1. Wheels
To plagiarize a theme from our last two-term president's campaign I offer you this; "It's the wheels stupid! After the integrity of your bicycle frame, the wheels determine many aspects of efficient cycle touring. The wheel is everything and for a decade now I have had the great fortune to have never replaced a broken spoke. Yes I've cracked rims at the eyelets because the rims were not a double ferruled, but that has been overcome with the use of a Mavic 618X- 36 holes, on a basic Shimano XT hub.

2. Tires
There are many choices of tires and they must match both the road surface you intend to ride and the total weight of rider and gear. Knobbies work very well for dirt -the larger the better. I like a 2.3 for gravel and dirt. For mixed surfaces where there is more pavement than dirt a semi-smooth 1.75 makes for an awesome ride.

3. Tubes
Tubes like tires come in a wide variety of options for both weight and size. Some ultra-lights work well, but they lose pressure more quickly.

A seemingly insignificant element that has given me fits over the years is that silly little piece called the rim strip. The challenge I have had is with the rim strip wearing little slices in the tube and causing the deadly slow leak. Woven cloth ones work the best on a really long tour.

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