Riding to work is a pleasure in the summer – but as the sun starts to show its face more often, making its presence known a little more forcefully, commutes can get a little sweaty.
The backpack is a popular approach to carrying kit on a commute, but for those who ride to work in the clothes they plan to spend the day in can struggle with the deadly T-shaped sweat mark caused by wearing a heavy pack against clothing.
Here’s a look at some of the alternatives…
The touring cyclists’ best friend, panniers sit either side of the rear wheel, and are mounted on a pannier rack. You can usually fit quite a lot of kit into panniers, and the weight isn’t on your shoulders as with a backpack. Of course, it doesn’t disappear, and your bike will feel heavier.
The extra weight on the back of the bike can feel strange at first, especially as you get out of the saddle, but it doesn’t take long to get used to.
If you want to give panniers a go, you’ll need to check your bike has pannier rack mounts. These are on the seatstay – there should be one set of bolts above the rear cassette, and above the rear brake.
Personally, I’ve got an Altura Arran Pannier pair, they’re about £50 and do the job just fine.
If you’re just taking a few essential items and want them close to hand, a handlebar bag does just that. Again, favoured by touring cyclists for carrying cameras, maps and snacks, the bar bag could also prove useful for the shopper who wants their wallet, phone and keys close to hand, or perhaps just needs a bit of space to store fragile eggs and bananas.
Another way of avoiding the backpack is going for the more relaxed over-the-shoulder style courier bag.
This option is best if you’re not carrying anything too heavy – though I’m sure the hardcore courier cyclists of London might disagree with me.
For a super stylish version, check out the Rapha shoulder bag selection- such as this small shoulder bag. Admitedly, it will set you back a cool £100, but with that you get a bag that is fit to take a small lap top or iPad, has a padded and removable padded sleeve, organiser pockets, and has a zipped away reflective rain cover included in the package.
If you really aren’t taking a lot with you, such as just money, phone, keys and perhaps a pen – the Rapha Musette at £45 is another option.
Another admittedly pricy option is the Wingman shoulder bag. At £119.99, it is quite an investment. However, the Wingman is an investment for the suit wearer with an active lifestyle. Designed to keep shirts, blouses, suit jackets and trousers crease free, the Wingman keeps them separate from the rest of your kit, so you can even take sweaty gym gear and a wet towel alongside work clothes without the two coming into contact.
As well as room for gym gear/shoes, and a suit, the Wingman also has a padded pocket for an iPad or other fragile items – and the suit carrier even has a foldable suit hanger included.
All of this is carried over the shoulder using an adjustable shoulder strap. Here’s a look at how it all works:
Not everyone’s cup of tea, a basket is admittedly quite a convenient option provided you are riding at a leisurely pace, and there is no risk of a sudden bump scattering the contents across the road.
If the traditional ‘California Beach Riding’ basket look doesn’t appeal to you, you can still enjoy the practical benefits of a wire basket.
Not all baskets will fit every bike – for example a road bike is unlikely to cater for a deep, wicker basket because there won’t be enough clearance from handlebar to the front wheel – so it’s best to check before buying.