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  1. #1
    Living 'n Dying in -Time JBHoren's Avatar
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    Question Shopping Strategies for Groceries

    I've been dependent on the good graces of a buddy these past few years for (bi-)weekly trips to the grocery store and farmers' market, preferring to ride my bicycle for sport, rather than transport. That's changed, and today I finally "bit the bullet", plunking down my money for a Pletscher Clem Rack, with Pannier Rails. My plan is to make more frequent trips to those venues -- which are conveniently located and easily incorporated into the final few miles of my regular 20-mile ride -- in order to purchase-and-schlepp less on each trip.

    Part of my deliberations concerns not only which grocery bag panniers to purchase, but also how many of them to buy, initially. Hence, my use of the word "Strategies" in the thread title. Although I seem (for the time being) to have settled on two models by one manufacturer: Banjo Brothers' Canvas Grocery Bag and their Grocery Bag Pannier, I'm concerned about which one would be a better fit for me than the other.

    Both models have the same dimensions: The Grocery Bag Pannier measures 13″ L x 8″ W x 11.5″ H, while the Canvas Grocery Bag Pannier measures the same 13″L x 8″W x 11.5″H; but the first is constructed of canvas, while the second is made from ripstop and ballistic nylon. Mounting hardware seems to be identical, as is its use (see instructions).

    A third grocery bag pannier -- the Novara 'Round Town -- is also a contender (and received favorable reviews on these pages, several years ago). It's dimensions are almost identical -- 13"L x 8"W x 11"H; made from coated nylon, with plastic and aluminum reinforcement. This pannier uses the Rixen and Kaul Twist-clip mounting system, but the vendor's website (REI) lacks sufficient information about it. It's on sale, for $24 each, and I really like the high-visibility cobalt-blue model.

    Given that my two food-shopping venues are within one mile of each other, along a major thoroughfare with an acceptable bike lane, I'm wondering if I might not be better-off purchasing a single grocery-bag pannier and become a better planner for each trip. If I choose to do things in that fashion, are there any feelings among our BF Utility Forum members -- especially strongly-held ones -- with regard to single vs double panniers? and, if only a single pannier is to be used, is there a real-world preference for mounting it on the rack's drive-side, or non-drive-side? and why?

    I'm open to and desirous of your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions. I'm especially interested in any information/experiences about using any of these panniers with the Pletscher Clem rack and pannier rails.
    Last edited by JBHoren; 04-11-15 at 10:00 AM. Reason: Added the Novara 'Round Town pannier

  2. #2
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    I do the bulk of my shopping and errand-running by bike. I just use regular panniers most of ther time, but also have a basket I use when I get groceries. Basil Catu Rear Centre Basket w/BasSolid System - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available

    I generally prefer to use both panniers if I'm carrying enough stuff just so I can balance the bike, but even if I only use one and then put something heavy in it I donlt find I notice it all that much. I can put two flats of canned cat-food in one pannier and it doen;t affect theings too much.

    A little off your question, but I think I'm going to order one of these at some point: Burley Travoy Urban Bicycle Trailer - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available
    I figure if I'm giving up a vehicle I can treat myself, and it will let me space out the trips to the grocery store, and I'll be able to do every other Costco trip by bike.

  3. #3
    Living 'n Dying in -Time JBHoren's Avatar
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    The Pletscher Clem Rack and Pannier Rails arrived yesterday. Installation was challenging -- the mounting struts that connect the seat-stay braze-ons to the rack were too long (chain stays too short, @42cm), and were interfered-with by the mini-pump peg and "mousetrap fangs"; trimming 7cm from their ends with a hacksaw solved the problem. After finishing the dry-run, yesterday, I chose to defer the final, Loctite, installation until this morning. Mission accomplished!

    As for grocery-bag panniers, after diligent searches here on BF, and PMs with helpful members, I pulled the trigger on a pair of Novara 'Round Town bags -- on sale from REI, @$24 each.

  4. #4
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    My wife and I moved from the suburbs into the city a year and a half ago. I've learned to shop for food more often and to get smaller amounts on each trip. When you're not carrying much, it doesn't matter very much how you carry it. Just this week, my wife went shopping. She carried some stuff in a backpack and some stuff in the small basket that comes on the Citibike bikes (NYC's bike share program). I sometimes ride my own bike and use two panniers.

    I have on occasion pulled a trailer. The capacity is huge, but the trouble to use it is fairly large, too. A couple of times, while living in the suburbs, I pulled a Costco-sized haul from Costco, i.e. the amount people typically bring home from that place. I did this with my trailer. One trip was on an old three-speed bike. So yes, you can do all sorts of amazing things, but I've found that it's rarely necessary. Just do things the simple way.

    Besides, when you buy more frequently, your food is fresher.
    I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. --Blaise Pascal

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  5. #5
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    My tactics: ride to the store with wife, both of us with a set of large rear panniers. This gives us more capacity and it's fun to shop together. She loves the canvas, rectangular, "shopping basket" panniers. I use the regular large Ortlieb roll-top ones. I hope/think the vinyl ones do a better job of holding in the cold with frozen things during warm days. Either set of bags can hold a gallon of milk or a large laundry soap jug, and yes I try to roughly balance the load side to side, but even if balance is not achieved, I find I can compensate. For large, but lighter items (paper towels, TP, etc) I'll bungee strap them to the top of the rack.

    My winter bike has a small handlebar basket I'll use too.

    Bicycle delivered food tastes better!

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My Empty touring panniers pop off the bike , and the grocery checker fills them, I put them back on the bike, and ride Home ..

    the store used to give a nickel credit for not using a carry out bag, but were made to stop that by executives in Kroger HQ. .

  7. #7
    Living 'n Dying in -Time JBHoren's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by JBHoren View Post
    As for grocery-bag panniers, after diligent searches here on BF, and PMs with helpful members, I pulled the trigger on a pair of Novara 'Round Town bags -- on sale from REI, @$24 each.
    I really like the Novara 'Round Town panniers. I've had 'em a week, and made several trips to a nearby farmers' market and one to the supermarket -- easy and convenient. Even though I bought the pair, I find myself using just one, placing it on the left (traffic) side -- heck, it's Cobalt Blue, so I figure the high-visibility can't hurt.

    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Besides, when you buy more frequently, your food is fresher.
    The challenge is dairy products... yogurt and Half 'n Half. Suggestions?

  8. #8
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    I used to have panniers... they've been misplaced in a move... sometime... But, I'll have the capacity back sometime.

    I can carry quite a bit in my backpack, and on the bike with the rack, I'll tie awkward loads to the rack.

    I did pick up a couple of used and abused kid's trailers which I'll take out from time to time.

    Then for the big stuff, I have my cargo bike that I built. I don't have panniers for it yet, but can tie some monster duffels onto the rack (which I've had about 200 pounds of groceries in before). Then the bigger stuff yet, there is the cargo trailer behind the cargo bike, with some bulk limitations, and the weight maxed out by what I can manage to pull.

    What I will say is that one of the issues that panniers have is heel kicks.

    If you can buy them locally, try them out before you buy them. If you must order very square shaped panniers online, then perhaps mount a cardboard box of similar size to your bike before you buy the panniers.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHoren View Post
    The challenge is dairy products... yogurt and Half 'n Half. Suggestions?
    I don't buy a lot of yogurt. You could make your own. I buy most of my milk as powdered milk, and use it as needed.

    As far as liquids, just find a way to pack it so that it is protected in your bag.

    I haven't used it for groceries, but sometimes I'll bring a few rags with me to wrap delicate items. Or, I've been known to take my gloves off and stuff them full of delicate items.

  10. #10
    A Roadie Forever 79pmooney's Avatar
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    I use a bike set up specifically for 4 panniers, with LowRider racks in front. I use the Ortliebs, a no brainer in wet Portland, OR. But the other plus is in hot weather. I bring them into the store, load them in the air conditioned indoors, seal close and seal the Ortliebs and my greens and fruit make the 9 mile trip (and whatever other errands I have to run) and stay a lot fresher. 4 panniers makes packing easy. I can keep the delicate items away from the heavy ones. The bike also has large low pressure tires, something my apples like a lot.

    That bike is my preferred way to do farmer's markets. I can park it close (often right in the center); far easier than parking my car wherever I can find a spot. I usually go around the market twice, first for hard fruits and root vegetables. I scope out the greens and other delicate stuff as I do that first round. Then it is easy to get that stuff and load it on top of the sturdy stuff.

    Ben

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    A Roadie Forever 79pmooney's Avatar
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    Oh, checkout routine: I have the panniers under the cart. I ask the checker to place the items back in the cart witn no bags. I then find a quiet corner, put the bags in the cart and load them. (Standard checker loading DOES NOT make for the best, freshest and undamaged food after 45 minutes of riding.) If you go the same checker(s) each week, they get to know you as the guy who is different but easy. No bags to mess with.

    Ben

  12. #12
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
    Oh, checkout routine: I have the panniers under the cart. I ask the checker to place the items back in the cart witn no bags.
    I thought Portland with bagless.

    I routinely refuse bags here. It is nice to occasionally get a plastic bag for re-using, but it is easy to get TOO MANY.

    In Eugene, I think they charge extra for bags, but they don't care in Springfield.

    I avoid the stores that put 20 different items in 20 bags

  13. #13
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    The challenge is dairy products... yogurt and Half 'n Half. Suggestions?
    I don't know. I buy yogurt but no milk or cream, and my wife doesn't eat dairy. It's just the two of us now.
    I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. --Blaise Pascal

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Milk in jugs here. Not a particular problem. We buy the gallons, so the milk jug(s) are the "big rocks" that go in first at he bottom of the bags. For stuff that might open or leak, I reuse some plastic bags I take along (also they're my seat covers if I have to lock up in the rain outside).

    We too do our own bagging. That helps with the stuff that could get damaged and helps us distribute the load between the various panniers.

  15. #15
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    My only strategy when it comes to shopping by bike is to buy my beer and wine in a supermarket at higher altitude than my home.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBHoren View Post
    The challenge is dairy products... yogurt and Half 'n Half. Suggestions?
    How far do you have to ride and in what sort of temperatures?

    I used to live 25km from a grocery store and did my shopping on a Saturday or Sunday, and sometimes combined with a century, and sometimes on my fixed gear.

    I was single then...

    I used twin panniers almost exclusively. As mentioned in another post, the weighty stuff -- milk jugs, cans -- go in the bottom. Fragile stuff on top. If you are riding a sealed road without too many pothole that cannot be avoided, eggs will survive very well; I have yet to break an egg in a pannier or handlebar bag, and mostly they have been in those recycles cardboard egg cartons.

    I usually didn't have any problems getting dairy products home and in good shape. Packed in the depths of a pannier, the stuff tends to retain its coolness for quite a while. Even better if you wrap it in clothing, or newspaper or, if you are creative, the foam that sleep mats for camping are made of... even to the point of lining the pannier. But I never went to that extent. Temps go up to around 85 to 90 deg on occasions.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  17. #17
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    Since you got the grocery panniers, get an insulated tote! Trader Joes and Whole Foods have great ones. I like the smaller one from Whole Foods. Fits easily in my front basket. There is also a cheap plastic one that is reshapable enough to put in another bag!

    And if you get fish have them pack it in ice.

  18. #18
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    I've been looking for a way to haul my golf clubs. I came across the Burley Travoy trailer. It looks like it would be a great shopping accessory for nearly any bike.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXLfjmFgmqE

  19. #19
    Newbie John Edgar's Avatar
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    Hello! New to the forums here, so I apologize in advance if I accidentally "state the obvious" because I'm enjoying this thread. This may not be terribly stylish but as far as getting home with cold perishables I put a couple of inexpensive Bell metal wire-frame baskets on either side of my rear rack (I have a Trek hybrid) and I have a couple of foldable, soft-sided coolers that fit in them perfectly. As long as you don't over-fill them you can put your yogurt, half & half, my favorite liquid hazelnut coffee creamer, fresh produce, etc in it along with perhaps one or two of those flat "blue ice" freezable ice pack things. Should get the job done nicely.

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    Eight years ago I put a Nitto Big Back Rack on my hybrid and it was a great investment. I've gone through a number of different kinds of panniers... Ortlieb roll-up things (didn't like those), Arkel bags, and finally settled on Green Guru's Dutchy panniers. These aren't too deep so I'm not kicking them when I ride and I like the shoulder strap and simple attachment system. I keep one on my bike all the time now.

    I've been thinking of adding a front rack to see if I can do more shopping. I was at the garden center today and ended up not buying anything since I couldn't figure out how to transport it all. A bag of compost will sadly not fit on my little rack! Time to find a trailer...

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Bring stuff in my Panniers Bought at the 1st store, furthest from my house, In .

    and get more stuff in the 2nd store without risking someone taking my stuff and the bags when inside store 2

  22. #22
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    When I gave up on my old car and got tired hauling stuff in a backpack on my three decade old 5-speed, I took some aluminum stock I had and build a bike rack prototype, bought a part of mis-embroidered boat bags, put some bolts in for the handles to hook on, added bungees, and soon I was buying and hauling home far more than intended.

    A couple of years ago I bought a new trike and had the rack installed, and then installed a board on top to prototype. I added eye hooks and hung those boat bags, and since upgraded it so it holds the heavy SLA for the electric drive right behind the seat cross-wise, keeping the board mostly free. Traveling at dusk/night on country roads, I added a truck running light triple plus 8 D batteries for its 12 V.

    I keep a canvas bag plus the shopping bags in the boat bags, so after filling them with groceries, I have other bags I fill and tied and bungee on.


    Note also, groceries come in all sorts of sizes. Milk in gallons, potatoes in 10 lb bags, hams and pork butts, celery, iceberg and romaine lettuce, pizza, pies. the boat bags can bulge or be left open for stuff to stick out. Pie, I place on top flat and bunging the bag.

    I've carried 60 lb bags of salt, 40 lb bird seed, which on the bike is top heavy especially when pushing it up hill.

    I have found that the grocery trips with the backpack that ended with a heavy backpack plus a bag or two held in hand on the handle bars are less frequent with the larger carrying capacity maxed out. But solving that problem has not preventing me from being overloaded.

    I'm only going several miles and I can take my time and not fight traffic - stepping or pulling off.

    Two points. don't over think it, just try something cheap and "temporary" As Whole Earth Access to Tools advised "buy what you need, not what you want to need".

    You will either exceed even the largest whatever over time because you forget you are limited, or you will never use the smallest capacity you could have bought but instead bought bigger.

  23. #23
    Senior Member jawnn's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    I think every one should own a cycle truck, but here is a solution you can make:

    Waterproof Bicycle Pannier Boxes

    FN6DYFBGPVEVYDK.MEDIUM.jpg
    https://www.facebook.com/utilitybikeproject

  24. #24
    Senior Member GovernorSilver's Avatar
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    Went grocery shopping with a bike for the first time last weekend. Pretty happy with my high-visibility Ortliebs. They both have shoulder straps and they both have greater carrying capacity than my reusable large Whole Foods bag. Easy to snap my helmet on and carry one while shopping with the other. I also like the little adjustable arms to secure them to the rack from the sides so that they don't swing around.
    "Because of that incident, I began cycling; like a starving man filling his empty stomach." - Arakita

  25. #25
    Senior Member rdlange's Avatar
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    Interesting thread about one of the things I also like to do to/with bikes. To carry stuff. As advised, I bolted bent shelf brackets onto kitty litter buckets.

    Copied advise kept handles so they unhook to carry. Waterproof and I put foam insulation in one for TX. Found they keep condensation from soaking thru and dripping all over the bike. Easy to clean, almost free. Looks don't seem to matter that much to us old guys; but very functional for sitting on. Thought about covering them with adhesive shelf paper to match the bike color. Sorry no camera today.

    I now 'see' several [15+/-] neighbors cycling around this 'one light', no shoulder roads, suburban neighborhood, to local ??s and grocery; two TRIKES, a long timer local on a yellow cruiser with Wald baskets front and rear, two with ruffled baskets, and alot of just 'being used' bikes propped around places.

    Do we now imagine it because we're more bike aware? I think there ARE more all of a sudden this year.

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