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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 06-17-11, 06:01 PM   #1
ballen
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How much cargo is enough cargo?

Decided to sell our second vehicle, happily leaving me to two wheeled transport on my days off work, (wife drives primary car). I have recently started thinking about getting a Big Dummy type bike and was curious as to others reasoning for getting a cargo bicycle. More specifically, what was the intended payload that made a cargo bike the way to go? Look forward to the input.
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Old 06-18-11, 08:16 AM   #2
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If you can go about your daily routine like anyone else, and see an opportunity - a machine, bulk food, whatever - and your first thought is "Wait, I don't have any way to get this home!", then you need more cargo capacity.

With an Extracycle, I could swing by the Costco's and pick up bulk groceries. If it fit in the cart, it would go on the bike.

With the new bike, not so much, but it's still a very healthy hauling capacity. I can make a substantial shopping trip or haul fans, computers, whatever.

With a standard bike, I had to plan my trips around my cargo capacity. "We need a flat of bottled water. (We live in New Orleans and the water tastes awful.) I can get a great deal on 35 bottles, and that's really how much we need. But I can only carry 12 bottles of name brand, costs almost as much as 35 bottles, but i'll get it. And that means i'll have to go without bread today. But i'll need another flat of water tomorrow too, so.. hmmmm.."
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Old 06-18-11, 04:46 PM   #3
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How much cargo is enough cargo?


The sae answer as when you ask a woodworker how much wood he needs. MORE!
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Old 06-19-11, 01:42 AM   #4
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I love my Xtracycle. I appreciate being able to haul two kids plus groceries. When luck has it, I don't have to use my van for a few weeks at a time (living close to downtown helps). I also pack food and a small propane grill for bike picnics. I used to tow a trail-a-bike (a tag-a-long) but those are not as fun for kids to sit on or for parents to steer, but a longtail is rigid and is much easier to steer. If you get one with a wide two-foot kickstand on it, that can really help as well. (I also own a short bike, besides, and it has a two-foot kickstand, which I find helps with a cargo or a kid trailer.)

Consider where you can store your bike, because it's not as easy to haul up stairs or fit in an elevator...or on a bus. Another possibility for more cargo is a bike trailer, which might be more convenient if you don't want to tote kids around.

I have an expanded discussion on bike trailers on my blog.
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Old 06-27-11, 05:11 PM   #5
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The second you find you can't get something or someone home is the moment when you've reached enough cargo. You're gonna have to carry large loads at one point or another, and your wife may just have the car when you need hauling capacity.
As a child, my family owned only a single car, which my father had to use to get to work. This led my mother to buy a family trailer. She would do all the grocery shopping, take my sister and I to school, buy large bags of fertilizer, you name it, and all with the trailer. I think for someone who doesn't especially need/can't afford a second bike, the trailer is a fantastic option. I intend to get one when I have kids.
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Old 06-29-11, 09:42 AM   #6
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I bought my Yuba primarily to haul my two children around. They were getting too big to both comfortably ride in a trailer for the distances we like to ride. Having the cargo capabilities that the Yuba has is really nice for big shopping trips and bulky items.
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Old 06-29-11, 11:09 AM   #7
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Depends on your needs and how you shop. Do you shop more often and in smaller quantities or do you need/want to hit costco with your bike?

Me I use an old nishiki (much upgraded) with rear rack and wald folding baskets and of course some bungees.
this meets my needs..... from grocery getting (two large reusable grocery bags worth, one in each basket, plus what ever else (beer?) cargonetted and bungeed on top to the occasional 50 lb bag of composte from the local Ace. Huge loads I use the car.

I don't haul kids (he has more bikes than I do)

So there is no one solution.... perhaps you can start with what you have, maybe adding racks/bag/baskets if you don't have them and see how it works out and then base next step on more load carrying experience.
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Old 08-12-11, 10:35 AM   #8
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40k is more than I needed so far, and my trailer can handle it.
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