The one thing that kinda stunk riding to school with the kids was constantly stuffing backpacks inside of other backpacks, crinkling stuff up in the process, and hoping no big projects were coming home without warning.
For this, for general use, for a GAP tour I’m hoping to do, I need more cargo carrying ability.
The cheapest, most general approach is for me just to get really huge backpack, where less stuffing is required and there’s more ability to handle extras. I just don’t like restricted rear visibility and I suspect having that much stuff on my back would get pretty old on long rides.
So I’m also interested in front racks/bags. In general what I’ve seen is tiny. I’m hoping there might be something big enough for a backpack to go inside, or which could be used directly as a backpack.
Rear rack/bag is also might be a possibility, but the bike train does have a seatpost tow arm. It arches up higher on the weehoo than some others I’ve seen, but the tandem’s rear frame size is only 16, with 700c wheels, so it’s not as much extra clearance on this bike as most would get. Do any particular racks sit just a little lower and/or has anyone successfully used a seatpost attachment tow arm and rack together on a small frame size bike (relative to wheel size). Just trying to get a firmer sense how much clearance is needed in practice.
I don’t know how it’ll affect handling on your specific frame, but have you considered a porteur rack? You can easily bungee a backback or other cargo-container onto one.
I’d look at the Ortlieb Front Roller Classics. http://www.ortliebusa.com/ProdList.asp?scat=24
Ortlieb panniers are 100% waterproof (if you roll the top properly) and very durable. Keeping the center of mass of the weight on the bike low using panniers rather than a backpack will help the handling of the bike. Note that putting a lot of weight on the front wheel of the bike will change the handling – it’ll be harder to turn quickly, but since you have a bike train you’re probably not doing much stunt riding, anyway.
Lolly Walsh’s bike when she was in Pittsburgh had a huge front rack. I’ll see if I can dig up a picture.
To quantify the rear rack clearance concerns, the tow bar has 2″ clearance of the rear tire at the nearest point (between 10 and 11 o’clock). Also, this gets even more annoying… there aren’t eyelets on top and the seatpost goes into a collar where the bolts are recessed. It’s not clear how I’d mount a rack at all.
The porter rack is an interesting idea… I’m not sure if there’d be a way to get it to take multiple backpacks? Offhand I’d thought about that being a nice to have surface in addition to the front rack, and that it would make sense to have it all as one piece, but I didn’t assume I’d be able to get a lot on there by itself.
The ortlieb panniers are a well regarded choice, but I’m looking for something larger, I think, or something that works as a backpack directly. More small storage doesn’t help much.
I’d expect a little more weight up front would improve handling generally, and I certainly avoid sketchy maneuvers on the bike train generally, but at low climbing speed, the heft at the back does mean I need to make larger adjustments with the front wheel to keep balance than a normal bike. While those adjustments may be a little more effective and smaller with more weight there, it also seems they’d require somewhat more work.
When our 4 member family bike camps (i.e. does a short ride out from Boston or West Newton) to camp at Cedar Creek Campground, etc. I just pull a repurposed trailer that we used to use to pull the kids. For us that has been enough hauling capacity, and we don’t camp ultralight, either.
I remember reading some interesting things in Bicycle Times, if I remember correctly.
Wald front rack, cheap and well made. The large version should carry 2 kid backpacks, I would think. There’s another version that will carry a pizza box, flat, if you want more flexibility. The big drawbacks are that if you have handlebar mounted lights, it will probably be blocked, and you’ll need to futz with a different mounting (the easiest solution would be to just zip-tie a couple of cheap, high lumen led flashlights to the sides). Also probably interferes with bus racks if you every rely on those. That’s the only reason I don’t have one on my commuter. But I highly recommend Wald products.
If @byogman needs a trailer he can borrow my single-wheel Nashbar trailer, which attaches via a QR skewer to a standard rear hub. But I think he’s not looking for something even longer than what he has now.
I agree the best option is to add something up front, using a porteur rack or something like that. Once a rack of some kind is attached it would be pretty easy to mount stuff on it. You could even make kitty litter panniers and have a pretty capacious generally usable storage system. You’d just have to make sure it’s mounted securely, and permanently. You don’t want it coming loose on a long trail ride.
When I have my BP on my back instead of in my pannier, my bike handles much better and feels lighter. It’s easier to get it up and down stairs – I have 12 or 15 steps to get my bike inside where it lives.
That being said, I typically will not ride with a backpack on. Biking isn’t particularly great for your spine or your skeletal alignment. neither are backpacks.
True love comes and goes, but back injuries are forever.
I may try the Wald 257GB and/or something similar if a local shop already has on-hand.
I love/fear AJ’s review on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wald-Multi-Fit-Front-Bicycle-Basket/dp/B0080JOXQA
Basically, something large that… if it’s too unwiedly for the train, at least turns another bike into a more competent grocery and especially pizza getter.
^ Ben, Kraynick’s usually has the lighter front Wald basket (and other racks) on hand at his shop & Jerry will let you install it right there in the shop – he has stands and tools for customers to use. He will have parts and extra hardware, etc. in case you need to make any adjustments/modifications too.
Of course getting a tandem through his cluttered shop could provide for some humorous moments.
I’ve been there a few times and when I’ve brought the tandem, yes, it’s humorous. But I don’t want a more reasonable sized rack/basket (I don’t think) and (famous last words) I don’t think we’ll need to roll by there to install the one we do get.
I’m going to roll by a regular local shop some time next week (probably thick, but not entirely certain) to sanity check the mounting interface, order through them, and get a first hand perspective on what all else might work for my needs, which really is quite a bit of extra cargo carrying capability.
I might be interested in your diy panniers experience, see to what extent that might come into play if I can’t (and I don’t think I can) get a regular rack on back.
Biggest rear panniers I have found are the arkel dolphins. Work very well.
Perhaps a not particularly helpful suggestion, but I recommend you save up for some longtail cargo bike. They have extra long panniers that could probably easily fit a few bookbags, and you could probably throw a kid on the back too.
DIY panniers are very inexpensive and fairly easy to make. I’d be willing to meet with you to show you what has and hasn’t worked for me in the past & where to by the fabric etc.
I also think that Pierce’s suggestion of a Long-tailed cargo bike would be a great addition to the family stable, especially when your biketrain becomes a little shorter as the kids can ride on their own.
The long term plan is this, the stoker seat and decent mileage in it for a season or two is the prerequisite for riding alongside to school and other places, and decent mileage doing that, again, over a season or two is the prerequisite to riding solo.
A cargo bike may very well be in our future, but try as I might, I can’t justify adding that to the stable when the train (when empty) can do a reasonable job with the kids or cargo, just not both. And with three girls, the youngest of whom is 4, it’ll be a while before the train is going anywhere.
I will definitely PM you now and pick your brain on the DIY panniers, and also, if anyone can chime in on a rear rack that rides lower and/or a rear rack that you can mount backwards (high side toward the rear where I have more clearance), that would be super-helpful.
For the rear, where the absence of an upper set of eyelets is a problem, but where I’d want to go lower than normal anyway, this looks interesting, since I could theoretically tune the height: http://www.cyclocamping.com/Racks_Accessories/tubus_clamp_set_for_seat_stay_mounting/71614_24-172.aspx
Also, I’m thinking the bottom of the baby seat might work as rack (it’s already designed to hold a little weight, there are a lot of points of adjustment, and the way it fits together, the seat itself holds the sides that support it vertically, together horizontally, so I’d just need metal pieces to run across with proper size holes for the bolts at a similar distance apart).
Ben, I can think of two better products than the link above for adding the equivalent of an eyelet you the seat stays:
1) Google “Earl’s Performance Tubing Clamp.” Lowe’s will have the generic version of that in the hardware department.
2) For something stronger than #1, look for two-piece aluminum shaft collars on the McMaster-Carr website. Then buy a M6x1.0 drill bit and tap set, and tap in threads on one of the sides of the collar. Add a piece of inner tube to protect the frame tubes if you really want to be fancy.
Will look into it, thanks for the tips. By default, and you probably the know this about me… I’m all about whatever hack is easy/cheap and good enough.
Then option no. 1 is what you want. And if you really want to be good at this DIY stuff, read “Prepare to Win” by Carroll Smith. A lot of it will be irrelevant but there is a lot of great information there that’s hard to find in one place.
I created two panniers from home depot tool boxes. Some of you have seen me around town with them. I no longer use them and would be willing to lend them out to others as long as they are returned for the next person. Here’s a pic on my fat bike. I’ve used them on my cross bike to tour northern Michigan – just be careful of center of gravity. https://goo.gl/photos/9Whn77H7mj4gvDMT6
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