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Bike commuting tips: get the right bag

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I don't enjoy a sweaty back, orthopedic problems, or the imbalance caused by crossbody bags. I also think messenger bags are particularly awful for cyclists with breasts, which technically includes me.

I like the bike to do the work, not me... so I roll with a rack and pannier on every bike. If you're not familiar with the concept, a pannier is a special type of bag with a set of hooks designed to latch on securely to a metal bike rack. Most bikes can accommodate a rear rack over the back tire which can take two panniers -- with that setup you can literally carry ANYTHING including a passenger -- but because my commuter bike is a folder I'm limited to a front rack and the smallest size bag.

You have to consider the tradeoffs for your own particular situation, but I have often noticed that happy long-term bike commuters seem to favor panniers.

Any pannier in particular?

No, there's different kinds of panniers for different bikes and different needs. Honestly my folding bike is so small -- 16 inch wheels! -- that my choice is quite limited; and the bag sits so close to the ground that it definitely needs to be waterproof. On my utility bike, I have just open shopping-basket type panniers because I mostly use it for grocery shopping.

It is also important to get the right helmet and wear it correctly.


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