Saturday, March 31, 2007

OTM April: Carrying Stuff

The April issue of Out There Monthly marks my entry into the world of (non-geeky) print publications. I'll be writing a monthly column called "Everyday Cyclist." My first article was about how to carry a couple bags of groceries on your bike. It's pretty hard to give the topic complete treatment in under 900 words. Luckily, there's no limit on this blog; I can be as verbose as I want. Lucky you.

There are a couple additions I wanted to make to the article here. I want to get pictures up of all the options mentioned in the article and I want to mention a couple other cheap options that I didn't have room for .

But first, if you're interested in carrying loads and city bikes, you should know about Bicycle Quarterly, which just published a whole issue dedicated to city bikes. Specifically, in the Spring issue, they review the Breezer Uptown 8, the Jamis Commuter, and the ANT "Basket Bike." The issue also includes an article by Liza where she writes about her favorite bike, which is a city bike we built up from a garage sale mixte. In my opinion, Bicycle Quarterly is far and away the best cycling periodical in print today. The quality of writing and overall content is just superb. If you only subscribe to one bike-related magazine, it should be Bicycle Quarterly. I have no financial tie or interest in the magazine; I just would love to see its readership grow.

Anyway, here are pictures of each rack solution mentioned in the Out There Monthly article.

Milk crate

Wald basket

Bucket panniers

Fancy panniers

As I mentioned in the article, there are tons of solutions for carrying groceries and loads on bicycles. But a couple other easy and not too expensive solutions to consider are the front basket and the saddle bag.

Front baskets are nice because you can keep your eye on the load. A good front basket should be easy to pop off and take into the grocery store. Some bikes handle better than others with front baskets, but as an easy solution to carry smaller loads on most bikes, a front basket can be a great solution. Again, I have to go with the Wald here. Wald makes a nice basket that is easy to put on most bikes and has a super simple quick release mechanism built right into the handle. A net is essential for front baskets, as stuff tends to bounce around quite a bit. A net is nice too since it allows you to cram a bunch of stuff in the basket. Here's a not-so-great photo of a stuffed Wald basket.

Saddle bags are great too. A saddle bag is a bag that attaches to the saddle and hangs over the rear wheel. Rivendell Bicycle Works has been pushing saddle bags for years and was the company that introduced me to the practical goodness of the saddle bag. Most saddles made today do not have saddle bag loops, but some still do. You won't find much for saddle bags in any of the local bike shops. Online, Rivendell is a good source, as is Wallingford Bike Parts.

I like saddle bags because the weight is right under the seat. They're typically not waterproof, but since they're right under your butt and body, you block a lot of the rain. Plus, I like the way they look... distinctly not cool and not aero and not racey. Of course the milk crate has that going for it too and it's way cheaper.


ken said...

Welcome to the Fourth Estate!

In response to the column: I'm a big fan of the folding basket, because it's out of the way and yet always there when I need it. If I'm riding home from work and need to stop at the store or bring home an impulse purchase I made on my lunch break, I know I've always got something to haul it home with.

I can't remember what brand I've got, but it's pretty sturdy, was only about $15, and happens to be perfect fit for a paper grocery bag. Plus it leaves space on the rack to strap on a 12-pack.

The only downside is handling - I only have one basket, mounted on the left side, so I have to be careful about corners when I've got it loaded. But I don't ride very far/fast with a load of groceries, so it's not a big deal.

patrick said...

congratulations on your article, and many more to come.

I am 100% on board with the idea of repurposing old MTBs as city bikes. Thanks for writing about it!

i have folding baskets on the rear of my personal old utility MTB (the one from the early '90s, in the garage). You're right, they're not that great. For me, anyway. They "fold" at the most inopportune moments, and they have lousy heel clearance. Maybe the homemade bucket panniers are the ticket.

I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks for all the goods--