I have now been riding for 3 years, the same amount of time it's been since I wrote this page on my first bike, the Specialized Work 1 (below). After riding 1,200 miles (1,800 km) over 2 1/2 months through Colombia & northern Ecuador, I came back to Napa, California with that bike. I returned the following winter, Jan 2015, and purchased a new bicycle in Tumbaco, Ecuador, I had stayed at the Casa de Ciclistas there a year ago with Santiago & his family. Santiago has been working with bikes for over 35 years so I paid him $530 for a new Ice Biker Mountain Bike, which he bought all the components for it in Quito. Here's Santiago putting it together (It was great being able to watch the entire bike be constructed):
Here is the finished bike and touring setup I currently use (minus the blue handlebar bag, which I changed to one much smaller): It's a large, aluminum frame, Shimano components, 9 gears on back, 3 up front, 27.5" tires, front shock.
January 18, 2014 - The Specialized Work 1 Hybrid Bike
I had almost no idea what I was doing when it came to searching for & buying a bicycle, let alone one appropriate for riding from Colombia to Argentina. I'm not a cyclist, had not owned a bicycle since I was a kid, and have never gone through the process of purchasing a bicycle.
I crossed paths with a few Pan-American cyclists on my journey and wrote down a few tips, but often times their tips contradicted each other, for example, like having a steel vs. aluminum frame. I was fortunate to have met 2 cyclists, a guy from Scotland & a girl from the US, while in Bogota who were friendly enough to accompany me to a variety of bike shops and share their knowledge.
The day finally came after searching through many bike shops & on websites (http://colombia.es.craigslist.org & http://www.mercadolibre.com) for that perfect bike in the right price range. I originally wanted to find a cheap, used bike which I could add some new components too, but had no luck 1) finding many used bikes & 2) finding ones with the features I was looking for (ex. aluminum, hybrid, large frame)
I ended up buying this new 2013 Specialized Work 1 bicycle seen below for 864,000 Colombian pesos or approx $443 US. I orginally did not want to spend over $300 but am happy with my choice. You can see all the specs & features here on Specialized's website:
Specialized Work 1 Bicycle Specs
I bought this from the Welcome bike shop (on Calle 127 near the intersection with Autopista; phone # 3142669461) in Bogota, Colombia. Everyone there is extremely friendly, knowledgeable & helpful, and a woman named Martha helped me with my purchase.
Here's some close-ups of the bike directly from the store. I'm gonna add a back rack & triple front crankset (pictures of the final bike with bags attached will be added below these)
I bought a few things to make the bike more suitable for the long journey. I went down to the intersection of Calle 68 & Ave. 29 where there are about 20 bike shops.
I just chose one at random and walked into Victoria Bikes (Calle 68 No. 29-32, Tel: 545 1595, Cel: 321 237 5554) to buy a kickstand, back rack, triple front crankset, & another shifter on the handlebar. The total for everything, plus an additional tube for my tire, with free installation was 135,000 pesos, or $68 US. Yuly & Javier were very helpful and got everything installed quickly.
Here's what the bike looks like now (without my bags):