A Weight Off Your Shoulders
Easy Does It: its best for a woman to carry her purse in a front-mounted basket
(Photo: richardmasoner on flickr)
Want to carry your laptop to work or your books from the library? Drop your toddler off at school? Transport your purchases home from shopping? Bring a gift to a friend's place for dinner? You don't need a car. A bicycle with load carrying capabilities will save you gas, parking, hassle and almost always bring closer door-to door.
This page addresses carrying loads on upright city bicycles. The suggestions found here can usually be applied to recumbent bikes and trikes. For larger loads and commercial applications, see the purpose-built work and delivery bikes and trikes on the cargo cycles page as well as the bike trailers section for alternatives to carry kids or cargo.
In additition, you should consider putting a two-legged or double kickstand on the bicycle to keep it standing completely upright, thereby properly supporting the weight of whatever the bike has been loaded with when you're not riding it.
Baby- & Child Seats
Hands On: a front-mounted child seat lets the child see more and mom keep tabs
Child seats can be front- or rear-mounted with the latter being traditionally the more frequent approach with the former gaining in popularity. If the seat is mounted at front, a windshield may be considered to provide protection for the eyes since the baby or child is very likely not wearing riding glasses.
Shields Up: a handlebar-mounted windshield protects your child from bugs and dirt
Other options for safely transporting small children by bicycle are described on the Child Carriers page.
Best Friends: a wire basket lined with a blanket can be used to transport your pet
(Photo: justinj on flickr)
Putting a basket on the front or rear of your bicycle is the easiest and most common solution to transporting small items or pets on a bike around town. For a larger pet or two, consider using a pet trailer.
Most baskets for bicycles are mass-produced items made from powder-coated metal. Some models offer a quick-release mechanism to remove the basket from the bike, for example to do a bit of grocery shopping.
Folds Up: Horst Kupke's metal basket can be folded together when not in use
The more traditional or style-concious rider may consider a wicker basket. For special applications, for example on Long John cargo cycles, a basket weaver or carpenter can make a basket or wooden box, respectively, to fit your specifications.
Choices Choices: rear luggage racks come as standard equipment on Dutch bikes
(Photo: aloxe on flickr)
A rear-mounted luggage rack is most always provided as standard equipment on city bikes. Many bicycle luggage racks include a spring-loaded bracket to clamp down the load on the bicycle. Bungee cords can also be used to help secure the load.
If your bike lacks a front or rear luggage rack, check the fork or chainstays (close to where the wheels meet the frame) for the presence and size of mounting holes called bosses before purchasing a rack to ensure it can be mounted properly.
Double Up: some softshell panniers can be folded up when not in use saving space
Also known as, perhaps incorrectly, as saddle bags, panniers attach to the sides of a luggage rack for added carrying capacity. Bicycles with a set of panniers attached to the rear luggage rack are a common sight in most cities as they are popular with cycling commuters. Some pannier systems allow each bag to be attached independently of the other for carrying light loads. Some panniers can be folded or rolled up when not in use.
Equipping bicycles with panniers at both front and rear is common for long distance touring (although the use of single-wheel cycle trailers is becoming increasingly popular to shift the weight off of the bicycle and onto on the trailer which has a lower center of gravity).
Heavy-Duty: hardshell panniers provide extra protection for valuables like laptops
Front and rear panniers almost always differ in design, meaning you can't use a rear pannier on a front rack and vice versa. Panniers are increasingly available as hard shell, weatherproof cases.
You can make your own set of front and rear durable waterproof bucket panniers by repurposing one or more plastic pet food or cat litter containers. Drill a pair of holes into one side of the bucket and attached it to your luggage rack with nuts, bolts and washers. The re-sealable lid keeps the contents of the bucket pannier dry.
Drop in the Bucket: pet litter containers can be repurposed as bucket panniers (Photo: (Photo: RJL20 on flickr)
For a more utilitarian look, you can usually remove any stickers that were on the bucket for the container's original contents. Adding your own stickers can help to personalize your bike to discourage theft. Red reflective stickers at rear are recommended for increased safety and visibility.
Under Lock and Key: Gerda's lockable box keeps a helmet safely stowed away (Photo: the manufacturer)
A lockable case like that found on scooters, mopeds and motorcycles is practical for commuting, shopping and touring to store a helmet, food, shopping or tools. The case itself is attached to the bicycle's luggage rack in such a way as to deter theft.
Good quality cases are weatherproofed, keeping water and moisture outside the box.
Up Front: the Kogswell porteur rack attaches to the hub and turns with the fork (Photo: the manufacturer)
A porteur rack is suitable for carrying light to medium loads on the front of the bicycle with the benefit being that the cargo being transported stays in plain view of the rider. Most porteur racks designs will attach to either the fork or fork and handlebars, the disadvantage being that the rack moves in the direction the wheel is steered which can be tricky for some loads. Better porteur rack designs will attach via a clamp to the frame and remain in a fixed forward position independent of front wheel steering.
For transporting heavier loads upfront, a short john or front loader cargo bicycle is recommended due to the sturdier construction of the stationary front rack (attached at several points to the frame). More weight will be easier to control and therefore safer.
Surf's Up: a city bike equipped with a surfboard carrying rack and a crate at rear (Photo: greenspeed.us)
A frame-mounted surfboard rack for your bicycle is a much safer and more convenient way to transport a surfboard instead of carrying the board under your arm. Commercial versions can carry up to a 10' longboard. A DIY project offers an affordable, environmentally-friendly alternative to having a commercial surfboard rack shipped from Hawaii.
Unfortunately, the white PVC tubes often used in DIY racks breakdown after prolong exposure to the sunlight and bicycles carrying surfboards are susceptible to crosswinds.
The safest way to transport surfboards, longboards and paddleboards by bike, is to use a watercraft trailer.
sustainable transportation, personal mobility, carrier bicycles, carrying capacity, cargo, luggage racks, porteur racks, baskets, custom made, shopping, saddle bags, panniers, commuting, touring, lashing points, bungee cords, cables,