Leaflets on cycling: Carrying things

You can carry a surprising amount on a bike if you have the right luggage, and there is a wide variety to choose from.

Among the cheapest is a basket, wire or wicker. But a basket will affect your steering when full. Also, people do have a nasty habit of throwing litter in bike baskets, and the contents are vulnerable to thieves (see ‘Security’).

A carrier – a metal frame attached over the back wheel (and for serious tourers, the front as well) – is the most flexible answer. Panniers are designed to clip onto a carrier and usually come in pairs. Cheap ones may do around town. On the other hand, you could pay £60 for a good pair that will last well and be much more waterproof. There are also briefcase-style bags to clip onto carriers, both rigid and canvas.

A good pannier will be easy to take on and off – the type that comes as a pair joined across the carrier is very hard to carry off the bike. On the other hand, it must stay put when on the bike, so look for secure clips. Straps with buckles are fiddly to take on and off.

Among your most important items, though, will be bungees. Elastic straps in various lengths with hooks on the ends, these are invaluable for strapping things securely onto the carrier. They cost only a £1 or so each from bike shops.

Specialised child seats are common in Cambridge for carrying younger children. Usually these will be mounted behind the rider, but if you use the type fixed to the cross bar, make sure to fit a guard for the front wheel. Make sure children are securely fastened in and that they wear a helmet. Above all, be sure you are confident riding on your own before attempting to carry a child.

Material dated: July 1997