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Overland Bicycle Travel Overlanding questions for two wheels, no motor!
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  #1  
Old 4 Apr 2011
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Buy a bike in China and cycle to Pakistan

hi folks

I am an old hand at overland motorcycling but new to bicycling

My plan is to fly to China...and by a local pushbike and travel thru tibet to pakistan......sounds like adventure to me

Can i have some advice on what sort of bicycle to buy...how much it might cost and how long it may last....

Im not going to plan too much, and will live in my tent and cook my own grub most of the time as im nearly broke but thirsty for adventure

Whats the minimum daily cost i might have to consider???

Also if you have any general advice that would be great too....

Thanks.....Tim
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Old 5 Apr 2011
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I have no advice on what type of bike to buy in China but did my first overland cycle trip last year after years of motorcycle travel and enjoyed it immensely, your trip sounds like a great idea, good luck.
Remember you have to get the Pakistan visa in your home country before you leave, beautiful country.
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Old 18 May 2011
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Hi Tim, I did a lesser version of what you're planning a couple of years ago - flew into Kashgar, met a mate, collected a used bike I bought online and cycled down the KKH and on to Chitral. (see this post).

If you have read the ACTH book (like AMH) you may know of the local Flying Pigeon brand, but I suspect a 'ride-to-the-factory' bike like that will not hack a Tibet trip without a lot of 'interruptions'.
Another thing to know is even though many MTBs like Giant are made in China, only the better spec ones (+ Taiwanese) get exported to our rich markets. Locals get lesser spec'd machines with cheapo components. That wont last either across Tibet.

The bike I bought - an ex-rental 'local' Specialized was $200 but only the frame was worth bringing home by the end of that short trip. I brought my own saddle, decent rack, pans and tyres. Local stuff would not have hacked it.

One more thing, AFAIK, the G219 Lhasa-Kashgar road which you would take to get to Pakistan from Tibet requires an expensive escort. Extremely hardcore riders do do it solo, but it requires carrying weeks of food, evading checkpoints at night, wild dogs and of course 4500m+ for weeks.

As Mark says it's great way to go, though unless things have changed, unlike other Pak borders you can get a visa at Sost on the KKH coming in from Tashkurgan (in the mandatory van).
There's the Attabad Lake to deal with too (not prob on a pushbike), but other than that I get a feeling that anywhere in lowland Pakistan, you will be police escorted border-to-border as things currently stand, so make the most of the fabulous northeast; it's another country.

Picture is of a Giant dealer in Kashgar. Plenty on the racks but another thing to consider is that most Chinese are smaller than me at 6' 1", so if you're tallish too, you may find your frame size is not readily in stock or even available. I bought a local bike rented to foreigners.

Me, I would by a quality, little-used MTB here for £3-400, get decent tyres and luggage/rack (another £150) and fly wherever you like. You wont exceed 25kg. The only reason i bought local is that at the time I didn't want to risk my lovely Cannondale in a plane hold. Now I'd throw my trusty (but fully rebuilt) KKH hack on any plane. Just block the forks and remove the discs.
It's all in the ACTH.

Chris S
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Woo hoo!

Sounds like an amazing adventure!
I would agree with the above post in some respects. An important part will be key components like a rack. It´s worth getting a decent one (having bought a crap one and travelled 12,000km rewelding it together 8 times I definitely know about this one).
A high range of gears may be advisable, but I´m not too sure on availability of things like that in China - surely that´s where the majority of these pieces get made, but not sure on local availability . And you´ll be wanting the best best best gear ratio you can find for that trip.
As for frames etc, I´d say you could probably find what you need there. Frame schmame. I have only seen rare cases of cracked frames. Never bought a new frame and I´ve done fine. Mind you, I´ve never spent over $100.00 for a second hand bicycle, and they´ve all served me just fine.
It might be worth getting in contact with a local bicycle club or even just a local to find out what sort of stuff is out there at the moment. Be imaginative and use sites like warmshowers or couchsurfing to broaden your network.
Like I said, sounds like a wicked adventure. You´ll have an absolute blast.
A buddy of mine who traveled overland through Tibet by bicycle says he hasn´t cycled in a place that has had even a similar effect on him.
Good luck and ride safe!
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