If you’re serious about replacing your car with a bike, you’ll need some way to carry stuff. A rear rack and a pair of panniers is a good place to start, but eventually you’ll probably need more carrying capacity. Here are a few ways to increase the carrying capacity of a bike:
- Handlebar bags, baskets, and rack trunks are simple additions that can increase carrying capacity by 20% or more.
- Front cargo racks can easily double the carrying capacity of a bike.
- The ultimate cargo add-on is the Xtracycle Free Radical Kit, though it increases the wheelbase of the host bike which can be problematic for commuters.
Fully dedicated, production cargo bikes like the Big Dummy, Yuba Mundo, and Dutch Bakfiets are able to carry the largest and heaviest loads, though standard bikes with front and rear racks can carry a surprising amount and may be more versatile for everyday use than their cargo-specific counterparts.
The two bikes pictured above are a Civia Loring (right) and a modified Surly LHT. The Civia comes ready-to-go from the factory with a rear rack and a front cargo rack. The LHT is sporting an aftermarket Tubus “Cargo” rear rack and a front cargo rack from Pass & Stow. Both bikes are capable of carrying fairly substantial loads if packed and loaded carefully.