About Us

Keith and Tamar

On the ferry from Kerch, Crimea to Kavkaz, Russia, October 2011

Hello! We’re Keith and Tamar. In April 2011 we gave up our jobs and started pedalling. We toured round the UK then headed south through Ireland, took a ferry to France and then followed river lines (mostly the Loire and the Danube) across Europe. We got as far as Russia but then had to fly home for family reasons. Take a look at our 2011 route or read our 2011 blog.

In May 2012 we set off again and took a more northerly route across Europe towards Russia, through Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and then into Russia. We spent 7 weeks crossing a large part of Russia over to Siberia before going south into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and then into China. After spending October & November in an increasingly cold China, we flew back to the UK for December & January for a variety of reasons.

In February 2013, we returned to China to carry on from where we left off and our route took us south into Laos, over into Vietnam, to Cambodia and then Thailand where we initially spent 3 months and discovered scuba diving. We then went further south into Malaysia to both do some more diving & get a new Thai visa. Back in Thailand we finished off the year by training to be Dive Masters in the beautiful island of Koh Tao.

2014 started with us back on the road and we revisited Laos, before covering many more kilometres through Thailand and travelling south into Malaysia for a second time. We travelled down the Malaysian west coast through April & May, visiting Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca before going over to the east coast to Mersing where we got a ferry out to Tioman Island. On Tioman we picked up some freelance work as DiveMasters and spent the next 5 months guiding divers around the local underwater sites while all the time having wonderful fun ourselves. It is now November 2014 and we are on our way (by plane from KL) back to China for a few months and in January 2015, we plan to return to KL and continue our journey south to Indonesia where we may do our Dive Instructor training. At some point in the future, we hope to get to Australia & New Zealand where we’ve promised to visit lots of friends and family, but at this point it’s difficult to say exactly what year we’ll get there as there are many fantastic dive locations between here & there. Wherever we go and whenever we get there, we don’t anticipate returning us to our old lifestyle for a little while just yet.

Alternate Text box Keith

Meerkat with Lenin in Yalta, Crimea, September 2011

Meerkat (R.I.P.)

Meerkat kept a lookout from the front of the boom, but sadly went missing in action, feared dead in April 2014 as we travelled south through Thailand.

He was a great travel companion, enjoyed being the centre of attention and looked particularly proud standing in front of a statue of his great-great-uncle Lenin.

He wasn’t very good at pulling his weight up the hills though.


The Bike

We’re riding a Hase Pino Tour. This is a semi-recumbent tandem and we LOVE it.

Hase Pino at km-zero of Danube river, Romania, August 2011

Why a tandem?

Many couples enjoy perfectly successful travels on solo bikes, but we knew that two solos wouldn’t work for us. The frustration of one person always waiting for the other, or one person always riding to exhaustion to keep up, would have driven us nuts. Map-reading whilst on the move is more difficult on solo bikes, communication between riders is fragmented, and cities are a whole host of opportunities for losing sight of each other.

Riding a tandem solves many of these problems. You arrive at the top and bottom of hills together, the stoker can read a map and look for road signs whilst the pilot concentrates on avoiding traffic and pot-holes, communication is relatively easy unless you’re whipping down a hill with the wind in your ears, and it’s impossible to lose each other (although that could be considered a down-side if you’re having an argument!)

Why a semi-recumbent tandem?

Whilst riding a tandem has many advantages, we had found a couple of disadvantages riding a ‘standard’ tandem.

  • The stoker can’t see what’s in the road immediately ahead, so any sudden and unannounced changes in direction or road surface are unsettling.
  • Any movement from the stoker (for instance an unconscious flinch towards the kerb when a large lorry roars past) has to be compensated for by the pilot…which becomes tiring and annoying after a long day in the saddle.

Our old Dawes tandem (Bendy Wendy) on tour in Canada, June 2009

The semi-recumbent Pino resolves these two issues as both the stoker AND the pilot have an unimpeded view of the road ahead so there are no surprises for the stoker, and because the stoker’s feet are up at hip height, shifts in their bodyweight have far less impact on the handling of the bike, meaning the pilot can steer the bike confidently with no unexpected stoker input.

This particular stoker also has a history of lower-back problems and finds riding a recumbent far more comfortable than a standard bike.

 

26 responses to “About Us

  1. Met you in Bunnik today,Thuesday 8th of May. Took some pictures at the little bridge of the river “Kromme Rijn”. This river used to be the border of the Roman Empire. border. I hope you managed to find a good place for the night. Yours. Kor

    • Hi Kor – it was nice to meet you. You’ll see from our latest blog post that we didn’t make it to the site you suggested, but all worked out OK in the end. I’ve emailed you about the pictures.

      Best wishes
      Tamar & Keith

  2. Herb and Lorna Treacy

    Hi there, Enjoying your accounts of the trip so far. always love the photos.Take care, love to you both Herb and Lorna xxxxxxx

  3. Hi,Keith and Tamar,I’m Chen Gang,we meet in Zhangye.I admire your courage,I wish you have a pleasant journey.

    • Hi Gang,
      Great to meet you, and thank-you very much for your help in getting us into our hotel. We really enjoyed our stay in Zhangye – it is a very pretty town, with lots of interesting sights. Who knows, perhaps we’ll meet again one day.
      Best wishes,
      Keith & Tamar.

  4. Hi Keith and Tamar!
    I love you blog, I found it when I was looking for some bike trailers. I am a technical design student at KTH in Stockholm and working on my thesis which is about making a new model of single-wheel bicycle trailer, because you have so much experience using the product, I would be very grateful if you could answer some of my questions and say your opinions about a good bike trailer.
    Have you experienced any problems with this products?
    What can be improved in such products?
    What are your requirements from a trailer?
    Is it important that the product be dismantled?

    Regards / Bahare

    • Hi Bahare

      Here are our (rather long) answers to your questions. I hope this is helpful

      Best wishes
      Tamar

      Have you experienced any problems with this products?
      We’ve used two different single-wheel trailers in our travels: the Extrawheel Voyager and the Bob Yak. We had some significant problems with the Extrawheel Voyager that we describe in more detail in our kit review http://www.threewheeling.net/extrawheel-voyager-trailer/.
      As we haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem we suspect it might be to do with using it with a semi-recumbent tandem, which we have heard people say has a more pronounced side-side movement than a solo bike or a traditional tandem.

      To date, after 17,500km use, we have experienced no problems with the Bob Yak trailer. It has performed well above its manufacturer-stated limits.
      However, we have met another tourist whose Bob Yak has started to come apart in the area where the struts running from the bike to the trailer are welded onto the trailer. He had no luggage on his bike and all the weight was in the trailer so perhaps that in some way contributed to the failure.

      What can be improved in such products?
      The Extrawheel Voyager could be improved by using vertical dropouts instead of horizontal ones so that if the skewer is not properly tightened there’s less chance of the wheel falling out. And obviously for us it would be greatly improved if it was strong enough to handle the specific strains and stresses of being towed by a semi-recumbent tandem. We were initially attracted by the light weight and small pack-size of the Extrawheel, but in practice it was just not robust enough for our needs. We also thought it would be easier to pack the two panniers that were supplied with the Extrawheel rather than the single large bag of the Bob, but in practice we’ve found the opposite is true – it’s actually far easier to keep things organised if packed carefully on the flat base of the Bob bag than lost in the depths of the two Extrawheel panniers.

      In terms of improvements for the Bob Yak – well, it’s already pretty good. We’ve made a couple of modifications to ours to allow us to roll out our solar panel and also increase the water-carrying capacity. More detail of these modifications is on our website in the kit review. http://www.threewheeling.net/bob-yak-trailer/
      We’ve also heard of people mounting small panniers over the wheel to increase carrying capacity but haven’t felt the need to do this ourselves.

      One thing that is an ongoing frustration with the Bob is the location of the clips to fasten the bag – in particular the one near the wheel of the trailer is hidden behind a strut and really difficult to get too, especially with a full bag and cold fingers. We’ve taken some straps from an old rucksack and our next modification will be to look at how we can improve the placement of the clips without compromising the ability to cinch down the bag.

      One thing the Extrawheel trailer did well that the Bob doesn’t is that the Extrawheel trailer wheel doubled as a spare tyre and rear rim for our tandem. We now have to strap spare tyres and rims onto the Bob trailer and also have the inconvenience of carrying a further different size tube for the 16” Bob wheel. It’s been hard to find good quality tyres for the Bob so it punctures more than the tandem tyres do. We recently bought a 16” Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyre but when we tried it on the trailer it was far too big. The tyre the Bob comes with is marked 16 x 1.35. The Schwalbe is 16 x 1.75, so we expected it to be a slightly wider tyre, but when we came to fit it we found that the circumference of the tyre was way too big for the Bob wheel.

      What are your requirements from a trailer?
      It must track well behind the bike and not affect the bike’s handling on unsurfaced roads or when descending at speed (we’ve topped out at 100kph).
      It must be robust and durable but also as light as possible.
      Easy access to open the bag.
      Easy packing and organisation of contents within the trailer.
      Durability and waterproofness of bag
      If possible then the same size wheel as either the front or back of our tandem
      A variety of bungee attachment points (we like the cross-over bungee arrangement of the Bob and often tuck things under it or clip things onto it)

      Is it important that the product be dismantled?
      Being able to dismantle and flat-pack a trailer for transprtation on planes, or simply to store at home, is definitely an attraction, but not if it compromises the robustness of the trailer in its day-to-day usage. When we first started having trouble with the Extrawheel and were beginning to look at replacements we saw a trailer called the Weber Monoporter that looked a bit like the Bob Yak, but could be packed flat, and was also lighter than the Bob even though it was also a bit longer than the Bob, but at the time we still hadn’t completely given up on the Extrawheel and the Monoporter was very expensive. We were also put off by its length (as our tandem is already quite long) and its plasticky appearance. We were worried that it wouldn’t be as robust as the Bob, which we’d heard nothing but good reports about. All the clever folding sections of the Monoporter were potential weak spots in our view. It was also even more expensive than the Extrawheel and the Bob. However, if we were to be in the market for a new trailer again (unlikely as the Bob looks like it will last forever) then we’d probably look again at the Monoporter as I’ve now seen reviews that suggest it is well-built and robust and that the hinge mechanisms are strong. Plus it has a 20” wheel, which is the same size as the front wheel of our tandem so we’d only be carrying two sizes of inner tube not three.

  5. Hi Tamar!
    Thank you so much for your honest answers; it will surely help me a lot. I have another question; one thing I was wondering is that what is more important for a bicycle trailer user:
    1) Strength
    2) More cargo capacity (how many kilograms)
    3) Light construction
    4) Trailer that is shorter in length
    5) Aerodynamic aspect
    6) Adaptable for different amount of load
    7) Price
    8) Dismountable
    9) Have the same wheel size as your bike
    10) To be able to fix it yourself

    Best wishes/ Bahare

    • If you ask 10 different cyclists you’ll get 10 different answers to this one. Plus if improving one element is to the significant detriment of another there will obviously come a point when the preference for that element changes. I suppose assuming we’re looking at a trailer that is acceptable in terms of it load carrying, size and weight, price etc, then strength is probably what would be most important to us. Having had three trailers break on us it is really great to currently be using one that we feel confident won’t let us down whilst competently fulfilling its role as a cargo carrier.

  6. Hi!
    Thank you so much for your answer. Continue to have a nice bike trip!
    I’ll let you know if I have more questions 😉

    Regards

    Bahare

  7. Hello Keith and Tamar!

    What great information you have on your blog, I’ve got lots of great tips!
    Since you both tried Extra Wheel and Bob and they have two different wheel sizes, I wonder if it has any effect on the running of the bike and the trailer together? Is it better to have a wheel that is as big as the bicycle wheel, or is it just as good to have a small wheel like in BOB?

    Regards
    Paulina

    • Hi Paulina,
      Thanks for getting in touch. With regard the wheel-size of any trailer, I don’t think it affects the “running” as you put it, at all whether the wheel is large or small. With single wheeled trailers, they should just track behind the bike and just be there. If you’ve read our reviews of the 2 trailers, then you’ll know that the Extra Wheel failed on us 3 times, but I don’t think that was related to the wheel size.
      Thanks again,
      Keith.

  8. Hi,

    Great blog , lots of great tips and ideas for us as first time bike tourers.

    Have been looking into the pino tour for a while now. Your bog is by far the most informative about the alround performance of this bike. Thanks for that.

    I am a little concerned about the aluminium frame and the fact that you have had so much trouble with fractures to the frame on your trips. We have decided on this bike for much the same reason as yourselves but recently have come across some reviews that suggest the bike “handles like a noodle” and this problem with the frame cracking is making me think hard about the durability of this bike to handle our trip. You also seem to have done extensive repairs and rebuilds of the running gear whilst on tour. I n your opinion is this bike more stressfull on gear than other touring bikes or are these repairs a common thing to have to deal with if using solo or other tandem designs? Secondly, I know you say you would still buy and love your Pino even with the frame problems. Do you think Hase has fixed these problems in the latest model that is on the market?

    Any advice you have that may help me feel more confident with this bike would be well recieved. We are planning to leave Vancouver in July and need to decide if we are going to order this bike and outlay the money. As you can imagine this is becoming a little stressful .

    Thanks for you time and for a great read.

    Brendon

    • Hi Brendon,
      Thanks for reading our blog and for getting in touch. I haven’t read your blog yet, so I don’t know the details of what trip you are planning. With regard the durability of the Pino, yes I would agree with you, that Pino has some issues that HASE should be more pro-active in trying to resolve. However on the occasions that it has cracked on us, we’ve actually been quite pleasantly surprised about how quickly we’ve managed to find someone to weld aluminium, so in terms of the impact that the cracked frame has had on our trip, well not that much in the grand scheme of things. Of course it would be much better if the bike didn’t crack and then we didn’t have to have the adventure of finding an ali-welder, but sometimes it’s these extra adventures that really make a trip. When our 2nd frame cracked in Yalta, Crimea, the guy that helped us was just a diamond and somebody that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
      Thing is, as far as I know, there isn’t really anything else like the Pino on the market, and we love riding the Pino – it’s much more enjoyable than our old traditional tandem.
      In terms of handling “like a noodle” – not quite sure what people mean by that. Do they mean that it’s sloppy and bendy? I couldn’t go along with that description at all. I have always found it to be really positive in its handling. You can really flick the bike around potholes if you need to, but to do this, you need to flick your hips and not try to use the steering to get it to change its line quickly – but that’s because it’s a tandem, it’s not a solo bike. We called out old trad-tandem “Bendy-Wendy” because all too often, you could feel it flex – but it was not an expedition bike, and the price of it, reflected that.
      You ask about the maintenance to the running gear. The Pino is no different to any other Tandem, but probably needs about twice as much maintenance as a solo bike. But 2 people on 2 solo bikes where you have to maintain both of the solo bikes, is about the same amount of actual maintenance as 1 tandem for 2 people. If you see what I mean, with solos, you have half the maintenance but need to do it on 2 bikes, so it all works out the same in the end. Your tires will wear out twice as quick on a tandem as they would on a solo, but 2 people on a tandem getting 8000kms out of a set of tyres is about the same as 2 people on solos getting 16,000kms out of 2 sets of tyres. Before travelling, I commuted to work each day on my old bike, into the centre of London – it was about 18kms each way. I think my commuting bike needed more maintenance (per kilometre) than our tandem does. But you much appreciate how the massive distances that you put onto a bike when touring and bikes aren’t like cars, you don’t get 10,000kms between services … although I regularly wished you did!!
      So, in my opinion, the Pino is no more stressful on gear than any other tandem. With “Bendy-Wendy” we had other nightmares with the rear wheel, and dreadful trouble with tyres.
      Do I think HASE have fixed the frame problems? I can honestly say that I have no idea. What I can say is that our 3rd frame (from May-2012 to Oct-2012) lasted 10,000kms and that was much better than frame 1 or 2. I can only hope that frame 4 lasts even longer, but only time will tell.
      Perhaps when you go to buy your Pino, get a good level of commitment for support from your retailer, or if you are buying from HASE direct, ask them what they will do for you if you have a frame failure because you are aware they have had others. Perhaps get them to commit to paying your hotel bills while you wait for a new frame?
      I personally would love it if HASE would see that they are doing themselves no favours in today’s internet age, by not resolving fully these sorts of problems and the more people that can point this out to them, then the better, and then perhaps they will do something to eliminate the problem.
      I hope you found this helpful, but I can’t advise you whether you should or shouldn’t get a Pino, but I can tell you that we love ours.
      Thanks again,
      Keith
      PS – I’ll get a look at your blog later!

  9. Hi guys,

    Came across your site a while back but just wanted to say hello and hope you’re enjoying Laos. We’re up in Xinjiang at present and on the home straight.

    Safe travels,

    Julian

    • Hello there! Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve just had a quick look at your blog and your journey with Ellie sounds amazing. I’m looking forward to reading more when we next have a few days off the bike. We really enjoyed Hami & Turpan….but don’t envy you the climb up the wonderful 50km descent that we flew down into the Turpan basin.

      All the best for your continuing adventures.

  10. Hello guys!
    Met you guys in Cambodia at a grocery store (Lucky Super market) Hope you two have a nice trip cycling wherever you go. God Bless
    P.s. Enjoyed talking with you especially about the Russian travel that’s so exciting! Yes, they are very kind hearted once you get to know them… Ciao

    • Hi Paris, thanks for getting in touch. It was really great chatting to you and very frustrating that we only met you just as we were leaving Phnom Penh. I wish we’d had chance to ask you more about ex-pat life in Russia and Cambodia. Your life sounds fascinating. Maybe if we make it back to Cambodia….

      All the best
      Tamar & Keith

  11. Hi Tamar and Keith,

    It was really an inspiration to meet both of you in Hua Hin on the weekend. In the true words of the hasher: ON ON!!

    I hope to keep track of your adventures, and maybe have some of my own with my hubby Matt.

    Travel safe and enjoy the journey!

    Cheers,
    Christa

    • Hi Christa. Great to hear from you. We really enjoyed the weekend with you and the other hashers. It sounds like you and your husband are about to be in a pretty good position to take off and enjoy some pedalling soon…just do it! And drop us a line if there’s anything we can help you with.
      All the very best.
      Tamar and Keith

  12. My best girlfriend met the both of you in Vietnam this summer and was enchanted by you both and your zest for adventure!!
    I look forward to sharing in your posted adventures and will keep positive thoughts & prayers part of my correspondence with you.
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for the comment. Is your friend called Lynn perhaps? Say hello to her for us please and thanks for having a look at our blog.
      Keith.

  13. Hi K&T,
    hope your travels continue well.
    Sorry, I recommended Lubuntu 13.04, but it is for 64-bit machines. An easy-to-use linux is zorin lite (~700Mb), which is free from http://zorin-os.com/free6.html. You have to download it with firefox.
    Cheers, Aarn

  14. Hi K&T,
    met you on the river danube close to Passau and the idea of hopping onto a tandem myself did not leave my mind since then. It took me quite a while until I found an appropriate bike with hopefully sufficient stiffness for my 196 cm’s lenght. Yesterday I ordered it and cannot await delivery end of April. Your tours are inspiring us and maybe someday we will also tour the world on two weels.

    Gerhard

    • Hi Gerhard,
      Great to hear from you … and after meeting you so long ago, Passau was in June 2011 !!!
      Errrr … sadly, we can’t actually put a face to the name, but thanks for keeping up with our adventures and I hope you enjoy your tandem when you get it!! Who knows, perhaps we’ll bump into each other again somewhere on a lovely bike tour, somewhere in the world again.
      If you set up a travel-blog, please let us know the name so we can follow your adventures too.
      Best wishes,
      Keith & Tamar.

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