Occasional Bike Blogging: Cargo Hauling

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I saw the silliest thing on the Intertubes today. In the commentary thread to a Matthew Yglesias being silly and putting up this bit of silliness (I assume the makers are dead serious … after all, if true, it only makes it all the sillier) … I read (emphases added):

{name deleted to protect the likely non-innocent} Says:

November 28th, 2008 at 11:22 am

… has been substantive, so let’s add:

It offers a way to increase the caloric demands of exercise without a concomitant increase of the stress on your joints and skeleton. A 130-lb woman running at 5 mph for 30 minutes burns only 263 calories. If she wants to burn more, her options are limited: increase time, increase slope, increase weight (with a weight belt). All those will increase her muscle output, but also increase the burden on her body. With this thing, she could attach weights and do more work without changing the burden on her joints. Could you add fifty-pound sandbags to a bicycle? Not without changing the balance a lot.

Entirely to one side of the vehicle in question … and in the context, what’s silly about the comment is that if you want a harder cardio work-out on a bike, you just seek out those hills that commuters are normally seeking to avoid … in what world is there any question of whether or not you could add fifty pound sandbags to a bicycle? Of course you could.

Mind you, how many fifty pound soundbags will determine exactly what provision you have to make.

Just add fifty pound worth of sandbags, and you are only talking about a rugged bike rack … twenty pounds on each side of the back rack, five pounds on each side of the front rack, and you have your fifty pounds worth of sandbags.

The idea that this would be a challenge is similar to the idea that there is any problem bringing a couple of bags worth of groceries home on a bike.

Of course it is if you have no equipment, but the answer to that problem is “get the equipment”. Shopping bag panniers, so-named because one can hold an old-fashioned paper shopping bag, are not terribly expensive, especially if they allow you to do without a car at all, and save the car payment, the insurance, the maintenance, and all that overhead.

But what if you are trying to carry more cargo?

The next step up from ordinary panniers is to stretch the frame of the bike so that it can hold double-shopping-bag panniers … for this, you grasp the seatpost firmly with one hand, grasp the bracket for the rear wheel on the other, and …

… well, no, of course not, it just looks like it. Xtracycle makes something called the Free Radical, which is basically a rear frame extender, to turn a range of suitable bikes into what they call “Sports Utility Bicycles”.

And what if you want more cargo capacity than that?

The Story of Bassfreight

Well, that can be done.

This is a story I just stumbled across, about the sound system for The London Skate:

The London skate is an organised, marshaled, mass participation street skate. Free of charge it takes place on the public roads of central London during the summer and regularly attracts over 500 roller skaters.

And the music for The London Skate comes from a sound system that is installed into a special bike …

… an 8Freight (pdf) cargo bike.

All up …

So, as for the notion that there are any number of 50 pound sandbags that you could manage to carry on a treadmill powering tiny wheels on a city street that you could not carry on one or another form of bicycle … its just a silly notion. And heck, that’s just the bikes themselves … I haven’t even gotten started on trailers …


    • BruceMcF on November 29, 2008 at 1:25 am

    … I carried home from the store in my box pannier.

  1. I’m not sure if you supplied this link, but the Cycling Church in New Zealand is great!

    Welcome to cycling church. Check out the very funny book I’ve written called PROSACC-Profound Revelations of Sunday Afternoon Cycling Church. There’s also other articles relating to faith and cycling and caring for God’s creation and my main mission from God which is to make bike trailers and get people using them as a way to save to planet. Hope you find it inspiring.

    Heh. The trailers they have are pretty cool.

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