Carrying shopping on your bike


Over time I’ve investigated a number of options for carrying my shopping from the supermarket to my house. I started off simply loading the shopping on my handlebars. This, as you would expect, often turns into a bit of a disaster and makes for some very wobbly steering. I’ve also tried a big gym bag that I lug over my back. The weight of the shopping always makes it rather uncomfortable. Panniers are another option but I prefer riding without my rack attached so each time I have to re-attach it. Plus, carrying the bags around the supermarket is a pain. Perhaps a solution would be to go with something extreme such as the Burley Travoy Urban Trailer System. At £251 it’s an expensive option and doesn’t look particularly attractive. However, it would certainly get the job done.

How do you go about getting your shopping from the supermarket to home?

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27 Responses to Carrying shopping on your bike

  1. thereverent 25/10/2011 at 9:35 am #

    I’m use to cycling with a rucksac, so I would just take a large one with me to the supermarket. It meant that I didn’t buy too much which also was a bonus.
    A loaf of bread could be bungied to the back of the bag as it was so light, and a bottle of wine fits nicely into a waterbottle holder.

  2. Adam Edwards 25/10/2011 at 10:35 am #

    One of the great things about the Brompton is the luggage system which includes a shopping open bag. The Brompton block which it clips to might be something that could be attached to other bikes. It doesn’t get in the way when the bike is not in use, you don’t need a rack and best of all the bags just clip on and off in a second.

    It would be interesting to know if anyone out there has added Brompton block to a conventional bike in some way.



  3. alex 25/10/2011 at 10:54 am #

    Orlieb panniers, can get my shopping done with these. They lock on well and there wont be any spillages. Panniers are easier to carry than a rucksak, but you do have to live with the rack.

  4. Thomas Derstroff 25/10/2011 at 11:00 am #

    Another vote for bags/ rucksacks. Even with large (40l+) bags I find the issue to be less about the weight itself, but more about a good fit to maintain your balance. Also pack heavy items go low and near your back. A relaxed riding position to avoid any side-to-side body movement also helps.

    If you are spending serious money on trailers for your weekly shopping, the Beast of Burden (B.O.B.) YAK ( trailer is a classic amongst cycle tourers with heavy gear, though potentially a bit bulky to store and likely to scare the hell out of other London road users.

    More suitable might be the Y-frame ( which looks simple and solid, and the Croozer Cargo ( folds down nicely to store. Generally for cycling equipment always worth a look to the land of the velo (Switzerland); Vitelli have a great range of trailers for all purposes (

    Finally, a good comparison of trailers:

    • Martin 27/10/2011 at 7:12 pm #

      Another vote for the Y-Frame trailer here. Far more capacity than the Burley (90kg), cheaper, and dismantles to flat in seconds. I love mine! Also useful for taking the girlfriend to the pub 🙂

    • Amoeba 02/12/2011 at 10:30 am #

      The Carry Freedom Y-Frame is excellent. It is particularly stable, not something that can be said of all designs. The CF Y-F needs a box or bag for your groceries though.
      IIRC, all bike trailers do not provide provision for legal lights and reflectors. In my experience the reflectors on all bike trailers are illegal. See
      for details.

      It’s a bit of a faff, but I’ve made a removable bracket that holds the mandatory triangular reflector, a steady BS approved steady battery light and a Smart flasher that’s RVLR compliant.

      There doesn’t appear to be a height stipulation for mounting trailer lights, unlike unbicycles.

  5. Photoben 25/10/2011 at 11:23 am #

    I got a cetma rack a few years back. It’s brilliant.

  6. Liz 25/10/2011 at 11:49 am #

    A pair of Ortleib panniers and a backpack – I can carry as much shopping home as a small car even if me and my bike look like an overloaded mule!

  7. deadmanjones 25/10/2011 at 3:24 pm #

    I’m not sure why you find carrying panniers around a supermarket a pain…

  8. Graham 25/10/2011 at 3:50 pm #

    For doing a weekly shop you can’t beat a BOB!

  9. Amanda O'Dell 25/10/2011 at 5:03 pm #

    I figure that with all the money and hassle I save by not owning a car, it’s well worth paying for someone to deliver the stuff I don’t want to carry. Ocado or Abel & Cole for food, and any number of websites for all sorts of other stuff. Would be interested to know if anyone’s found a comfortable way to get the cat to the vet though – have got a back carrier but it’s a bit too rigid to be comfortable…

  10. Iñaki Álvarez 25/10/2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Panniers (without a doubt) + rucksack + handlebars = 2-3-week’s wortho of shopping from the supermarket

  11. John 25/10/2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Yes Amanda, Heavy and bulky comes on a Sunday morning via Tesco for a small fee, everything else comes home via the bike with either Arkel utility baskets which are large panniers or if I am going to town an Arkel bug which is a convertible pannier to back pack, so it is easy to go shopping with and hooks on the bike rack for the trip home.
    During the working week if there is anything bought en-route it goes in my pannier for my commute or on the rack with a cargo net.
    Afraid I cant help with regards to your cat moving problems other than to say make sure the door is very secure.

  12. Andrew Wilcox 26/10/2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Front and rear panniers brought 22.9 kg back from Tesco Winchester to Alresford about 8 miles yesterday. Not sure how the trailer would go across the two cattle grids.

  13. Rebecca Olds-Bartlett 26/10/2011 at 3:22 pm #

    +1 what Amanda O’Dell said – that is exactly my situation. Cats are vulnerable to stress-induced illnesses (trust me, I know!) so I’ve hesitated to try putting a cat in a carrier on a trailer pulled by my bike…. but who knows, I may try that one day. Til then, there’s the bus (also stressful!!)

  14. George 27/10/2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Also agree with Amanda; bulky items and liquids especially. Otherwise if I have a massive shop to do I bring my massive hiking rucksack, which has padding to stop it feeling uncomfortable.

  15. Ashleigh 29/10/2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Another vote for the panniers. It’s pretty amazing how much you can fit in those things – a weekly visit to the markets sees me carrying pumpkins and potatoes and loaves of bread and big stalks of celery… Although the bike is heavier and much slower, it feels much more balanced and safe than bungeeing a big load on the rear rack, which I used to do.
    I’m in the pretty easy position of not having many people to feed and take care of, though. I’m sure it can be a struggle to manage with a bike instead of a car or public transport when you’re shopping for a family and having to transport kids around too.

  16. Andy 02/11/2011 at 10:52 pm #

    I’ve used a Bikehod for 30 years – it’s a similar idea to the Burley travoy without being either so complicated or ugly.
    When I was at college I carried my ‘cello around with it. It’s coped with 24 bottles of champagne (and 12 litres of orange juice!) – that’s probably 48 kilos? I’ve even brought 8′ x 4’ sheets of ply and MDF back from the local timberyard although I wouldn’t attempt that in any kind of a wind…
    In 30 years I’ve just had to replace the bag on the back with one from Carradice but I’m tempted to get a new one now that they come with pneumatic tyres and mudguards.
    I prefer the YAK for touring as it’s more stable and catches the wind less, but for short trips and shopping thte ‘hod can’t be beat.
    Check and see if your local Waitrose has these free to borrow! I know their store in West Ealing has them as does Cambridge but I’m not sure about others…

  17. Andrew@Company Directors 05/11/2011 at 12:28 am #

    I used to do what you did Andreas and just hang the shopping bags on the handle bars, but like you said, it gets pretty dangerous and makes steering difficult. I just use my ruck sack now but it is limited with how much I can fit in to it, so I really need to look at other options. Unfortunately the Burley Travoy looks a bit big and cumbersome for my liking, but something smaller and more streamlined would be ideal, otherwise I’ll have to keep going shopping every couple of days!

  18. PaulM 06/11/2011 at 12:25 pm #

    I have a couple of “Basil” wire rear pannier baskets, which just hook over the side rails of the pannier. Take them off and they are much like supermarket baskets except narrower and deeper. I put them in a small trolley, hooked over either side of the trolley.

    The only problem I have with them is that my Dawes CityVision has a standard gent’s frame and it is enough for me to swing my leg over the saddle, the big baskets on the bag make it more ungainly and I’m suprised I haven’t come a cropper yet.

    I also have a trailer of indeterminate brand. This hooks onto a bracket which you bolt to the rear forks and the horizontal thingies which come back from the brottom bracket. it is great for carrying shopping but I tend not to use it because the path to the supermarket is narrow and bumpy in places and trailers don’t like it much.

  19. Nancy 20/02/2012 at 9:22 pm #

    If you don’t like riding with a rack on your bike, I don’t see how this trailer could possibly be appealing. I shop with panniers and a backpack, hauling amazing amounts of stuff.

  20. Ade 26/06/2013 at 11:58 am #

    Anything more than a couple of items and I shop online and get it delivered.

  21. Jim 26/06/2013 at 1:28 pm #

    I just use an old child trailer that my two have got too big for. Its easy to attach to the bike through the rear QR and inexpensive as they are always on eBay secondhand as mine was!. I have had a bob yak and it was a great bit of kit but to be honest i think the child trailer is better in a practical sense for shopping duties.

  22. CycleLove 26/06/2013 at 2:03 pm #

    A large rucksack and then a shopping bag or two on the handlebar if absolutely necessary!

  23. Nancy 26/06/2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Here in the U.S., I use L.L. Bean’s grocery panniers on my back rack, they’re strong and roomy and at $60, much more affordable than many of the Burley attachments.

  24. Graham Simpson 27/06/2013 at 1:23 am #

    Huge panniers for general shopping & a cargo trailer for the really heavy shopping.

  25. Vanessa 26/04/2015 at 12:19 pm #

    I’m a broke uni student. I got a light fruit wooden box for free. (It was a small box for Spanish cherries). I attached to my rear rack which came with the bike. I use regular reusable shopping bags to store my groceries and tie it to the box with bungee cords. Works well. My locks, bungee cords and shopping bags live in the box at all times.

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