Cycling - Load Carrying
Written by fonant
There are lots of different ways to carry things on a bike. It is possible to carry quite heavy loads, even people!
For light loads and short trips a rucksack or backpack can be useful. They can make your back sweatier than it needs to be though, and heavy loads or long trips with a rucksack can cause back ache. Another disadvantage is that the weight is carried high up, so stability can be an issue.
A wicker (or wire) basket on the front is a tried-and-tested traditional way to carry light loads on a bike. Ideal for a quick trip to the shops for a pint or a loaf of bread.
Panniers are an excellent load carrying solution, as they let the bike take the weight but are easily taken off at each end of the journey. A pair of large rear panniers can carry a week's shopping for one if you pack them carefully.
The more expensive makes (Carradice or Ortlieb) are worth it if you can afford them, my Carradice Super C panniers are still going strong after nearly 15 years of daily use! Avoid the cheap "all-in-one" makes that flop over the rack - they aren't waterproof at all and won't stand up to regular use.
There are various different trailers, with a wide range of prices. It's probably best to spend a little more to get a well-designed trailer that's nice and stiff, rather than a useless floppy thing.
For heavier loads, avoid trailers that attach to the bike's seat post. When you corner, these types will try to push the bike over. The better hitches connect at the bike's axle level.
For efficiency on long trips (such as touring) single-wheeled trailers such as the Bob Yak are good. For shorted journeys and heavier loads two-wheeled trailers are more stable.
Many people have towed canoes and other such long loads simply by tying some wheels on at the mid-point and connecting to the bike with some rope!
I have a rare Miklink trailer. It has moped wheels, a heavy steel chassis, and a chunky patented hitch that couples to the bike low down and puts weight onto the bike's back axle for additional stability. It has a weight limit of 150kg, and I've used it to nearly this heavy, transporting fifty bricks at a time. It's OK to tow once it's rolling, but you don't want to go too far with that sort of weight on the back (massive respect to rickshaw drivers!).