Changing gears, sizing down and scaling up

Mt Youtei, Hokkaido, Japan. We never get sick of this view.

How good is a change of pace! Fresh from another ski season in Japan and a tour of HK, we’re back in Melbourne preparing for more TotallyTandem action in 2019. And it’s shaping up to be another cracker! I do realise that it’s now April but for us it feels like the start of a new year, and with only 9 months in our home town before we take off for another snow tour, there’s plenty to keep us busy.

Ski hiking in Japan

Travelling offers a constant perspective jolt and since finishing the bike trip in 2015, the urge to keep moving has TotallyStayed with us. We’ve managed to sustain a lifestyle between Oz and Japan and have just returned again from the Northern island of Hokkaido sporting classic goggle tans. It was another bumper season with lots of lovely snow and a parade of gorgeous visitors. We love to share our second home and had a brilliant time touring around friends and family who braved the temperatures of Japanese winter. Don’t fret if you missed this winter, we’re definitely heading back for another one!

Three months absolutely flew by and just as the snow started to melt, we headed to HK to share the TotallyTandem Motivational Series. And boy oh boy it was quite the climate change! Shedding our thermals and slipping on the flip-flops (we have too many British subscribers to blog about wearing ‘thongs’), we spent a busy week in HK seeing the sights and catching up with friends.10 years has passed since we last visited HK and it was a real treat to reunite with mates from all over the world. And of course, make some new friends too!

We were lucky enough to be invited to speak at 3 international schools and present to the members of the Royal Geographic Society. It is always a genuine pleasure to share our journey and I love the challenge of redesigning the talk to suit each audience and venue.

Presenting at RGS HK

Presenting at RGS HK

Weaving themes of bravery and resilience around our story, I love the unique questions that arise with each talk, my favourite this tour being

“If you could do it again, is there anything you would change?”

to which I replied, “Absolutely yes, but 100% no”

While we don’t subscribe to regret, we definitely try to incorporate the lessons we’ve learned into our future plans and we are excited to unveil the latest on Falkor’s upgrades. Did somebody say, bomb-proof wheels?

Deciding to ditch the 26″ wheel on the back, Bren has been busy measuring and calculating and we’ve opted for 20″ wheels on both front and back now. The reasoning behind this change is based on the minimal issues we had with the front wheel during our tour to Chile. For anyone needing a refresher on Bremma’s wheel related touring dilemmas, here is a recap;

Front wheel  vs Rear wheel

Rebuilds; 2 vs 6

Punctures; 19 vs 44

Broken Spokes; 24 vs 50

Tyres replaced; 9 vs 15

We’re keen to put the rear wheel PTSD behind us, so you can see why we think we’re onto a good thing here!        Experimenting with 2 x 20″ rims means decreasing the lateral tension on each spoke which, from experience, will lessen the amount and frequency of broken spokes. It also means decreasing the amount of spare parts and tools we’ll have to carry and so lessen the overall weight of our loaded bike. 20″ wheels also means we have clearance in the frame for 4ply motor bike tyres, translating to thicker rubber, stronger side walls, less punctures and hopefully an increase in reliability.  Another huge plus is that we will no longer have to carry 2 different sizes of spare tyres and tubes.

We’re also really excited to have installed a brand new Rohloff hub on the rear wheel. Without going into the intense science of this amazing internal gear system, it means we no longer have chain rings on the back (of which we broke 8 during our tour) and the internal gearing gives us equal tension on both sides of the wheel eliminating the need to offset spoke tension, adding to the overall strength of the wheel. There has been much debate over the increased weight of the thicker tyres and the Rohloff hub, but even with these additions, the reduction in weight of the spare parts we have to carry still makes our entire rig lighter than before.

Max testing out the new seat

A new look for Falkor

She definitely looks very different and apart from the smooth gear changes, the handling doesn’t seem to have changed much. We’ve already been enjoying some rides in our local area as we get used to the new set up and prepare ourselves for the next adventure. Fret not mum, it’s just a small ride approx 200km over 3 days at Easter in the Victorian Alps. And the best news about this next tour is that we’re getting Hugo the Kombi involved so we can drive to the starting point and enjoy the tour from the very first pedal turn without slogging out a few 100kms on a busy motorway.

Our 1976 kombi ‘Hugo’. Now imagine Falkor on the roof racks…

This is all of course in preparation for more adventures in the future, but before then, there is the long form book to finish and the kids book series to publish. And of course more work, study, speaking gigs and travel. How much can we smoosh into the next 9 months? Our plans continue to grow and we do our best to fit in as much as we can.

Scroll down below to see some highlight pics of the last 12 months.

Special thanks to;

Everyone in Niseko

Team Tozer for yet again carting bike parts around the globe, delivering 2 new 20″ tyres to us in Niseko. Legends!

Tomo for always pushing me to think beyond

Team Farley for reunions and incredible tacos

Team Lawson for so many things and always holding onto us

Alex for continually encouraging me to reach further

RGSC for being such gracious hosts and supporting us in all of our HK talks

Harrow International School for showing us their beautiful campus and sharing their upper school assembly with us

Renaissance College for inviting us to meet the next generation of leaders

Owls School Mui Wo for the sharing their dreams with us

Everyone who gets involved with our chats & the TotallyRandom ideas we have

Our Melbourne family for a wonderful welcome home

All of our mates around the globe for your lovely messages and striving to stay connected

All the small new humans that inspire us with their perpetual energy & infectious delight at the world

And to all of our followers for staying in touch and daring to think outside the box – with every new thought is a world of possibility

How many Cary’s can you fit in a gondola?

Bremma, Tozers and Brother Michael – skiers the lot!

Clan Cary on the slopes

Lil legend Callen Kei learning to ski

Hiking the Weiss Peak

Our resident Japanese squirrel “Natusko”

Onsen overlooking Lake Toya

Approaching the Hirafu slopes by night

Gathering the Niseko fam to celebrate Brens birthday. 30 again!

Did someone say Nabe…

Lucky Golden Gondy!

A legendary crew!

Singing at SlowLife with Greggers

Singing with these jazz legends in Niseko

The groovy young jazzers – so lucky to sing with this bunch

Team Nixon

Presenting to 700 students at Harrow International School HK

Harrow assembly HK

At Renaissance College HK

Mui Wo Owls School, HK

High rises of HK

Back in Melb riding Falkor, room for 1 more

Our mate Rihai, a like-minded bike enthusiast

Brophys on bikes! Love that family cycling inspo!

Getting in some river tandem kayak action in Autumn

And some sea tandem kayak action in Spring

Presenting at Thornbury bowls club as part of the ThisGirlCan campaign

Harrow Bangkok 2018


A cheeky ride on the single bikes while we wait for new Falkor parts to arrive

Sayonara til next season Japan

8 responses to “Changing gears, sizing down and scaling up

  1. Yargh, you were in HK? That’s where I live now 😄
    Drop me a line next time you come through, will do the same next time I’m in Oz. Good to see the TT team is still rolling! Lotsa love, Rohanso

  2. Hey guys great reading about you latest. Keep on living the dream. You are awesome!! Broni (Port Macquarie)

  3. Hey – you two World Travellers. I just caught up with your blog after researching the big net for Hase Pino. My love is from Letvia and never rode a bicycle, so I am looking for a tandem to share my love for cycling with her. I previously rode tandem with my youngest child, and we paddle a tandem kayak, so the idea of moving together with different strength and ability is familiar to us.
    I also previously rode the Greenspeed trike and a Scorpion full suspension trike. My former girlfriend rode a Hase Kettwiesel trike, and we tried the Pino.
    Which brings me up to today (sorry for this long introduction, but as people of words, I recon you will be patient with me :-)):
    We had a short testride on a Pino at our local dealer in Denmark, and my love is overwhelmed by the relaxed and open-in-the air-and-on-the-road feeling riding this bike.
    The bike is quite an expensive investment (and we will never copy your intensive usage). We will do daytrips from our autocamper and from home. Including rides in the woods on gravel roads.
    My questions (if you find time to reflekt):
    1) Do you know if the new models still have a brake-of-the-frame problem?
    2) How does the change from 26″ to 20″ back wheel influence the steering? it must create a longer “afterrun” (translated directly from danish – don’t know the word in english) on the front wheel leading to increased stability and slower maneuvability?
    3) What is the best gearratios to be able to climb hills with day-pack cargo (cameras, specs, and so on) up to around 25 kilos? We weight 73/64 kilos.
    4) Would you recommend bying a frame and build ourselves?
    5) And the most important question: What do we need to pay attention to, before and during the buying process?

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for getting in touch with us about the Hase Pino. It really is a fantastic bike for so many reasons.
      You have quite a few questions so I will answer them in point form as best I can.
      1 – As far as I am aware all new frames from 2015 onwards have a reinforced weld in the area that previously failed. The replacement frame we received in Mexico is still running well after 20,000 km.
      2- the change to a 20” rear wheel has not changed the handling of the bike at all. The idea for this change was more about rear wheel stability/ strength during fully loaded touring. It would not be necessary for regular usage. It also makes it easier to carry the same sized spares
      3- gear ratios are really dependent on terrain. We climbed some serious percentages ( up to 18% ) with some 50 to 70 kg of gear weight on the bike. We only changed the front small chain ring to a 24 tooth to accomodate for the long/ steep climbs and serious dirt road aspects of our trip. It is probably beneficial to drop the smallest front chain ring to something smaller than what is factory ( I think 30 or 32 teeth), but that is all that you would need. The Rohloff hub is a fantastic option and in hindsight I would spend the money on this kit for sure. We have one now and it is working out great.
      4- I thought about buying the frame and building it to spec but it didn’t work out cheaper. The Pino is definitely a big investment but for all of the positives we think it is totally worth it. And Hase are great in supporting any issues so the added warranty they offer is reassuring and worthwhile (you wont get that if you buy a send hand one)
      5- I would think the most important set up is the front( stokers) chain ring size. Make sure it feels like you are both contributing to the torque in each gear. We changed our front to a 48 tooth ( up from 42 I think) and it felt right for us. We now run a Rohloff hub with a rear cog at 42 and the front ( stoker) cog at 51.

      I hope this information answers your questions and gives you some more thoughts about buying the Pino. Overall it is expensive but a unique bike with a quality build. Don’t hesitate to get in touch again if you have any more questions.

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