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This question already has an answer here:

This is a purely commuting issue.

I have an around 3km route to the office, and a regular backpack (laptop, accessories, notebooks, ...) which is not a problem to carry around during autumn and winter months, but in the summer the back of my shirt quickly becomes sweaty from carrying it, and carrying it only on one shoulder isn't so good stability wise, while on the road.

I'm looking for advice, what would be a good way to mount it to a bike, or securing it in some way so it lasts throughout the trip, so I don't have to carry it on me.

I've tried securing it to my rear rack with "bungee ropes" (those elastic ropes), but it tends to slip to the side during the ride, and I'm afraid it might fall down.

Bike: Author Reflex SX trekking, with rear rack installed.

Edit (Clarification of what I'm looking for): Solutions for carrying regular rucksacks, like baskets that can be secured to rear rack, or side baskets (I've yet to see examples of those), or some solutions that would enable securing a backpack directly to a rear rack, but in a way that enables me to quickly clamp/unclamp it. I'm also not interested in buying specialized bike backpacks/panniers, but wish to carry my current one.

marked as duplicate by Chris H, mattnz, Andy P, David Richerby, ojs Apr 5 at 14:45

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I'm sure we've got a very close match to this question, with a range of helpful answers. I'll have a look for it – Chris H Apr 4 at 6:32
  • That's actually part of a whole chain of duplicates, but has some answers that are directly helpful to this question. See also bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/30303/7309 – Chris H Apr 4 at 6:37
  • Get a basket for you rear rack and dump the backpack in it. Get a bike-bag you can mount on your rear rack, some even can be used as a normal backpack or messenger bag. Or change clothes at your destination. – Erik Apr 4 at 7:08
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    @Rook that's why it's "see also" (some of the answers may help but the question less so) and I chose to link the other as a duplicate - it ties in to a series of questions which should include a good answer for you – Chris H Apr 4 at 9:25
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    @Criggie - Let's say, I consider it greatly preferable to buying more gear. It's not so much a matter of price. More that even quality bike gear leaves often a lot to be desired in terms of -computer & office- specialized backpacks, not to mention they often stick out like a sore thumb in an office environment. I would prefer to modify my bike configuration to accommodate MY needs, not the other way around - to modify other aspects of my life to accommodate my bike's needs :-) That's why I posted the question, and because I believe this being a useful enough topic for a lot of commuters. – Rook Apr 4 at 11:02
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Option 1

Your bike has a parcel rack on the rear - I'd suggest exploring modifications to that rack to hold your existing backpack more securely.

Bungee cords are good because they have tension, holding the hooks on. And the length will somewhat adjust for bigger or smaller loads.

Downside - they do slip and move under vibration.

Answer - either make or buy a mesh of bungees to hold your existing bag on top of your rack. Something like this:

random ebay picture

I'd secure the rear edge and one side to your rack and organise the hooks so they secure to your seatpost, and to the other side of your rack, forming a nice mesh. Each hole should be too small for your bag to slip through even at full stretch.

The shoulder straps on your bag may hang off the side. Just position it so they don't. If the straps hang through the structure of your rack then line the underside of the rack with some firm PVC scrap plastic (also, that's a decent mudguard too. Or you might want to drape the shoulder straps over your seatpost before securing the mesh down.

Perhaps use carabiners instead of bent wire hooks, for added security.


Option 2

You have a rear rack, but its not good enough. Use the rack to carry a cage like this:

Another amazon image

Picture shows two, but you could easily just ahve one rack on whatever side you prefer. The pictured bags aren't required either - they're more for grocery shopping.

Advantage is that it takes a heck of a bump to throw something up and out of the cage. They will also "concertina" when empty and take up much less space. Also good for keeping long skirts out of the rear wheel!

Downsides are added weight and they're not rated for heavy loads.


Option 3

You have a rear rack, why not add a matching front rack too ?

google says so

This shows a front basket on a rigid MTB. These work well and can carry a lot more weight because of the bottom struts. A bike with front suspension can't carry as much cos the struts would change length.

Advantage, your stuff is right there in sight at all times, its not going to jump out of the basket, and also you can access it easier.

Downside, the handling of the bike might change - it depends how close you can get it to your head tube and how long your stem is. Plus the brake cables can sometimes foul the basket.

  • Can you add a link to the manufacturer of Option 2 (side racks). They don't seem to be available in local shops in my part of the world. – Rook Apr 4 at 12:56
  • For option 3, it may also be bothersome at first that you will not see directly where your front tyre is going, but you will adapt quickly. – Marjan Apr 5 at 6:59
  • @rook best not to - we don't do product recommendations. I think that was an amazon image, so search for keywords like "accordion folding collapse bicycle pannier cage" – Criggie Apr 5 at 10:36
  • @Criggie - That seems fair enough. In any case, I found a range of similar products on Amazon searching with the keywords above, so I think I will manage from here. Thank you. – Rook Apr 5 at 12:28
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It looks a bit funny, but I see many cyclist carry their backpack in child seat (when child is not there obviously). As funny as it may appear, it seems to me this is the way backpack is most securely carried (aside from your own back).

  • Agree, and have seen it once or twice, but with other options available that just looks too silly to me. – Rook Apr 4 at 12:57
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Option 1: Cheap rear pannier to hold backpack.

You mention you already have a backpack you like, and a rear rack on the bike.

I know you're trying to avoid buying more gear, but have you considered buying a single large rear pannier that would be big enough to drop your entire current backpack into? Since it's just for a short commute and is just there to hold another bag (your backpack), you don't need anything special and can buy basically the cheapest one you can find. If the rack clips on the bag you buy turn out to be cheap and crappy, poke holes through the pannier and zip tie it to the rack. Bonus, then you don't need to take the pannier off the bike when you get to work, just take your backpack out of it.

I don't know where you're located, but a quick search of Walmart shows basic panniers starting at under $50. I'm sure you can find similar on Amazon, or can get even cheaper if you look at local used ads, especially if you don't mind buying a well-worn (possible some small holes in it) used pannier. Keeping in mind it's just going to be a backpack holder, and the bonus to a worn out crappy looking one is it's less likely to be stolen if you want to just zip tie it to your rack.

Option 2: Milk crate

I've seen lots of people take old plastic milk crates and bolt them to their rear racks. That should be big enough to put a backpack in. It's ugly, but therefore not appealing to thieves.

Milk Crate Pannier

Option 3: Ride Slower

Also, not to second-guess your summer sweat assessment, but 3km is a pretty short ride. Have you considered just riding very slowly on the hotter days and see if you still have the same problem? If your ride is not to hilly, I think you can do that even on a hot day without getting sweaty. Even if you ride at the glacial pace of 12km/h, you'll still be there in 15 minutes, much faster than walking.

Bad Option: Bungee backpack directly to rack

You mention you already tried this and found it slipped down. Good. IMO, this is dangerous. If the bag slips down far enough, it or its straps can get tangled in your drivetrain causing damage to the drivetrain or sudden loss of control if your rear wheel locks up.

On a bike tour a few years ago a friend's poorly-secured camp towel slipped down off his rear rack onto his chain while he was pedaling along at a nice clip. It got pulled back into his rear derailleur and in about 2 seconds, jammed the derailleur, which flipped up around the casette, into the spokes (breaking several), before basically exploding. Luckily nobody was hurt, but his derailleur and spokes were trashed, making this my go-to anicdote about the havoc soft items can do when they hit the drivetrain.

  • I find the milk crate tends to interfere with my heel and/or the back of my thighs depending on the bike's design. So I rotated one by 45 degrees and modified it to interface around the seat post. Works a lot better that way, for the same size. And its more aero :) – Criggie Apr 4 at 18:39
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    I don't know where you live, but where I live, we have summer days where just existing outside is enough to cause you to sweat in a few minutes. – Ian MacDonald Apr 4 at 21:11
  • @IanMacDonald Ottawa. Plenty of June/July/August days above 30'C ambient and pretty humid. Not unusual to crack +40'C with humidex. So, not the hottest place in the world but no temperate paradise either. – SSilk Apr 5 at 12:50
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I suggest a folding rack like this:

enter image description here

Probably not the best quality and intrinsically weak (the bottom must fold as well). However, since you can fold it when not used, you can also attach securely it to your rack, so it does not get stolen that easily.

  • Yes, that is currently the solution I like best, and I'm looking into them online. They're cheap, but I'm just trying to find some online retailer that can deliver them to here in time. Thanks for answering :) ps They can handle 5kg or so, right? – Rook Apr 5 at 12:16
  • They appear every now and then on my Amazon and eBay search, maybe this is an option for you? Look for "Folding Foldable Bicycle Bike Wire Net Basket Bag Rear Hanging Detachable Rack" or a combination of 2-3 of these words. They are relatively cheap, even coming from some cheap and low-quality supplier from China they can handle up to 10/15 kgs. – EarlGrey Apr 7 at 18:09

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