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Affordable Ways To Pack For A Bike Ride

Affordable ways to pack for a bike ride

By Chloe Quin

You’ve decided to embrace a healthier, greener and cheaper lifestyle by swapping four wheels for two, and travelling by bike. But it also means a lot less room to stash your stuff. How should you pack for a bike ride, what are the most affordable ways to pack for a bike ride, and what are the essentials to carry? And what about safely transporting a laptop?


Affordable ways to pack for a bike ride

Affordable ways to pack for a bike ride

There are several options when it comes to cargo systems for bikes. You could use a backpack or messenger bag, get bicycle panniers or even choose a handlebar basket or trailer (or a combination). But the golden rule is to pack as light as you can. You’ll be doing enough work conveying your own bodyweight without transporting the kitchen sink.


1. Backpack


Backpacks are a lower cost option but result in a lack of airflow since they’re worn against your body. This is obviously worse in summer than in winter. If you do choose a bag rather than panniers look for one that has a stabilising strap to go around your waist.


You can also buy backpacks specially designed for cycling. These are lightweight with mesh frames to keep the bag off your back, and are often slimmer sized and more aerodynamic, but may cost more.


One disadvantage is that riders may find they get neck and shoulder issues from a backpack, or that it can affect their balance.


However a major advantage with a backpack is that you can easily take it with you once your park your bike.


2. Messenger bag


A messenger bag can also be taken with you after your ride, and unlike a briefcase, it can look more corporate and briefcase-like, depending on the style.


You can also strap a messenger bag to your bike rack so you’re not carrying it on your body.


3. Bicycle panniers


Bicycle panniers may be more expensive but can carry a heavier load, plus you’re not constrained physically by them. The bike is carrying your load for you. You can get them for the back and front of your bike.


As a result, some riders may find the bike less responsive and manoeuvrable with panniers on, particularly if carrying considerable weight.


Similar to a pannier, a frame bag is a dedicated carrying device that fits in the front triangle of your bag. It’s possible to buy bespoke ones exactly measured to your bike’s frame, though this tends to be a higher cost option.


4. Handlebar basket


A front basket isn’t necessarily the old fashioned-style wicker creation you remember. There are modern, aerodynamic baskets made from canvas, plastic or steel. Most go on the front but there are rear baskets available as well.


If money is no object, you can even get designer ones made from bamboo that quickly release to become a stylish shoulder bag. Or a pet basket  – though you’ll still need a ute if your dog is much bigger than a Chihuahua.


5. Trailer


For longer rides, such as a cycling holiday, you can get a bike trailer. “Chariot style” trailers can transport children, but you’ll need to closely check safety features and regulations where you live. These will be more on the expensive side, you could consider hiring one.


What to take


Repair kit: a bike repair kit is essential (as is going on a bike repair course if you have no clue how to fix a puncture). Your kit needs to include a small toolkit for punctures, tyre levers, a spare inner tube and a bike pump.


Clothes: if you’re using a bike to commute, keep a complete set of clothes at work. You don’t know how sweaty or how rain-soaked you might be when you arrive, depending on the weather. If you mix up your bike riding with car or public transport commuting, use that day to carry in a couple of changes of clothes.


Water: don’t forget water. There’s a huge range of options for water bottles, include wearable flasks with drinking straws. Unless you’re competitively racing, any sturdy plastic or stainless steel bottle will probably do.


Laptops: both bags and panniers may come with special laptop sleeves. If not, buy one that can slip inside the bag. A rigid metal case is clearly going to give you the maximum protection, but come at a weight cost.


It really boils down to personal preference and to some extent what your budget is. You might find you prefer to split the load around: some on your body, some on your bike. Many cyclists mix it up depending on the length of ride, its purpose and the weather.


About Chloe

Chloe Quin is wellness expert with online health insurance provider health.com.au, whose mission is to help Australians access affordable healthcare that’s easy to understand. Also a qualified yoga instructor, Chloe is passionate about empowering women to boost their health and fitness in fun, family-friendly ways.