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Oversized cargo on bike - options

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Oversized cargo on bike - options

Old 09-04-16, 02:12 PM
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cellery
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Oversized cargo on bike - options

While not yet committed to carfree, I am trying to go car-lite as I telecommute 4 out of 5 days, etc. My 10 year old Hyundai Accent is starting to show its age and girlfriend has considered us just having her car for us to share... I don't desire another car payment and frankly hate driving on the rare occasion I find myself behind the wheel. One of the things hindering me from going all out is when doing grocery trips - getting large, heavy items on the bike. I am talking about 25 lbs bag of cat litter, economy sized TP, you know the kind of stuff you want the world to see you carrying on the road; things that won't fit in panniers. We have her car, but say she's out of town, at work, etc.

I'm not a heavy person and use a steel '79 Univega Sportour that has been upgraded to modern parts everywhere except the stem, as my commuting/grocery bike. Without a bike trailer or xtracycle type of setup, has anyone come up with a homebrew solution for this kind of thing? (Not unopposed to the trailer thing, just asking about other options).

Thanks!
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Old 09-04-16, 02:45 PM
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The 25 lb. bags of cat litter fit fine when strapped down on top of my rear rack and I think pretty big bags of TP would fit there as well. For larger items (plywood sheets, replacement doors, etc.) I use a trailer. Mine is the one that came with my Bike Friday folding bike and is intended for carrying the suitcase which holds the bike for air travel (i.e. ride to the airport with my carryon bag inside the suitcase on the trailer, then fold and put the bike in the suitcase to be checked baggage while my other things are in the carryon bag). For utility use I put a plywood sheet on the trailer frame instead of the suitcase and have some holes in the plywood for attaching straps to secure the load.
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Old 09-04-16, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by cellery View Post
While not yet committed to carfree, I am trying to go car-lite as I telecommute 4 out of 5 days, etc. My 10 year old Hyundai Accent is starting to show its age and girlfriend has considered us just having her car for us to share... I don't desire another car payment and frankly hate driving on the rare occasion I find myself behind the wheel. One of the things hindering me from going all out is when doing grocery trips - getting large, heavy items on the bike. I am talking about 25 lbs bag of cat litter, economy sized TP, you know the kind of stuff you want the world to see you carrying on the road; things that won't fit in panniers. We have her car, but say she's out of town, at work, etc.

I'm not a heavy person and use a steel '79 Univega Sportour that has been upgraded to modern parts everywhere except the stem, as my commuting/grocery bike. Without a bike trailer or xtracycle type of setup, has anyone come up with a homebrew solution for this kind of thing? (Not unopposed to the trailer thing, just asking about other options).

Thanks!
I gotta go with the trailer. The advantage is it snaps on and snaps off so your aren't stuck riding a truck like bike all of the time. But I don't care much for shopping and would rather get everything once a pay day. You can get them pretty cheap off of re-cycler or Craig's list. Mine is rated with a capacity of 100 pounds.
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Old 09-04-16, 03:56 PM
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Yep....
Go with a trailer.

Used Kid's trailers are often cheap, especially if you get an older model. I prefer trailers with a frame that wraps around outside of the wheels, and standard QR mounted wheels.

Or, get a commercial "cargo trailer". A few brands make them.

25 pounds of cat litter? I'm regularly carrying two - 50 pound bags of flour, or chicken food, plus some.

I've built a custom heavy duty cargo trailer that will take the BIG stuff. Well, at least big for a bike. Up to about 500 pounds... more limited by what I can pull UPHILL than the actual trailer capacity.

I have racks on a couple of my bikes, but most of the small stuff just goes into a backpack.
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Old 09-06-16, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cellery View Post
...has anyone come up with a homebrew solution for this kind of thing? (Not unopposed to the trailer thing, just asking about other options).

Thanks!
An old friend of mine once built an open box out of 2X4's and plywood (no front or top). He then took two BMX forks with wheels and bolted them onto two sides. Then he took a beater bike, removed the front wheel and bolted it into the box. This created an acceptable cargo bike. You need to do something so that the bike's forks bolt on at an angle that creates positive trail, otherwise it doesn't handle real well (he didn't, but I was the main rider of it and I'm fine with negative trail).

I used it to haul loads up to 700 pounds, including a couple hundred square feet of hardwood flooring standing up in the box up to ten feet. (I had to peer around the flooring to see where I was going.) It was cheap and effective, but not exactly elegant. We called it the box trike.
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Old 09-06-16, 08:11 PM
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You mention panniers, so I assume you have a rear rack. You can certainly bungee a 25 lb bag of cat litter or a large pack of tp on the top of it, but maybe not both at once, so bulky items might have to be bought one at a time if you don't want a trailer. If you have panniers, a back pack, and a couple of bungee cords, you can carry a lot.

If you don't already have a rack, and the Univega is your designated utility bike, it would make sense to get one. Usually if there are eyelets above the rear axle on the "dropouts" that means you can easily mount a rack, but there are some racks that can mount with other attachments like struts that attach to the tubing or to the rear axle. A bike store could help you check that out. There are racks that only mount to the seat post but I wouldn't routinely carry 25 lbs on them as they sway a bit and might eventually break. They also fit better on bikes with sloping top tubes and long seatposts and might ride too high on an old sport tour bike.

Some people mount a crate on their rear rack for extra carrying capacity but I find they crowd my butt and it's hard to swing my elderly leg over them.

As for publically displaying your purchases, you could get an oversized grocery bag or just a large garbage bag and wrap the tp or whatever in that as you ride home.

Also bulky items tend to be more occasional purchases (that's why they are bulky) so you can get big stuff with her car and smaller stuff with the bike

Last edited by cooker; 09-07-16 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 09-06-16, 10:22 PM
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Get front and rear panniers and a blanket or a tarp to wrap the load you bungee onto the rear rack across the pannier tops (back far enough not to hit you.) You can also get a big handlebar bag for extra cargo space.

As cooker notes, when you shop on a bike you do have to plan. Try not to buy two gallons of milk, two gallons of apple juice, two gallons of juice, 25 lbs. of potatoes and 50 lbs. of rice on the same trip.
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Old 09-07-16, 11:20 AM
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For the long term isn't it a better a idea to get a bike that is designed to handle loads? This one will hold up, but the ride will be nicer with a bike that has a big front carrier, a solid rear rack an the geometry for that purpose.
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Old 09-07-16, 11:56 AM
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Actually the trailer is by far the best option. I have a friend who road across the country and back toting a trailer which must have weighed a couple hundred pounds ... he brought everything to camp, cook, and play amplified music by the roadside to raise funds. he started the ride to raise funds for cancer research, and carried on just to carry on. I saw photos of his rig---big old sealable trash cans and bins on a trailer, so he never had to worry about rain.

I have never used a trailer, but if i had to go absolutely car-free again, I would get one. there is no safe way to haul 4x8 plywood on a bike, or more than a couple 8' 2x4s. And as for shopping ... I can carry 90 lbs of camping gear on my bike, and add a couple hundred pounds in the trailer ... I don't buy that much in three months.

And with a trailer, i don't even need to bring my panniers and take the trouble to pack and unpack. Just dump it all in back and roll on out of there.
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Old 09-20-16, 08:52 AM
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Before I bought a trailer, I lashed a plank of wood about 18" long, across my rear rack. I drilled 4 holes and used wire ties to make a quick-release but secure fitting. I could carry larger, heavier loads such as bags of mortar and large boxes, with more stability than without the plank.
Since buying a trailer I haven't resorted to my plank. If you opt for a trailer, a true flatbed with a hard bed is most versatile. Fabric beds can take sharp objects and trailers with a raised sides can't take oversized objects so well. I usually lash on a large plastic box for shopping.
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Old 09-20-16, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Before I bought a trailer, I lashed a plank of wood about 18" long, across my rear rack. I drilled 4 holes and used wire ties to make a quick-release but secure fitting. I could carry larger, heavier loads such as bags of mortar and large boxes, with more stability than without the plank.
Great hack! I'm going to show this to my son, who is always trying to carry bulky items for his work as a painter/handy man. He never seems to have enough money to buy a trailer, but he is talking about building one this winter.
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Old 09-20-16, 11:56 AM
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Not counting the obvious bags, panniers and baskets, there are a number of options for heavy or large loads. Weight isn't that much of a problem because eyou can improvise milk boxes, or even a sheet of plywood to expand a rack which will handle much more weight than their official rating. (my friend who was a service tech carried refrigerator compressors on his rack, and the only issue was cumulative sag which became excessive in a year or so).

I've also considered a trailer, which can be had reasonably cheaply if you're open to non-branded ones. I haven't sprung for one because it's hilly, so I've passed.

Meanwhile, I've carried a 50# bag of cat litter in my largest messenger bag (need some strapping and a garbage bag as a safety liner), a 40 gallon garbage can (empty) all sorts of heavy or bulky items one at a time.

However when doing a run to Costco, or a lumber yard I use a technique I learned in Cozumel. The locals go shopping by foot or bus, then take to load to the cab stands which are near the exits and take a cab home. Down there it costs locals about $2.00USD, and gets them home before the ice cream melts.

I ride my bike to Costco, do my shopping then call a local cabby I made a deal with. He takes my stuff then takes a few normal fares while I ride the bike home, then stops by to deliver when he's going that way anyway. All that for about what my cab fare would have been,

I once tried taking the cat to the vet by bike, in his carrier carried like a messenger bag. Once was enough. After that I'd call a cab, put the cat in and race the cabby to the vet (I've never won, but come in a close second). The local cabbies think that's pretty odd, but a fare is a fare and they're all good about it.

So, unless big stuff is an everyday proposition, there's plenty of options for the occasional wide load.
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Old 09-20-16, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
However when doing a run to Costco, or a lumber yard I use a technique I learned in Cozumel. The locals go shopping by foot or bus, then take to load to the cab stands which are near the exits and take a cab home. Down there it costs locals about $2.00USD, and gets them home before the ice cream melts.

I ride my bike to Costco, do my shopping then call a local cabby I made a deal with. He takes my stuff then takes a few normal fares while I ride the bike home, then stops by to deliver when he's going that way anyway. All that for about what my cab fare would have been.
Now this is the kind of stuff which actually pertains to car-free/car-light and also real life, which is what I thought this forum might include.

Not sure how keen a cabby might be to hang a few 8-foot 2x4s out the trunk though ... I can carry a couple bungeed along the top tube (with only minor thigh irritation) but it sucks to ride and normally I wimp out and take the car if AI am buying long lumber or pvc. I might have to think about that though ... it is not an idea I had considered, but if the cab driver is getting paid anyway ....
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Old 09-20-16, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Now this is the kind of stuff which actually pertains to car-free/car-light and also real life, which is what I thought this forum might include.

Not sure how keen a cabby might be to hang a few 8-foot 2x4s out the trunk though ... I can carry a couple bungeed along the top tube (with only minor thigh irritation) but it sucks to ride and normally I wimp out and take the car if AI am buying long lumber or pvc. I might have to think about that though ... it is not an idea I had considered, but if the cab driver is getting paid anyway ....
I once ferried home some 8' electrical conduit. I figured it would be easy because they didn't weigh much. so I tied them on to the top tube extending both front and back with a red flag at both ends.

I got home without any serious issues, but decided that once was enough. Home Depot delivers, and I have friends.
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Old 09-20-16, 06:43 PM
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I needed a couple of pieces of square aluminum tubing for a project last week.

I think I have carried up to about 16 foot long pieces on my bike trailer, but I had the measurements and only needed about 7 foot pieces, so I just had the metal supply store cut them to the approximate length. They do charge like $3 per cut, but it made them much easier to strap down and carry home. Maybe if I bring a hacksaw next time, I can just chop the pieces up in the parking lot.

(prior trip)

Extruded Aluminum_2.jpg

Sometime I'll make a long haul bunk load trailer. that I can just tie the long pieces to the bike, and wheels to the end of the load. Perhaps using something like a golf cart on the end (probably fabricated out of bike parts).

Last edited by CliffordK; 09-20-16 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 09-22-16, 09:43 AM
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A kid-trailer works for most large loads. I found a large plastic container with lid that fits perfectly in it to hold more than the trailer can by itself, but since then I hardly ever use it because I find it easier to just stop by the store every couple days to pick up a little at a time. If you do the math, you might find the extra dimes you spend to buy TP in smaller packs is covered by the savings of giving up car insurance, fuel, and maintenance expenses.

As for cat litter, you might want to consider a more radical solution. As an environmentalist, it used to irritate me that so much sand/gravel had to be moved around for the sake of a cat peeing and pooping indoors. I looked and brainstormed desperately for other solutions. I've had cat doors, training litter boxes that fit on the toilet and gradually get deeper so the cat eventually learns to perch on the toilet seat and go into the water. I've tried leaves and dried grass clippings instead of litter. I haven't tried pouring used cat litter in a pile outside in the sun and occasionally hosing it down and turning it with a shovel to sanitize and re-use it, but that may be a possibility, depending on where you live.
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Old 09-28-16, 03:51 PM
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Hi all, thanks for the replies. It seems my concerns are overweighted (no pun intended). It seems a BOB trailer will be in my near future but yeah I've been able to so far fit a lot of the stuff I was concerned with not being able to fit right on my rack with a cargo net.

Also llooking into the Specialized Pizza Rack for carrying large objects up front. Anyone have experience with using something like that?
https://www.specialized.com/us/en/ac...za-rack/106204
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Old 09-28-16, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
A kid-trailer works for most large loads. I found a large plastic container with lid that fits perfectly in it to hold more than the trailer can by itself, but since then I hardly ever use it because I find it easier to just stop by the store every couple days to pick up a little at a time. If you do the math, you might find the extra dimes you spend to buy TP in smaller packs is covered by the savings of giving up car insurance, fuel, and maintenance expenses.

As for cat litter, you might want to consider a more radical solution. As an environmentalist, it used to irritate me that so much sand/gravel had to be moved around for the sake of a cat peeing and pooping indoors. I looked and brainstormed desperately for other solutions. I've had cat doors, training litter boxes that fit on the toilet and gradually get deeper so the cat eventually learns to perch on the toilet seat and go into the water. I've tried leaves and dried grass clippings instead of litter. I haven't tried pouring used cat litter in a pile outside in the sun and occasionally hosing it down and turning it with a shovel to sanitize and re-use it, but that may be a possibility, depending on where you live.
I wish that were practical for me. I live in a downtown apartment block highrise. The cats have to be indoors and no ready access to any alternatives. Maybe I will reember this idea when I get a house in a couple years!
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Old 09-28-16, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by cellery View Post
I wish that were practical for me. I live in a downtown apartment block highrise. The cats have to be indoors and no ready access to any alternatives. Maybe I will reember this idea when I get a house in a couple years!
I googled "neutralize ammonia" and google said the following:
To neutralize ammonia smell from pet urine, one can use simple home products, such as vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Because ammonia is an alkaline or basic substance, a product that is acidic, such as vinegar, can clean and neutralize ammonia odor and stains.
If you're up to the challenge, you could try putting the used cat litter in an empty 5-gallon paint bucket (sold at hardware stores) after removing the solids. If you punch some holes in the lid to make a pour-spout, you might be able to rinse the used litter and pour out the water. A fraction of a scoop of laundry detergent might be sufficient to sanitize the litter, but you could also try a little bleach, vinegar, baking soda, etc. but not at the same time as some chemicals can react dangerously with others. After washing and rinsing the litter, you could spread it out on the balcony to dry.

It might be easier to try toilet-training the cat, though: https://www.amazon.com/CitiKitty-Cat.../dp/B000F1OS20
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Old 09-29-16, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
I googled "neutralize ammonia" and google said the following:
If you're up to the challenge, you could try putting the used cat litter in an empty 5-gallon paint bucket (sold at hardware stores) after removing the solids. If you punch some holes in the lid to make a pour-spout, you might be able to rinse the used litter and pour out the water. A fraction of a scoop of laundry detergent might be sufficient to sanitize the litter, but you could also try a little bleach, vinegar, baking soda, etc. but not at the same time as some chemicals can react dangerously with others. After washing and rinsing the litter, you could spread it out on the balcony to dry.

It might be easier to try toilet-training the cat, though: https://www.amazon.com/CitiKitty-Cat.../dp/B000F1OS20
Interesting ideas and very eco-friendly. Unfortunately, I'm much too lazy for all that, and I would worry about the toxicity of both the chemicals and the cat waste. For me, it would be easier just to buy the kitty litter and transport it on the bike. As several people have pointed out, this is quite easily done with several options including messenger bag, rack, and trailer.

Training the cat to use the toilet was the most intriguing idea of all, if you're up to a bigger expenditure of time and effort. My experience as a cat owner tells me that it wouldn't be easy!
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Old 09-29-16, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Training the cat to use the toilet was the most intriguing idea of all, if you're up to a bigger expenditure of time and effort. My experience as a cat owner tells me that it wouldn't be easy!
The proof is in the pudding . . . or in this case the toilet bowl:

Interesting the cat keeps trying to cover his mess, first by pawing at the toilet seat then by covering it with toilet paper. The owner could probably save a lot of toilet paper by teaching the cat to flush as well.

Or maybe she should get a composting toilet and save water too, except that would sort of bring the situation back to the litter box, only for the humans too. Ultimately it would be better for the environment for people to use composting toilets and dispose of the waste down some kind of garbage shaft in tall buildings. Of course, the trick would be to contain the bad smell but that's probably doable with some cleverly-designed gas-channeling and burning.
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Old 09-29-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by cellery View Post
While not yet committed to carfree, I am trying to go car-lite as I telecommute 4 out of 5 days, etc. My 10 year old Hyundai Accent is starting to show its age and girlfriend has considered us just having her car for us to share... I don't desire another car payment and frankly hate driving on the rare occasion I find myself behind the wheel. One of the things hindering me from going all out is when doing grocery trips - getting large, heavy items on the bike. I am talking about 25 lbs bag of cat litter, economy sized TP, you know the kind of stuff you want the world to see you carrying on the road; things that won't fit in panniers. We have her car, but say she's out of town, at work, etc.

I'm not a heavy person and use a steel '79 Univega Sportour that has been upgraded to modern parts everywhere except the stem, as my commuting/grocery bike. Without a bike trailer or xtracycle type of setup, has anyone come up with a homebrew solution for this kind of thing? (Not unopposed to the trailer thing, just asking about other options).

Thanks!
Another vote for giant messenger bags. Sometimes a couple of spare straps are handy for securing large items to the outside of the bag. I've definitely used my Chrome Citizen to haul a complete bike (wheels stacked on top of frame), early 2000s desktop CPU, 25lb bags of whatever. Hiking frame packs are pretty amazing at carrying large loads, too, but helmet interference can be an issue.

Trailers take the challenge out of it hauling stuff on a bike, though.
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Old 09-29-16, 11:56 AM
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Dude in this other thread just turned me onto Crust Cargo Fork as a cargo option which might retrofit to some bikes. Worth seeking out a used bike onto which this might fit... which might be problematic -- mtn bikes without suspension forks are usually 1" steerer forks; mtn bikes with 1-1/8" are usually set up for suspension forks.
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