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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 06-17-13, 12:48 PM   #1
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Rack/bags for commuting

Hi all! I commute from downtown Champaign (IL) onto campus for my classes at the University of Illinois. I usually carry my laptop, maybe a few books and some food with me when I go in for the day. I would like to get a rack for my bike and some bags/baskets to go along with it. I also frequently make runs to the grocery store on my bike. I've been wearing my backpack to take care of hauling stuff, but it would be a lot easier if I had something on my bike that enables me to carry a more balanced load - it's rough having it all on my back!

I have a Schwinn Voyager 21. I'll post a picture later if I remember to snap one when I ride later tonight. I just have a few questions about getting a rack and bags for my bike. How do I know which rack is right for me and what I want to carry? Can I assemble and fasten it to my bike myself? Then, how do I know which bags/baskets will fit the rack? Is there a rack I can buy that will hold both bags and baskets, in case I ever change my mind between the two?

Thank you for any help!!
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Old 06-17-13, 01:23 PM   #2
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I'm a big fan of Topeak's rack and bag combinations.

But if you're leaving the bike and walking around campus, it's also worth considering how easy your gear will be to carry when you're not on the bike.

When I'm just going to work, my Topeak bag is great. When I'm biking somewhere and then doing some wandering on foot, I would rather have a backpack or satchel. I still don't like wearing a backpack or satchel when riding, but I will put it into a rear basket or a grocery bag pannier. The basket or pannier will stay on the bike, and backpack will go with me.

I find that a balanced load isn't a huge issue on the back of the bike unless you're carrying quite a bit. One rear pannier with a backpack in it doesn't affect my balance. But a rack-mounted basket will center your load, if that's an issue. In addition to my Topeak rack and bag, I have Topeak basket that replaces the bag when I want to bring a backpack.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:46 PM   #3
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there are rack & trunk combos that you can buy together and they clip into each other. but I prefer generic racks so I can interchange trunks between bikes. in the old days ('70s) bikes and racks were very limited, so it wasn't a whole thing. nowadays it seems every bike has it's own issue and requires some thought. make your life easy and visit your LBS and ask what they have. bring your bike so they can see exactly what they are dealing with. it's too broad a topic I think to explain every possibility when you can save a lot of concentration by dealing with just the situation at hand. one tidbit I might share is if you have access to a car - try to stock up on supplies at the office once or twice a week, such as food and clothing so that you don't have to carry as much every day.

from the look of this picture

those bikes would like front braces that have a "L" shape to reach down to the screw holes. I recently ordered that kind for my wife's new/used Trek 7.3 FX. this is the rack. it might work for you but you might call Schwinn customer service for a recommendation
(mountain and hybrid bikes with frame sizes 18 inches and under, and road bike frames 54cm and under) they have other models of the same thing for larger frames. do you know the size of your frame? 13? 15? 18?

I miss the '70s ...

Last edited by rumrunn6; 06-17-13 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 06-17-13, 02:29 PM   #4
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I'd suggest a set of Wald folding baskets- fold them up when parked, unfold when shopping or carrying your backpack. That is gonna be one of the least cost options.

I'd also suggest that you experiment with flash drives and 'cloud accounts' like Google Drive and leave the laptop at home. I found that I was less prone to waste time on social media sites if I used the school's computers... and less time worrying about my laptop being damaged while riding.
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Old 06-17-13, 10:53 PM   #5
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Get this for your schooling:

and this for your groceries (maybe x2 if you don't get that backpack):

That last one is touted as the best bag of it's type because it is very strong and supports the load well, while still going on/off very well.
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Old 06-18-13, 01:41 AM   #6
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If you are getting a rack, I recommend purchasing a simple cargo net, such as the delta cargo net or one of these.

They tie down things securely and can stretch to fit whatever item you may decide to carry.

I usually put my backpack on the rack and hold it down with the cargo net. So far no problems.
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Old 06-18-13, 11:41 PM   #7
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