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Easy Alternatives for Carrying groceries on a bike
They say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
In that case, I must have pedaled quite a distance along it already.
Our home used to be stuffed full of single-use plastic carrier bags. Environmentally-friendly? No. Handy for keeping in a pocket and using it to transport groceries back home when I cycle to the store? Well, actually yes, very useful indeed.
But now, having watched too many nature programs about the horrors of these little things, they’re all gone. That’s great for the earth (and the future of the human race) but it’s not that great when I’m trying to carry 12 tins of chopped tomatoes, 5 packets of sugar-infused breakfast cereal, and 4 bottles of red wine, in one hand, whilst attempting to pedal home.
Answer: Topeak Folding Trolley Basket teamed with Topeak Mtx Beamrack
Grocery shopping by bike
Luckily there are some fantastic alternatives out there for grocery carrying, that don’t involve one-handed cycling or plastic bags swinging on your handlebars and getting caught in your spokes.
Let’s take a look at these now.
Best accessories for bikes
Once you’ve got some you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. Use them for everything from strapping a bunch of bananas to the handlebars, tying a roll of aluminum foil to the top tube, or lashing a small child to the rear pannier rack.
Actually, maybe not that last one. I often find that small children have a tendency to wriggle a lot when tied on to the rear rack. Best to go for the front basket instead…
My Top Recommended Methods of Carrying Groceries On A Bicycle
In broad terms, the list below is ordered by (1) the amount of groceries that you need to carry (smallest to largest), and (2) the frequency with which you need to carry them (not very often to very frequently).
A backpack is perfect for infrequent grocery trips, or when you don’t need to transport too many items. That being said, this backpack will take 35 Litres of groceries and store them in various handy compartments. Useful compartments include the waterproof pocket and the expandable shoe compartment, both handy for keeping apart food items such as raw meat and vegetables.
Backpacks have a big advantage over the plastic carrier bag in that they allow you to keep both hands on the handlebars, and also store the weight centrally on your back rather than dangling off one side of the bike. Just be careful if you’re biking with a heavy backpack. Make sure you stash the heavier items at the bottom, otherwise it can throw your balance off as you ride.
A useful extra feature of this backpack is that you can fold it up when it’s not being used.
Compact and bijou, this is a waterproof bag that fits to your top tube just behind the handlebar stem.
Yes, it’s designed for, maybe, a multi-tool, an inner tube, and an energy bar.
But if you’re cycling past the store and remember you need a tub of powdered goat milk, then this will easily carry it home for you.
Designed for hard-core bikepacking adventures, this saddle bag is also great for adhoc grocery trips.
Much bigger than the top tube bag above, this bag can carry quite a few tubs of powdered goat milk (or anything else) in a smooth and sleek fashion.
When it’s not being used for freeze-dried dairy products, it will also pack up very small and stow out-of-the-way behind your saddle.
I know I’m not supposed to be biased when I’m compiling recommendation lists like this. But this basket is my absolute favourite.
The Topeak system works really well – the matching rack has quick-release fitting to attach it to the seat post. Plus the basket has a quick-release to attach it to the rack.
The main thing is that I just love the way you can rock up to the store with this on your bike. Unclip it. Lift up the handle and wheel it round the store with you. When you’re done, just clip it back onto the rack and away you go. I love great design and this is some of the best I’ve seen.
This is a great option if your store trips tend to be for around two large grocery bags. They’re also useful if you are buying longer items, such as a baguette. A grocery item that the French have been wrestling with the home transport of for centuries.
So, what are the best grocery panniers? Well, this is a great option from Bushwhacker, teamed up with a rack like this. The two baskets can be used independently, depending on the size of your grocery load. They’re also super-simple to fit and remove, and fold flat for storage, or better aerodynamicity on the bike.
Interestingly, there’s nothing in the description on this basket to mention that the cute puppy isn’t shipped with it. So presumably you get one of these for the price as well. Bonus.
Either way, this is a great grocery carrying option (the basket, not the puppy).
It has a capacity of 11 Lbs and is easily removable so that you can take it off the bike and round the store with you using the carrying handles. It is made from a waterproof and wipe-clean fabric, which is very handy. The top has a drawstring closure so that you can keep your groceries safely tucked away whilst you’re cycling home. Once you get back you can then fold the basket up for easy storage. Can you put a basket on a mountain bike? Yes, don’t worry, baskets can go on any style of bike and are a very practical option (with or without puppy).
This is a great option if your grocery hauls tend to be on the large side, for example, if you’re shopping for a family, or for an extended period. So what’s the best bike trailer for grocery shopping? This is a fantastic value trailer from Schwinn, and it can haul a massive 100 Lbs. It has a hard base, with soft-shell sides and cover, and is fast and simple to fit and detach. What I really like is that it can be folded up flat, including the quick-release wheels, for easy storage.
I’d also recommend that you team it up with one of these flags. I always like to be bright, shiny, and in-your-face obvious when I’m on my bike. Not in a bad way, but I don’t think there’s any harm in making yourself really noticeable to other road users, particularly motorists. When you’re towing a trailer like this, which is low to the ground, they might spot you on your bike, but not see the trailer. A big flappy flag like this will certainly help them see you and your groceries.
As I mentioned, whichever method you go with, it’s also worth grabbing a set of these useful bungee cords as well.
Final word on methods of carrying carry groceries while biking
Whichever of these options you pick for transporting your groceries, it has to be better for the environment than a plastic bag, and better for your front wheel spokes than that bag swinging into them.
Lastly, I’m hoping for a quick favor? If you do go with one of these options, send me a photo of your fully laden bike and I’ll include it in the comments. Five minutes of fame for you and your groceries! 😊