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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 09-17-06, 01:02 PM   #1
Cassiel240
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Any students? How to carry heavy books?

So, I'm getting my MA in English, which means my textbooks are mostly not as heavy as some people's, but I do have several of them. And my commute is 14 miles one way, in Portland, OR, so probably wet. I'm obviously going to lighten the load as much as possible. I'll still, however, have to carry a lot. What do you think is going to be the best way to do this? I'd rather not be lugging around panniers all day, but this might be more than my backpack can accomodate. I'm thinking a very roomy messenger bag might be the happy medium - do they come in particularly water-tight models?
By the way, are there any PSU students out there? Where is the safest place to lock up your bike on campus? I've got a pretty decent lock, I think, but I'm pretty paranoid since I just invested in a new bike (not ridiculously expensive bike, but it still cost a chunk of change from a student bankroll).
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Old 09-17-06, 01:11 PM   #2
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I know of some panniers that convert into backpacks or messenger bags. The Arkel Bug is pretty popular on these forums. Jandd makes a few panniers that can be used on and off of the bike.

http://www.jandd.com/search_results....el=2&subcat=11

I currently have a backpack (but I intend to move to a pannier/messenger bag set up soon) and I always put stuff that I want to keep dry inside a plastic shopping bag before putting it in my backpack. I believe most pannier companies also sell waterproof covers.
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Old 09-17-06, 01:17 PM   #3
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I carry a lot of heavy things on a rugular basis and I highly recomend the Arkel Bug. The problem with most panniers is that they are a pain to carry off the bike. The backpack on the Bug works very well and is comfortable to wear.

If you go with the Bug be sure to pick up a rain cover too.
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Old 09-17-06, 02:11 PM   #4
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Thanks!
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Old 09-17-06, 02:45 PM   #5
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I have perma-mounted folding crates on my rack. They can carry a good 50 lbs of groceries, and when not in use fold in for a slim profile. I can easily toss my backpack inside of these, and take the weight off my back (hate getting to work with sweaty back).

No need to shell out big bucks for the newest waterproof, breathable bags.
For a poor-man's waterproofing solution, just wrap your books in a trash bag and insert into any normal backpack. Works well. If plastic bags sound annoying, I have had success with army surplus nylon duffel bags. Lightweight, and very water resistant. I've done this while working in Costa Rica and touring in Ireland, both times spending much of the time drenched, but my clothes, books, and camera stayed dry.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:41 AM   #6
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Attach a basket to your rear rack. Put books in backpack, put backpack in basket.
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Old 09-18-06, 03:13 AM   #7
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It's been a while since I've been in school but this was my setup back then. I'd keep your backpack as that seems to work best at keeping your center of gravity. I would get a shoulder bag ( I used this http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1158570409624 but the old 90's model) as your secondary bag and some bungee cords. You part your books down evenly so they don't shift as much. I kept some heavy books on my back while putting the other heavy ones in my shoulder bag. Then zip up/secure your shoulder bag then bungee cord it to the back rack. Many poeple like to use 2 bungee cords but I like the extra security of three or four. Keep one spare bungee in the bag as I could some people with back racks sometimes forget thier bungee cords or don't have any when they want ot carry thier stuff and will want to steal yours.

When you're at the campus just take the books out of the shoulder bag and put into your main bag and throw that into the locker or just carry it around as a shoulder bag.


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Old 09-18-06, 04:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by becnal
Attach a basket to your rear rack. Put books in backpack, put backpack in basket.
This is a good, cheap solution. I would have also suggested putting the books in grocery bag panniers, but I don't know how they would handle significant weights.
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Old 09-18-06, 07:25 AM   #9
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I walked a lot while getting my undergrad (which was physics, so my books varied from 10lb monsters to tiny things the size of the books I suppose the OP is probably carrying) I found a messenger bag helped with the weight while walking, but with my current backpack weight around 12lbs (laptop, Camelbak unbottle, a few tools, air pump) I couldn't imagine the 20-30lb load I carried in college going on my back.

I'd keep whatever backpack you like and find a way to temporarily put your empty backpack along with books into some panniers (or find a way to lash your bag to a rear rack) just to get the weight lower on the bike.

If its more bulk (volume) than weight, then cycling with a pack shouldn't be so bad.
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Old 09-18-06, 07:48 AM   #10
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big old milk crate on the rear rack, that way you can always fit as many books as you need in there
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Old 09-18-06, 08:37 AM   #11
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Get a bag and strap it to your rack.

Have you tried carrying anything on your back ofr the better part of an hour? Not comfortable.

This morning I had to bring a 33lb. box with me to work. I strapped it to my rack and got it here no problem. It does slow you down a bit though!!!
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Old 09-18-06, 09:21 AM   #12
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All siggestions are great, but if you face severe rain like I do (Florida), The Bug from Arkel is "the WAY".
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Old 09-18-06, 09:47 AM   #13
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Good messenger bags like Chrome are water proof but are not the best solution for long rides with heavy weights. If you are carrying 20lbs or more the Bug is probably your best solution. Its not much more expensive than good messegner bags but is designed exactly for the purpose you need.
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Old 09-18-06, 09:57 AM   #14
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My husband has the same issue, except he is a computer science major and his books are huge, plus he has to carry a laptop most days. He was killing his back with a messenger bag but did not think panniers would work. (Grocery panniers would definitely not work, plus they would get stolen if you left them on the bike, and they are a pain to carry around. I think they are useless, personally.)

Anyway, he is using this Cannondale pannier and while it's not perfect, it seems to be working out okay. I did an MA in English myself and I think this would more than carry what you probably need for a full load of classes.
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Old 09-18-06, 11:28 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the great replies. Lots of options to look into. Definitely dealing with very heavy rain, so I think I'll investigate the Arkel Bug first.
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Old 09-18-06, 11:29 AM   #16
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I hadn't seen the Cannondale before. xeney, what does your husband do with his U-lock?

I agree emphatically that carting a messenger bag or a backpack full of books, for 14 miles, would not be a good solution.
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Old 09-18-06, 11:34 AM   #17
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It's been said, but I used a milk crate through the college years and beyond. Take care of waterproofing with a trash bag. You could also bolt a rubbermaid bin or tool box to the rack for better waterproofing. With heavy loads, the ole milk crate would make the bike a bit top heavy at times, but free is free.
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Old 09-18-06, 11:53 AM   #18
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ok after a couple of weeks of commuting with the milk crate i am starting to give more thought to a set like fillthecup's ( a toolbox bolted to the rear rack and wire baskets). Rack-mounted 'trunk'

with a small load the milk crate does fine, but on days when I have to carry a couple of school books and my lunch the crates gets very full and very heavy. So much so that I notice it alot more when standing to sprint through an intersection.


More pic and info on my milk crate project here anyone know of a lockable trunk rack for a commuter bike?

with the toolbox and wire baskets I could put the weight of the school books lower and split the load on 2 sides. Use a small tool box just for my flat kit and lights.

Going to make some other changes first though. I do not like the bar end shifters I have so I am going to put downtube shifters on the bike. Also I am going to either get some wider platform pedals or put a set of old Look pedals I have on it. Leaning towards the BMX style platforms because I think those would be easier for riding around campus, plus wearing what ever shoes I felt like.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:12 PM   #19
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I hadn't seen the Cannondale before. xeney, what does your husband do with his U-lock?
He bungees it onto to the top of the rack.
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Old 09-18-06, 04:38 PM   #20
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can't beat proper panniers. put them in your office (grad students get offices, right?)....
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Old 09-18-06, 04:40 PM   #21
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No offence or anything intended, but one thing that always surprised me at university if how many people hauled around heavy bags loaded with textbooks all day. They brought a textbook for every class to every class, even when that was absolutely unnecessary. Most profs did not require that students bring textbooks to class. I guess if you drive or live on campus, it doesn't matter that much - but if you have to carry those books home and back every day on a bike, it makes a difference. So perhaps one thing you should do is to think whether you really need to carry all those books around with you. (It was probably pointless to write all this since you said you're looking for ways to lighten the load already. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bolo Grubb
ok after a couple of weeks of commuting with the milk crate i am starting to give more thought to a set like fillthecup's ( a toolbox bolted to the rear rack and wire baskets).
One advantage to milk crate is they seem to slash the bike's attractiveness to thieves in, like, half or so (no stats, don't quote me on this ). Well, maybe it's not that drastic, but the dork factor certainly goes up, which is a good thing.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:55 PM   #22
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Can you get a place on campus to keep your academic books? I have a desk and some shelf space in a shared office, and can generally arrange my work in such a way that I don't need to carry more than a couple of books to or from home at a time.
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Old 09-18-06, 06:43 PM   #23
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I have a crate that was once owned by Dr. Pepper. (the kind that holds 8 two liter bottles) attached to my rear rack. my backpack lays down in it perfectly and witha few bungees it doesn't shift at all. it's cheap, and effective. just put you're backpack in a garbage bag and if you're worried use 2. I'm a student on a budget as well and so far I have under $50 invested in my Trek 800 including the purchase of the bike and having the bottom bracket rebuilt (cheaper than buying the tools) no need to spend big bucks here unless you want to.
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Old 09-18-06, 06:44 PM   #24
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oh, and I don't know about your school, but my school has lockers in some of the buildings that you can rent. $5 refundable deposit for the semester. might be worth looking into...
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Old 10-17-06, 10:32 AM   #25
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Bumping this old thread to note that the Cannondale Cypod pannier I suggested upthread just broke, with only a month and a half of use. The plastic hook that holds it to the rack snapped in half, so its useless. He wasn't even carrying that much today. Bad design, definitely not recommended. Other than being a piece of #*$#&, it was a great bag.
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