Carrying Your Stuff: Bicycle Bags and Racks

How to efficiently and comfortably transport workday necessities is an essential question for bicycle commuting converts. Many options exist for getting your cargo to the office, and it is important to consider your distance, your load and your style when selecting your type of bag and bicycle attachments. For the commuter that can avoid transporting the majority or his or her office equipment to and from each day, there are many quick and simple options that require little or no bike modification. Here are the basics on bike-friendly bags and their benefits:

Messenger Bags

Ease and accessibility have made the messenger bag extremely popular with bicycle commuters. With a single strap across one shoulder, the bag can be swung from back to front for easy access, and most bike messenger bags are equipped with shoulder pads and plenty of pockets to help you stay comfortable and organized on your trip. There are a number of high quality manufacturers out there, but Chrome makes my messenger bag of choice (the Buran with laptop, the Citizen without). These bags from San Francisco are more than hip cycling gear – they are ridiculously durable, relatively lightweight, and built by cyclists who examine every detail of the design for its intended purpose.


For larger loads and longer commutes, investing in a front or rear bike rack (or both) and bike panniers will allow you to move your baggage from your back to the bike. After securing a rack to your bicycle, the panniers can be attached easily and removed once you reach your destination. You can use panniers of differing sizes and shapes based on what you need to transport, from laptop bags to garment bags to grocery bags. By moving weight from your body to the bike, you not only take stress off of your back, but you also stabilize your ride by bringing the weight below your center of gravity.



With two shoulder straps and often a chest or waist strap, the backpack evenly distributes weight across your body when worn properly. Carrying capacity is dependent on the bags size and the riders comfort, but accessing the contents of your backpack will be nearly impossible while riding. Specific backpacks designed for bicycling offer features such as water bladders, helmet holders and are designed with specific features to make them more comfortable while bicycling.


Frame Bags

These bags attach directly to your bike without a rack, so you obtain the benefits of moving weight from your body to your bike. However, frame bags tend to have lower carrying capacity than panniers and are slightly trickier to put on and to take off.

Seat Bags and Jersey Pockets

For the commuter with a locker or storage area at the office, you can carry your essentials such as wallet, keys, and phone in a bag that tucks neatly under your saddle or in a rear pocket in a cycling jersey or jacket. Laptops and lunch bags dont typically fit in a jersey pocket, but these options can be great for half-days or casual Fridays.


Within each category, there are hundreds of models in various sizes, shapes, colors and capacities, so assess your needs and get rolling. Your local bike shop can help you to determine what type of rack will fit on your bicycle and what type of panniers will fit on your rack. If you already own a backpack or a messenger bag, go for a trial ride and find out what works for you.

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