Biking How-to

Things I’ve carried on a cargo bike

I wrote about how the cargo bike changed my life. The #1 game changer is how mundane car errands become joyful adventures.  Whenever I can, I haul things by bike, and it’s become a game to see what new objects I can haul.

Here are some favorites.  Photos 2016-2022.


Babies & Toddlers

Babies love the Yepp seat.  They start off awake:

look!  Sunglasses a must if riding an e-bike

Then quickly doze off (don’t worry, he had his helmet on during the ride):

Big brother used to do that on the way home from the grocery store:

They sleep on the moving back even when it’s literally freezing out:

He continued to sleep in the winter as he grew bigger:

Bigger kids

Most weeks Ari and I bike together to the grocery store.  We can fill up with groceries and still nestle him on top:

Both kids fit comfortably now at 8 and 4.  I drop them at their schools every day, rain or shine. 

One of our first rides together:

And here they are, more seasoned riders of about 7 and 3:

Here’s the rain gear:


I wish I had more excuses to transport adults.  It’s worked well but I’ve only done it as a gimmick, e.g., I gave a 6 foot tall friend a ride to his car after dinner but that was just a few blocks.

Costco runs

These get their own section.  First on the Boda Boda, with my son along to boot.  The bike parking is unfortunately poorly-located, I recommend immobilizing your bike and parking it in a regular parking space with the cars.

Here’s as much as I could fit on the white bike.  The trip home was 8 miles and very taxing.  I think this load weighed in at about 100 lbs, including passenger.

I tried again after I got an e-bike.  Much more manageable, even with a greater load.  This was more like 200 lbs, the canned beverages alone exceeded 100 lbs.

All the things

The biggest thing I ever carried was a 275 gallon tote, to be used as a rain barrel. The story of that trip merited its own blog post. But here’s a quick pic:

a longtail cargo bicycle carrying a 275 plastic tote in a metal cage

A porch swing.  The bike was already full from a morning of shopping when I happened upon this, near my home.  I improvised a tie-down setup to go the few hundred feet needed:

Brought my snowboard to REI for a tune-up (and my son along as a helper):

Borrowing an office chair from my co-working space during the pandemic:

Taking a lawnmower and a post-hole digger to a friend:

Some discarded 2x4s I found by the side of the road.  Wasn’t planning on getting lumber that day, but why not just scoop them up:

I took some 6″x6″ posts to a friend’s workshop to cut them down to size as workbench legs.  Then on the way home I stopped by Trader Joe’s and loaded up groceries in the saddlebags under the posts.  The TJ’s bike rack was not built for this setup so I took a car spot:

A 5 gallon carboy of fresh-pressed apple juice, to ferment into cider.  It got well-aerated during the ride and not drop was spilled:

Vacuum cleaner to the repair shop:

Propane tank – the cookout must go on!

Power washer from a friend who borrowed it:

A crockpot full of chili, to a lunch potluck at Workantile.  It was winter, as you can tell by the poagies on the handlebars.  It splashed around a little on the bumps but none spilled:

An enormous quantity of toilet paper (a bulk order through a co-op buying group):

I did a similar haul of paper products on my Boda Boda, too, without a motor.  Here’s the bike loaded up and then that same haul off the bike:

Any sort of big boxy thing can go on the back of the Spicy Curry’s platform.  I keep waiting for shops to offer free local delivery via this method:

A suitcase, so I can bike to the Amtrak station and avoid a taxi or parking:

A sled to my son’s preschool.  This was after he dismounted but the bike carried both him and his sister in addition to the sled:

Pizzas.  This photo was taken on New Year’s Eve 2017, a bitterly cold evening.  Historical data for that night shows a temperature of 4 degrees Fahrenheit.  And it’s much colder when you’re biking at 20 mph.  I didn’t wear ski goggles because I was worried about visibility at night, and that short ride (5 minutes) was the coldest my eyes have ever been.  Now I use clear goggles anytime it’s close to that cold.

Now I order from a pizza shop with smaller pizzas and their boxes fit nicely in the front basket.  There’s little car parking nearby and they don’t deliver but they’re right on the new William St. Bikeway … couldn’t be more convenient for me!

Transporting pizzas in winter & summer.  The lousy Michigan roads don’t make it easy but my track record is pretty good with pizzas and cakes making it home intact on a bike.

55 pound bags of malted barley (and the rest of my grains in the bags below) fit whether I’m using the Monkey Bars or the Carry-On attachments:

Five-gallon Cornelius (“Corny”) kegs of homebrew fit perfectly in the cargo bags.  I’ve toted a keg, a CO2 tank, and two kids on the way to a holiday party.

Exposed Corny keg…
… Corny keg tucked neatly away for transport.

Yard waste in various configurations.  These are more stable than they look.

The long object is a fruit picker.  A cargo bike is the perfect vehicle for foraging urban fruit trees, as you can park right under the tree.

I put this large sign on my bike and cruised through bike lanes on streets near Michigan Stadium, on a football gameday in 2017.  The goal was to make the thousands of fans on the street aware of the redistricting initiative and point them toward stations where they could sign the petition signature drive.

Then in November I parked the bike outside of the polls and used it as a mobile signature gathering station:

Many trips picking up our CSA share, a box of vegetables from Tantre Farm:

Our 2018 FoolMoon luminary, a dragon’s head.  We transported it to and from the workshop while building it (the first picture).  Then I built a custom mount for it that used the Bread Basket mounting holes.  I sadly don’t have a picture of it mounted but we biked to the parade that night astride a glowing dragon.

The Bread Basket attachment in front holds a case of cans perfectly:

A keg washer:

2 hops plants in pots & a bottle tree:

Garden supplies including many tomato cages, stakes,  and hoes:

Other bikes

Longtail bikes are great for towing other bikes.  You can ferry a kid on the back, then deploy them on their own bike once you get to a trail.  Or the reverse: they bike until they’re tired, then hop on the back.

Ari’s beloved balance bike:

Here he hopped on with his pedal bike (and the groceries) on his way back from the store:

He likes to face backward.  And urge me on: “daddy go as fast as you can a car is coming!”  Anecdotally, I’d say we get more respectful treatment from passing cars when he is facing backward.

The carried bikes should have some cloth between the points of contact to avoid rubbing off paint.  Small bikes can be hoisted completely, larger ones towed with their rear wheel on the ground.

My oldest can bike herself to day camp, then I tow her bike back with me:

Here I towed 2 kid bikes to Common Cycle, one to work on and one to donate.  I brought my helper, too:

I’ve towed adult bikes.  Here I was lending the cargo bike to a friend, so I biked there on the white bike and rode home on the black one:

Same arrangement but on a day where I also needed to transport a gnome.  He strapped right into the kid seat:

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