Nov 3: Gear

Submitted by Ben on Wed, 11/03/2004 - 00:00

You may be wondering what exactly one might bring on a long-distance, solo bicycle trip. Enough people have expressed interest that I figured I should take some photos of what I'm carrying and describe what goes where and why.

My bike is a 2002 BikeE CT XL semi-recumbent. Sad to say, BikeE has now gone out of business, so if any really unusual parts break, I'll be at the mercy of eBay, but so far I've only had to replace really standard parts like tires, bearings, and such. The CT was the cheapest model of the cheapest brand on the market at the time; it cost me $700 including fenders. There are now some semi-recumbents on the market for as little as $300! A few bike mechanics and other cyclists have looked down their noses and questioned whether the CT is suitable for long-distance touring, but once they learned how far I had gone, their attitude changed!

One of the undocumented features of the BikeE is that the main tube of its frame is open at the back, which means you can put stuff in there. That's where I keep my tire pump, patch kit, and bike tool, so that they're always with the bike, even when I'm not carrying anything else.

My trailer is a Bikes at Work truss-frame cargo trailer, the smallest size they make. I bought it for its versatility: it's great for moving furniture as well as touring. It hasn't required any maintenance at all in over 8000 miles! Its only drawback is a tendency to flip over when one wheel goes over a curb before the other, but that's probably the case with any two-wheel trailer whose hitch is low to the ground.

The rest of my gear was stowed based on when I planned to use it. Click a container and then click the (i) button to learn about its contents.

  My person: items I might need anywhere, anytime.
White bag: items I needed to be able to reach without getting off the bike, or that I'd like to carry into a library or store with me.
Gray Bag Gray bag behind the seat: items I needed to be able to reach when I stopped for a break.
blue bin Blue bin: Stuff I didn't want to get dirty.
green bin Green bin: Stuff that could get dirty.
Yellow bag Yellow waterproof bag: My autoharp -- an acoustic musical instrument that can't get wet! (note: after carrying this for the first four months of the trip, I left the autoharp behind to save weight.) The tent, rainfly and groundcloth also rode on top with (and later in) the yellow bag.

Additionally, I had a solar battery charger that rode on top of the trailer on sunny days and charged the AA batteries for my radio and AAA for my PalmPilot.

Of course there were changes to my gear during the course of the trip, but not as many as you might think. Here's a list of everything I replaced.