Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grocery Shopping On a Bike...

I have always wanted to be able to haul things around town by my bike. It was more like goldilocks when choosing one of my bikes to ride to do errands. The bmx bike is too small and slow for long distances, my high-end road bike is too nice to leave outside in strange places and I hate to wear my clipless shoes to a meeting, and my fixed gear was ok, but not comfortable enough. I wanted to get rid of one bike and get myself a utility vehicle for all things town and errands. I wanted a hauling capacity to buy groceries, comfortable seating and riding in plain clothes, and simple styling and cruising.

I found it. I originally wanted something snazzy and well built like a Specialized Work 3 but I was trying to keep the price at or below what I thought I could sell my Surly Steamroller for. I stopped into a local bike shop after a few days of interweb cruising to see what was around. I ended up picking up a 2012 Giant VIA 3 on closeout and it was exactly what I needed. One speed, front and rear fenders, 700c wheels, and rack compatible.

Now the bike was taken care of I needed to outfit it with the rear rack and bags to add the cargo load. I picked up a Topeak Explorer Rack because I knew the Topeak brand made solid, well built racks that could handle slightly heavier loads. I had come across a bicycle bag maker a few months back after accidentally thinking it was a bluegrass band called Banjo Brothers. I liked the look of their bags but never had anything to put them on. One of my main reasons for building this bike was to be able to carry groceries and not have to drive my car just to pick up a 6 pack and some vegetables.

I picked up a pair of Grocery Bag Panniers for the sides of my rack and they work amazingly well. They clip onto the rack quickly and easily and work just as well clipped onto your grocery cart when cruising around the store. They fold up when empty with the help of a few snaps to keep them up and out of the way when not loaded down. When you get home simply grab the handles, pull up and unset the bottom clip and carry your groceries inside. I love these bags and have carried a weeks worth of groceries in them at a time. I don't know the weight limit on them but there are 2 internal bar supports which help carry the weight of the load very well. If there is one caveat it would be to upgrade to the bags with the lid. Eventually I will lose something coming home from the store from trying to pack too much into these bags and hitting that bump in the road a little too fast. All in all, these are the perfect solution for easily carrying moderate loads. They will not carry large loads, but they carry more than enough for me to go back to the store once a week and buy fresh ingredients.

The rack top bag I originally wanted was out of stock, so thankfully I upgraded to the expandable version of the bag I couldn't get. The added side pockets of this rack top bag gives you enough room to carry a few tools, a tube, keys, wallet and a phone. The top of the bag expands up via a separate zipper to accommodate slightly larger loads. This feature is awesome for carrying taller loads such as a 6 pack of beer or a gallon of milk. The whole bag is padded which makes the inside of the bag slightly insulated from the heat/cold. Keeping meat out of the sun on the ride home is important, especially on longer trips. I was able to fit a whole chicken, a pound of sausage and a pack of tasso with plenty of room to spare. This will come in handy for festivals and cruising around town to keep a few beers cold and out of the sun.
I will see how the bags hold up in the long run. The materials are tough, the bags well made and very fairly priced. I am very happy with this system and glad I stumbled upon these bags while searching for new music. If you are looking for a new way to get your things around town, consider doing it by bike. This solves the problem of transporting items around town, now I no longer have the excuse to be lazy and another excuse to enjoy some time in the saddle. Love it.

No comments: