October 28, 2009

A little bedtime story: Cargo bike FAIL

By Elisa | 23 Comments »

loaded up and ready to go

tetris bike pack attempt #1

Sit back and let me tell you a little story.  A pretty princess named Elisa was riding her bike home from a lovely dinner with friends.  She is looking quite smashing in her purple jeans, brown boots and tunic.  Decided to stop and pick up some groceries from a friends house where she had left them.  Uses key, opens door…and sets off alarm as she has forgotten the super secret code.

With that situation taken care of, she gather her things, plays a bit of shopping bag Tetris to make it all fit and struggles to make it all stay secure on the bike.  About 7 combinations of straps, bag and rack placement it is all snug and ready to go.  Oops, nowhere for her (adorable, handmade) handbag to fit.  “Oh geez”, she thinks “there is also the vegetable oil and books I need to get home.  Where on earth will these fit?”.

Another 10 minutes of struggling she gingerly carries the bike down the stairs and out to the street.  Princess Elisa sets off toward home, working to keep the bike upright.  She encounters a big scary monster…a beastly Birmingham hill.  Attempts to stand up…only to discover that this makes everything wobble to and fro.  Sits down and cranks harder.  Up she goes.  One hill and then another, each getting steeper and more treacherous.

Home is in the distance.  Pulls up, and hears a CRASH!  The strap has come off, groceries are now all over the sidewalk.  Eggs broken, books scattered, spirit broken.  Picks it all up, praying for the safety of her eggs and heads inside.  What is that sound?  Why isn’t the bike rolling properly?  Oh wait…that is the strap wrapped around the chain.

Elisa, not feeling very pretty or princess-y, picks up the back wheel and struggles in.  Upon inspection, the eggs have gone the way of Humpty, all is covered in egg juice and the chain is thoroughly tangled with the strap.  Oh, and egg juice down her new Purple pants!  Say it isn’t so.

Cleans up, fixes chain and strap and immediately takes photos and tells Twitter (isn’t that what everyone does?). Laments that car free living is not as glamorous as she had hoped.

Poor poor little princess Elisa.  She needs an Xtracycle so badly.  But will have to get a cargo net in the meantime.

Anyone else had an experience like this?

photographic evidence:

packing attempt #2, slight strap variation

packing attempt #2, slight strap variation

strap entanglement

strap entanglement

trying to untangle took a while

trying to untangle took a while

What was left of the carton of eggs

What was left of the carton of eggs

Enjoyed This Post? Share with others:
digg | stumble | del.icio.us


  1. On October 29th, 2009 steven said:

    During a daily commute, back when I was employed, I’d carry about 30-50 pounds of gear (laptop, bag of essentials, change of clothes, food, etc). I stopped to take a break on the wide shoulder of an overpass. Picked my food up and stood on the pedals to get gone, load shifted, couldn’t recover and then got my feet stuck in the clips, fell right over. Also once warped a set of wheels by trying to carry about 450 lbs of cargo and people on a bike.

  2. On October 29th, 2009 cloudsofviolet said:

    yeah, I’ve had that happen a couple of times when the strap pops loose. I’m always afraid that a car will run my stuff over. on the handling aspect – road bikes are generally not so good for carrying things b/c they are not as stable as upright ones

  3. On October 29th, 2009 anna said:

    Wow, everything bad at one time. Hopefully such things don’t happen too often. I had problems with putting all my stuff on the bike too, but luckily it never came off.
    Well, rather than a Xtracycle (which are of course cool), what about a simple trailer?

  4. On October 29th, 2009 Jan said:

    I think you could use this basket
    Or perhap something pretty to go with your pretty bike
    Style over speed ^_^\m/

  5. On October 29th, 2009 Dottie said:

    Aw, that’s shitty, but you kept your sense of humor about the situation, which is the most important thing. And your purple bike still looks great. A set of grocery panniers on the back rack hold a lot of stuff, if you’re interested in spending even more money.

  6. On October 29th, 2009 Steve A said:

    Gosh, leave it to Dottie to put a positive face on things while simultaneously coming up with a way to spend more money on your bike!

  7. On October 29th, 2009 trisha said:

    Aw, I’m sorry about that! I don’t know if a net would have helped much, if that’s any consolation…sometimes things are just too wide/tall for a rack! Panniers or a rear basket might be a better option for groceries.

  8. On October 29th, 2009 trisha said:

    p.s. purple pants pics? They sound fun. Hopefully an egg wash treatment was good for them!

  9. On October 29th, 2009 Lovely Bicycle! said:

    No need for an Xtracycle or even spending money on panniers. Just attach a crate to the rear rack and that’ll keep your things snug inside. It can look tres chic too, if you find a crate in the right colour. Very punk rock and the eggs will be safe!

  10. On October 29th, 2009 Lovely Bicycle! said:

    Ah here you go: a nice crate set-up idea from Candy Cranks!

  11. On October 29th, 2009 bikebike said:

    awww – thats a bummer for sure. maybe instead of spending money, just keep an eye open for the classic milk crate and just zip tie that to your rack?

    sturdy? check.
    hold 2-3 bags of groceries? check.
    free? check.

    your adventures in car-free living are interesting to me because i am going to be going down that road in the new year. keep the experiences coming!

  12. On October 29th, 2009 Arcanum said:

    I’m going to second the pannier recommendation. I have two of these and carry all kinds of stuff in them. Not only do they let you carry more stuff, but carrying the stuff lower on the frame lowers the center of gravity of you+your bike. Lower center of gravity means more stability for a given amount of weight.

    Plus, these fold flat against your bike when you’re not using them.

  13. On October 29th, 2009 wle said:

    milk crate

    a cheap backpack can add more cargo space

    especially when the weather isn;t hot, sweat not a problem

    maybe you could carry the backpack in the panniers or milk crate or strapped on, in case you need it, otherwise you don;t have to wear it


  14. On October 29th, 2009 adam said:

    Xtracycles are great, but they’re overkill if you’re not hauling 50+ pounds of stuff regularly. Panniers or baskets are good, or even a huge messenger bag if you don’t have far to go.

    I really like my Wald folding grocery baskets because they’re out of the way most of the time, and there when I need them (panniers hold more but they’re awkward to carry on foot and they’re usually at home when I need them). I tie the bag handles to the rack just in case the bottom pops open, which happened to me once and dumped my groceries on the bike path (I bent the little hook at the bottom so it holds better and it hasn’t happened since). I’ve also seen shopping baskets that spring-clamp to the top of the rack – it’s a neat idea but I don’t know how well they work.

    I’ve warmed up to the exquisite dorkiness of milk crates since my idiot roadie days, but they don’t hold all that much and they keep you from using the rack for other things. Sure they’re free if you liberate one, but the Wald baskets are cheap enough and you can still use the top of the rack.

  15. On October 29th, 2009 Ghost Rider said:

    +1 for the milk crate…it’s the unofficial “accessory of choice” for Minneapolis, based on my 4-day tour of bike culture there. Couple it with a cargo net up top and you’ve got quite the dandy carrying rig!

    Or, of course, a cheap set of “grocery panniers” goes a long way to helping stabilize and balance a load. The lower the load, the better everything handles.

  16. On October 29th, 2009 Logan said:

    I love the CETMA racks for handling jobs like these.

    In fact, Lane at CETMA cargo has a great price on his front racks right now under the deals page! I purchased one of the $80 racks on his deals page last spring and its been fantastic! Last night for instance I carried home an extra large pizza and two salads without a wobble. At the farmers market I routinely carry home 5 dozen eggs (2 flats) on the rack with a bungee net and never have any problems.

    Good luck! We’ve all had similar experiences and I’m sure you will get many unique solutions from folks. :)


  17. On October 29th, 2009 Polarbear said:

    I recently had something like this happen to me on the way home.

    After stopping by the store on the way home, I took a dirt trail home. Most of the way down, one of the bungees holding the battery for my lighting system to the rack popped off, wound up in the chain, where it got cut to pieces, as fixed gear drivetrains tend to do when stuff gets caught up in them. It actually sheared the metal hooks as they got wound around the cog.

    A few days later, I discovered that my axle was bent, with the bungee event likely being the cause. I’m glad you and you’re bike are ok!

    I’ve been living car free for a few years now, and panniers make it really easy. I don’t have an Xtra yet, but I built my own racks for my bikes, and usually keep a set of panniers with me for those unplanned cargo stops. A crate works just fine, but does make handling interesting, especially with more than 30 pounds of stuff in it.

  18. On October 29th, 2009 Yokota Fritz said:

    Oh no! I hope your future grocery endeavors work better.

  19. On October 30th, 2009 cycler said:

    I love love love my cargo straps that I got from Clever Cycles in portland. There are 4 straps for irregular loads, they’re semi-permanently attached to the axle so you’re not constantly looking for a place for bungie hooks, nor do they come loose and get lost.

  20. On October 30th, 2009 Willy said:

    I love my Banjo Bros. shopping panniers , but got along fine for a couple of years with the cheaper Nashbar panniers .
    You really need something like the above to do grocery shopping on a bike.

  21. On October 31st, 2009 uncle said:

    Eek, is right!

    I used a milk crate for a while, but always take it off as soon as I won’t be needing it for a while.

    Very handy for largish loads. But very ugly.

    Surely there’s a better solution.

  22. On November 5th, 2009 Bryan said:

    You got lucky with that loose strap. I recently got a bungie tangled in my rear wheel and it separated the cog from my Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub and caused the whole mess to seize up. I had to walk the poor thing home.

  23. On November 7th, 2009 Xtra said:

    An xtracycle may be overkill for a single persons needs but it would have nothing todo with carrying loads over 50 pounds. There are plenty of loads that are large and bulky that xtracycles are great for that don’t weigh 50 pounds. Xtracycles are great for full time car free living because not only to they let you carry large loads but also just make loading your bike easier. You don’t have to worry about organizing loads just so, so that everything fits.

RSS feed for coments on this post
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

No public Twitter messages. You Should Follow Me on Twitter
  • Things We Believe In