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Old 2 Jun 2004
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Bicycle on roofrack

Hi everybody,

in a couple of months we'll be leaving on an overland trip through Africa. We'll be driving a Mercedes van with a roofrack, and lately i've been thinking about putting a bicycle on the roofrack. However, i keep doubting if this is a good or just plain stupid idea...
I've always liked the idea of travelling light and taking an additional bicycle may be over the top, i guess it could also be quite dangerous driving a bicycle in the african traffic, and i wonder how nice it actually is to cycle in Africa. I don't want to end up with a bicycle on the roof which i never use.
On the other hand i can think of tracks which are not possible by car but could be managable by bike, maybe some area's can be visited conveniently by bike. When i worked in Sudan a couple of years ago i was quite happy to have a bicycle at hands.
Any thoughts from experienced overlanders? Would the bike just turn out to be on the roofrack for 95% of the time, driving up my fuel consumption, or could it be a valuable piece of equipment?
All advice is welcome...

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Old 3 Jun 2004
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On the assumption that we are talking about a push bike and not a motorcycle then a) the weight will be insignificant, b) its unlikely to do much to your fuel consumption, the only time its likely to have any affect is a high speed on a motorway so once into Africa you aren't going to have that problem. c) Providing its strapped on properly its shouldn't have any affect on safety, just wait until you see some of the african vehicles with goods stacked metres high onto the top of vans and trucks that weren't meant to carry weight on their roof. d) you could use it alot or a little, really depends on you.
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Old 7 Jun 2004
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We took two bicycles from London to Sydney and hardly used them at all - between eight of us!

But, we're not (evidently!!) great bikers.

If you have the space, the weight issue is pretty moot - take it - whilst camped you can cycle to the local shops etc, or up the local hillside rather than driving...


PS They got trashed anyway - so don't take a smart one!
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Old 8 Jun 2004
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If Ive taken a bike away with me and stowed it on the rack it has sat up there for 90% of the time and interfered with me getting anything else off the rack. In fact with two bikes on the top and also gear stowed there at the same time it can be a bl**dy pain!!!!

I am seriously thinking of getting a rear tyre bike rack now but only for places where the bikes (or their parts) wont get nicked.

Mind you when Ive been away in remote areas Ive often wished for either a trailbike or mountain bike to recce potential routes, and when that option has been there it's been great. Either way has advantages.
'91 LR 110 Def/Disco hybrid "Elsa"
Bring me the horizon....
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Old 20 Jun 2004
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Bikes are great for travelling around Europe, as you can park up in town then do all your exploring on your bike, its by far the best way of sight seeing, but for use in Africa, I really don`t know if it`d be worth the effort unless your big on mountain biking. The drivers there certainly wont treat you with the same respect as they do over here in Europe.

Col Campbell
An aussie escaped from london, now in Dubai.
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Old 7 Jul 2004
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We are just entering the same discussions re taking bikes on our trip. We've come to the same conclusions re biking in Europe, i.e. there are plenty of great bike routes and cycling round towns would be more fun than in a landy.

In Africa I've had a bike in a series of places, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Mozambique and generally it's been great fun.

Obviously it's a rare traveller who'll be taking anything to Somalia and I just used mine whilst working there. Ethiopia was difficult as kids threw alot of stones and were generally a pain in the arse (and I was working for Save the kids then!!!), but in Moz and Zim, it was fantastic and a great way to be less obtrusive in visiting a country.

The low impact arguement is thus a strong one, it's a very different introduction cycling in to a village, than turning up in a fully laden 4 x 4.

But also for us it's also an opportunity to guarantee some decent exercise. I've done quite a few car journeys for work in Africa, but this is my first private long haul trip by car, and one of my fears is ending up with a huge drivers curve, front and back...that is more than I already have.

To be honest I'm looking forward to parking up the bike and, for example taking off for a few days and cycling along the R. Niger, and then possibly taking a ferry back to pick up the car.

Anyway, good luck.

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