Bike for Lands End to John O Groats

While it is by no means certain that I will be able to take on the approximately 1,000 mile Lands End to John O Groats challenge this year, I couldn’t help wondering about what I would ride for it.

At first glance it is easy and obvious. I would use my Trek Pilot 1.2

It is my fastest bike and with the now worn in Brooks B17 Select Saddle it is comfortable as any of my bikes.

I would make some changes though.

First, would be to lose some weight (from the Bike, although it would be sensible to lose a lot more from me). The rack and mudguards would go. I would also switch from 28mm Schwalbe Marathon tyres to something lighter & faster, say from the 25mm Schwalbe Durrano range. I would not be tempted to switch to a lighter saddle for love nor money. I might switch to my lighter back wheel.

Second, would be to make sure that I started without any worn parts. So a new rear cassette, new chain, maybe even new chainrings, new brake and gear cables, new handlebar tape and new brake blocks. The chainrings and cables are all still original items so after 5 1/2 years I don’t mind upgrading them a little.

Third, for carrying a tools, few spares, camera, snacks, clothing I would probably go for something like a Carradice SQR Tour saddlebag. With 16 litres capacity it seems the easiest way to carry enough stuff for long days without needing support on hand for weather changes, minor mechanical problems or a lack of places to get food.Β It also has the advantage of providing some mudguard protection (for my nice Brooks saddle). All while being a lot lighter than a rack.

Beyond these minor details I don’t think I would need to change anything else.

It is comforting that while I didn’t have anything like a 1,000 mile ride in mind when I chose the Trek it has proved to be a versatile bike.

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  1. I’ve been wanting to ride John O’Groats to Land’s End for quite some time now, but have been prevented from doing so by work and family-related circumstances. Hopefully in 2013 I’ll finally manage it.


    I’m afraid I disagree somewhat with your strategy. I rather strongly believe that a JoGLE or LEJoG should be self-supported, and that having a support vehicle carrying your stuff amounts to cheating. As a result, I believe the rack to be essential, to allow you to carry everything.

    Whichever way you end up doing it, I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Hi William,

    I rather strongly believe that a JoGLE or LEJoG should be self-supported, and that having a support vehicle carrying your stuff amounts to cheating. As a result, I believe the rack to be essential, to allow you to carry everything.

    At what point does it become cheating?

    Suppose I carry everything but as I stay in B&B’s or hotels my load is half that of someone who is camping. Is that cheating?

    Suppose I carry everything for camping but eat at pubs rather than carrying food and cooking for myself. Is that cheating?

    Suppose I carry everything for camping and cook for myself but buy the food at the campsite so I don’t need to carry it. Is that cheating?

    I am interested to know where you draw the line for yourself as to what is cheating.

    One of my Christmas presents was a set of Tour de France DVD’s. In one of the early races where you had to be self supported one riders front fork broke coming down a mountain. He walked down and repaired the fork himself at a blacksmiths but he was penalised because at one point the blacksmiths assistant pumped the forge bellows for him and this was deemed to be getting outside assistance.

    For me the key element of LEJog is that I ride my bike from Lands End to John O Groats and that I don’t take lifts in vehicles, use an electric bike, miss bits out.

    I agree that is a different definition from riding LEJog self-supported but I can’t make enough time to do that at this stage in my life. Also my temperament means that I would struggle to do all that alone. Maybe in retirement Jane and I will do a self supported ride together on our tandem recumbent trike – but is riding a tandem also cheating?

  3. Jonathan Godfrey

    I’ve been pondering for months whether or not to go for LEJOG next year; finally made a decision yesterday and booked up a supported charity ride. I’m now obsessing about the choice of bicycle. Undecided as yet, but I can’t help thinking that comfort is as important as speed, hence looking at 28mm tyres instead of 25mm, and putting mudguards on not taking them off.

    re WilliamNB’s comment, of course an self-supported LEJOG is more of a challenge than a supported ride, but why create arbitrary rules? The vital element for me is pedalling from one end to the other. Doing that supported, is enough of a challenge for me!

    • Jonathan,

      re tyres. I ride with 25mm on my fixie and 28mm on my Trek. I doon’t find a very significant comfort difference (saddle makes much more difference), that might be because much of the extra diameter of my 28mm tyres is extra puncture resistance rather than air.

      It seems to me that mudguards matter more when riding with others and when riding in normal clothes. I won’t be doing either on my solo ride and anyway if I do it in late June hopefully it will be reasonably dry (ha ha). Also my lovely and effective mudguards on my Trek get quite noisy above 22mph which is of course where I will spend most of the time πŸ˜‰

      I love obsessing over which is the right bike to use for different things πŸ™‚ Makes for nice dreaming.

  4. Oh dear! I seem to have caused offense, for which I humbly apologise as that was never my intent. Regardless which way you cycle JoGLE or LEJoG, it is an immense achievement. On a PERSONAL note, and without judging anybody else, I draw the line at having a support vehicle of any kind to carry any of my luggage.
    To me, LEJoG or JoGLE is about touring the country as much as achieving a commendable goal. Precisely because of that view, while those that set records for cycling the whole route in the shortest possible time are certainly fantastic athletes, far better than what I ever could be, but they are also missing out on a golden opportunity to explore this beautiful green island.

    • William,

      As I said my experiences of other rides (Reivers route in particular) means I am aware enough of myself to know that I probably could not achieve a self supported solo LEJoG.

      Also I just don’t have enough time available to take more than about 12 days to do the route, that is a reality based on family and work situations.

      As it is I am only able to consider a 12 day supported ride because of the support I am getting from both family and my boss.

      I am very happy for you to do without a support vehicle and to find that more fulfilling for you. I just found the phrase “cheating” rather unhelpful.

  5. Best bike for Lands End to John O Groats « 42 Bikes - pingback on January 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm

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