Africa) and whether mandatory vaccinations are required. If you have any doubts, it's always worth consulting your primary care physician.

Another crucial aspect is physical preparation. Before your trip, take several longer rides to acclimate your body to the full day of exertion. This practice will also allow you to test all the equipment that will accompany you during the trip. Remember to bring only trusted gear that you are familiar with.

It's also essential to deal with travel formalities. If you plan to travel outside your country or outside Europe, you need to take care of the necessary documents, permits, and insurance in case of accidents, illnesses, or theft. An identity card or passport are mandatory documents that should not fail you.

When traveling within Europe, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is the basic health insurance. However, in practice, it may be different, so it's worth considering purchasing comprehensive travel insurance. Such insurance covers the costs of treatment abroad, the consequences of accidents, mountain rescue, and travel baggage insurance.

If you plan to travel to countries requiring visas, such as Belarus, the USA, India, or China, remember to arrange all formalities several months before your departure. The same applies to airline tickets – book them in advance to save on travel costs.

Bicycle: An Essential and Most Important Part of the Journey

Once you have taken care of your health, formalities, and necessary documents, it's time to choose the right bike for your bike adventure. The choice of a bike depends on the route you plan to cover. If you will mainly ride on asphalt, a trekking bike is a better choice. However, for gravel, mountain trails, and off-road adventures, a mountain bike with a suspension fork is ideal.

Regardless of the type of bike, pay attention to the tires. Tires with a thick anti-puncture layer are currently popular and perform well on various types of roads.

A typical expedition bike should have:

  • A rear rack for bike panniers.
  • If you need more loading capacity, a front rack for additional front panniers, or when you need even more cargo space, you can also use rear bike panniers.
  • Front white and rear red lights and reflectors.
  • Mudguards.
  • Adjustable handlebars in multiple planes.
  • Handlebar extensions (allowing different hand positions).
  • Comfortable saddle, e.g., a touring saddle.
  • A cover for the front chainrings or a full chain guard.
  • A bike computer.

Bike Bags: Faithful Companions During Expeditions

During my bicycle journeys, I rely on Polish Extrawheel bike bags, which unquestionably become indispensable travel companions. Especially during extreme adventures, such as my solo ride through South America, my Extrawheel panniers were worth their weight in gold. At that time, I used the Wayfarer 2x25L model on the rear rack and the Rambler 2x12.5L panniers on the front rack. These panniers handled extreme conditions exceptionally well, especially in the Andes.

Currently, I am using Extrawheel Biker 4x25L panniers, and the choice depends on the specific expedition and the required cargo space. If necessary, I take one set of panniers for the rear rack, or if needed, a second set for the front rack. These panniers are not only incredibly spacious but also effectively protect their contents from getting wet, even during prolonged and intense rain.

The attachment of the panniers can be adjusted depending on the version or they have fixed handles, but in any case, they fit various types of racks, making them versatile and easy to use. The materials used for these panniers, such as Cordura and polyester, ensure their durability and longevity. Even in the event of pannier damage during an expedition, you can quickly and effectively patch them up using self-adhesive patches, stickers, or patches.

While there are cheaper models of bicycle panniers that can be customized to your needs, it's worth noting that Extrawheel panniers stand out for their exceptional resistance to rain and UV conditions, the material doesn't deteriorate, and they still look like new after cleaning. In cheaper pannier models, it's also worth considering using waterproof covers, but if you prioritize protecting your contents from rain, there's no better option than Extrawheel panniers. They are top-tier bicycle panniers on the global market.

The choice of the right panniers can always be challenging. It becomes particularly tricky when deciding between panniers made of Cordura or polyester materials. That's why it's worth using our guide on how to choose panniers, get to know the differences, and select a solution perfectly tailored to your needs!

Handlebar Bags: Practical Addition During Bike Travel

A handlebar bag is an indispensable item during a bike journey. Personally, I use the Polish Extrawheel Handy XL bag with a capacity of 7.5 liters. I opted for the larger model, but the smaller Handy 5L version is also available. The Extrawheel Handy bag has been my companion for many years and has proven its reliability in challenging conditions.

This bike bag is known for its stability and waterproofness, which are crucial aspects during bike travel. It features a practical zippered pocket inside that allows for organized storage of small items. Additionally, the bag can be easily opened and closed with one hand thanks to the snap-lock closure. The handle or yoke of the Handy bag is secured with an additional strap, ensuring safety while riding.

Another useful feature is the ability to detach the bag with one hand and a comfortable carrying strap. This means that when you need to go shopping or stop at a restaurant, you can take the essentials with you while leaving your bike outside.

In the handlebar bag, in addition to key documents, wallet, phone, or camera, you can also store other essential items that you want to have at your fingertips during your bike journey.

Extrawheel Bicycle Trailer, the Third Wheel: A Sturdy Partner for Long Trips

Currently, the most popular bicycle trailer on the market is produced by the Polish manufacturer Extrawheel. It is the smallest and lightest trailer on which you can hang bike panniers from most manufacturers. The Extrawheel trailer offers dedicated Nomad 2x35L bags as well as huge Classic 100L bags, both providing the excellent quality and durability that we expect from bike panniers.

A bicycle trailer is not only additional cargo space but also significantly reduces the weight on the rear wheel of the bike, which affects riding comfort. However, a bicycle trailer is not just additional cargo space. It can be invaluable in case of problems on the road, allowing you to use a spare wheel or its parts. In the case of the Brave trailer, the wheel has a dynamo hub, which means the trailer can act as a small power station, supplying power to electronic devices.

If you need additional cargo space instead of a trailer with large bike panniers on the bike rack, a simple solution is to place a transport bag on the rear bike rack. Extrawheel offers Sailor transport bags, which work perfectly for storing items such as a tent or sleeping pad. With these bags, after a rainy night, your items will be separated from wet elements.

In summary, Extrawheel bike panniers, the Handy handlebar bag, and the Extrawheel bicycle trailer are three key components of my equipment during long-distance and challenging bike adventures. Thanks to them, I am ready for any adventure and can enjoy the journey knowing that my belongings are safe and dry, and my bike and Extrawheel trailer are prepared for any challenge.

Fenders: Essential for Rainy Riding

Fenders are a crucial component, especially when cycling in the rain and after rain. They allow you to continue your journey on wet surfaces without worrying about getting splashed from the wheels. Even after rain showers, when it stops raining, fenders enable you to stay in the saddle all day without the need to stop and dry off.

Bicycle Lights: Safety Comes First

For your own safety, it's worthwhile to equip your bicycle with lights. I recommend small LED lights, such as Frog models, which are not only affordable but also lightweight. These lights come in handy, especially when riding in the rain, at night when searching for accommodations, or even when passing through mountain tunnels. In some countries, bicycle lights are a mandatory piece of equipment, so it's not worth taking any risks.

Kickstand: Stability During Breaks

Propping up your bicycle during stops or longer breaks can be a bit challenging. Some cyclists skip using a kickstand and lean their bikes against various obstacles. However, a loaded touring bike can easily tip over, especially in light wind or on uneven terrain. Therefore, it's worth investing in an adjustable-length kickstand, which may be a bit heavier but provides stability even in challenging conditions.

Pre-Expedition Bicycle Service: The Key to Trouble-Free Travel

Before embarking on any longer journey, it's essential to perform a thorough bicycle service. Proper functioning and lack of breakdowns are the keys to a successful trip. Equipment issues can spoil the joy of riding and lead to unplanned stops. Repairs and the replacement of bicycle parts abroad can often be costly and time-consuming, so it's better to take care of your bike before the trip. By inspecting and lubricating bicycle components such as the chain, cassette, bottom bracket, derailleurs, brakes, and tires, you can avoid many troubles along the way.

Taking and Using a Bicycle Helmet on Trips: Protection on the Road

A bicycle helmet is an incredibly important piece of equipment that can save your life in the event of an accident. During long bicycle trips, many travelers downplay this aspect and do not bring a helmet along. However, on longer routes, especially during fast descents, a helmet is absolutely essential. A bike with luggage behaves differently in challenging conditions, so head protection is crucial. You can easily attach a helmet to your bike, luggage, or stow it in a pannier or transport bag. In some countries, wearing a bicycle helmet is mandatory, so it's best to be prepared.

Listening to Music While Riding: Entertainment on Long Stretches

Listening to music while cycling can be a pleasant addition, especially on long and monotonous stretches of the route. Favorite tunes can help you maintain a steady riding rhythm and increase travel comfort. However, safety should always come first. In places with heavy traffic or in conditions where extra caution is required, it's advisable to turn off the music to ensure you can hear your surroundings.

Bicycle Computer with Altimeter: Assistance in the Mountains

A bicycle computer is a useful tool that not only provides information about your current speed, ride time, and distance covered but can also be equipped with an altimeter. In the mountains, elevation differences matter, so knowing your altitude above sea level can be invaluable. This information allows you to calculate how many meters you have left to climb or what elevation you will reach at the summit.

Spare Batteries: Avoid Unexpected Failures

Before setting out, it's always a good idea to replace the batteries in your bicycle computer and carry spare batteries with you. This way, you can avoid unexpected equipment failures on the road and ensure you can make full use of your computer's features.

SPD Pedals on the Trip: Comfort and Efficiency

Using SPD shoes and pedals can enhance riding comfort and efficiency. This solution is particularly popular among long-distance cyclists. It provides stability to your foot and better power transmission to the pedals. However, it's important to ensure the cleats are properly adjusted in the shoes to avoid numbness in your feet during long rides.

Expedition Engineer: Support from Home

During longer, solo expeditions, it's valuable to have a trusted person back home who can assist in case of problems on the road. This person can help with booking public transport tickets, finding accommodations, or contacting the Polish embassy abroad if necessary. Before departure, it's a good idea to provide them with your expedition plan, contact information, and essential details.

(Non) Safety: Caution on the Road

Road-related dangers mainly stem from traffic situations. However, solo travelers can also become targets for equipment theft. Therefore, it's a good idea to bring bicycle locks with you to secure your bike against theft. While riding, always exercise caution.


Preparing for a bicycle expedition is a multifaceted process that requires attention to many aspects, proper equipment, and care for your gear are key to successful bicycle journeys. Safety, comfort, and riding efficiency depend on various factors, and meticulous control of your bike's condition and proper preparation are crucial.

Thanks to this, you can enjoy beautiful landscapes along the route, set new records, and explore the world on two (sometimes three) wheels, with the confidence that your bicycle and equipment are ready for any challenge. Because bicycle expeditions are not just trips; they are true adventures. Connecting with nature, discovering new places and cultures, active relaxation, and personal growth are just some of the benefits of traveling by bike. When planning your next expedition, remember to prepare adequately, use maps and GPS to help you succeed on your journey. Are you ready for a cycling adventure? Hop on your bike and venture into the unknown!

Damian Drobyk

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