Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loaded

There comes a point in every bicycle blog's existence, when the author feels compelled to show off how much stuff they can carry on their bike as part of some errand for which one might normally use a car. If you think about it, it's impressive that I've held off for this long, so do give me some credit. But I am, after all, only human. And so, my time has come for the self-congratularoty "cargo hauling" post. Keep reading or close your browser in disgust, as you please - but yeah, it will be one of those.

First, allow me to acknowledge that my so-called "cargo" pales in comparison to the likes of what some greater, more adventurous cyclists carry on their bikes every day without batting an eye. But I am neurotic and risk-averse, and I never really have all that much to carry. So for me, this was a great feat worthy of glee and merriment. To give you a sense of scale, the larger box with the J. Crew insignia (I re-use old boxes for shipping) originally contained a long winter overcoat and is almost twice the length of the rack supporting it. The box on top of it is shorter, but taller. And each of the bags on the sides contain two heavy, medium-sized boxes.

The trip was necessitated by my needing to mail a number of large packages simultaneously, which has not happened in a while. If confronted with this situation 5 months ago, I would have simply waited until the Co-Habitant was available and we would drive it all to the post office on a Saturday morning in the car. But now we no longer have a car (at least for the time being - it's not permanent, really!), so I could either make multiple trips to the post office or try to fit it all on my bike at the same time. The latter turned out to be surprisingly - almost disappointingly - easy. Within minutes of deciding to try it, the packages were secured to the sturdy backside of the Urbana bike.

I wasn't sure whether my bungee cord would fit around both boxes, and whether it would be sufficient to keep the boxes sturdy. To my delight, it was a "yes" on both accounts. I secured the two bags on the sides using the rack's hook system (see here and here), which was convenient in that I did not need to use dedicated panniers or ropes. The whole set-up literally took 5 minutes, and then I was off: first gingerly, then at a moderate pace. The postoffice is fairly close to my house, so I cannot boast a grueling ride over hills or along dangerous highways. But for what it's worth, it was raining, and the roads in my neightbourhood are riddled with potholes the size of ditches.

The ride was an uneventful success. Still, I cannot say that I enjoyed cycling with six boxes attached to my bike. I was conscious of them the entire time, and kept worrying that something might fall off - not only getting damaged in the process, but also causing me to panic and do something unwise in the midst of traffic. So... while I can do it if necessary, I am just not one to derive pleasure from loading my bike up with a stack of boxes secured to the rear rack with bungee cords.

On the other hand, I do like the independence such hauling capacity offers, as well as the smooth handling of this particular bike despite the load. Richard Masoner of cyclelicio.us sent me a link to this picture of himself riding an Urbana with an enormous plastic tub bolted to the rear rack, in which he carried 80lb worth of camping gear. Okay, I like it. If this bike were mine, I can see turning it into a dedicated "cargo chariot," with a colour-matched tub permanently attached to the rack. Postoffice run? Toss the packages in the tub. Need to buy furniture or building supplies? Tub! This could seriously eliminate our need for using a car for local errands, without the need for an unwieldy longtail or Bakfiets.

The Co-Habitant cautions against the giant tub idea, pointing out that carrying a heavy load that high is bound to create handling problems. But I wonder whether that applies to all bikes, or whether the Urbana's design accommodates it - after all, the rack is rated for 150lb, and they do not specify that it needs to be carried as low as possible...

So, how about this question: Assuming that (1) one does not plan to transport children, and (2) the rear rack is rated for the weight, what, if anything, is wrong with attaching a Bakfiets-sized container to the rear rack of a hardy transport bike and turning it into a "cargo chariot"? I am not talking milk crate, but a truly enormous tub, as shown here. It seems to me that such a system could really work for a person who cannot deal with (or afford) a longtail or full-on cargobike. It could work for me, for sure.

91 comments:

  1. Um, forget that Bakfiets and longtails are in the same solar system of unwieldly.

    You're selling yourself short; if you can right a big Pash or this bike a longtail is a piece of cake. Really.

    I saw the Masoner review and cringed. Definitely not how you want to carry things. The weight is way too high, despite the rack's strength rating.

    These Urbana teasers are killing me. Please just review it so I can destroy it in a gentle fashion.

    Not quite a Smugfiets. Maybe a Proudfiets.

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  2. Regarding the Urbana appearances: I hope to post a review by the end of the month. Still need to take it on a long, hilly ride and it keeps being like 30 degrees here every time I have a free couple of hours.

    I also want to clarify that the reason I show pics of the bike so frequently, is because it's the bike I ride most of the time since having received it. I am by no means "required" to do this as part of my review process, it's just that I actually... like riding it. I've been keeping it locked up outdoors and it's always just there and ready to go, and the rack is super-easy and the handling is kind of neat. It's possible that I am just relieving my HS days and I'll grow tired of this bike very soon. But not yet...

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  3. Ok, this bike is seriously growing on me. While I'm not sure I could handle a tub, the ability to have a large crate or something on the back is, admittedly, pretty cool. Not to mention I love the whole idea of a camping cargo bike setup without needing a whole lot of expensive, specialised equipment.

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  4. Re longtails - I tried to ride one and didn't like it. It was absolutely nothing like a Dutch bike or a Pashley. Scared of Bakfietsen. But would like to try a cargo trike, like the Christiania or Sorte Jernhest.

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  5. @Velouria

    Which longtail did you try? The difference in ride quality between the Big Dummy and the Yuba Mundo are huge, to me the big dummy feels like a long Brompton, whilst the Yuba doesn't feel that dissimilar to a roadster.

    I have also ridden the Bakfiets too, and it is surprisingly easy to ride, light, stable and comfortable. various cargo bike impressions can be read here

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  6. Mr Wallingford of EnglandApril 21, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    I quite often put big heavy items on the pletscher rack on the back of my crosscheck. it is not theoretically the best way to carry a big load, but it works for me. just takes a bit of getting usedc to the higher center of grav. sometimes i carry a massive plastic crate full of glass bottles down to the local recycling centre. its a bit unwieldy but i get the job done. probably the big tub would be fine for local errands around town etc but not for long distance or hilly/rough terrain.

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  7. It might be possible, but would be really unpleasant to have large loads so high in the back with no load on the front -- your handling would be dodgy, at best. For those who do not want or can't justify a full-on cargo bike a small cargo trailer makes a lot of sense.

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  8. Maybe a tub a little smaller in size perhaps? The one in the photo is pretty big. Would there be problems with the tub sticking out so far on the sides (sideswiping parked cars along the road)?

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  9. I would think that the tub would work fine. The only issue I could see is if it were piled high enough with stuff it might seem top heavy and wobbly when you first start out, but after the bike gets going it would probably net even be noticeable.

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  10. If even Bike Snob can do a cargo hauling post, surely you should be able to get away with it, too. :)

    Richard's set up looks sturdy and I've never had a problem piling anything high on my rear rack. A lower center of gravity would probably be more balanced, but I think a really sturdy bike would work fine either way.

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  11. A little off topic, but the post reminded me of this. There is an intriguing method of carrying things I have seen here in Chicago recently. I have twice seen someone riding down the road with a 45 Gal. cat litter tub strapped like a pannier to the side of the rack. I suppose he has it position for no heel strike, and it is presumably waterproof. :)

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  12. The Urbana looks to be very manageable,sturdy, and a good all around utility bike. By no means does it look cheap, but aesthetically it is a real oinker.
    I am constantly suprised at how much people carry on their bikes.

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  13. The more I see this bicycle the more I like it. GR Jim, we get it -- you hate the bike. Don't buy one.

    The big drawback to bolting a tub to the back would be losing the ability to use the hook system built into the rack. I had to give up on even using a saddle bag on the Retrovelo because it was then impossible to attach my Arkel Shoppers. At this point, I just bungee a tote bag to the back to carry daily stuff and use the Arkels when I have a bigger load. They work well for laundry trips, too.

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  14. Come try the sorte whenever you want. Before it's gone..... Seriously.

    I'm partial to all things yellow so it's not such a bad bike after all. ( said a la chalie brown Christmas special).

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  15. Velouria-
    You do such a perfectly splendid job with this blog! I love seeing it pop up on my Google Reader. Must say, though....that bike is just plain hit-with-a-stick fugly. lol

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  16. I have found that heavy stuff on a rear rack gets awkward pretty quickly. A front-loaded cargo bike like the Bakfiets is practical. It is amazing how popular these are in Amsterdam.

    Barring that, I'd consider some type of trailer like one of B.O.B.'s (http://www.biketrailershop.com/bob-cargo-trailers-c-181.html). Not bad for ~$300 (it costs as much as some Gilles Berthoud bags!), plus you still get to ride a "normal" bike.

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  17. A longtail is better suited to the role of the SUB. A Yuba Mundo can haul anything you can think of and a Big Dummy is the quintessential transport bike - the Xtracycle kit makes it easy to haul stuff and its limited only by your imagination.

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  18. A Big Dummy is half the length of a mountain bike because one must have room to carry stuff in the rear - which can include passengers! The awkwardness of transporting it could be eliminated by S&S couplers, allowing it to be transported in an ordinary bike carton.

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  19. 30 degrees? Was that a suggestion that it might be too cold? I am just glad that it's not negative 5 (before wind chill) with a foot or two of snow on the ground! Nothing like a long, hard winter to toughen up a cyclist.

    If I had that load, I would use another bungee lengthwise (parallel to the bike). I've learned not to worry about boxes strapped to the top of the rear rack, as long as they are supported in both axes. With only one bungee, I too worry about the load shifting (as I've had it happen).

    The tub looks a bit high, but I think it could be manageable. I would worry more about lighter items hopping out of the open top when going over a big bump. Might want to use one with a lid. That tub is a little big for a net.

    Garth-

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  20. Ok, I admit I post all the time about stuff I carried.
    The trick is, as you just discovered- it's much simpler than it looks.
    Some good bungees, a decent rack, a little ingenuity, and you can carry a lot of things thing you might not expect on your bike without breaking a sweat.

    Of course there are things you can't carry on a normal bike- very heavy loads, very very large loads. I'm wary of very fragile loads, although I bet a ride on my bike is less hard on a package than the average UPS driver.

    I'm a bit with MDI on the tub- Would be fine for low density bulky stuff, but a bit scary for something heavy. How about a pair of smaller tubs strapped tandem across the back?

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  21. Well, what's wrong with it is center of gravity, obviously. For something like this, get a trailer. It can hold even more, with a low center of gravity, an extra wheel to help support the weight, you can easily remove it when you don't need it, and it's around $100 from Nashbar.

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  22. Personally, I'd skip the giant rubbertub because it would be too high. Instead go with those HUGE panniers the Dutch have for postmen and newspaper delivery. They'll carry anything: http://www.l1.nl/mmbase/images/4670277/tnt_fiets.jpg

    I've been drooling over the Burley Travoy. Any chance you might review one? http://www.burley.com/home/bur/page_416/travoy.html It looks a lot more comfortable than a full sized bike trailer. We have a trailer and it's difficult to move in our narrow alleys.

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  23. I think trailers introduce a variable beyond what V would be willing to tolerate. They affect where you must be in traffic, you have to consider them whilst turning and while I personally think that the more threatening your contraption looks the more road you're "allowed" to consume, others may be in constant fear of someone hitting their trailer or perhaps themselves swiping someone with it.

    The cat-litter tubs would totally work with this rack. All they need is a pair of sturdy handles (2 holes and a nylon strap) and they can be as easy to add/remove as tote bags. And the ugliness that would ensure will match this bike splendidly.

    Perhaps we should talk with our cats about considering the kind of litter that comes in tubs for a short while. :)

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  24. I have found that ratchet straps are better than bungees for just about any cargo. Not only have I used them on my bike to carry heavy objects on my rack, but I have also used them to strap wardrobes and sofas to the roof of my hatchback and then driven on the expressway. Got mine at IKEA.

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  25. Rob--but if a ratchet strap deforms the cardboard box, it will lose tension while a bungee will still have almost as much tension as before. I suppose this isn't as much of an issue if you strap things cross-wise, which this rack would allow.

    Hmm. Maybe I should get some ratchet straps to try things out. :) The problem with my Pashley is that the huge Brooks bag I have there takes up a good half of the rack, making it difficult to hang panniers. What's worse, I got so attached to how my bike looks with 2 Brooks bags that I am completely unwilling to remove it. I need panniers that sit lower than the surface of the rack, but none of the more popular ones do that.

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  26. I too would be wary of raising the center of gravity, and also the possibility of load shifting.
    Once you get the stuff in the tub, it has to stay where you put it even when bouncing over those Marianas-trench-deep potholes.

    On the plus side- You might have an advantage over the other fellow with the tub, because your personal center of gravity is a bit lower than his.

    How did low speed handling feel, once you had those packages stacked on the Urbana?

    A dear old friend has used a BOB trailer for short-distance hauling for a dozen years now. It really is a good way to go, and you might want to try it for the novelty. Perhaps those fabulous folks at Harris have one they can loan out or rent.

    Corey K

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  27. Re which longtails I've tried: I rode a Yuba Mundo. I could do it, but would not want to own it, I just really prefer a normal sized bike. I wanted to try a Surly Big Dummy, but the area where the person was going to let me try it was super high traffic and after getting on I just didn't feel comfortable experimenting with someone else's bike. It was loaded and the balance felt all weird.

    The reason I would prefer a "cargo chariot" fashioned out of a normal bike to a longtail, Bakfiets, or trailer, is fairly obvious: normality, having to do the least work, and not having to learn a new cycling skill just to carry stuff. My wheelbase would remain the same, my cycling style could remain the same, there would be no storage problems, and the bike would generally be more versatile.

    Also, with longtails - I know that someone is going to tell me this isn't so - but every time I see someone load them up, it takes them forever. Ropes, hooks, panting, straining, stabilizing, God knows what else. To me, the whole point of a cargo-specific bike is not to fuss with it so much. Which is why the box/bucket system is so appealing. I have very little time and I am a low maintenance person. I just want to get things done and not worry.

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  28. Lynne, thanks for the tip. I was getting my cc out.

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  29. I think Jim secretly wants the bike. He doth protest too much.

    Corey K said...
    "How did low speed handling feel, once you had those packages stacked on the Urbana?"


    It felt no different, more stable than my Gazelle felt with 2 smaller packages (and no side bags) on its rear rack.

    Garth - I can cycle in 30 degree weather, as evidenced by my having done that all winter. But it's not the best way to test a bike if my point is to test its performance. It's April for godssake, so getting a warmish day should be a reasonable thing to hope for!

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  30. "It felt no different, more stable than my Gazelle felt with 2 smaller packages (and no side bags) on its rear rack."

    You have your answer. Try a bucket and the catlitter-derived hard panniers, and see what works.

    Might Urbana be open to developing a "Velouria Edition" with deluxe paint and a lighting system?

    Stay tuned- I'll send you a link to some *amazing* pictures of loaded urban hauling bikes from Hanoi.

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  31. Today I wore the same jacket/hat/gloves that I wore in February. This must be the coldest April in recent years. Even the /norwegian forest/maine coon/who knows what they are/ cats aren't shedding at their usual pace.

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  32. I use a longtail bike for most of my shopping, but I never (almost never; I regularly ride 30 miles out of town for donuts, and then I carry a slab of coroplast and a couple of reusable shopping bags to hold the boxes of donuts on top of the rack) use any rigging other than the straps that come with the giant saddlebags. I suppose if you regularly carry huge or superheavy loads, additional rigging and careful loading would be essential, but for boxes, groceries, and other small loads it's astoundingly trivial to load.

    For storage, I have a wheel hook mounted on the wall of my bike closet; it's a lot /higher/ than a hook for a bobtail, and you need to be comfortable with picking up and carrying a 6 foot long 40 pound bicycle into the room, but once it's stowed it takes no more room than a bobtail.

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  33. Corey K said...
    "Might Urbana be open to developing a "Velouria Edition" with deluxe paint and a lighting system?"


    I don't think it's necessary, as (1) I don't understand enough about the bike's origin and structural design to feel that my contribution would be serious/valuable, and (2) I have nothing of value to add.They already offer the bike in black and that's what I'd get if I were getting one. The components they chose are fine. Rack is phenomenal. A dynamo lighting option is the only extra I'd want.

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  34. I do. First thing I'd do is put an Xtra on it, as it would make an excellent donor frame.

    "Fiddly" theory debunked
    (Skip the installation part - once it's on it's on): http://vimeo.com/13130757

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  35. Re: strapping. Some prefer a bungee/cam strap combo to secure loads. I use these: http://www.xtracycle.com/cargo-bicycles/cargo-bike-accessories/girth-strap-with-cam.html

    Lighter than ratchet straps, more fine adjustability. You can daisy chain them to get a 12 foot length.

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  36. Peppy (the would-read-it-with-great-pleasure-daily cat)April 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    GR Jim--do you have your own blog? Perhaps you could start one since you seem to have a lot of good ideas about all things bike-related.

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  37. Do you want me to leave, Peps? I don't. I'm dispensing all my bike knowledge here in the hope you, the cat, and V will change the world through dialogue.

    Besides, I don't know how full that knowledge tank is; would hate to run out in the desert, you know.

    Re: panniers: http://vimeo.com/3276384

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  38. Don't mind Peppy. She didn't get her favourite flavour of catfood this morning, so she is taking her revenge by terrorising the blog.

    Vee - I would love to try your Sorte; will email you!

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  39. It´s said both the French and the Americans under estimated the Vietnamese logistical capacity by 75%; more stuff can be hauled on a bike than most belive! I´d not recomend a big tub on the rear rack, but i´d carry stuff like that myself. And indeed, there are specific improvment one can buy for it called "butterfly" if memory dont fail. And I think it did win a prize in some design competition for women. The name should explain how it works really. Also in old swedeish camping literature it is recomended to support the backpack with a piece of wood tied across therear rack. Infact this was the standard way to carry a load here in those days. Campers had one set of panniers, and a suitcase on top of the rear rack. Seatbags seems to been unknown. I would like to point out that the bike on the pic looks alot like a Swedeish postmans bike, and front rack would be a good idea!

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  40. I do the tub thing pretty frequently on my porteur rack and, despite being somewhat high on a VO porteur rack over the 26" wheel of my LHT, it handles fairly well. I ride about 6 miles from Trader Joe's and the tub's usually completely full of food items.

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  41. A large load will also be a nice sail to catch the wind, be the load made of boxes or a tub. This effect could lead to hazardous riding in certain conditions. The higher it is, the more effect a crosswind will have on stability. This isn't a reason not to carry large loads, but please be aware of this issue.

    Over the winter I removed the vinyl skirtguards from my smugfiets due to problems when battling gale-force winds. (You may have heard of the big blizzard to hit Chicago this winter.) When a gust came, the back of the bike would swing out to the side, sliding on the snow and ice. I'd like to get skirtguards with a smaller aerodynamic cross-section.

    Dan.

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  42. Am I the only one who is tired of seeing that ugly bicycle on Lovely Bicycle?

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  43. Ha! No, you are clearly not the only one : )
    Poor bicycle.

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  44. ...Maybe I ought to start a parallel blog, UglyButInaCuteSortaWayBicycle.com, where I discuss Urbana, threadless stems and carrying large used boxes...

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  45. I don't know how to successfully stack boxes like this on a bicycle rack. Both times I have tried this, they inevitably slide off one side as I ride over bumps (even with elastic bungee). I just can't/won't do it anymore.

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  46. Amanda - That's usually been my experience, but not on my Gazelle or this bike. Maybe it's the shape of the racks and the way they support weight?

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  47. Would it help, or make it worse if I spraypainted the frame a different colour and then handpainted "lugwork" at the joints?... What. Just an idea.

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  48. Amanda,

    I had exactly the same problem a few days ago, with two 30 pound boxes stacked on the rear rack of the smugfiets. It was very awkward when it happened, but luckily I was only pushing the bike both times it happened. I believe it has to do with the way whatever straps are holding the top box in place are angled or the relative widths of the two boxes, but have yet to work out a solution.

    Dan.

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  49. Trailer! Yes! Keeps the bicycle(s) sporty but allows hauling big loads. I love my Burley Nomad.

    Also consider USPS Priority Mail with free package pick up.

    Be well!

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  50. Randal - I can be scatterbrained. I worry for the trailer's fate...

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  51. I am thinking how interested I would be to read the post of best how to strap a disgusting cat to the very useful rack of this bicycle, i am thinking a very many bungees and some particularly robust ratchet straps would be necessary to see what the ultimate capacity would be...Pleeze to conduct this test and advise of the result.

    Ratone Polidor

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  52. "Would it help, or make it worse if I spraypainted the frame a different colour and then handpainted "lugwork" at the joints?"

    I was going to recommend vintage Hercules or Raleigh-inspired "box lining".

    And maybe a Brooks B-33. For aerodynamics sake (and also the retro looks, one of these:

    http://www.yourprops.com/norm-49627fed4b97f-Rocketeer%2C+The+%281991%29.jpeg

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  53. GENIUS! Faux applique "Lugwork"! Just like the fingernails I see in the drugstore in a frazzillion patterns and colors! You Chinese bike industry lurkers out there, GET BUSY, NOW!

    I'm writing the check for a Hetchins style gold-lined nickel plated kit as we speak!

    Spindizzy

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  54. IStillLikeLovelyBicyclesReallyIDoSeeIPaintedLugsOn.com

    Peps, I took your advice.

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  55. ^ I would be happy to perform that service on your IF.

    Unless it's one of the lugged carbon models - then no need!

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  56. With a heavy bike, loaded tubs/crates/boxes on the rear rack won't usually create uncomfortable amounts of top-heaviness since the bike's weight effectively lowers the center of gravity.

    Case in point: my 52 lb. Torker Cargo-T with a full 5 gallon gas can tied upright on the rear rack. The other half, an engineer, was convinced this was extremely dangerous until he rode it loaded and discovered the small amount of top-heaviness incurred was completely manageable.

    Yes, I too have hauled piles of packages to the post office on said bike. Worked great.

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  57. Rona, I have a Burley Travoy and love it. Might be able to answer any quick questions you have about it.

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  58. Seriously, you don't want to be carrying a load like that when you try anything unusual. You may be OK riding to the post office, but if someone pops a door open in front of you you'll discover your handling is entirely different and suddenly a avoidable accident becomes something entirely worse. You think everything is fine, then, suddenly, physics shows up.
    I know the experience of riding with a trailer is different than you are used to, but so is the effect of a heavy top load like the one on that bike. It's just more subtle, until the unexpected happens.
    If only there was something you could do to protect yourself, in particular your head, against these unexpected circumstances -- note that I'm not saying it...

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  59. LovelyLaundryTubFiets.com

    My blog: IUsedToHaveANiceBikeTilSomeoneWentAllRococoAndShit.com

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  60. You mean like something that's actually scientifically shown to reduce head injuries, like, say, an airbag?

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  61. Jon, while it's true that the unexpected can happen anytime, my experience riding loaded is that cornering slower with as little leaning as possible, traveling slower, and occasionally using the (empty) sidewalk helps with the safety factor.

    Most road users can't help noticing the crazy person hauling *that* on a bike, and they stay well away. It's rather like driving a tractor on the road.

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  62. Kirsten, how durable is the Travoy/do you leave it out in the elements much?

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  63. One trick I discovered almost accidentally is if you have two bungee cords, you can use one around your packages and then attached to both sides of the rack the traditional way, and, here is the trick, the second one around the back of your pile of packages and attached to both sides of the saddle springs, essentially pressing the pile against your saddle bag or saddle itself.

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  64. Thank you Velouria for the link love to my site and photo. For the rest of you, I'm the guy who bolted the big tub to the back of an Urbana.

    A high load over the rear of a bike forces you to move your front wheel more to maintain balance. That's why you get sketchy wobbly handling on improperly loaded touring bikes, and it's why I initially planned to strap the tubs down low pannier style. I strapped it to the top of the rack first as a quick experiment, though, and discovered I could get away with big loads up high on the Urbana. I didn't expect it, but it worked just fine.

    The Urbana's geometry with long trail and very short wheelbase is a little bit funky and I suspect that has something to do with it. Long trail makes steering more 'responsive' so that minimizes the rear-load wobbles, and ditto for short wheelbase. Some people complain the Urbana is too twitchy, but the heavy rear load balances that out and makes it almost normal :-)

    I took the bike loaded as shown on sandy singletrack with grades up to 20% to and from the campground. This short (50 second) video shows a short segment of the route I took (though w/o the load). I certainly felt the weight of the bike and cargo, but handling was absolutely solid. At one longish steep grade that was too steep for my daughter, I even strapped her bike to the top of the pile so it towered over my head. Again, no problems at all besides the exertion required to pull 100 lbs of cargo up a hill.

    @JimP -- I was a little bit concerned about the sideswiping thing you mention, but I ride far from the right anyway so it wasn't an issue. For passing cars, it's kind of like a flash flag :-)

    @Jon Webb -- There's no need to quickly maneuver to avoid a dooring if you don't ride in the door zone in the first place.

    Finally, here's a more extreme example of a high center of gravity on the Urbana rear rack: 150 pounds of flesh centered two or three over my head.

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  65. @Ground Round: I have a Travoy, but keep it indoors. It's sturdy enough for daily use but light weight construction means it's only moderately durable. I plan to take my Travoy on a S240 trip next month over the Santa Cruz Mountains to see how it goes.

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  66. GR Jim, durability seems good so far. No flats, even over glass-strewn MUPs; some flexion between the hitch area and axle area when overloaded (10 lbs. over rating) while being pulled over rough gravel, but that isn't felt by the pulling rider and is based on observation by a following rider. It's possible this is an optical illusion caused by the rough ground.

    Our bikes and the Travoy live on a screened porch, so experience outdoor temps without the precipitation.

    If using on a wet road, I'd recommend a full length mudflap (within 3 inches of the ground) on the bike's rear wheel, since any spray bounces off the trailer coating the entire rear half of the bike. Looks dorky, but works great.

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  67. Yokota Fritz - I wonder whether those who consider the Urbana's front end twitchy have ever ridden a classic Dutch bike. The steering on those is very light and it can take some time to get used to it. Of course once you do, it becomes normal and even enjoyable - you learn that the Dutch bike is very stable on its own terms, just not in the way you are used to. Now, the Urbana's front end is a paragon of stability compared to a Dutch bike, so "twitchy" is the last thing I find it after my Gazelle. I do think it (the Urbana) is sluggish on turns and I find myself turning wider than I am used to when on it.

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  68. Yokota Fritz: okay, that pic with the kid on the rack is awesome. V, guess what we're doing when I get home? :)

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  69. Um... maybe sitting down.
    Thanks a lot Yokota Fritz, now you gave him ideas.

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  70. Kirsten, Yokota - thanks for the feedback.

    Surfing for reals: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockthebike/4087555088/

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  71. That's my son on the back of the bike. I think that would be absolutely awesome to have V do the bike surfing thing :-) Because the surfer isn't a static load, she'll need to balance with the bike captain. The natural tendency is to try to lean against the turn.

    Since everybody's talking about box panniers, have you seen Donkey Boxx yet?

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  72. Thanks for posting this and the exciting comments! I have an Ahearne Cycle Truck, which is the same length as an ordinary bike but has a shelf over the 20" front wheel for cargo. The shelf doesn't turn with the fork, so the steering is nice and stable.

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  73. @Ground - yep, Paul's a nut :-) I think he's the first guy I've seen doing that and was my inspiration for my photo. The Mundo is a rock solid platform for it too. It's more difficult on the Urbana for me -- I tried it solo on that bike but couldn't quite get it up there.

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  74. Yokota - language. On the eMundo one can surf UPhill, evidently. There's a video of Paul I couldn't find surfing in GG Park - was that on your site?

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  75. Those cycle trucks look very cool, esp. the silver coffee one. Easy to ride? Am trying to understand how the high step-over is negotiated.

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  76. I hope V doesn't shoot me for threadjacking, but since we're talking Urbana Bikes, Travoy trailers and plastic tubs anyway, that's how I bring my dog to the dog park.

    I can't find it at the moment, but I also have video of me hauling another bicycle strapped to a Travoy trailer. Yes, I like to push the envelope.

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  77. Perhaps you should put one of your polls up for the Urbana and find out how many think its cute and how many think its heinous.

    A. Cut
    B. Ugly in a cute sort of way
    C. Butt Ugly

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  78. I'm a big fan of my BOB trailer, especially for big loads like the packages or the camping gear shown in the tub. Because it attaches to the rear axle and has a low center of gravity, I find it affects the handling of my bike very little, certainly much less than a top heavy load does, at least on my particular bike. Well, at least except for the times I've overloaded the capacity of the trailer, then it can get a little touchy. There really wasn't a learning curve or anything. I just took off and went. Yes, the over all length is longer, but that isn't noticeable for most things, though there are some road situations where I'm a little more cautious, like going through a two way stop when I don't have the right of way.

    I don't think it makes my bike less versatile, but rather more so. My "daily driver" bike is a lightweight single-speed with a road bike frame that I put a raised stem and north road style handlebars on (yes, my bike does look a little odd). It's great for my commute and can definitely handle my usual junk and gym clothes on my pannier, or two moderately loaded grocery panniers. But it does not do heavy or bulky loads gracefully and the time I tried to ride it with as many packages as shown, it felt as wobbly as one of those newborn colts. I can only have so many bikes, as there is limited space to store them in. I can't keep a dedicated cargo bike. I wouldn't want to ride something like the Urbana or even a Dutch style bike like a Batavus as my 'daily driver', as I really like the lightweight bike I have currently.

    Enter the BOB trailer for that once or so a month or less where I have to carry something my bike cannot. It doesn't affect the bike in any discernible way the rest of the time. The trailer pops onto the nubs of the special axle skewer on the back wheel in a minute or less and then I'm ready to carry 70 pounds of cargo. I've carried more, actually, but 70lbs is the official weight rating.

    I'm not saying a trailer is the ideal choice for everyone, but I'd definitely recommend a BOB trailer and have been very happy with mine over the years I've owned it. It definitely is the best choice for me.

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  79. Maybe off the topic, I have a question regarding loading capacity of bike rack. I remember every one was riding a single speed roadster in China when I was a kid. My dad used to ride a bike with me on the top tube and my mom on the rear rack. It is the same rack like the Flying Pigeon bike has. It never seems a problem, but the modern bike rack always claim the max is around 50lbs. Is it really the capacity it can handle or it is too conservative? I actually have seen some skilled workers carried 10 cases of beverages (in glass bottles, 24/case) on the rack, which is about 300 lbs. I tried myself when I was a teen, I can only do 5 cases and a little hump can tip the bike over. It is alot easier to carry a person than stuff. Anyway, I think most of the capacity claimed here is just too conservative, especially those made of steel.

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  80. Velouria--The whole "worrying about straps, etc" was the reason I decided to go with a cycle truck. One big cargo area in the front. Throw in and go. And everything is in view. Cycle trucks are not everyone's cup of tea, though.

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  81. "One trick I discovered almost accidentally is if you have two bungee cords, you can use one around your packages and then attached to both sides of the rack the traditional way, and, here is the trick, the second one around the back of your pile of packages and attached to both sides of the saddle springs, essentially pressing the pile against your saddle bag or saddle itself."

    I kind of just did this with a stack of hamburger buns for the first time on the smugfiets - nice!

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  82. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but the ANT Basket Bike seems like a good candidate for a non-longtail/Bakfiets cargo bike.

    http://antbikemike.wordpress.com/bicycle-catagories/basket-bike/

    (Also, my thought is you could just tie some string in the opposite direction of the straps for some extra insurance that your packages won't fall off. Easy-peasy).

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  83. Jonathan @ ahearne cycle trucks.

    Those are sweet, i totally dig the grill/speakers, somebody knows how to low-impact bikenic!

    i also love the fact that everybody loves a good toilet cargo!

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  84. Good work. Post-industrial beast of burden. Hit it with a stick and make it behave. Mount a feedbag on the front. And paint it black.

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  85. Twice in my life I moved from one residence to another on my bicycle. Actually, that wasn't so hard to do in my youth because I had so little.

    During the second of those moves, I carted a pair of DJ-sized speakers as well as a couple hundred books and a bunch of tapes and vinyl records.

    Today, I carried two wheels and a few other bike parts, on my bike, to the Recycle a Bicycle shop in DUMBO. I attached each wheel to one of my folded-up pannier baskets with bungee cords. And, on my way home, I picked up two 20-lb bags of Iams Weight Control cat food. I carried one bag in each basket--which, of course, I opened.

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  86. Thanks for all the input on the Travoy- I too am worried about weather because here in NL it rains so much. I really like the features of the Travoy and want to use it for trips to the stores here. I can take it inside the mall, inside the grocery...but I can't do that with my trailer and I often feel like someone is going to steal my trailer even though it's just a panic-y feeling and not a reality.

    The video of the dog in the travoy is precious- but I'm afraid my dog won't fit. He's 120 lbs of Great Pyr mix. http://ronajustine.blogspot.com/2011/03/biking-with-your-dog.html

    Recently he's broken the PVC pipe I had on the back of my bike. I'm looking for yet another replacement. My husband makes me sick.. he can bike with one hand so easily and he takes the dog anywhere. Me? I fall over if the dog pulls too much. A few times I've tied him to the trailer itself which has worked okay for him, but then I'm dragging the trailer. meh.

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  87. Peppy (the I am in your baskets, adjusting your drivetrains cat)April 22, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Justine, tell me moar about the 20-lb bags of cat food? Also, what is weight control? I don't understand.

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  88. One of the reasons I settled on a Bullitt was that it offered the convenience of a car's trunk. When grocery shopping, for instance, I'll typically visit two or three stores, and I wanted a way to throw stuff on without tying it down, and (equally important) provide a minimum level of security for the purchases made at previous stops. A big, lockable box bolted onto the Bullitt's platform gives me that.

    The handling is different, and takes some getting used to. But it's not scary, and the bike is super stable. When I was riding it through Germany, late one night after a long day on the road, I ran it off the bike path and into a ditch. On my road bike, I would have surely been flipped over the handlebars, but the Bullitt just stopped, no flipping at all. I backed up and continued.

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