Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bungees. I need bungees.

I've taken to carrying some things with me all the time. I just leave them in the panniers, and leave the panniers with Mike (even if it is a bit of a pain in the ass to take them off and carry them with me when I park: they're not really designed to be carried, and tend to bang against my leg and get unwieldy. It never used to be a problem, but then I had my headlights stolen, twice in quick succession, so now I take everything removable off, even if I'm only going in for a couple of minutes.)

But this is all beside the point. I take some things with me now. My tool kit, patch kit and tire pump, basically, and a spare inner tube. It's like that tangle of stuff in most people's trunks, where they keep the bottle of wiper fluid, the scraper, the bungee cords and jumper cables. It comes in handy: a few days ago I realized that the screws had loosened that held my tail light up, and it was drooping into my rack, blocking out the light. I dug out the toolkit and straightened it out, in the slush and rain, and was pleased that just this once, I had the tools when I wanted them, and so wasn't stuck bending a key on my keyring trying to make it work as an improvised screwdriver.

And the other day I realized that I really ought to have bungee cords. My parents sent me a package from New Brunswick on the bus (thanks, by the way, guys! And the cookies were a nice touch.) So I had to ride over to the bus station to pick it up. My panniers are pretty huge, but the citrus box they sent turned out not to fit. Luckily, I have a rack! And the box, before being taped, had been tied shut with twine. And, after a bit of possibly dodgy gingeing, involving threading the cable lock through the twine at the back and then up around my seatpost, and then clipping the closures on the panniers through the twine on the sides, I got something that actually did not shift in flight (a good thing, because a snowy South Bank Street is not somewhere you want the unexpected to happen.)

I know that cargo isn't really such a tricky thing, but I was pretty pleased with what I managed to do with what I happened to have on me. Still, I think now it might be useful to carry some bungees around in that bottom-of-the-bag space full of stuff you only ever need sometimes. Cause when that 'sometimes' rolls around, and you actually do have the stuff you need, man, do you ever feel smug.


  1. Dead inner tubes are actually much more useful than bungee cords. Disposable, too. You can tie them to any length, and if you can't undo the knot, just cut it. You can get as many as you want from re-Cycles.

    There was a thread on "stuff I always carry with me on my bike" on the xkcd forums a couple years ago, where I listed my substantive list. I don't think binoculars were there at the time. It's on my rainy-day list to repost the list on my blog with photos.

    - RG>

  2. I'm a fan of a Dutch invention called 'snelbinders', which means "fast tie". It is best described in a photo, like this:

    Really, they're just bungees screwed down by the axle. They are snug enough that they sit flat and neat when you're not carrying anything. But they have a lot of give, so you can put quite a bit under them.

    They have an advantage that they are part of the bicycle, so you can't forget them at home, or have to dig them out of a bag, etc.

    I used to get mine through the Dutch Mafia, but they I found them surprisingly at Bushtukah for about $13.

    - A

  3. Alex - Those are so cool! Trust the Dutch. Must go looking for some.

  4. Get some tie raps and put a nice plastic milk box container in the back on top of your bike rack - then have bungees left in there. Then if you are really motivated - put a front rack on your bike as well - you get these at MEC for 15$.

    I don't use paniers - I have a satchel (man's purse) that I store everything bike related in (along with lunch)...

    I do most of my groceries on my way home from work - to be most effective - so maximum carrying capacity is great...

  5. You might consider converting your bike to an Xtracycle in the future as well. The FreeRadical kit adds what they call Freeloaders - more open than a pannier but they swallow large cargo, like grocery bags.