The stem cell project

I changed the old school style stem, you know the one, you have to strip one side of the handlebars to take them off and put them on and then use leverage on the clamp to open it up to slide the hump through.  Now I have the new style threadless stem. which uses an Allen key.  Change handlebars? why certainly Sir, I just need an Allen key now and no need to remove anything off the handlebars to take them off .

The old stem (quill) was 90 mm in height with a 100 mm reach, replaced by a 180 mm length (130mm height above headset) with 110 mm reach.  The only thing left on this bike from my original bike that I bought back in 1997 from Olson’s Cycles in Geelong VIC is the bell.  Although the quill will go to the spares box and can keep the original seat post company.

New stem adapterI found the 180 mm stem adapter on eBay, (seller was Speedolium), in hindsight, I should have gotten the 150 mm adapter.  See breakout box.

Inside the fork steerer tube, it tapers about 2/3 the way down so that the new 180mm stem adapter doesn’t go in as far as I had planned it to, silly fork doesn’t it know who’s in charge here?  Even a big hammer didn’t help 🙁

I got the 110 mm stem from Pushy’s for a steal at $9 Token stem(Token brand) to me the stems located around this one looked the same quality but were priced at $29 and upwards, it’s only got to hold the handle bars to the stem.

The stem can be 6º above zero or 6º below, I currently have it set at six degrees above 0.  Next weekend I may change to 6º below and see how that feels when commuting.

And now our feature presentation by Shyflirt1:
Old quill stem Old quill stem New stem and adapter New stem and adapter New stem and adapter The old quill stem
Yeah yeah, I know, I still haven’t wrapped the handlebars in tape yet as you can tell from the photos, but rest assured I do have two packets of bar tape in my toolbox which I also got at the latest carpark sale at Pushy’s

H²O I didn’t know.

This is just an update to my earlier “Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink” post, since posting it, I have found out about the Camelbak® All Clear™ UV water purification bottle. An alternative to the SteriPEN from the previous article.

But first a word of our sponsors (not really a sponsor) I have changed it to metric speak and English.

camelbak-uvHydration Capacity: 750 mlallclear
Weight: 453 grams
Always: 100% BPA-Free
Warranty: Got Your Bak™ Lifetime Guarantee
Bottle Material: BPA-Free Eastman Tritan™ Copolyester.
Cap Material: BPA-Free Polypropylene

Reliable Purification, Whatever the Destination. CamelBak® All Clear™ utilises proven UV technology to effectively neutralise microbiological contaminants to EPA standards.  With a built-in LCD to confirm your results, purification has never been easier.

USB rechargeable as well.

CamelBak® All Clear™ turns nearly any tap or clear natural water source into potable drinking water in just 60 seconds, letting you hydrate on the spot.  Since CamelBak® All Clear™ is a water bottle as well as a purification system, you can enjoy your water right after treatment or carry it with you.

  • Portable purification system is built into your water bottle.
  • Utilises proven UV technology to effectively neutralise microbiological contaminants.
  • Treats 80 cycles or 60L with each charge.
  • Impact and weather-resistant cap insulates UV bulb for effective  purification every time.
  • LCD screen verifies success.
  • Fill from taps, streams and more.

Camelbak® recommends using their ‘All Clear™’ pre-filter, which is designed to be used pre-filterfor the All Clear™ Microbiological UV Water Purifier to strain out larger sediment particles prior to purification. As if you would do it afterwards.

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“Water is the driving force in nature.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

How much water do I need?”

More importantly how are you going to carry it?

Some bikes come with only one water bottle cage, others have two to three cages built into their bike frames, sure you could use those clip on or screw on types, but usually they can only fit 750 ml bottles, which when multiple by how many bottles you have would still not be enough to cross the outback with.  Plus the ‘add on’ types take up valuable real estate on your handlebars, or saddle area, I  have even seen them attached to your forks which rule out using panniers or you could have your water stored in their panniers, then you have to really focus on what you can/should take with you.  But sometimes, even three water bottles isn’t nearly enough to keep you hydrated (and alive) when cycling through especially hot and desolate stretches of road.

bottle on forksbottle on handlebarssaddle bottle2 saddle bottle DX holder

LongHaulTouring has an article worth reading.

In all cases of any one planning to cross the Nullarbor or even anywhere in the outback of OZ, you need to be carrying way more than what your bike water bottles can hold.  Calculating out how much water you should be carrying and where you can refill is the tricky part.

As with everything in bicycle touring, there are many players involved in coming up with a ball park figure of how much water you’ll need per day/kilometre.  Some considerations such as:

  • The weather, how hot and how windy?
  • The planned ground you intend covering (level (easy) vs. hills (harder))
  • How you are feeling that day and the day before.
  • The road conditions (sealed roads vs. dirt/gravel (which usually come with their friend Mr Corrugations).
  • The possibility of obtaining drinkable water along your way.
  • How far can you go with what you have and still have some in reserve.

This is where planning your days before leaving home and understanding how to read a map is so important.  You cannot plan on being in the right place at the right time on the odd chance that a Grey Nomad might top off your supplies.  Some Roadhouses along the Nullarbor do not offer up water to cyclists, but point them towards their refrigerators so that said cyclist can buy a few bottles which works out more expensive than a litre of petrol, while I’m not totally against free enterprise in this case and that the Roadhouse do have to ship in their drinking water, I’m just surprised how ill prepared cyclists who know they can get water anywhere in towns and cities not realising how limited it can be in the outback.

Some water points along your way may need filtering and treating before being usable.  No good stocking up on water in your containers to find out down the road that you should have filtered, boiled, sterilised it before filling up.

So, any pointers then?

  1. You need to be drinking a lot when you cycle on a normal day, on a hot or/and headwind day your consumption of water will go up.
  2. Remember Slip, Slop, Slap. Wear sunscreen, a covering for your helmet (you are wearing a helmet right?) and sunnies to protect yourself from sun damage and drink more water especially hot and windy days.  Maybe add zinc cream to your kit.
  3. Do a pre-trip ride before you leave on your tour, check how much water you drink during the day or each hour or every 10 kilometres, this will help you calculate your usages for when its important.
  4. Remember each litre of water you add to your bike / rack / panniers / back is an extra kilogram of weight.  Is your gear suited to carrying this extra weight?
  5. You can plan to start your day early before it heats up too much, siesta during the hot part of the morning and afternoon and continue on in the later afternoon / early evening.
  6. Finally, have a plan for carrying more water on your bicycle if you need to.

While weather, terrain, and road conditions are important points to ponder, you can usually guestimate how much water you need to carry by figuring out the distance between your current location and the next town or roadhouse or rest stop which might have water tanks (don’t rely on these to be full or drinkable all the time).

  • Civilisation is about 30 to 60 minutes and you can fry an egg on the road, you’ll probably be just fine with the water you’re carrying.
  • Maybe you got 60 to 90 minutes to go, however, it’s hot and it’s uphill, or it’s hot out and windy (not a tail wind though) or maybe all three, you should consider topping up if you can.
  • Here is a brochure distributed by the Royal Flying Doctor Service dehydration flyer, some good info on here especially the colour chart at the end.

So what type of water containers are out there that may be suitable for my bike tour?

Well here’s what I have found during my search of the above question:

8 litre collapsible water container:

W x H – 150 mm x 220 mm
8 litres of water equals 8 kilograms
Flexible and durable water bottle. Folds flat when empty and stand stable when full.
Resistant to extreme temperature:-20C to +80C8lt-28lt-1

Sterilise water, boil soup, melt snow, Deep freeze. Handle and tap on top.

Compact design and PVC construction.

Reliance Folda Water carrier: reliance

9.5 litre collapsible comes with tap and handle

dimensions TBA




MSR Dromedary water bags:

Cordura-1000 nylon TPU Heavy-Duty: Abrasion-resistant Cordura®, laminated with food-grade polyurethane, can handle everything from freezing to boiling.  Versatile: 3-in-1 cap lets you fill, drink, and pour with ease.  Easy to Fill: Low profile, ergonomic handle and wide-mouth opening for no-hassle filling.  No-Hassle Attachment: Perimeter webbing allows for convenient pack attachment and hanging.  Safe Drinking: BPA-free.MSR drom

10 litre 284 gm 600 x 340 mm

6 litre 247 gm 280 x 560 mm

4 litre 196 gm 480 x 250 mm

2 Litre 179 gm 420 x 200 mm


MSR Dromlite bags:

This ultralight version of MSR’s Dromedary® Bags weighs less, but still MSR drom litefeatures a tough 200-denier Cordura® exterior for reliable, back country water storage and delivery.  Inside is the same BPA-Free, food-grade polyurethane laminate that can handle freezing and accessories like the Shower or Hydration Kits increase your options on any journey.  Same size as the Black MSR water bags.  There is no 10 Litre size in these bags.




Camelbak type of water carriers:camelbak

Anywhere from 1 litre to 3 litre sizes.




 5L Collapsible Water Container:5lt coll

Ideal for camping, festivals, travelling, sailing, walking etc.

Features strong non-toxic polyethylene walls and screw cap with open/close valve & Handle.

  • Flat Pack for easy storage
  • Holds up to 5 Litres
  • Open/close valve
  • Handle

NB: All the above water containers are collapsible, so when empty they do not take up much space unlike any empty bottles.

Anyhow, the next drink is on me.


You can’t handle the truth

BBB Multibar Trekking Bar BHB-30

Weight 497 gm
Length 57 cm
Construction AL 6061 aluminium
Diameter at stem 25.4 mm
Diameter 22.2 mm
Colour is either black or polished silver

Trekking bars, also known as Touring bars and Butterfly bars.

A handlebar for the distance touring cyclist? What type of sorcery is this? The thought that you can use a multitude of different hand positions without wasting valuable space on your handlebars.

These handlebars are light and rugged, and are quick and very easy to fit.  They alter the look and the feel of your steed completely, but you’ll get used to it.  The bars can be wrapped in bar tape or a padded foam sleeve fitted or in my case I have put on the old grips with bar-tape to follow in the near future.



To be honest my first ride with these bars took a bit of getting used to, it feels to me unnatural to use the upper hand hold that has no brake lever handy and the same again for the side positions.  The handling of the bike changes depending on where your hands are positioned and at the moment the bars feel skinny, but as I stated earlier I haven’t fitted any bar tape yet as I’m sure I will be making minor adjustments and alterations to bars and levers, maybe even the grips.

Jana Phillips shows us how to wrap them:

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My old bars that are being replaced were wider (by about 15mm either side) than these bars, so it seems OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstrange to have my hands closer to each other when riding.  On the flat level roads, the normal section of the handle bar is comfortable and easy, although those riders who are wider across the top may find it to be a bit narrow, but the sides and top section are continuous and easily available without taking your hands off the steering, although the bars feel a bit skinny and cold without bar tape on them.  For chugging up hills, out of the seat pedalling, I find that the side positions are my position of choice as these effectively are the bar ends and are comfortable to use, and they keep you in command of where you are going.

I have had no dramas with mounting space for my GPS, light and reflector although at the moment, my levers (Shimano EF51 – combined brake and gear) and associated cables are a little bunched up, but the brakes and gears still work.  I plan to fix this problem with a taller stem adapter and new longer stem so that I can update my old quill stem which was the only part stem adapterfrom my original BBB stembike that I have left.  So I’m going from a threaded style to a thread-less look-alike setup.  On another note I also lost use of my bar end mirrors.


I currently do not have a handle bar bag, so I hope I haven’t shot myself in the foot by changing to these bars, but a bit more research and hopefully I will find a compatible and decent bag.

Final thoughts.

Trekking bars are an option to consider if you’re the tourer type who likes their gadgets and/or gets sore hands and wrists from using the one hand position.  These bars are easy to fit and offer a variety of hand positions, but they take a bit of adjusting and getting used to, but time and distance will fix that hurdle.

For an excellent article on handlebars go visit