This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grocery Bags (Panniers)

   There are hundreds of bike bags out there.   Panniers for the rear rack of a bike range in price from $18 a pair to $270 a piece and are made of everything from cheap nylon to leather.  I like nice stuff.   I even like nice panniers like:


or bags like
but at some point one must ere towards the practical.  One of the most practical and damn-near perfect accessories for a bike has to be Wald folding baskets.

They hold a full grocery bag when you need them, and they fold up out of the way when you don't.  At thirty bucks a pop they are a bargain 'cause they're made by Wald, and Wald makes great stuff that seems to last forever.  On the other hand, they are heavy and they are on the bike or not.
   If you have more than one bike and don't want to install baskets, or you have an urge to pick up a few things on the way back from a ride, and don't want your fancy bags with you all day, or you are a dead broke college student whose beer budget doesn't allow the thirty bucks...what do you do?  A couple other bloggers I read on a regular basis have made suggestions. Veloria at Lovely Bicycle uses the plain old plastic bags from the store as impromtu panniers.  She just ties them together with small amounts of stuff in each and throws them over the rack for a short trip home.  It works great in a pinch.
   Living in the Bike Lane presented another idea that I thought worth exploring.  He suggested using the reusable bags available at  most stores for 1 or 2 dollars.
He first took two bags, made a stiff liner for one side with a piece of 1/8" hardboard
(heavy cardboard or corrogated plastic will probably work,I happened to have a piece of 1/8" lying around).
Stapled the hardboard into place,
then used some heavy thread to sew the handles together so they would fit over the rack.
This makes a nice pair of bags to fill up in your cart and throw on the bike for the ride home.
These work even on the undersized, narrow constructeur rack on my Hunq.

and even with an off-balanced load holding a 2 liter in one, it was hardly noticeable when pedaling.  One problem, notice that the backer on one came loose immediately.  The cheap little paper staples weren't enough to hold it, but that brought up an interesting question: "Why staple them?"   You need the backer in place to keep the bag and stuff out of your spokes, but the groceries will hold it there when you fill up the bag.
Another idea occured to me.

The bags we get locally have big brass grommets to strengthen the joint between the bag and the handle.

Why not use a couple of S hooks to hang the bag on the rack? You can avoid pretending to be a seamster(stress) and not modify the bag at all.  Just make a backer to slip in when occasion dictates and hang the bags on the rack individually with the S hooks.

Simple cheap and useful.

 I like nice stuff too, but I don't know how I would feel about getting Ginger Ale on a $270 Brooks pannier.

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