I have been commuting for over 5 years now! I am not a bike or bike gear expert, but I have fun and get great ideas from other rider’s setups/gear/ideas so I thought I would share my current gear list!
Volea Sport with Volae Carbon seat – This is a beautiful machine! I am a convert to this style of bike and find it more comfortable and fun than a diamond frame for my daily commute. If you happen to be in Tucson Ajo Bikes has a nice collection of recumbents… Nothing (no matter how amazing) is going to work for everyone in every situation. After riding my Volea for close to 9 months I would recommend it without hesitation for commuting in Tucson, but would encourage anyone who was interested to think about:
- You won’t be hopping curbs with this style bike – it is not for every style of riding…
- Parking can be slightly more complicated (not much, but squeezing into a crowded rack is harder or maybe even impossible depending on the style of rack).
- Get ready to be noticed! You are NOT going to blend in and if questions, comments, strange stares, shouts, laughter and fun conversations are not your cup of tea you will be better off with another bike.
- I have not found many very tire choices for wider tires for the 650c wheels that come on many Volea models (skinny racing tires are no problem…) – you might consider choices such as the Volae Expedition/Expedition Pro instead of the Volea Sport for 26” wheels/more tire options.
Other Brands – If you are interested in this style bike I would recommend a look at the bikes at the Hostel Shoppe and Bachetta.
Underseat – A Terracycle Easy Reacher Rack is a really nice addition – slightly better ride because the rack positions the weight under you. Also gives you reasonable access to your panniers without getting out of your seat!
Rear – You can get a number of inexpensive options to work just fine (as in my current setup), but I have been very curious about the Volea recommended Old Man Mountain Sherpa Rack with the Volea Rack Adapter Kit.
Panniers – I am using a pair of Pacific Outdoor Equipment Coops. These Grocery Bag style panniers are large and durable –> in some areas water proof bags would be more practical, but are (in my opinion) overkill for Tucson. I keep several Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks in my bag to protect electronics and other valuables in the infrequent rain.
I often have my Lenovo X-61 Tablet with me - I was originally worried about having it in a pannier rather than on my back - but so far having it in the pannier has caused exactly 0 problems! I am carrying my computer in a Tom Bihn Horizontal Brain Cell – the best laptop case I have ever found – and I add a little organization with a Tom Bihn Horizontal Freudian Slip
This is the first bike that I have owned with 650c wheels. It is possible that I have not looked in the right places, but so far I have found relatively few tire choices compared with 26” or 700 wheels. I have used:
Continental – Ultra GatorSkin 650x23C – These are great but I found that they were a little hard/skinny esp. for a load of groceries/heavier loads.
Tellus PT Tire 650 x 28C (28-571) by Terry – I have used this tire for several months and I love it! Cushier than the Ultra GatorSkins and a much nicer ride with a heavier load (and not so wide that I feel slow). You might notice that many 650c tubes you will find do not have 28 in the range of tire sizes that they list – but on the recommendation of Georgena Terry I used the Schwalbe SV11 tubes that I had been using with the Continental – Ultra GatorSkin 650x23C.
Bontrager Race X – I have not tried any of these yet but with so few choices for wider 650c tires it is certainly worth noting that Bontrager offer several models in its Race X series that come in 650 x 25 (Race X Lite and Race X Lite AC). (Thanks to Volea and the Hostel Shoppe for pointing these out to me).
Exposure MaXx-D – It was time for a new light when I bought my recumbent and the cable free design of the MaXx-D was a great feature – no routing cables (which may take slightly more creativity on a recumbent) and only one thing to take off the bike when it is parked. This has performed really nicely so far – bright and good battery life. I originally intended to mount the light on a Volea T-Bar Light Mount – but the reflections from the shiny crank arms were too much of a distraction and I ended up mounting the light on my handle bars, which works just fine…
Cat Eye SL-LD100 – on my helmet for a little additional visibility since I am frequently riding at night.
Princeton Tec Swerve – a simple rear light, this has worked ok.
I dont really have too much bike specific clothing – but these pieces seem to mix and match nicely to cover the range of Tucson weather:
OR Wind Beaker The OR shell I have is old and no longer made, a simple small pullover with a nice long zipper that makes it easy to get on over a helmet.
OR Revel Jacket – This goes in my bag in wet weather – the Revel Jacket is water proof with great venting options. No need for a cycle specific piece on the recumbent…
Icebreaker Long sleeve Top:. A nice layering option when it is chilly. This piece is made from Merino Wool, the main benefit being that it can sit in my bag a lot longer without needing a wash. Not a current model but a 260 weight piece.
Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover: For the cold - the Nano Puff is surprisingly warm for the weight/bulk.
Manzella Vapor Gloves: The Vapor gloves are a lightweight fleece with a nice high visibility color and a few reflective hits.
Manzella Hatchback Gloves: Thicker fleece and a high visibility shell that stows out of the way in the back of the glove and can be pulled out to cover your fingers. The small strip of reflective trim is another nice detail.
Marmot Helmet Liner: Not too bulky under my helmet and provides enough warmth for any time of year in Tucson.