When you have a bicycle and things to carry, you can devise a good way to transport them from one place to another.
While you can always rely on backpacks and messenger bags for the little artifacts and tools, it becomes a bit of a worry when cyclists are planning to ride with something bigger, like a box or several.
You may be surprised to know that carrying boxes while you have your hand on the handlebar is a simple task. For some, it’s much less challenging than carrying grocery bags. However, before jumping on to net a couple of boxes to the rack of your bicycle, it is crucial to know the right ways of how to carry boxes in a bike.
Before we discuss the many ways you can use to transport one, many, big, or small boxes without bending or tearing them, it is worth noting that you may have to keep a few factors in mind.
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- What to Consider before Carrying Boxes on a Bike?
- How to Carry Boxes on a Bicycle?
- How to attach a box to a bicycle?
- Final Thoughts
What to Consider before Carrying Boxes on a Bike?
The reason it is crucial to prepare and map out a plan before you ride out with your boxes is that when your boxes are full, they are considerably heavy. You have to make sure that the boxes if empty do not suffer significant dents, and if full, you may want to protect the things you are carrying.
To make it much safer for you to carry the boxes while you are on the road with your bicycle, here are a few factors you may consider and subsequent tips you may want to implement.
Your Riding Comfort
When it comes to carrying boxes on a bike, it is a no-brainer that, most of the time the boxes are loaded.
Having said that, carrying additional weight, whichever method you choose to carry it, would compromise your riding comfort, as well as safety. Expert cyclists do not recommend carrying the extra load if you are a beginner rider, although carrying empty boxes is much safer in that case.
Make sure the boxes are packed securely and in the most compact manner possible. Other than that, you may want to practice carrying a few loaded boxes before you set out.
That way, you would be well aware of how much strength your upper body would require. You will also know how much load your bicycle can handle before it swings to and fro and the placement and speed of your hands and feet respectfully.
Weight and Balance Management
No matter how many boxes you are carrying, particularly when they are loaded, the most important aspect to keep in mind is how much your bike can travel with safely. Balance is crucial and would determine your comfort as a rider.
Whether it’s a rear rack, trailer, or cargo bike, distributing the weight and making sure you don’t shift the center of gravity is what keeps your goodies in the box safe.
The trick to making sure that extra loaded boxes on your bike do not make your pedaling unstable is to start small and slow. You would want to carry smaller or fewer boxes at first, to predict how much you and your bike can take up.
You can also try more methods of carrying boxes on a bike and suit yourself to the method that works best for you.
Don’t Forget the Kickstand
You could be carrying a box of pizza, or you could be carrying cardboard full of home fittings. Whether the box you carry is light or heavy, you would need to be able to find a balance on the go, as well as off it.
One of the most important aspects of a bike’s balance is not when it is being ridden but when it is parked. When you stoop or park your bike full of boxes, the much-forgotten kickstand could be your best friend. Oftentimes, accidents with boxes loaded on bicycles have occurred when the bike is tilted on the wall.
Safety First, Always
Even if you are carrying one empty cardboard box that barely adds any extra weight to your bike or makes any difference in the balance of your riding, if you have just started to carry boxes on your bicycle, you might get the urge to look back every time you hear a jerk and rattle, even if it is coming from off the road.
No matter what, always keep your hands on the handlebar and your eyes on the road. Keeping sturdy on the handlebar will also make sure that the handlebar is never gone out of balance.
Because the center of gravity is shifted due to the load you are carrying inside the box, there is always a chance of your front wheel destabilizing on the way if you lose focus or take your hands off the handlebar. Additionally, helmet and safety flags are vital when carrying boxes full of things, you’d need to transfer.
How to Carry Boxes on a Bicycle?
When it comes to smaller cycling gear and accessories like a phone, keys, or even a water bottle, all you need to worry about is finding a space in your backpack, messenger bag, or the corner of your pannier. You’ll pack it all up and zip up the bag. At most, you’d need more wool and extra foaming to fill up the rest of the space.
With boxes, you’d need to make sure that there is enough space to hold the box in place, without compressing the box and the goodies it has inside. Because boxes are mostly larger in size, backpacks are not the best options to transport your boxes on a bicycle.
Fortunately, there a several options to choose from when it comes to carrying boxes on a bike.
Here are a few possibilities you can try depending on what you are carrying, what bike you have, and whether you are comfortable with the method of carriage.
Strapping Box Down To Bike Rack
If you’re thinking of carrying just about any box on your pedaling journeys, you most possibly have given rear racks a thought already. Strap the box, tie the box, or net it, your rear rack is where most boxes can be carried without much hassle.
Keeping in mind that a regular rear bike rack is designed to carry from 20 to 60 lbs. of weight, you can carry multiple heavier boxes on them (always check the maximum load capacity of your rack!).
While the weighting capacity would not be an issue, you’d have to make sure the box in question is steady through the ride, and for that, you’d need one of the means for tying the box to the rack. We recommend you sway away from typical ropes as they are less flexible and compress down on the box with more pressure.
What’s great about any of these methods is how inexpensive each of these tie-downs is, as long as you have a rear rack already. If you don’t, we suggest installing one like Ibera’s frame-mounted bike rack for heavier top & side loads.
Pizza Rack or Portuer Rack
With the toppings and cheese on top of the pizzas, carrying pizza boxes is a similar challenge to carrying any other box on a bicycle. Much like other bike racks, but wider and sometimes with broader edges, specialized pizza racks are designed to carry boxes. What’s amazing about these specialized racks is how they fold down easily, meaning they would save space when not in use.
Usually, with a capacity of carrying 20 pounds, you would be able to haul heavily loaded boxes, just as easily as a few lightweight cardboard boxes. If you are planning to install one, this video could make your life a lot easier with the step by step guide on how to install this type of bike rack.
Similar to specialized, wide platform pizza racks are portuer front bike racks that also have a wider base to fit any boxes. The difference between these racks is that porteur racks are installed above the front wheel. These are particularly useful for people who worry about theft of their belongings when they are parked at signals or have their eyes on the road.
For some people who opt to carry bigger or flatter boxes, the generous rack area of portuer rack can be quite helpful as well. How you would affix the boxes would depend on what you are carrying in the boxes and how easily you can strap the box down. Bungee nets, bungee cords, and rack straps are all great options to carry your boxes on the rack of your bicycle.
If you are using bungee or straps on wider rear racks, we suggest avoiding tie around the box in a diagonal manner. The straps or cords could compress and twist against the box, damaging softer boxes more easily.
If you don’t want to spend thousands or at least close to a thousand dollars on a specialized cargo bike and are too lazy to strap down and loop around the box on your rear rack, how do you still carry boxes on your bike? It all points to trailers. Trailers are the ultimate solution to cyclist’s worry of carrying things with them while pedaling.
Trailers are more affordable than cargo bikes but allow you the flexibility to use the bicycle separately for casual riding as well. Not everyone wants to ride around the part with a boxy and flat cargo bicycle after all.
Trailers are available in all sizes, capacities, and shapes. What we like about trailers, particularly ones made for kids, is how stable and protected these carriers are. A lot of people carry more fragile items in boxes that are prone to damage and cracking on choppy roads.
With a trailer that is closer to the ground and has additional suspension, you can pedal your bicycle with the trailer carrying your box without worrying about wobbly actions resulting in collateral damage.
These trailers are incredible because they come with weather resistance covers and straps with a buckling mechanism using which you can further secure any sized bags inside these trailers. Furthermore, trailers often come with brakes and flexible wheels which makes it easier to take tight corners and narrower streets.
Few cyclists have been innovating enough to create their trailer using a sackbarrow and hitch. This could save you some money if you have wither lying around. However, we’d like to warn you that the sackbarrow hitch method might be more dangerous because the narrow construction of the carrier makes it prone to tipping off fairly easily. Hence when compared and asked for expert advice, specialized bicycle trailers, are always the safer way.
There are benefits to using trailers for carrying boxes while pedaling as there are drawbacks. When you use trailers, instead of your rear rack to tie down the boxes, you can keep your bike light and comfortable to ride. The capacity also allows you to carry multiple, heavy loaded boxes as well.
Towing the trailer with heavier boxes is much simpler when you have a reliable trailer. Low lying, wooden or metal and open top utility trailers are also a great option to cart around boxes on your bicycle. Dump carts also work but might be less secured than covered child trailers.
The downside of using trailers to carting around boxes when you are riding your bicycle is that you would need a certain form of planning before you get a trailer. The size of the trailer matters and so does the type of bike and riding you do. Storage, as well, is a complaint about some cyclists.
Cargo or E-Cargo Bikes
We are sure you’ve heard of the Long Jones and box bikes that most delivery companies use. These are names given to cargo bikes, particularly used to carry larger boxes and bags. Similar to a trailer but cargo bicycles have an integrated carriage system, build to carry larger loads.
Cargo bikes are available in 3 types, which include long johns, long tails, and front-loading ones. Yuba bikes make one of the best cargo bikes, and e-commerce companies have been raving about their carriages openly. Our favorite is the front hauling cargo bikes which let you keep an idea on the box while you concentrate on riding the bike.
These cargo bikes are often designed with a sturdy frame, fast releasing seat post, and internal cable wiring. With disc brakes and shifters integrated into the carrying platform, cargo bicycles are the most efficient when it comes to carrying boxes.
The reason cargo bikes have to be our favorite way of carrying boxes on a bike is how stable and secure they are. Additionally, they provide the most capacity, ideal for carrying multiple loaded boxes or a single large box as well.
Box bicycle are another cargo bike with a wheelbase that lingers in front and is shorted at the rear side. The boxy cargo sits just below the handlebar, and the low-lying flat construction makes sure the center of your bike of gravity is much lower, hence more stable.
Although slightly on the expensive side, if you are the kind of cyclist who has to carry boxes every other day, there could be no better investment than cargo bikes. The other downside of cargo bicycles is that they might take a bit longer to get used to, and would require slightly more effort to ride.
Another, more fancy and costly option is the electric cargo bikes which are the new rave in town for ones needing to carry boxes ever so often. For carrying boxes, bakfiets or long johns are the more preferred forms as well.
These e-cargos are much more stable and easier to steer, thanks to the low-lying carriage close to the grounds. Rotating shifts and full suspension options in the latest options means you’d be able to carry your boxes around steeper and bumpier ways. The motorized aid adding to a classic cargo bike makes e cargo bikes the more expensive dream for box carrying cyclists.
How to attach a box to a bicycle?
Here are my favorite tools for attaching boxes to my bike rack.
One of the best methods is to use a rack strap that includes buckles that can lock together to form a secured tie around the box. Make sure that the strap is long enough for you to loop in more straight ways and diagonal manner.
If you are using one of those bucking straps, you may want to go for 60 to 80 inches ones for certainty, in case your box is a large one. Ozark Trail Utility Straps with Quick-Release Buckle with utility straps make for a great tie down tool for carrying boxes on a bicycle. With these straps, you can adjust and cinch down the boxes through the rack, and change the length to suit what feels most secure.
If you are planning to bind one or several boxes to the rear rack of your bike, one of the most efficient ways is using bungee cords. For more stability, you may use a plywood platform on top of the rack, so that the box sits more stably.
When looking for bungee cords in the market, you may want to consider having multiple-length ones, particularly made of rubber for even better strength. These cords are stretchable, adjustable, and guarantee to never snap one strapped properly. You can check out Cartman Bungee Cords to affix your box to the rear rack of your bicycle.
Cargo netting is incredibly popular and till day remains to be one of the most common ways used by cyclists to carry just about anything. Likewise, if you want a safe, cheap, and easy-to-execute way to carry your boxes on a bicycle, you may want to try and trust the classic cargo netting method.
Cargo nets are so sturdy, they are used to lift and carry heavy loads around the air in industrial use. You may find cargo nets in all sizes, and choose one based on the size of your box.
All you have to do is place your box on the rear rack and attach the bungee net by securing the hook on the rack windows. Bungee nets are designed with premium quality rubber latex and metal hooks that release and attach in seconds.
Rust-resistant hooks and tough net material makes Zoe Sunny’s Heavy Duty Bungee Net a popular ask among cyclists wanting to carry boxes on their rear bike rack.
Learning how to carry boxes on a bicycle could save you a lot of unnecessary effort, cost, and needless to say, damage to the good you intend to carry or meals you need to deliver.
While cargo bikes are the most secure and reliable method to have your boxes reach their destination without the slightest dent, these bicycles can pierce a hole or two in your pocket. Hence, we’d understand if you are considering a cheaper option.
What would cost you only a few dollars but a little bit more time to place and lock the boxes on the rear rack securely are bungee nets, cords, and rack straps. If you plan on traveling shorter distances and carrying boxes that do not weigh too much, we prefer bungee nets to tie it all down to the rack.
Trailers are also a go-to option if you are unwilling to have a completely specialized rack or bike. Trailers are versatile, and detachable, and include covers to protect your boxes from rain or snow.
Whichever method you choose to carry boxes on a bicycle, the most important aspect is safety and balance. Make sure that the weight distribution is right and the center of gravity does not destabilize due to the added load.