The Ultimate Techie Cycling List

We’ve spent hours and months researching, trying, returning, and purchasing gear. What we recommend is what has really worked for us and enjoyed using. We have not come across a tailored list with products links and reason to buy them, so we decided to create one. Here it goes:

1. Universal Travel Adapter. Instead of traveling with all your chargers and converters, take this one only. Even if you are traveling minimalist you will carry some devices that are powered by USB. In our case: phones, watch, iPad, Kindle, power bank, speaker, head lamps, tent lamp, drone, and bike front and rear lamps. You can charge 4 USB devices at a time and still plug a power hungry item on top -like an iron or hair dryer-. We really like the fact that it doesn’t warm up, fast charges our devices, and is relatively compact. We didn’t like that is bulky -if you need to charge only one device- and cumbersome to connect on tight areas. Totally worth the purchase and the weight and volume usage on our panniers.

  • 2. Phone mount. We’ve tried multiple types of mounts over the years spending up to $100, however this universal mount is less than a fifth of that price and works perfect. In comparison to others, this you can keep using when you update your phone. It has silicon belt grips on the corners as an optional holder for super extreme rides. We only had to use them on a few occasions because the side holders worked well enough. On those extreme occasions the phone did not fall but slipped a bit off the center, having the side holders squeezing the upper volume and lock button for a while which triggers the SOS alarm for iPhones. Once the belts are in all is good.

3. Power bank. Your phone will likely be your lamp, camera, map, internet browser, activity recorder, music player… and maybe a phone. It is likely that you won’t finish the day with some juice on its battery if you use it for all that. This power bank charges a couple of phones simultaneously through USB and the qi wireless capability. A few things to note: it comes with a USB C – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device, its nicely advertised as solar but you won’t charge it 100% that way, so better assume that its only for emergencies; Qi is nice but if someone happened to shift the phone slightly from its place, you wont wake up with a fully charged phone; lastly its not the lightest on the market but is super sturdy.

  • 4. Bluetooth Speaker. Surely you already have a similar bluetooth speaker, we also have a few. But we choose to take this one because the good quality of sound vs size and weight. The strap in the back loops perfectly around the bike frame (down tube). We both were able to listen music perfectly on our tandem while cycling upwind. One charge lasted about two days of riding around 4-5 hours. We liked the clear treble and bass -considering the size-, the sturdiness, water resistance capability, and large battery capacity. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device. We did not like the mechanical responsiveness of the buttons, they are not that intuitive to operate if you are not looking at them. This was not really a big deal since we normally control the music through an iPhone and Apple Watch.

5. Bike headlamp. We know, 1,100 lumens is crazy to point at someone’s eyes! But using this headlamp responsibly -it has 3 power levels- will change your late afternoon or night ride completely. Even if you don’t plan to ride in the dark probably at some point you will find yourself on that saddle after sunset. At its highest power this lamp gives you about the brightness of your car high beams but covering a much larger area. Like similar lamps, its heavy and it will get hot, the metal ribs work as heat dissipators so try not to hold it from there after long usage. We also have an older 350 lumens model -same shape and size, double the money at the purchase time- and we’ve been using for 8 years with no issues. We recommend placing the lamp on its mount only when using it, otherwise the mount channels will wear off. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device.

  • 6. Smart Bike Tail Light. A most have in your gadgets list. This tail light turns On on its own when you start moving, will go brighter when its darker, and brightest when you are breaking. It has a super wide field of view, the battery lasts about 20 hours. Every 5 days or so we saw the light at a lower intensity and it was time to charge it. It comes with a USB micro – USB A (regular USB) cable needed to charge the device. We honestly can’t find anything inconvenient on this thing, we strongly recommend it.

7. Headlamp. Having a lamp fixed to the bike is indispensable, but sometimes while riding you need to look to the sides or back. That’s what this lamp is for. Is super light and easy to carry everywhere. We loved the motion sensor where you quickly raise your hand and will switch off / on as needed. We purchased and returned 4 similar headlamps, and this one was the winner.

  • 8. Tent lamp. If you are doing camping this lamp is super helpful. Is rechargeable, water resistant, has a magnet, and 3 intensity levels. -It also has a SOS function, but haven’t come across anyone who has used that on this or any other device.- Our favorite function is the power bank with a USB-A output. Needless to say its bulky so don’t buy this unless you are camping.

9. 19-tool multitool. Needless to say why you need this and for sure you already have one. We like that this multitool is lightweight, rather compact, very complete, and good quality. We do not like that on many occasions the chain / spoke tool is often obstructing and adds another degree of movement so we simply unscrewed it and stored it with the spare chainlink. The tool often looses its tightness on its holding mechanism but can easily be screwed again.

  • 10. 8-tool multitool. Yes, a second set. My wife kept this one on her back pocket and I kept the 19-tool above. She quickly loved it and became her own tool for adjusting her saddle, tightening racks, and -of course- assembling and disassembling the bike. Its slimness and stainless steel shine makes it look fancy but is very affordable for what it does. This tool is super light, compact, and tough. In comparison to the 19-tool above this one has a system that wont allow to get its holding mechanism loose.

11. Pump with gauge. This is not your home floor pump but its the closest thing. This pump is comfortable to use cause it has a T-handle to push down with your hand, a fold down footpath to keep it on the floor, and a flexible hose with a gauge. It has both Presta/Schrader heads. Great volume and weight. There are lighter ones but not as comfortable to use and without gauge. You’ll need some muscles or patience, but if you tour-cycle you have both. After 7 years of usage an inner seal broke, other than that we have no complains.

This is all for now, keep checking our page for other products list and traveling stories. Feel free to contact us for any advice by leaving a reply below.

Getting into touring? …panniers are needed.

If you are touring for more than a day you may want to free your back from your backpack and invest in some good equipment. We know some people like to have a trailer but before adding a 3rd wheel we recommend -and have used on our trips- bike panniers.

Panniers are about the size of a bag or larger, and they hook into the side of a front or rear bike rack. It is kind of standard to have 2 smaller panniers in the front and 2 in the rear. We also have a handlebar bag for wallet, passports, alcohol gel, multitool, and any other quick stuff needed.

When traveling on a plane we check-in everything except one or two panniers which we leave as carry on. They may have a shoulder and hand strap to carry them. Just don’t expect them to be as comfortable to carry as a traveling bag or backpack, but you can use it a such for a short time. Buying flag patches and shields from each place is cool, but glue them into your panniers instead of sewing them with a needle… that waterproof function you do want to keep in good shape.

Another great advantage is protection falling. They will protect your shifter controllers when you fall -not in case you fall, but when-. When falling mostly the shifter controller -which happens to be an expensive part- is what is damaged first. With panniers, your clothing, food, books, toiletries, etc inside the pannier will take one-for-the-team and absorb the fall.

Like most things today, you are spoiled by choices. When you shop around make sure they are waterproof, lightweight, durable, and easy to hook in and out of the rack. Even the pricey ones will suffer, so make sure that the pieces that assemble them (eg. the bag attachment to the hooks) have standard screws that you can find on a regular hardware shop.

I’m giving it a try” Entry level doesn’t mean bad quality, either of the three options below perform perfectly for your first rides.

“Give me the best value” When you are out there you’ll be happy you picked the best quality your money can buy.

This last one in the list is the one we’ve been using for 7 years, a few falls, rain, snow, sun, dirt and still works perfectly. If you can buy it from your local shop, please go ahead and do that. After you tried to support your community, if they don’t have exactly what you need, please go ahead and order it online. Please take your time to adjust it to fit your rack.

8 Tips when cycling through Cuba

  1. Immigration randomly requests travel insurance. Luckily we had that ready and printed because we thought that was needed for the visa. Not sure what would have happened if we didn’t bring it, maybe just a warning.
  2. Be patient when landing. The process was long from landing to exiting the airport. If you ever went through secondary inspection in the US, consider that. We had to do a lot of back and forth, searching for our luggage on the wrong belt, went through 3 lines for customs (because our tandem bike cases look weird, etc.) That said, everyone calls you “mi amor”, “mi vida” -sweetie or darling for Spanish- and were really nice.
  3. Smoking. If you can’t stand people smoking nearby reconsider your destination. People love smoking in Cuba and they do it indoors, outdoors, everywhere.
  4. Change money at the airport. We decided to exchange 5-7 days budget worth of expenses. The exchange is the same everywhere and if you bring USD expect a 10% on top of the exchange rate. Try to get some Moneda Nacional around the city for emergencies, you will see later that not every business take CUCs. We learnt having all three USD, CUCs and Moneda Nacional was the best option. Often -maybe not allowed- Casas Particulares opted for receiving USDs a win-win for both.
  5. Bike assembling. Definitely do that at the place you are staying. Take a taxi which at this time cost around 30CUC. Cycling from the airport is not really worth doing and you wont have a really good time assembling your bike there either. Our tandem is not new or shiny but unavoidably it initiated many conversations. We normally deviate the talk when it comes to how much it cost because most wages are around 12usd, and some doctors earn 80usd per month. (We didn’t want to draw extra attention to ourselves and wanted to be sensitive to the wage gap.)
  6. Walking tours and concerts. We recommend doing research on concerts beforehand or being toured by a local. But you can also experience live music easily in old Habana, there’s live music everywhere all the time!
  7. Internet. We got an automatic message from our carrier as soon as we landed with the super high rate per minute talk, per message and per MB. Followed by “It adds up quickly so be careful”. Plan ahead to disconnect with everyone during your stay. You can buy internet cards sold by the hour for 1CUC and connect to Wifi provided by plazas and hotels. Pictures take long to load. You wont be able to connect to US banks online because of the embargo between the US and Cuba -not sure if other countries have this issue-. Share bank credentials with a loved one not in Cuba and give instructions through regular communication while traveling.
  8. Casas Particulares vs Airbnb vs Warmshowers. At this time there was only one Warmshower and ended up charging as a regular Casa Particular which defeated the purpose. We started with Airbnb to establish first contact with someone and kept going with Casas Particulares. Wherever we stayed we secured the next destination Casa Particular through the owner’s friend or relative. This way we secured a lower rate than just arriving without recommendation.

We had great experience with Jose and his family as you can see on the pictures. He lives and also hosts at Aguila 168B but also hosts at Aguacate 512 #105:

tips & tricks

Hi, I just created a new page on my site, in this section you will find very useful stuff for your cycling tour whether you have thousands of miles under your belt or are new to this. Prior to my first trip I read a few books, watched many videos, and talked to my cycling gurus which inspired me to follow this liberating lifestyle. It was until I put all that theory together in practice though, that I created my own experience and based on this you are reading my own recommendation.

What inspired me to write this?
First, the “paying forward” attitude. I’m very grateful with all the people who helped me before, during, and after my trips, and I want more people to tap into the information learnt.
Second, many people asked me for advise on different topics, for instance “what to pack?”, so this is an easier way to share my recommendation.
Third, I stop writing my blog for 9 months and people over 40 countries are still opening it…

Feel free to drop a comment on any section!