Incorporating cycling into your life is one way to live a healthier life and show care for our planet. More people are resorting to bikes and using their cars less for these and many other reasons.
It’s easy to see how you can incorporate your bicycle into different areas of your daily life–like commuting to work. But other areas, like grocery shopping, don’t seem so simple. With a car, you have a trunk where you can fit a ton of stuff. A bike is a little limited in this area.
That, however, doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. I’m going to discuss how to carry groceries on a bike and give you seven great options. You’ll see that it’s not that complicated, even when carrying a lot of groceries.
The 7 Best Ways to Carry Groceries on Your Bike
There are more ways to carry groceries on a bike safely and without too much effort. Check out these options and see which one would work best for you.
Attach a Trailer
Shopping for multiple people means you have to deal with a large load. Or if, instead of small frequent grocery runs, you prefer one large haul. In that case, you may want to get a trailer and attach it to your bike.
Bike trailers are the best way for carrying groceries in bulk as they have more space and a high weight capacity. This bicycle trailer, for example, can handle up to 140 pounds of groceries.
While using a bike trailer is a fantastic option for hauling groceries, towing something on your bike can make your cycling harder. It’s also not ideal for rough terrain, so this method would be more suited for those who live close to the store.
For safety purposes, you need to make sure that other road users can see you and your trailer. Use a flag, and flashing lights if necessary, to increase visibility.
Get a Backpack
There’s a high chance that you already have a good backpack lying around somewhere in the house. If you do then this is the most affordable way to carry groceries on a bike for you because you don’t have to buy anything.
After a while, however, you may want to buy a proper cycling backpack. It should be waterproof and waist straps for extra support are a plus.
The backpack method is ideal if you don’t usually shop for a lot of groceries. It’s also safer if you have to cycle in heavy traffic or rough paths, unlike a bike trailer.
The downside is that you can’t carry heavy stuff on your back.
Use a Basket
A handlebar or rear-mounted basket is another simple way to transport groceries using your bicycle.
While bike baskets don’t have much storage capacity, many of them are easy to install, and they’re affordable too. A typical handlebar basket has hooks for quick attaching and detaching and if you pair this option with a backpack, you can carry a week’s worth of groceries on your bike.
The main issue with using a basket is that most of them are open-topped, which is not ideal for rainy weather. However, some, like the Wiel bike basket, come with a waterproof cover, which is pretty cool. This particular one can be attached to the rear rack and front rack.
Be careful when cycling a bumpy path with an open basket full of groceries though. One small mistake and you could have tomatoes, apples, and other things rolling all over the place. It’s not a pleasant situation to be in.
Invest in Panniers
Panniers are bags specifically designed for your bike; they’re sturdy, durable, water-resistant, and you can even use them for more than just grocery shopping.
Having a pannier is arguably much better than transporting groceries using your backpack. You can carry more stuff over longer distances, without having to worry about your back. Besides, the fact that they are made for bicycles means that they are easy to attach.
Bike grocery panniers come in different sizes and designs. It’s always good to have options so you can choose what best suits your needs.
The Lixada bike pannier would be an excellent choice for most people. It has two large compartments and smaller ones for extra storage. You can put a grocery bag in each compartment and more items in the smaller pockets. This saddle bag attaches to the bike rack and bike frame, making it a safe and secure option.
Secure a Crate to Your Bike
A crate will allow you to carry multiple shopping bags, depending on the size of the crate. You can attach one to your bike using bungee cords or any other good attachment system.
The great thing about this method of carrying groceries is that it can be affordable. There are some fancy crates designed for a bicycle and they have nice features–like folding for storage. They are amazing but may not be the best option if your budget is tight.
So you can just use a milk crate. It’s cheaper, multi-functional, and large enough to fit a lot of stuff.
The downside is that a crate is open. It’s better to put your shopping in a grocery bag and find a way to secure it so things don’t fall off.
Consider a Cargo Bike
If you’re fully committed to using your bike instead of a car for your grocery runs, a cargo bike could be what you’re looking for.
As the name suggests, cargo bikes are designed specifically to transport a lot of stuff. They can hold much more than a regular bike. These bikes come in different designs, each one aimed at giving you an efficient and easy way of carrying cargo.
You can carry enough groceries for an entire family, and then some!
Now, you may be thinking that all this sounds great, but cycling with a huge load doesn’t sound fun. It’s even less so if you have to ride up a hill. This is where electric cargo bikes are a welcome solution!
The main downside, however, is that cargo bikes can be expensive. You’ll have to part with over a thousand dollars just for one, so they’re not the best solution for cyclists looking for something affordable.
Additionally, you’ll need somewhere to store the extra bike. So if you live in a small apartment it’s just not ideal.
Handlebars Work Too… Sometimes
As a last solution, you can hang a grocery bag on your bike’s handlebars. It will have to be a small bag, otherwise, steering will be a little hard. Even a small bag will be swinging as you ride, though, and this will probably make the ride feel awkward.
This, as you can guess, is not the best option. But if you have to pass by the store to grab one or two items, it can work.
How to Decide Which Method Will Work Best for You
You now know that there are multiple ways of carrying groceries on a bicycle. But how do you pick a permanent solution that will be great for you?
Try Different Methods
Sometimes you don’t really know how much you’ll like or hate something until you try it. If you have a milk crate collecting dust somewhere, attach it to your bike on the next grocery shopping trip and see.
Does it fit everything well? Or try your backpack–maybe it’s all you need.
If you have rider friends, see whether you can borrow a pannier or trailer and take it on a trial run. These options cost some money so it’s better to try before you commit.
Consult Your Cycling Buddies
Biking is a popular activity and you won’t have to look hard to find a cycling community in your area. Ask other cyclists how they transport their groceries home using their bicycles.
Why learn from your mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s experiences? Find out what has worked for different people and what hasn’t.
Consider How Much You’ll Be Carrying
This is another fantastic way to help you narrow down your options. For instance, if you shop a lot of groceries for a large family, you’ll need something with a large capacity, like a trailer. Or you may have to choose and combine two methods, like a front basket and panniers or backpack.
Frequently Asked Questions About Carrying Groceries on a Bicycle
Where Do You Put Groceries on a Bike?
There are lots of solutions for carrying groceries on a biker. You can put them in a basket or crate attached to the bike, use a backpack, or if it’s a small, lightweight grocery bag (and you’re not riding a long way) you can hang it on the handlebars.
Another alternative is to have a pannier or trailer. They’re great if you want to carry heavy groceries.
What’s the Best Way to Carry Things on a Bike?
The best way to carry things on a bike depends on how much you’re carrying, where you’re going, and what the terrain is like. You can choose the basket, crate, backpack, pannier, or trailer method. They are all amazing and perfect for different situations.
Is It Okay to Wear a Backpack on a Bike?
Yes, you can wear a backpack on a bike and it’s a fantastic way to transport groceries. The only problem is that you cannot carry a lot of stuff because you’ll strain your shoulders and back.
How Do You Put a Basket on a Bike?
Baskets designed for bicycles come with hooks so you can easily mount them onto your handlebars or rear rack. The process is simple and straightforward. The baskets are easily removable too.
How Do You Carry Stuff on a Bike Without a Rack?
Even if you don’t have a rack on your bicycle, there are still multiple methods you can use to transport your stuff. You can use a backpack or bike trailer.
When you’re new to bike commuting, finding a way to carry stuff can be challenging. Unlike cars, bicycles don’t really have a compartment for your luggage.
However, there are several different ways to carry groceries on your bike. A backpack is one good example (and you won’t need to spend any extra money if you already own one), or you could also attach a milk crate to the rear rack of your bike. This is another inexpensive method.
If you don’t mind spending some money, consider a bike trailer or panniers. You can fit a lot of groceries in them.
The most expensive option is a cargo bike. While it’s not cheap, you’ll have no trouble carrying heavy stuff, even on hilly terrain (with an electric bike).
So just find the method that works best for you. Remember you can combine two methods too.