- Buyer's Guide
A Guide to Carrying on a Bike
Hi, I’m Mike! And I’m currently cycling around Thailand while running my bike blog – Pinch-Flat. The guys at Carryology have been kind enough to let me share a guide with you today on ways to “carry on your bike.” I hope you enjoy it!
Bicycles make excellent mules. You name it, someone has probably carried it. It may take some innovation and a little muscle, but it’s possible to move most stuff. Carrying becomes an issue when you want to transport smaller things. Your work gear, your keys, a wallet, or your groceries, as they’re usually forgotten about until it’s too late.
To avoid looking like a loaded buckeroo you’ll want to invest in some decent equipment. There is more than one way to carry on your bike, and I’ve gone through them all below.
1) The Backpack
The classic, the one we’ve all seen before. If you’re considering commuting by bike, the backpack is likely to be what you use first. You can carry moderate loads, and it’s easy to pack and unpack your gear.
If you remain a casual cyclist a waterproof backpack will be all you need if you get a good one.
However, much like the Rock bench-pressing a feather, the backpack is merely scratching the surface of a bicycle’s carrying potential.
2) Messenger Bags
The humble backpack’s slightly cooler brother is the messenger bag (at least for some). If you’re constantly fishing for stuff throughout the day, the messenger bag is far better than the backpack.
But be careful, if you pack your bag too heavy you’ll feel lopsided and awkward as you cycle. What’s more, unless you’re a courier it’s unlikely that you’ll need to reach into your bag all that often. There is the argument for messenger bags giving you a little more ventilation on the back area, but feeling stable on the bike is more important to me.
As you begin to cycle more, you’ll want to investigate alternatives for transporting your stuff. By transferring weight to the bike itself, carrying becomes much easier.
A set of panniers is often the best equipment to do this with.
Panniers are your ticket to the bike club. They’re the holy grail of bicycle carrying equipment. If you purchase a pair of these, you’ll certainly receive a few more nods from your fellow cyclists. They make an especially excellent place to store camping gear on long bike tours.
Much unlike backpacks and messenger bags that grow uncomfortable and sweaty after a few miles, these beauties let the bike do all the work. I’m sure it’s annoyances like a sweaty back that stop people riding their bikes more often. Panniers eliminate these issues and leave you free to nod non-stop at other bikers.
The downside to them is that they require you to have a frame with eyelets and a bike rack. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to use a set of panniers without them, and this will increase overall costs.
They’re also often bulky. If you’re just looking for a place to store your chapstick, then a set of panniers will be too large. Requiring something smaller is when you’d say hello to a nice alternative named the saddlebag.
Saddlebags are an excellent investment for the rider who just wants a place to put stuff that would usually be sitting uncomfortably in their pocket. Key, wallets, chocolate, you know, the usual stuff.
A saddlebag is much less obtrusive than panniers as it sits snugly underneath the bike seat. It requires no extra equipment or special frame fixings so you know you can use it as soon as it’s purchased.
However, sometimes you just want a place to put your jumper after you get too hot. This is where you’d start to consider the front basket.
3) Front Basket
Unless you’re going for the 1960’s look complete with tweed and Tally-Hos the front basket is potentially not the most stylish of carrying equipment. However, what it loses in style, it gains in practicality.
The front basket is best for easily storing extra clothing or your groceries after a trip down the shops. They’re incredibly simple as they have no zips or buckles to worry about.
But be warned, heavy weights can throw off the bike’s handling as it’s attached to the handlebars, and if it’s loaded too high, your view could be obstructed. Make sure you’re not riding around in the rain either as whatever is in there will get wet.
The front basket is ideal for carrying a pint of milk and the odd baguette, but if you’re doing much more than that, I’d start to look for other options. For example, if you’re feeling a little quirky then you could take a look at the elusive frame bag.
5) The Frame Bag
In a world of its own, far removed from other methods of bicycle carrying sits the frame bag. Much like the Bermuda Triangle, no one knows much about it.
If you feel like getting your sewing kit out, it’s possible to make one of these without too much hassle, but if you’re like me and lack any creative ability buying one sounds like a better idea.
Frame bags are excellent additions to the bicycle as they help fill an empty space that people are often unsure what to do with.
Although, you could always fill that empty space with alcohol…
6) Wine Holder
If there’s one thing I like to think about while riding my bike, it’s getting drunk. Because we all know alcohol and exercise go together as well as Fish and Chips (I’m British)!
For years I’d buy a nice bottle of wine from my local and let it hang from the handlebars. Like a carrot in front of a donkey, it was an excellent motivator for my Monday morning commute.
Sadly, this approach just isn’t practical. A few wines can make cycling a straight line harder than completing Takeshi’s Castle. One dramatic swerve is all that’s needed to launch the bottle of plonk into the gutter.
No bother though! Wine carriers solve this problem. From a distance, it may look like you’re riding down a slalom ski slope, but your bottle will stay securely fastened, and you’ll complete every wobble in perfect unison.
However, as with everything, it’s nice to have some variety. If you haven’t got work in a few hours, it’s good to step it up a little. Perhaps something stronger?
7) Hip Flask Holder
Sometimes the alcohol to liquid ratio just isn’t high enough. This is when you’ll want to step it up a gear. Careful though, you may find that after tucking into a tipple of your favourite rocket fuel you need to set up camp for the night.
*feature image courtesy of Lost & Found blog