Utilitaire Curiosities: How We Carry What We Do
Boop bee doop. Reading through the utilitaire posts and tweets got me thinking about the various “bike and haul” setups people have chosen, and also prompted me to analyze my own.
I have two primary systems and bikes I use for hauling stuff around. For riding in the city, I generally use one of two bicycles: a Rivendell Quickbeam (single speed); or my Surly Long Haul Trucker (many speeds).
Setup 1: Rivendell Quickbeam with the Carradice College Saddlebag
This is the less robust of my carrying methods, but still works great for getting my work clothes and me to the office, and allows for a spur of the moment side trip to the grocery store to pick up dinner fixings.
My Rivendell Quickbeam is a steel frame single speed tourer with 700C wheels. I affixed a black Tubus Cargo rack that I found (for free!) in the Dining Room Bike Shop. (Felkerino had intended to use it on one of his bike projects, but changed his mind and then left it unattended one day.) The rack provides a sturdy base for the Carradice College saddlebag that I purchased several years ago from St. John Street Cycles.
The College is one of Carradice’s larger saddlebags. I call it my “magic hat” bag, as it has a great deal of carrying capacity, but it does not look bulky (to me, anyway). The saddlebag loops are looped through my Brooks B-17 “S” and the bag itself rests on the Tubus rack.
In the front, I use a Rickshaw Pipsqueak bag. This little guy is perfect for carrying things I like to have at my fingertips, such as my work ID, a camera, and even my phone.
I could also use panniers with this setup, but usually the Carradice meets my needs. I don’t like carrying heavy loads on my single speed, as it puts additional stress on my knees, which I like to baby. For bigger hauls, I use Setup 2.
Setup 2: Surly Long Haul Trucker with a Carradice Pendle and Ortlieb
My Surly Long Haul Trucker is the bike I choose when I want gears and when I want to do things like run to the grocery store or drop stuff off at the dry cleaner’s. My Surly (size 54) is a
heavy sturdy steel bike designed for loaded touring. Sizes 54 and smaller come with 26-inch wheels.
In order to transport my panniers, I purchased a Nitto Campee rear rack.
I bought a Carradice Pendle, a mid-sized saddle bag, from St. John Street Cycles and belted it through the eyelets of my Brooks Flyer saddle.
Both the Tubus and the Nitto racks are awesome. They are sturdy and made to carry loads. Adding a pannier won’t throw off the balance of the bike, which has happened with other racks I have used. I also think the Tubus and Nitto are nice-looking, compared to a lot of others out there.
Usually, when I ride the Surly I carry at least one pannier, sometimes two. My panniers of choice for town riding are the Ortlieb front-roller classics. I love love love them.
First, they are simple and come with no pockets. These Ortliebs are just solid waterproof pannier “sacks” that are easy to close. Second, the mounting system is adjustable and easy to attach and remove from the bike.
Third, they include a carrying strap you can attach to carry the pannier over your shoulder. I would not recommend carrying these panniers very far, as the hooks will grind uncomfortably into your legs, but to get in an out of a store, they are perfect.
As on the Quickbeam I use a Rickshaw Pipsqueak on the front.
Both the Surly and the Quickbeam have two bottle cages. One is a steel bottle cage from I don’t know where, and the other is a plastic Kleen Kanteen cage. I often use the steel cage to hold my coffee and I use the plastic cage for grocery store purchases, lately wine or almond butter. I don’t like to have glass rub directly against steel, which adds to the appeal of the plastic Kleen Kanteen cage. It has proven hardy, yet flexible, and is an excellent holster for a bottle of vino or a medium-sized jar.
Those two setups are what I’ve found work best for me as a commuter and transportation cyclist. What kind of setup(s) do you use? I’d love to read a post about it or let me know directly in the comments.