Manufacturing guy-at-large.

how to carry things on your bike

Added on by Spencer Wright.


as summer1 progresses and the weather gets warmer, my modes of transportation shift dramatically. i love proper, miserable East Coast summers, and revel in the fact that everyone is uncomfortable all of the time. i even revel in the shear hotness of movement; in the fact that just walking turns you into a wilting rag on legs. but socializing with a rag on legs isn't all that impressive, and so i try to take measures to mitigate the weather's affects on my lifestyle and appearance.

a year or two ago, i bought a nice book bag for carrying things around on foot. i like it a lot, but backpacks fare poorly on a bike, especially one with an agressive cockpit geometry. i also own an old and not-too-big messenger bag, and use it whenever i absolutely need to carry any significant payload. regardless of the context, though, i take whatever measures i can to keep myself light, nimble, and well prepared. i keep a tool pack and some sort of lighting with me at all times but don't usually carry water, which is ubiquitous and (relatively) inexpensive. my everyday bike is sturdy, simple, and maneuverable, and i try to keep my person and personal belongings that way as well.

the actual clothing you wear is relatively easy - you wear as little as possible, and as little cotton as possible. capilene (ish), nylon and merino are my go-to options. shoes can be tricky but i have good luck with my Jordan 1s (i've put significant thought into my pedal setup for this) and am likely to ride with Sidis and Time cleats for much of the season.2

but wearing cycling specific clothing, however casual, leaves you looking like a cyclist (let's face it: not a good look) when you arrive. moreover, i find that no matter how much i plan, getting on a bike without a lock is a dangerous proposition.3

if i'm wearing jeans (the only pants i'll wear on a bike these days), i carry a mini u-lock in my right pocket.4 otherwise it's in my left hand, which tends to be fine for short distances but shitty over long periods of time. one deals.

my toolkit lives in an Ortlieb seat bag, and i generally can fit something extra - about the volume of a wallet and a phone - in there if i need to. but anything beyond that - clothes, a laptop, sunglass cases, etc - get tricky. sure, my timbuk2 is fine, but it's a nuisance when i'm not actually riding and generally leaves me sweaty as hell. i like it when it's necessary, but the rest of the time i avoid it like the plague.

one approach i've taken is to carry one of my many giveaway Rapha musette bags in my saddle bag. volumetrically, they're somewhere between a sugar packet and a wallet when folded, but they'll hold a six pack and a rolled-up t-shirt in a pinch and can be slung over the shoulder easily. they're totally convenient and very useful as an impromptu shopping bag.

otherwise, i've been getting some use out of these Velco one-wraps recently, and am keeping a few of them in my saddle bag as well. you could do a lot worse than strap stuff to your toptube, and they do a decent job at that.

ultimately: we'll all have drones. i know this sounds silly, but as the price drops i can envision even small employers buying - or better yet, renting - access to small private drones for day-to-day use. during the day they can be used to send packages around from office to office, and in the evening they can be used to drop bins of employees' work clothes off at their homes for laundering and reuse. forget the impracticality of installing showers and lockers at work; just lay out your outfit a night in advance and schedule the company drone to pick it up and leave it at the office for you to put on after your ride to work.

what, you think amazon isn't thinking of this too? it's the future, baby. and it'll be cool.

nb - as you may have noticed, i'm working out my annotation and formatting skills. thanks for humoring me.

  1. you know, civil summer - the time of the year when it's really hot. don't pull that "between the solstice and the equinox" shit on me.

  2. i ride road shoes. i have little understanding why anyone would ride anything else. you're going to clunk around either way, so just deal with it and get something unfashionable. besides, do you think your Chromes look cool?

  3. except training rides. no locks on training rides.

  4. i keep my wallet and a notebook in my left back pocket and keys & a pen in my front left. my phone is in my front right while on foot, but sometimes stays in a shirt pocket while on a bike.