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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-17-05, 10:10 PM   #1
Laika
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shopping & looking for a better way

So for errands I have one of those super-bulky, tall, narrow, heavy so-called Dutch bikes...you know, enclosed drivetrain, single-speed, pushrod brakes. So I took it big-time grocery shopping tonight, w/a strapped on milkcrate to hold my schwag, and boy! if it didn't really change my behavior in traffic. First of all, I couldn't stay close enough to the curb for my comfort... the rear weight of a moderate load of groceries really played havoc w/the bike's balance. And I fled to the available bike lanes ASAP, which isn't at all my normal style. Also, given the bike's capabilities and my reluctance to do anything but get home in one piece, if I ever got above ten miles an hour, I'd like to know how. I need to think of some better tactics for car-free provisioning, I guess. Do most of y'all use trailers, or what?
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Old 09-17-05, 10:22 PM   #2
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I have heard that rear panniers loaded can make a bike act squirrelly, it might be worse depending on the geometry of the bike. You might try rigging up a basket that goes on the front, say get one of those front pannier racks then affix your milk crate to that. Your weight on the back wheel, groceries' weight on the front, it's more equal anyway.

Some messenger types can put a milk crate's worth of schwag in a large messenger bag, that's an option.

Those Dutch bikes sound sooooo cool, but they may not deal with rear loads as well as some other bikes, you might try your present setup on a different bike too.
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Old 09-17-05, 10:28 PM   #3
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The lower you can move the weight, perhaps by getting panniers or buckets on either side of your rack, the less unwieldy the bike will feel. Army surplus stores are full of acceptable canvas bags that make great panniers for a heck of a lot less than Carradice or Baggins bags, btw. A cheap-o kiddie trailer makes an excellent grocery getter, as well.
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Old 09-17-05, 10:30 PM   #4
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yeah, I'm pretty glad the bike wasn't that expensive as I bought it w/o any practical testing (load hauling etc.) but I'm thinking my beater w/a trailer or panniers might work better. funny cause the bike's been awesome so far but this is the fisrt time I've tried to use it for a big deal grocery shop. (ever notice how much liquid you buy? weird.)
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Old 09-17-05, 10:33 PM   #5
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Get a big ol' messenger bag, and if you feel funny wearing it, get some "emo" glasses too!
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Old 09-17-05, 11:06 PM   #6
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Might try something like this.

http://www.peapod.com/
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Old 09-18-05, 12:28 AM   #7
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With rear panniers loaded with 40lbs of groceries (I was curious so I weighed them) my road bike gets squirrelly IF I stand up.

Not a problem if it wasn't also a fixed gear. Accelerating is difficult with a load but at speed it's fine. It does take a bit more to stop of course.
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Old 09-18-05, 12:48 AM   #8
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I found mountain hardtails seem to have a geometry that's favorable with loaded panniers, as well as oversized crap on top....like a large suitcase, with all kinds of crap inside.

I'm currently in the process of making my Talus more practical by adding a rack to it....which means disc to vbrake conversion on the back...ugh.

I still feel that multi-speed is the way to go, even if it's just a sturmey archer 3-sp hub.
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Old 09-18-05, 03:20 AM   #9
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Fixed gear and heavy loads: bad combo. Low gear needed to start from 0 mph.

Putting stuff in a crate on top of your rear rack is very unstable because you have a high center of gravity. High C.O.G. = very bad.

Panniers = lower C.O.G. = better.

Trailer = lowest C.O.G. = best. I use a BOB yak. It rules. Loads up to 60 lbs are no problem in the sloghtest.
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Old 09-18-05, 03:35 AM   #10
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uh, slightest.
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Old 09-18-05, 05:02 AM   #11
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We use panniers for our grocery gettinng. We haven't had any problems with heavy loads. Bulky stuff gets strapped to the top of the rack, heavest stuff goes in the bottom of the panniers.
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Old 09-18-05, 05:47 AM   #12
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Grocery panniers (like this one ) affixed to a good solid rack work well for me; I find it also helps bike stability if the grocery weight is as low as possible, as balanced as possible side-to-side, and if there is also some weight in the front.

With no weight in the front a rear-loaded bike gets wonky steering. You can get detachable front baskets for shopping; I've also just hung plastic shopping bags from my handlebars in a pinch. Even a little weight in the front makes a significant difference in the bike handling.
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Old 09-18-05, 06:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by primaryreality
Grocery panniers (like this one ) affixed to a good solid rack work well for me
Me, too. I have the Nashbar version of those panniers and they work well for me. I haven't had any problems with handling and stability. I'm using them a crummy old L.L. Bean hybrid. I actually think it rides a little bit better when loaded.
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Old 09-18-05, 07:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dedhed
Might try something like this.

http://www.peapod.com/
heh.
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Old 09-18-05, 01:36 PM   #15
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Laika, when I visited the Netherlands I saw people carrying their friends on those racks. It is hard to believe that a milk crate of groceries would be more difficult to carry than a person sitting side saddle.

The bike pictured in the thread "Panniers without panniers" actually feels more stable with a heavy load but it is a touring bike. I also have a "Dutch bike" but made by Trek and have owned a German made city bike very similar to the dutch bikes. I don't notice the effects you describe. Is the rack loose? Tires inflated? Milk crate attached securely? Does the load shift?

For the tinkerers, the German city bike I had, had a spring running from the bolt where the front rim brake attaches going back to the down tube. I'm out of town right now so can't get a photo of it. When you turned the handle bars to an extreme angle the spring would extend to make it more difficult to steer further. This was handy for those times when you have it on a kick stand with a heavy load and don't want the front wheel to turn too far. I'm not sure if it had a positive effect on handling but I have a broken clavicle to show what can happen when the wheel turns too far while rough riding.
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Old 09-18-05, 05:55 PM   #16
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i love my trailer. Adapted an old burley into a flatbed with a rubbermaid container bolted on, and it's like a big trunk. Open the lid, throw stuff in, peddle off.

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Old 09-18-05, 06:35 PM   #17
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I hauled my sister-in-law arround Amsterdam on this bike without trouble.

She moved arround enough to take pictures while we were riding without causing real handling problems.

The handling of this bike with a load was truly impressive!

One more anecdote: While pulling a BOB Yak from east coast to west I broke my flimsy rear wheel in Ohio. The quality replacement did wonders for the handling of the bike. Turns out the wheel I started with was flexing all over the place and causing all of the undesireable handling I had been experiencing.
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Old 09-18-05, 08:26 PM   #18
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I don't use a trailer, probably will someday. I shop European style, buying stuff every couple days in small quantities. The advantages for me are that my food is always fresh, I don't have to carry much, and I have less food around to eat, so I don't get as fat. If I had to feed a lot of people, this might not work, so I'd probably make them help me.

I'm not a purist, either. When I cooked for my family, I used to take the bus to the supermarket, then take a cab home wit 250 bags of groceries (seemed like). My friends often call me when they're going shopping, and shlepp me along with them in their cars. I like to buy them a treat for their trouble.
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Old 09-18-05, 08:26 PM   #19
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Hauling a heavy load on a bicycle is like captaining a tandem for the first time. The extra weight in the rear seems very disorientating. Getting used to it is like... well, urm, learning to ride a bicycle. You may want to carry some heavy loads under circumstances where you don't have to worry about traffic, etc.

By the way, if you're going to use the milk crate, then you may want to pick up some automotive hose clamps. These can be used to clamp the crate securely in place. (Crates with heavy loads can sometimes slip if only secured by a bungee.)
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Old 09-19-05, 01:15 AM   #20
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I've been using Performance Bike's Transit grocery getters. They're about $39.99 for each side. They're nothing special, but they work. One of them are getting a bit flimsy, but it still works. They're designed to fit the brown paper bags. I'm only shopping for myself so it's perfect for one weeks worth of shopping.
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Old 09-19-05, 11:30 PM   #21
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Xtracycle!!!!! Seriously, I had one for awhile and it was awesome - I could carry 4 bags of groceries on it with no problem. It's the truck equivalent of a bicycle. As soon as I can afford to, I want to build up another one.

http://www.xtracycle.com
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Old 09-19-05, 11:38 PM   #22
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Thats with nine 2 liter bottles, it will hold about 4-5 more and still close the lid.Grocery shopping is not a problem.
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Old 09-20-05, 12:33 AM   #23
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pedex—do you attach that bag to your rack or do you carry it on your back?

If you attach it to your rack, what is the brand and model of the bag and how do you attach it.

From the looks of it, it looks like a messenger bag, if so, I'd be worry about your poor back if I was you.
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Old 09-20-05, 07:43 AM   #24
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Its a messenger bag, and back problems arent an issue when carrying one loaded with stuff.

Panniers have their issues, they dont carry well off the bike, they get filthy when riding in bad weather while mounted on the bike, and they typically dont hold much. Most panniers Ive seen, it would take at least 2 or 3 to equal one medium sized messenger bag. On top of that, panniers need hardware to mount them to a bike, meaning, switching bikes means switching the mounts too. panniers as noted above, also affect the bikes handling bigtime. Given those traits, messenger bag works better cept on really really long trips.
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Old 09-20-05, 08:43 AM   #25
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When grocery shopping for large loads, I use a trailer. It works great and doesn't affect bike handling at all.
For smaller loads, I use two foldout baskets attached to my rear rack. These baskets can carry more than one would think. They also ride lower than a milk crate so the lower center of gravity has less impact on bike handling.
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