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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 08-02-09, 09:09 PM   #1
Tall Pillow
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How do you use your rear bike rack?

My bicycle came with a rear bike rack, but I never use it at all. I figure I might as well start putting it to use, so maybe I can start making trips to the grocery store on my bike, but I don't really know how to... put things onto the rack.

I've seen people do things like attach those plastic produce boxes onto the rack with plastic ties, or buy some bags that hang from its side. Problem is I don't know where I can get one of those boxes or what kind of... umm, side bag I should get.

Any advice?
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Old 08-02-09, 10:24 PM   #2
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i added a collapsible basket, right size for a paper bag with grocery. i just stuff my backpack in there and have two ulocks on the other side. not carrying a backpack on my back to work and school makes a huge difference in my commute.
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Old 08-02-09, 10:42 PM   #3
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Panniers (or saddle bags) goes on your rear rack. Try REI if you're at the states, or MEC if you're in Canada.

Bike locks could be strapped onto the rear rack, freeing up the front triangle for water bottle cages. I haven't seen a beefy U-lock that has a good mount that allows me to use both bottle bosses.
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Old 08-02-09, 10:58 PM   #4
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One very simple and cheap way to keep your rack useful even without bags attached to it, is to have a cargo net always on it. It takes up no room. But when you need it, you can carry food from a restaurant (more than you may think), clothes, or all kinds of other items. You can do something somewaht similar with a couple of bungee cords, but the cargo net is much better. The cargo net doesn't preclude the use of panniers or other bags either.

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Old 08-02-09, 10:59 PM   #5
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There are a multitude of ways to carry things on your rear rack. What do you plan on using the rear rack for? How often will you use it? Do you ride in the wet a lot? Do you intend to carry anything really heavy and/or bulky?

If you just need to carry one bag of groceries or a purse or a briefcase, you can simply buy a bungie or a bungie net (as shown in the above post) and hold your bag down with that. If you plan on carrying more than one bag then you'll either need panniers of some sort, a rear basket or a trunk bag.

You can even fashion together your own panniers from a multitude of things:

Kitty liter containers: http://www.instructables.com/id/Best..._Bike_Buckets/

Army Surplus Backpack Panniers: http://www.instructables.com/id/Army...kpack_Pannier/

Use a backpack you already have for panniers: http://www.instructables.com/id/Back...ill-backpacks/

You can do a further search on how-to on www.instructables.com

If you are looking for something store-bought then there are a ton of options too for panniers, rear baskets and trunk bags. Again, think about how you intend to use the product and then try to find the product that best suits your usage/needs.

I have a set of saddle bag panniers from Banjo Brothers. I use them for everything from trips to the grocery store to trips to Ikea to trips to the beach. They're made of waterproof material but the zippers are NOT waterproof so I consider them water resistant. I even use them for trips to my office to carry my laptop, purse, clothing, etc.: http://banjobrothers.com/products/01090.php



Do a search on the web for panniers and you'll turn up a ton of options.

As far as baskets are concerned, you can go with side hanging baskets or a basket that sits on top of the rack:


http://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Folding-Bicycle-Basket-Black/dp/B000VNFD80/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1249273922&sr=8-16



http://www.amazon.com/Eleven81-Quick...9274241&sr=1-9

You can even fashion your own rear basket with a milk crate and some zip-ties to hold the crate down.

Trunk bags are easy. All you need to know is approx. how much clearance you have between the rack and the bottom of your seat. Pick a trunk bag that clears you seat and that can hold your stuff. They even sell trunk bags with fold-out panniers:


http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/st...2_216143_-1___

I own a Nashbar Deluxe Trunk Bag. It's waterproof and includes a waterproof yellow cover to make sure no water gets in. It also has a shoulder strap for easy carrying off the bike. I use it for things like carrying groceries, clothes, shoes, personal items, etc. I even use it to carry lunch or food for a picnic because it's "insulated" and keeps food and drinks cold:


http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/st...2_166951_-1___

Do some searching on the web and you're bound to find something that suits your needs. Good luck.
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Old 08-02-09, 11:05 PM   #6
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Mine is laden with panniers. Little ones for summer, large ones for winter. I don't need to carry extra gear on the summer commuter, and unless I plan to do some shopping and bring back a lot of items, there's no need to pack around over sized baggage on a regular basis.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:33 AM   #7
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I use it to hold panniers, I have tied my computer to it to take it to the repair guy att work. I have given my kids lifts to teh subway, I have given co workers lifts to the subway.

Rear racks are cool.

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Old 08-03-09, 12:38 AM   #8
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go behind your local produce store, they'll have free dairy bins. just run away once you get one.
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Old 08-03-09, 08:03 AM   #9
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All great ideas above! Before long you'll be riding around like those folks in the pics someone posted of the cyclist in China.

Let us know what you end up packing on your trunk rack!
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Old 08-03-09, 09:23 AM   #10
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Racks are great fun - 3 of my four bikes have one. (or two, on the extracycle).

Forever ago I just zip-tied a milk crate on the back, worked great but didn't like the high COG and the extra weight. I've added Nashbar ATB panniers, cheap but effective, as well as the Nashbar trunk rack posted above. Some days I use all 3, most commute days its just the trunk rack. It holds a change of clothes, lunch, and a few other odds and ends remarkably well.
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Old 08-03-09, 12:58 PM   #11
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Always carry a bungee cord or two. You never know when they might come in handy for tying something onto your rack.

For side bags aka "panniers", feature considerations would be capacity of the bag, waterproof or not, pockets/compartments. Some panniers are specialized - ie grocery panniers, panniers that have a compartment on the outside for carrying your helmet. Most panniers just have small straps at the top of them, so you might look for one with a nice shoulder strap if you need to carry it far off the bike.

Google "bucket panniers" for how to make your own panniers out of plastic buckets. You could also use a rear rack to attach a milk crate for cargo. Or a "rack bag" is smaller than panniers but may be sufficient depending on what you want to carry.
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Old 08-04-09, 10:08 AM   #12
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"Always carry a bungee cord or two. You never know when they might come in handy for tying something onto your rack."


I always have 4, of different sizes strapped onto my rack. There is nothing that fits on the rack I can't carry. Well, maybe an anvil...
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Old 08-04-09, 01:12 PM   #13
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I use one of these

http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/tai...asp?fl=1&site=
I have a Tailrider from Arkel that I picked up at Roaring Mouse in the Sunset.

I also have a pannier but I realized that if I rolled my clothes up correctly I could fit everything I need for work (which is basically just some food and a change of clothes) in the Arkel because the top expands. Oh, and I have a tube, my lock and some tools in there as well. I highly recommend it.
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Old 08-04-09, 01:23 PM   #14
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I have a pair of wald folding baskets on the rack. I also carry one of the the net type bungee things and a couple of bungees

What I do with it then is:

carry laptop and other junk on commute (and my son's back pack if he is commuting with me)
Carry 2 standard grocery bags of shoppiing and bungee on larger items like watermelons and 12 packs of beer.
Carry a 60 lb bag of potting soil
bring back various items from trips to farmers market, yogur shop, take out food choice of the day.....

a bit more than minimal commute needs...but that what i do with a rack
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Old 08-04-09, 01:51 PM   #15
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If I am actually going to carry anything substantial I always bring my panniers. For just tooling about I always keep a couple of bungees wrapped around the rack in case I pick something up.
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Old 08-04-09, 02:02 PM   #16
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I use a net, a trunk, and/or panniers for carrying various things. My rack will hold a sixer neatly with a net!
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Old 08-04-09, 02:47 PM   #17
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I use a rack trunk for the small commuter amount of stuff I carry on my fixed gear. I use homemade plastic bucket panniers and bungee cords to lash things to the rear rack on my utility bike. (Also has a front rack which just gets a cargo net over everything.)
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Old 08-04-09, 03:20 PM   #18
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I quit using panniers because I carried too much stuff. I now use as trunk bag, which is easy to carry off the bike with the shoulder strap. I have a couple of bungees and a plastic grocery bag inside, just in case.
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Old 08-05-09, 04:52 AM   #19
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Wald baskets. Make sure your rack is supported on the bottom by a brace, & not just a seatpost rack.
http://www.waldsports.com/index.cfm/...rcarriers.html
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Old 08-05-09, 06:10 AM   #20
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I use mine all the time and can't imagine having a bike without it. I recently took a trip with my kids and divided up the stuff. One carried the beach towels; one carried our change of clothes; and I carried bike supplies; first aide kit; money; ID; lunch and sunscreen.

When bike commuting to work I carry a change of clothes and towel for the work shower.

When I bike to the beach I carry a bathing suit; towel; sunscreen; food items; money and ID; and running shorts for when I go into stores to cover my snug bike shorts; Oh also a vented cap to cover my messy head when I take my helmet off.

I was using a flexible cooler bag with bungee cords but then recently purchased a nice trunk bag which fits better and doesn't need bungee cords. I do however tend to over stuff it and so I do use one bungee cord because the velcro straps aren't an exact fit and aren't long enough. I should try it on another rack and see if it fits better - then swap racks I think.
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Old 08-05-09, 06:14 AM   #21
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KitN - How does the NASHBAR DELUXE RACK TRUNK BAG attach to the rack?
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Old 08-05-09, 08:21 AM   #22
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I use a Topeak trunk Bag with quick track. The greatest setup ever
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Old 08-05-09, 08:28 AM   #23
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A big issue with panniers is heel strike. Be sure to try before you buy.
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Old 08-05-09, 08:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
KitN - How does the NASHBAR DELUXE RACK TRUNK BAG attach to the rack?

Veclro straps. I've had mine for a little over a year and they still work.
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Old 08-05-09, 08:46 AM   #25
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Thanks envane. I like the looks of that trunk, plus the rain protection and the size and the current price!!!!

That slide on system looks sweet Timber_8 but unfortunately I can't commit to any one bike and rack. I have a family of bikes and a variety of racks so it's good if a mounting system is versatile. I recently did some vacationing with my kids and I was glad to be able to mount my latest trunk to my son's rack. I had to go back to using my old setup which is less than desirable - so I think I'll go ahead buy the NASHBAR DELUXE RACK TRUNK BAG tomorrow if I remember my credit card!
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