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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 07-06-10, 04:52 PM   #1
groceries
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A rack too far?

Recently I brought a civia loring - front rack bike. Every review raved and raved. I find it hard to ride, however and as I live in a city with a very high car usage the negatives are running neck and neck with the positives (with the cost nipping at the heals of both). When I look at Japanese bike sites I notice the "mamacha" (mothers bike) has a basket which protudes (at most) 4 inchs over the wheel and I assume this has a lot to do with experience and practicability. It is a beautiful looking bike but I feel I may be a victim of hype, shallow journalism (and/) or google's bias? I bought a black one but the green one I tried out felt better... it had fatter tires.
Are we stretching what is possible for what is practical (by practical I mean something that carries my groceries without feeling unease at not being sufficiently in control)?
Thanks
G
http://www.bicycletimesmag.com/conte...w-civia-loring

Update:
I took it back to the shop for its' checkup. I'd noticed the disc brakes were a bit close and a bit of an egg in the front tire. After looking at it the owner told me the wheel nuts were loose and asked if anyone had tried to steal it. i haven't ridden it far enough since then to give it a good test but it seems healthier.

Last edited by groceries; 07-15-10 at 04:11 AM.
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Old 07-06-10, 07:44 PM   #2
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IMO, yes, too many people hype the front rack, especially when it swings with the front wheel. One of these steering damper springs should improve your handling a little, but the problem remains, weight in front of the steering axis will want to flop over. I know it's ugly, but for the typical rider with the typical bike, a box on the rear rack is the better option, with the only better solution a good pair of large panniers hanging on the sides of that rear rack.

:)ensen.


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Old 07-06-10, 08:25 PM   #3
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I have a front rack on one of my bikes and love it. I tried the rack on a narrow-tire road bike and found it hard to control, but on my mountain bike with a 2.3 inch tire and snowcat rims, it handles just fine. I frequently carry big piles of stuff in it and it has never let me down.Of course for really big loads I have a cargo bike and it is infinitely better...
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Old 07-06-10, 09:26 PM   #4
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I added a rack (it's actually a rear rack) to the front of my bike. I don't find my bike hard to handle when the front rack is in use. I love having the ability of carrying extra cargo. I often use one of my Longaberger baskets. I also have two small panniers that I can put on it too. During the winter months it's especially nice to have the extra hauling capacity without hitching up the trailer. I did add a homemade steering stabilizer spring to reduce wheel flop.

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Old 07-06-10, 10:48 PM   #5
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I have a front rack on one of my bikes and love it. I tried the rack on a narrow-tire road bike and found it hard to control, but on my mountain bike with a 2.3 inch tire and snowcat rims, it handles just fine. I frequently carry big piles of stuff in it and it has never let me down.Of course for really big loads I have a cargo bike and it is infinitely better...
Maybe the wider tires will make a difference as I said I test rode a green with wide tires and it handled a lot better, but that was the usual test ride figure 8's.
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Old 07-06-10, 11:07 PM   #6
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I'll try wide tires. If the worst comes to the worst I could construct a shorter rack. I haven't taken it off yet to see how it rides. I find (eg) on a busy rode I want to change lanes (I don't have a mirror yet) and while I look back I sway off course (honk). I was hoping this would be a nice little runabout with a rack.

I'm riding a small but I only weigh 60kg and I notice if I lean back the balance helps (like skiing).

There must be some significant leverage factors with a long rack (if I remember - a "moment").
G
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Old 07-07-10, 02:39 AM   #7
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It is a much better idea to have the front rack attached to the frame and not the fork. Here is my Moulton GT fitted with a front rack attached to the frame:

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Old 07-07-10, 04:18 AM   #8
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My bike has a 71.5 head angle and fork rack of 55.
I notice the way the Japanese shopping bike basket is well positioned over the wheel. They have to be controllable amongst lots of other people (pedestrians and other cyclists). Actually they shop often whereas here we have a big shop once a week.
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Old 07-07-10, 05:56 PM   #9
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Just got back from another trip to the supermarket. It could be that I'm still getting used to it. You seem to have to have a positive riding style.
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Old 07-07-10, 09:18 PM   #10
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Give it a week or two and report back. Anytime you start riding with some kind of new load, it is going to throw you off balance (literally and figuratively).
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Old 07-08-10, 03:28 PM   #11
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I posted a negative review here:
http://commutebybike.com/2009/11/06/...comment-197742

"I have had one for a week and I find it hard to control, which takes the fun (and safety) out of riding. It is rideable but try looking back before you change lanes."
It went to moderation but never appeared which helps a lot if all we want to know is half the truth. It makes me wonder how many websites are just there for manufacturers and retailers, also the google system where some sights always appear up top.

Last edited by groceries; 07-08-10 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 07-08-10, 05:35 PM   #12
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groceries,

When did you buy yours? The review and comments in the link you posted are from November, 2009. From your earlier posts, I though you've only had the bike for several weeks.

I will say that the fact that several reviewers, like Alan at EcoVelo, have ended up spending their own money to buy a Civia after reviewing them is an indication of just how much some people love them as a cargo bike. If you've never ridden a cargo bike and like to ride hands free and fast, then I think no loaded cargo bike will probably please you.

I've done several mods to make my mountain bike more of a cargo bike, including adding a front rack. I put a large Longaberger basket on the front rack as well as small panniers when I don't want to bother towing a trailer to go on shopping errands in the town that's 9 miles away. (This is happening more and more often because I find I prefer not dealing with the trailer, especially in town, which needs to repave most of the local roads.) I don't find the handling difficult when the front rack is loaded, but then the rear panniers are stuffed on those trips, too.

I'm sorry that you don't like your Civia, especially since they're so expensive. Not everyone will necessarily like a cargo carrying bike. If you bought your bike recently, is there anyway that you can work with your LBS to see about exchanging it for another bike that will better suit your riding habits and style? Good luck.
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Old 07-09-10, 06:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groceries View Post
I posted a negative review here:
http://commutebybike.com/2009/11/06/...comment-197742

"I have had one for a week and I find it hard to control, which takes the fun (and safety) out of riding. It is rideable but try looking back before you change lanes."
It went to moderation but never appeared which helps a lot if all we want to know is half the truth. It makes me wonder how many websites are just there for manufacturers and retailers, also the google system where some sights always appear up top.
They probably didn't accept it because right there you say you only had it for a week. Nothing good comes fast or free. Take a little time to get used to it (like everyone has already told you).
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Old 07-09-10, 09:14 AM   #14
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The issue with carrying anything on the front is where the load is with relation to the front wheel's center of gravity AND the axis of the turn vs the center of gravity of the bike under load.
That is, if the load's center of gravity is out front of the wheel's center/hub, then you are going to find it more difficult to turn/control the wheel. Picture it like this - take a broom, hold it at arm's length heavy end away from you.
Now swing it up and down... Reverse it and do the same.. Feel the difference? Try swinging the weight with the weighted end of the broom close to and away from you(this simulates turning the wheel, beleive it or not). Feel THAT difference?
What you noticed was the effect of leverage with respect to location placement of the weight. (I hated physics in school so I don't remember the terms/formulas exactly.. but you should be able to get the idea).
The closer the load's weight is to the wheel's center of gravity, the easier it is to turn the wheel. IF the load's weight is behind the wheel, it's just as hard to turn the wheel as if it was in front - BUT the bike will still balance when leaned over while rolling because you moved the weight towards the BIKE's center of gravity.

While the weight of the load itself is transfered to the wheel thru the rack and mount points, it's still got mass where it sits - that's what may be throwing you off.

So, either center the load weight over the hub itself or slightly rearward if you find that you can handle it/prefer it that way.

Last edited by drmweaver2; 07-09-10 at 09:16 AM. Reason: to add 2nd to last line
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Old 07-09-10, 06:27 PM   #15
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I've only had it for a week. I have been trying to go car free most of the time. I want to be able to commute to work (6.5 km each way through traffic) carry panniers (sometimes), pick up groceries and enjoy a fast ride. I don't expect one bike to do everything. I have a mountain bike and I'm looking at either a long haul trucker or Salsa Vaya. I think a cheap mountain bike ($200 would have made a better grocery bike with a rack adapted (and trailer), or one of those Japanese bikes. If a cargo bike has a job to do then the compromising geometry is justified but in this case the civia is promoted as though you can ride it anywhere, it will feel like a normal bike but have that cargo capacity up front. My complaint with the reviews is that they are overly rosy. How about getting 10 people to try them out with no vested interest. When I read a book review on Amazon I always read the negative ones and try to figure if it is sour grapes or if they have a fair criticism. I may end up getting a different rack and add a plastic basket held on by stretchies.
I had been thinking of getting a Worksman Cycles Truck bike, but they come in only one size. I think we have forgotten that grocery delivery boys used to wobble and that there was less traffic in the past. Generally bicycle retailers wont let you exchange a bicycle as it is "used" by the time you find out it's faults. It's a fine day today I'll take the loring out without its rack and report back. I'll also get a mirror so I don't have to turn around when lane changing. On monday I'll enquire about wider tires (the first one I tried out had nice white tires and handled very smoothly... better than mine with 1.75mm).
I have a suspicion that bicycles have already been invented and we have reached peak bicycle so we shouldn't get into a consumerist bind over the "latest model".
Thanks for your concern
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Old 07-09-10, 08:34 PM   #16
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test ride minus rack

without the rack didn't make much difference. It does have a factor however. I tried it without a spring and it may have made a difference but as soon as I put it on it's stand it turned around and looked at me. I notice the trail is about 160mm. Would that be a factor?
Thicker tires?
Toughen up - get used to it?

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Old 07-09-10, 11:04 PM   #17
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I notice the trail is about 160mm. Would that be a factor?
Thicker tires? Toughen up - get used to it?
I highly doubt the trail should be that much... certainly not from web pics. That 160mm would be well over 6" trail. If the bike is riding poorly with no load at all, then something is gravely wrong.... could the fork be reversed?

:)ensen.
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Old 07-10-10, 12:11 AM   #18
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Maybe I measured it wrongly. The point where the steering axis land is easy as I can line up the attachment point for the rack support and the hub nut center. The point where it touches is a carpenters square from the floor to the center nut and midway between a line where a ruler connects the tire on the floor (forward and behind the wheel).
If it was reversed the disc brakes wouldn't fit would they?

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Old 07-17-10, 10:28 PM   #19
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Bananas

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Old 07-19-10, 03:45 PM   #20
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From what I gather of your description, you seem to be measuring the trail wrong. It seems like your measuring the steering axis based on the forks forward curve/angle. The steering axis should be measured using the head tube angle and is independent of the fork's rake. according to http://yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/trailcalc.php and civia's geometry page on the small loring your trail should be around 48mm.

I've noticed that when riding my kogswell with roughly 40mm trail after being used to riding bikes with 60-70mm trail that I would swerve into lanes when doing shoulder checks. I think it's just the more responsive steering feel that a lower trail bike gives when riding unloaded. The bike tends to take less arm input and responds more to body input.

The upside seems to be that when loaded the bike maintains a decent maneuverability. A pizza and a a six pack would cause my higher trail bike to be nearly unrideable whereas with a decent front rack the kogswell can take 30 or so bottles without feeling too weird.

Depending on how that front rack is attached, if you don't have any use for the rack, I might be interested in it.

Thanks and good luck,
Will C
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Old 07-21-10, 04:10 PM   #21
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It's pretty normal for people who pay a lot of money for a product to sometimes experience buyer remorse. If you are a person that this happens to it will pass in a fairly short time, look in your past buying experiences to see if this has happened to you before. Good luck with your bike I am sure it will work out ok for you.

Allen
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Old 07-25-10, 02:30 AM   #22
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I'm much more comfortable on it now. If I was starting over I would get an expedition/ touring bike and (perhaps not a mountain bike) plus a 'round town bike, but i would still have a utility bike. The Loring is comfortable to ride and sturdy. I've had about 15kg on the back and it reared up on its stand as it needed some weight on the rack. You wouldn't want it as a touring bike, unless you took the rack off and put low riders on, but as a shopper it's great.
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Old 07-25-10, 02:39 AM   #23
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I've noticed that when riding my kogswell with roughly 40mm trail after being used to riding bikes with 60-70mm trail that I would swerve into lanes when doing shoulder checks. I think it's just the more responsive steering feel that a lower trail bike gives when riding unloaded. The bike tends to take less arm input and responds more to body input.
That's it exactly I noticed if I lean back it responds to my weight. The rack is fine but it could use bits on the rail to hold the strectchies (other than as diagonals... it is a smooth rail with four uprights.
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Old 07-27-10, 07:52 PM   #24
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I took it for a ride today after riding another bike for about a week and it sure does take a bit of getting used to (again) I loaded 10k of potatoes on the back and lighter fruit and veges on the front and got a lateral shimmy?. I wonder if that is the step through design?. I found it rides better with the 10k of potatoes in the front (I didn't have panniers for loose items).

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