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Heavy backpack, 12 y/o boy school commute.

Old 10-30-22, 09:32 AM
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Heavy backpack, 12 y/o boy school commute.

I normally linger around the Classic and Vintage section but I recently bought my 12 y/o son an older MTB in his size (XS) and he LOVES this thing. He wants to start riding it to school, which is great, but his backpack is HEAVY!! Iím talking 20+ lbs. My son is ~85 lbs, 5í tall and extremely fit FWIW.

Besides wearing the backpack like he normally would is there a better option for carrying this monstrosity? I donít commute but I would imagine carrying that much weight relatively high up - front or rear rack over the wheel - would make handling dangerous. Alternately, putting all that weight on one side in a pannier could also make handling dangerous.

Any thoughts/suggestions?
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Old 10-30-22, 09:40 AM
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Panniers are the way to go here. They will change the handling a bit, but since the weight is near the axle stability is good. When I commuted, I carried up to 40 lbs that way, distributing the weight on each side. I used Banjo Brothers saddle bags, that allowed me to quickly remove and carry.

Here's another option to consider: Assuming that most of the weight is textbooks, buy used copies of those books that you can keep at home. That way you reduce the back and forth load. We did that for my youngest daughter and it worked great. Most of the textbooks are common and can be found cheaply on eBay etc. Just make sure that you get the right edition.

Good luck

Last edited by Moe Zhoost; 10-30-22 at 09:41 AM. Reason: to edit "addition" to "edition"
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Old 10-30-22, 10:25 AM
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Basket is good. But consult with the kid before you drop a solution on him. Style is important and getting more important for a kid in junior high. He might choose to hang onto the backpack if it means not looking silly to his friends with some jet black grownup bag with ten pockets
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Old 10-30-22, 10:27 AM
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If you can fit that bike with a rear rack, simply strapping the pack to the top of it while riding might be an improvement, while allowing him to maintain a little bit of street cred.
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Old 10-30-22, 10:34 AM
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Moe Zhoost Thanks for the Banjo Brothers link. I was also thinking baskets might work, that way he can easily insert/remove his backpack but I would need to find something kinda stylish. Image matters in middle school!

Interesting idea about the text books. Iíll definitely look into that. The single weightiest object is probably his Chromebook. Iíll start rooting through his stuff and see how we can lighten the load.
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Old 10-30-22, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Basket is good. But consult with the kid before you drop a solution on him. Style is important and getting more important for a kid in junior high. He might choose to hang onto the backpack if it means not looking silly to his friends with some jet black grownup bag with ten pockets
Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
If you can fit that bike with a rear rack, simply strapping the pack to the top of it while riding might be an improvement, while allowing him to maintain a little bit of street cred.
Yeah, the style thing has crept in lately so that is relevant. Sometimes he doesnít seem to care but lately he has been paying A LOT of attention to his hair. I often hear heís a good looking kid and heís had 6-pack abs since he was 3 (not kidding) so girls seem to pay attention to him. The next 7-10 years are going to be interestingÖ.
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Old 10-30-22, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RustyJames View Post
heís had 6-pack abs since he was 3
I've had 6-pack abs since ... never, actually.
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Old 10-31-22, 05:56 AM
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I put my backpack on my rear rack...here's how:
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Old 10-31-22, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I put my backpack on my rear rack...here's how:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbRgLq2F3PA
Your backpack is huge!

Relevant to this discussion, my little cherub has ADHD so careful and deliberate are not in his wheelhouse. Full throttle and consequences be damned!

Iím looking into stylish pannier style baskets at this time since I think those would be the best solution. Iím still open to suggestions, of course.
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Old 10-31-22, 10:51 AM
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I used to ride with a loaded rear basket on a 700c wheel, drop-bar bicycle. Riding this combo wasn't dangerous at all. There were two issues that the rear load introduced, though.
1. It requires extra care in holding the loaded bicycle upright during the times when it's not being ridden. Not too complicated to overcome.
2. Mounting this bicycle requires lifting your leg higher up, to get it over the rear load. Probably not a problem for your issue-less kid.

Here's the components that I recommend:
Use a rack with a top platform that's flat enough for the basket. They're usually available in black.
Wald #198 basket in black, fastened with black velcro wrap-straps to a black rear rack. If the backpack needs a wider basket, the Wald #1372 in black, strapped to the same rear rack, plus a small, black carabiner for additional security. It's all black, so, probably less visible than the bicycle itself.
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Old 11-01-22, 10:42 AM
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I''ve successfully used rear baskets held to the rear rack w/zip ties to carry various loads and shapes. Basket can come from Wald or even some old metal refrigerator storage bin baskets work quite well. Don't know if the aesthetics would meet a teenager's approval.




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Old 11-01-22, 11:09 AM
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Little man insists his backpack will be fine. Short commute for him (~1 mile) so he may be right.
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Old 11-01-22, 12:17 PM
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Good for that little boy!!

I'm jealous, the nanny state here would not even let my son walk 300 yards to school. AND, it was a 45-50 minute bus ride in the morning because naturally he was the first pickup.

He'll love riding to school. I don't think the backpack weight is much an issue, I used to ride with a golf bag over my shoulder to get places more than a mile
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Old 11-01-22, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Basket is good. But consult with the kid before you drop a solution on him. Style is important and getting more important for a kid in junior high. He might choose to hang onto the backpack if it means not looking silly to his friends with some jet black grownup bag with ten pockets
That is true. My son is in the exact same boat as the OP's son. A few days ago I put a pannier rack on his bike and zip-tied a milk crate to the rack. Kid complained that it looked 'too third world'! Now I have to buy a black wire basket. Hopefully it looks less 'third world'. Dang kids and their first world problems!
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Old 11-01-22, 08:12 PM
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I know the OP has already made up his/her mind, but,
this is for anyone else pondering the idea for thier
own kids:

Orient the basket lengthwise with the rack.
It keeps the weight of the contents more centered
with the bicycle and the air resistance minimized.

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Old 11-01-22, 09:33 PM
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I prefer velcro wrap-straps instead of zip-ties. They allow unlimited adjustment, as well as removal of the basket without cutting the strap. They come is lots of colors. Use black ones for your kid's ride.
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Old 11-02-22, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
That is true. My son is in the exact same boat as the OP's son. A few days ago I put a pannier rack on his bike and zip-tied a milk crate to the rack. Kid complained that it looked 'too third world'! Now I have to buy a black wire basket. Hopefully it looks less 'third world'. Dang kids and their first world problems!
My son probably wouldnít comment about something looking third world but would likely look at me and say, ďDadÖ..reallyÖ.Ē

Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
I know the OP has already made up his/her mindÖ.
Not 100% but what I am looking for doesnít seem to exist and I would need to cobble it together. My ideal solution would be pannier style baskets or bags that are ~8Ē wide, hard-sided (wire mesh?) and fixed in place, NOT easily removable. All of the panniers I saw are designed to be easily removed. Style points, need those too.
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Old 11-09-22, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I put my backpack on my rear rack...here's how:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbRgLq2F3PA

What straps to you use for this? How do you attach them to the seat and rack?
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Old 11-09-22, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kommisar View Post
What straps to you use for this? How do you attach them to the seat and rack?
They are simple bungee cords looped through the seat rails and hooked onto the rear of the rack. On my folding bike they are merely wrapped around the seat post.

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Old 11-09-22, 03:05 PM
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What length of bungie works for a backpack?
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Old 11-10-22, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by kommisar View Post
What length of bungie works for a backpack?
It depends on the dimensions of the bag the flexibility of the cord and the distance of the seat rails (or post) to the end of the rack. A longer cord can always be wrapped around the end of the rack and anchored further forward to shorten the diagonal section.

A cheap, multi-length selection of bungee cords can usually be found at Harbor Freight, Wal-Mart, or any auto parts store. I think mine are usually around 2.5 to 4 feet.
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Old 11-10-22, 01:45 PM
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From when I was a kid until now, I always prefer just a backpack as well. What made a decent difference (if his backpack doesn't have one already) was getting a backpack with a sternum strap. I live in a hilly area and climbing out of the saddle with the pack more tightly secured felt a lot better than when the weight shifted around. I don't carry enough to want an additional waist strap, just a sternum strap is my preferred compromise.
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Old 11-10-22, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by kommisar View Post
What length of bungie works for a backpack?
Whatever works it varies so much there is no real answer. The only suggestion I will give is Highland Fat Straps. They are the best bungee cords out there. They are flat and well constructed, I have had mine for years and years with no issues.
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Old 11-12-22, 07:32 PM
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We still have no picture of the bike!
1 mile? A lower saddle height than would be optimal for us will be optimal for him. Raise the bars and sweep‘em back some and No racks. Get his pack to ride low on his back and as mentioned above, get the books out of it if possible. eBay is your friend here. Cool kids pedal — dig it.
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Old 11-12-22, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
We still have no picture of the bike!
Ha! Fair point. The young lad with his noble steed.




Note - not a kids bike so it has 26Ē wheels.
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