How to Safely Carry Stuff on Your Bike

dog on a bike

Image from here.

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Is there anything you cannot carry on your bike? The truth is, sadly, yes. The load you can put on your bike depends on how much weight it can bear and how able you are in balancing the bike when it is loaded. And as you will be on the bike already, the amount of load you can actually bring with you is much less than you think. However, there are still lots of things you can put on your bike and we are here to give you tips on how you can transport almost anything on your bicycle properly and safely.

The first thing most bicyclists will think of when tasked with carrying things on their bike is to use a cargo bike or a bike trailer.  Because they are built for such purposes, you can easily put almost anything on them and solve your problems. However, they are hard to find as we don’t usually have them here in the country. There are some people who build their own and many have successfully built strong and durable ones. But for our purposes, we are referring to regular bikes we use and not cargo bikes or bike trailers. We will have a separate post for them in the future.

The most common way we carry small things is to put them in a backpack or a messenger bag. Books, a laptop, your baon, some grocery items such as canned goods or noodle packs are easy to carry as they are small and light enough to fit in a bag. Many bicyclists who regularly use their bikes to do errands don’t mind installing a front basket or a rear rack. They may not look cool on your bike but they are actually a better choice to carry things than a backpack or messenger bag.  Bags on your back can cause pain in the long run. Other alternative means are saddle bags, handlebar bags, top-tube bags and top-mounted rear rack bags. Saddle bags are usually quite small and good only for bike tools but they can also hold other small items you may need while on the road. You should be really cautious when using a handlebar bag since having a large and heavy load in it can affect your steering and balancing, and can cause you to lose control and crash.

Image from here.

An excellent way to carry larger items is by installing panniers either on both sides or on just one side on your rear rack. Most touring bicycles already have provisions for installing both front and rear panniers which allow the rider to carry lots of essential and even luxury items while on a tour. Panniers come in different configurations and attachment options but the most important thing to consider is how they will fit your bike, how much they can carry and serve your purpose. The difficult part is to find one or a pair for your non-touring bike. Once you have them installed, the next real challenge is to make sure your load is balanced on both sides and in both front and rear too, if you have to carry another load in your front basket, rack or panniers. You should also consider how waterproof your panniers are, bearing in mind the wet and wetter climate in our country. Panniers are rather expensive as those that are available locally, if you can find original ones, are foreign brands. However, you can have them custom made at a local bag maker if you know one or you can fabricate them yourself using recycled materials. Instructables.com features several homemade DIY panniers that are easy to make. They have very good instructables that are easy to follow and most of them use locally available reusable materials.

The next thing to consider is how to secure your load. It should be easy enough to do so if you have a backpack or messenger bag. Once your items are inside, they are already quite secure there. But it’s a different matter when carrying loads on a front basket or a rear rack. A basket can securely hold what’s inside it but sometimes you have to carry things that are larger than the basket itself. The same thing goes for the rear rack. The best way to secure them is by using bungee cords, which are not expensive at all. You can buy them at your local bike shops. But if you are a DIY guy or gal, you can fashion some sort of bungee cord from used inner tube. Check out instructables.com again for more information and walkthroughs in creating a DIY strap for your front and rear racks or baskets.

Most bikers to work that you can see on the road carry the tools of their trade. Thus, you can see carpenters with their saws or hammers tied to their top tube or securely strapped with cut to size inner tubes on their improvised rear racks. If you are lucky, you may see a bicyclist carrying two or three car tires on either side tied to their rear racks. In fact, in other Asian countries, the bike is used to transport almost anything from chickens to junk car bodies.

 

chickens on a bike

Image from here.

 

Image from here.

There are many ways to safely carry things in our bikes.  We do need to be careful and prudent everytime when doing so. Remember that we only have two wheels and it is hard to keep our balance when our load shifts to one side or becomes undone even after securely tying them to the rack or basket. We only have ourselves to blame if we cause an accident due to unsafe practices when carrying loads.

Biking in our city streets can be stressfull in itself so to help you overcome stress, here are 5 Things You Need to Stop Doing While Biking. And if you are looking for tips on biking to work, check out our post on How to Become a Biker to Work in 5 Unbelievably Tough Steps so you can start tomorrow.

 

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