Monday, May 08, 2006

Carrying Things (part 3, Plastic Tote)

Not so long ago, Kent Peterson posted a picture of his new Kogswell fixed gear bike with a custom looking blue trunk thingie on his rear rack. Like most things Kent-ish, what looked like a custom doo-dad was really just $5 at the hardware store plus a little ingenuity.

Now, I may well have a problem, and maybe you've already guessed this, but when I see a new way to carry stuff on a bike I think "Cool!" When I find out that that something is $5 at MLHS (My Local Hardware Store), I think "Hmmm, a ride to MLHS sure sounds nice this evening!" What can I say? When someone asks me: "Any ideas for carrying [insert object here] on my bike?" I like to have an arsenal of responses, especially cheap ones. Kent's Rubbermaid tote idea was a slick answer to a question I hadn't ever gotten around to asking. I put one on my empty front rack, and have been riding around figuring out that question ever since. It's also my chance to play bicycle gear reviewer, so, here you go...

This afternoon, I was faced with an interesting situation at the office. I had my road bike out back and a 15 pound box of files plus a stack of loose papers to get home. Oh, and it was starting to sprinkle.

Now, I'm a huge basket fan, but rain and loose paper exposes two of a very short list of basket shortcomings: weatherproofness and small-loose-stuff-proofness. Both of these are easily overcome with a bag in the basket. Sometimes, though, the nearest bag is 8 flights of stairs carrying a 15 pound box of files away. Well, one time it was, anyway.

Luckily, I had my Kent-inspired basket accomplice on back, a 3 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote. The box-o-files went up front in the basket, and the stack of loose papers nestled down into the tote, locked in and safe from rain. I think I'm beginning to find the question to my answer!

Here's the comparison chart. It would be fit for Bicycling magazine 'cept I don't think they do anything available at the local hardware store. But we do!

3 gallon Rubbermaid Roughtote + 30" Bungee + Rack
Cost: $5 + $3 (+$15 for the rack, if you don't have it already)
Size: 14" x 10" x 7" deep at the top, tapering to the bottom
Weight: Lighter than an $80 rack trunk
What'll it carry: 750ml wine bottle, large onion, 3 large potatoes, quart of yogurt, lock, and saddle cover inside, plus a jacket on top. Basically, anything that will fit in it or bungee on top. I've also found you can overfill it and then bungee the top on like a rain hat. 2 bungees are better for that.
Compared to just-a-rack: Things stay in it. Things stay dry. You'll love it!
Compared to panniers: pluses--more aerodynamic, almost impossible to hit your heel on while pedaling, tougher, no need for expensive rack, quicker to load/unload, a great place for reflective tape and stickers, way cheaper and less theft prone; Minuses--smaller than even one pannier, hard loose objects sound like a Carribean drum band
Compared to basket: pluses--rain proof, small things don't need their own container, slightly lighter and cheaper; Minuses--less room for creative packing, not as sturdy, wet things won't dry.
Max per bike: 2, one rear, one front, but it's more versatile as a basket accomplice
Where to get it: Local hardware store
Attachment: 4-6 big zipties through holes you drill or poke in the bottom plus a bungee or two for top security and lashing
Made in China?: Yep, and I bet the factory smells just great

It seems like it would be great for a change of clothes with shoes in a plastic sack bungeed on top. I haven't tried it, but it seems like the ticket if you have that sort of gig.

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Blogger steve said...

Perhaps you could hack up a small cardboard box and then duct tape it back together to make a quiet compartment in there for small hard rattly objects? That, or perhaps line the whole thing with fabric from the fabric store, which would also help stop stuff from moving around in there.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Kent Peterson said...

Great review. You totally grokked the weatherproofness.

I use a nylon drawstring bag inside my Rubbermaid trunk for some of the rattley things and I found a neoprene eyeglass case that holds my tools.

6:58 AM  

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