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Thread: grocery bikes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
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    8,403

    grocery bikes

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    Even though we work at home and do many of our errands on bike already, my husband and I are discussing adapting two of our bikes for doing more grocery shopping. We already do other errands to the bank, PO, and drugstore by bike, but that does not require hauling any significant loads.

    We live about a mile from the super market which is great...but we live at the top of a very steep hill, so I am hoping I will be able to get up that hill after adding 20 or 30 pounds worth of groceries. Time will tell as we set my bike up.

    I am interested in seeing other people's bike setups for going to the grocery store. Any pictures of racks or grocery panniers/baskets that you especially like that work well together? Or others that you didn't like so well and why not?

    I know there are differences between typical touring panniers (more rounded for packing clothes, being more aerodynamic, and eliminating heel kick problems) and specific panniers for holding bags of groceries (rectangular, often open-topped, the size of a paper bag of groceries). I am not interested in the rounded touring panniers, but rather in the square utility grocery-type panniers w/racks setup. I am not planning to buy a special bike for this, but rather adapt the bike I have, which is a semi-touring bike already with plentiful rack eyelets etc.

    I'd like to see how some of you have adapted your bikes to doing your supermarket shopping....
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    197
    I work near Safeway, so I just buy grocery every few days and buy what i think will fit my panniers. If I have bulky items like toilet paper, I just use bungee cords and strap them to the top of the bike rack. Unless you buy stuff in bulk at Costco, I don't see what the use of buying special trailers. They are expensive too! Although, this looks really interesting...

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	7680it's call bikehod Don't know how well it works. I've yet to see it in Vancouver

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    50
    I just use a backpack, but that's because my bike doesn't have eyelets for a rack (and I don't want to pay for it at the moment for a seat post mounted rack). The backpack works if I get small things like fruits and vegetables.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    I am lusting for a bike trailer. We used to have one for our son when he was small, and could use it to haul massive amounts of stuff. Sometimes with the little guy still in there

    Seriously, they are the way to go to move stuff easily by bike. I don't know what we were thinking of when we sold the trailer.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
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    14,501
    Down south we are a mile and a half from the supermarket and just a little farther from the natural food store. I pretty much shop daily, never less than three days a week. My panniers are less than ideal, but I don't need to carry much so it's not that big of a problem. Can you hit the grocery store on the way to/from work or other errands, or would that mean climbing the hill twice?
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MD suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,832
    I like the grocery bag panniers from REI. A paper grocery bag fits perfectly, they're fairly easy to take on and off, and they fold up nicely if you want to leave them on the bike.

    The front basket is nice for breakable things or overflow.

    Here they are on my pink mixte, but I use them on the Glorius also.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,506
    I have those Novarra panniers too and like them. Though if I had more then one person's worth I would consider a trailer. Have you considered building a trailer?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    747
    We had problems with the grocery panniers -- ours are from Nashbar, and they just don't hold very much. We've had groceries fall out on the street if we overfill them.

    The Wald folding baskets are much sturdier and hold more. I used to routinely carry 50 pounds of groceries in these:



    If you need to haul things like flour, potatoes, or beer, these work much better than grocery panniers.

    Right now I always have a baby with me so we are trying to figure out how to grocery shop by bike with her in the mix. Our trailer is a single Chariot and there is limited cargo space for groceries, and I have not tried pulling it with that bike. I'm also a little worried about locking the Chariot up outside a grocery store -- it has a lot of stealable parts and is not easy to lock up in any case. I have thought about an iBert or similar baby seat on that pink mixte but I am not sure how it would work. I could also pull the trailer with the mixte but I need to solve the locking-up issue.

    My husband would like to be able to haul 150 pounds of pet food, which I am trying to convince him means an Xtracycle ... he wants a BOB trailer, but (a) that means we still need a baby seat for Penny, so we might as well have an Xtracycle, and (b) the load capacity of a BOB is only 70 pounds as far as I can tell.

    He does not believe me but I think we will have an Xtracycle by next summer. I usually get my way.
    Last edited by xeney; 10-25-2008 at 05:58 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    2,704
    Quote Originally Posted by xeney View Post
    My husband would like to be able to haul 150 pounds of pet food, which I am trying to convince him means an Xtracycle ... he wants a BOB trailer, but (a) that means we still need a baby seat for Penny, so we might as well have an Xtracycle, and (b) the load capacity of a BOB is only 70 pounds as far as I can tell.

    He does not believe me but I think we will have an Xtracycle by next summer. I usually get my way.
    FWIW, my hubby tried to buy 40 lbs of cat litter with our BOB. He found the handling very very squirrely, mostly because the weight was so concentrated. We've hauled 40+ lbs. of groceries, camping gear etc. before with no problem, but kitty litter just isn't in the cards. 150 lbs of anything sounds like too much to preserve safe handling, IMO.

    When we grocery shop, we usually take the BOB. DH guards the bikes and BOB and reads while I do the shopping.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    747
    Yeah, I'm not sure what kind of gearing you'd need to pull 150 pounds, but that is within the Xtracycle capacity according to the website. We don't have hills but he'd have to pull it up over the levee.

    That's how much pet food/litter we buy once a month. It's one of our only errands that requires a car.

    The idea is for one of us to be able to do the shopping on our own, with the baby most likely, so I think a trailer is just out of the question for theft reasons.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,295
    I don't have a grocery bike but may if they ever build a store closer than 10 miles.

    Would a trailer work with your hills? Are you going to convert the Riv? Why not lobby for a new bike.
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    Since we don't have a car, we do have to use our bikes most of the time. He and I each use our panniers. We don't necessarily shop together either. But most of the stores are within a 12 kms. round trip or way less. the joy of living downtown..

    He has used a BOB (outside of his touring trips) for a larger trip to a bigger grocery store --which happens only once a year and there is a long hill. In that case he will use his touring bike only because he has several bikes to choose from.

    I confess that I've never tried using the BOB at all --yet. And he's had/used it in the last 10 years.

    Well Never, say never. Always something to learn..

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    1,058
    I'm interested in some grocery baskets also. I had researched the wald grocery baskets, and they had good reviews and were cheap on amazon.com. (Read the reviews for mounting advice--too far forward can hit your heel.)
    "Well-behaved women seldom make history." --Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    '09 Trek WSD 2.1 with a Brooks B-68 saddle
    '11 Trek WSD Madone 5.2 with Brooks B-17

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    3,932
    I use one Basil mesh basket and a pannier usually.


    If the pannier is empty one has to be very cautious going over bumps. It jumped off once, but I was going downhill and hit a pretty big bump. When it's full it's not an issue.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
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    8,403
    I posted this thread last night before going to bed, and got to check back in on it this afternoon....wow, what a lot of great suggestions! Thank you all for the great variety of input!! I knew TE would come through. Keep those various solutions that you've used coming in- I'm sure this thread will benefit many more people on here than just myself.

    Like Xeney, the plan now taking shape is to go maybe once every 6 weeks with the car to load up on the non-perishable stuff that is really heavy and/or bulky- cat sand is main offender (oy!!), but also detergent/cleaners, perhaps bunches of canned goods while I'm at it, and big bulky things like TP and paper towels could be bought 6 wks' worth at a time certainly. Happily, we get our milk delivered to our back porch by a real milkman. That leaves mostly regular perishable foods that need to be bought more often.

    A couple of things... the 1/4 mile hill that we live at the top of is quite steep, and as it is it takes some significant effort just to get up it on either of my bikes with NO extra loads at all, but I *can* get up it, I've ended ALL my rides with that hill for the past 2 years. I have very low mtn gearing already, so no room for improvement there. The rest of the 2 miles back and forth to the supermarket is pretty flat and not a problem at all. Thus, this hill of ours is really the main consideration that limits my choices a little. If I was 30 and athletic it probably wouldn't be such an issue....but I'm not!

    My plan is to put on a pair of rear panniers and rear rack (which amount to about 5-7 lbs by themselves, empty!) and just start with very small loads of say 5-8 lbs or so of groceries on each side. That would be about 15-18 lbs more than what I pedal up the hill with now without all that stuff on my bike.
    If I split up the shopping into more frequent small trips, then even the humble achievement of pedaling up that hill with 15 pounds of goods, 3 extra times a week from what I typically ride now, will get me slowly stronger each week. I hope to slowly add more weight as I am able. I'm 54 and it always seems to take me a l-o-n-g while to build up more strength, but it does happen slowly. I like to set myself realistic goals so I can feel good when I achieve them, and I don't get discouraged too easily. Slow and steady wins the race is my motto.

    The idea of a trailer would be fine if it weren't for that hill- there is just no way I could haul a trailer up it. I don't plan on trying for 70 lb grocery loads ever- 25-35 pounds is something I am aspiring to.
    My kids have grown and flown the coop, so I am lucky enough to not have to haul them around anymore in addition to the groceries! (I don't know how you mothers do that...but I guess youth must help!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie_Ama View Post
    Would a trailer work with your hills? Are you going to convert the Riv? Why not lobby for a new bike.
    Aggie, see above concerning a trailer.
    Yes, I am going to convert my Rivendell. (I'll certainly need some good locks, considering this! likely a combo U-lock and a heavy cable...ugh, another 2 lbs there?...)
    I've thought long and hard about all this, it was a hard decision! My husband as usual has been a wealth of good objective smart advice, and would have supported any decision I made (he's a gem).
    I did think seriously about getting a new bike for grocery-getting/errands.
    I even drooled over the Kona Ute bike- looked like the ideal grocery hauling bike!...that is until I discovered the thing weighs about 40 lbs without any loads...at which point I ran screaming from the room in horror.
    There are actually quite a few logical reasons I've decided to convert the Riv- all interesting reasons, and oddly the money aspect is not the main consideration. Maybe I'll explain my decision process more later- too much typing right now! Let's just say I'm very excited about this!

    Right now the panniers recommended by DivingBiker have taken the lead for me, with Xeney's wire folding panniers still being considered....thank you all so much! I'm looking online a lot too. I particularly like the idea of getting panniers that fold up on the bike when empty, since it would enable me to continue locking my bike in its usual place on the rack in our small garage, rather than jockeying for a new larger space for it amongst the other 4 bikes.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

 

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