Today I’m going to follow up on my previous “Carrying Things” post by talking about big, bulky items. You know, the kind that don’t fit in yours, or anyone else’s bag, such as two weeks of laundry, a CSA share, another bike, or large packages of paper towels. These are the kinds of things I move with alarming frequency with the bike. The only practical way I’ve found to do it is with a front rack (I use a Cetma rack). Other methods, such as a back rack (a device created solely to eject cargo from your bike), or balancing on your handlebars (hard to steer when your arms are busy with other things) aren’t up to snuff. Good alternative I haven’t tried are a bucket bike (bakfiet), basket, or a trailer. Is anyone else moving moderately sized things with their bike?

Weather Today

It was a little warm today, beautifully sunny, but actually shockingly comfortable.

Temperature: 35 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, Timberland shoes, messenger bag

Comfort: Tiny bit warm, easily solved by removing my gloves


8 Responses to “Carrying Things (II); Cool and Dry (again)”

  1. cycler Says:

    “back rack (a device created solely to eject cargo from your bike)”

    Wha?? I think you must be using your rack wrong, because I carry all kinds of things on my rear rack, from groceries to christmas trees, to compost, and I don’t have problems with things falling off.
    search “carrying stuff” on my blog for more examples:
    My secret weapon is European style rack straps which actually fasten with a clip around the axle, so they never fall off or get fouled in the wheel.

  2. Weather Guy Says:

    I really dig your cargo moving style – I also knew I would set off some alarm bells by dissing, well, other people’s set ups.

    I think the issues I have with back racks are:
    1. The ones I have used are probably on the narrower end. Looking at some of the shots on your blog, it seems like you have a bigger footprint.
    2. I don’t have the mega bungees like you do.
    3. I’m very worried about crushing the cargo. That’s mysteriously not a problem for you.

    Don’t you find with something the size of a christmas tree (or tubing, or lumber), it’s easy to load it unevenly, which compromises balance and also accelerates its slipping off the end?

  3. Phil Lindsay Says:

    I have a trailer that I use. It’s a phased out version that attaches at the seat stem. It was made for 2 kids facing backwards. It cost $40 at a Thrift Store and it can carry a lot of stuff. You have to plan when you use it and it is a literal drag on your speed, but to me it’s better than always having a rack or basket. The last big item it carried was my Christmas Tree. Altho my friend has a basket that can fit a case of beer. She has another bike for riding though so it isn’t in use all the time…

  4. Mark Says:

    Rear racks by themselves don’t really add much utility to your bike. Adding a basket or panniers makes it much more useful.
    Baskets: Wald makes some very nice ones, I’ve used the 139 basket, both on the front and mounted to the rear rack. I’ve also used a legal sized wire in-basket from Staples zip tied to the rear rack , cheaper, smaller and much flimsier than the Wald. Combine these with a couple bungee cords, bungee net, twine, or inner tube and you can carry a fair amount of things quite securely. Ive used both with the cheap $17 pyramid rack and they have worked quite well. Wald also makes shopping bag baskets that can fit to any rack and really give a lot more area to attach to.
    Panniers: For utility bikes, I like shopping bag style, Ive only used the Arkel Shoppers that are quiet large and have an expandable drawstring top. They are big enough to fit the contents of a full grocery store carry basket. But they are pricey and I had enough heel strike issues that I had to upgrade my rear rack to one with extended further back and had a bar to prevent the pannier from getting into the spokes. I bought a pair, but one is enough for 95% of my needs (cycler tends to do much larger loads than I do)
    As far as the super big, bulky, heavy lads go, Phil is right, you can’t beat a trailer. I’ve used a kiddie trailer to haul large laundry loads, bags of soil from a nursery, large boxes of produce for Produce to Pantries last summer, and even a very sleepy kid once.

  5. Mark Says:

    By the way, Ferris Wheels in JP is hosting a free “jumpstart your season” workshop coverng gear and clothing tomorrow Feb 12th at 4pm – 5:30.

  6. cycler Says:

    I’ve never had anything fall off the back (end) of a rack.
    I’ve had things fall to the side several times, including things slowly migrating sideways while still secured by the straps.
    A really large load can create a bit of shimmy in the steering, but nothing that can’t be managed. One of my bikes has a tremendously long wheelbase, which I think makes it easier. I either don’t carry crushable things on the rack (using panniers instead) or manage them by making a basket on the rack with a cardboard box with slits for my rack straps. The rack straps are also reasonably supple and not that tight. Oh, I can also put fragile stuff in the small front basket on my sports.
    The racks I have are all a European brand called Steco, with oversized tubing, which is mostly an aesthetic choice, although they can also carry a large amount of weight.

    Saw a post yesterday about a guy carrying 140 pounds of garden pavers on a Big Dummy. Now that’s a load.

  7. Weather Out There » Blog Archive » Dynamo Light; Spring Returns, Again Says:

    […] back on my commuter bike, with only a back rack (the horror!), although I rarely load anything onto it aside from panniers. Last night I switched back to my […]

  8. Weather Out There » Blog Archive » Monthly Recap: February 2012 Says:

    […] boosted my front rack for its superior cargo carrying ability, including other bikes and freakishly large panniers. I […]

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