Doesn’t matter where you are going, or how long you are riding for you will generally need to carry something with you on the bike.
1.If you are commuting; it could be the gear you need for your workday, a bike lock, maybe a tool kit and your shopping purchases.
2. If you are recreational riding, a tool kit, water for hydration, and maybe additional riding clothes and a first aid kit.
3.If you are bike packing or bike touring you will need to carry a whole lot more gear.
Whatever the gear, or the amount – YOU have a number of different options on how you can choose to carry your gear.
An option is – you the rider carrying the gear.
If you choose to go biking with a backpack consider the following 2 points;
- What gear do you want to take on your back when you ride your bike
- How much gear can you comfortably take on your back (in your backpack) when you ride your bike.
This story considers -How much gear can you comfortably take on your back when you ride your bike.
Carrying gear on your back increases the chances of having back discomfort when you ride. To reduce this risk you you need to make sure you able to keep your ‘A’ riding position throughout the whole duration of the ride.
The ‘A’ position keeps your body parts in a good and comfortable position minimising the risk of pain or damage. If you are not familiar with the ‘A’ riding position, then read Tip 1 of our Chi Riding series now and see our short VIDEO
When you bike with a backpack on your back – the weight encourages your back to fall into the rounded back riding position. Your core and back muscles need to be active to overcome the forces of the backpack and hold the ‘A’ riding position. See Tip 2. Chi Riding – Core Muscles. for more information
The following are the key factors that will effect your ability to keep the ‘A’ position and stop you being pulled or falling into the rounded riding position.
- How much weight you are carrying. The more weight you carry, the greater the forces pulling you into rounded riding position therefore the harder your muscles need to work to keep you in the ‘A’ position
- How the weight is packed or being carried. If a load is moveable or further away from the spine then it has more leverage to pull you out of your ‘A” position. Thus the harder your muscles need to work. A load that is closer to the spine puts less load and leverage on the muscles that maintain the ‘A’ position. Also if your load is high on your back you are more likely to be pulled into the rounded back position than if it is low on your back.
- How long are you going to carry the load. You need to keep the ‘A’ position throughout the duration of the ride. The longer the ride the harder it will be to maintain that ‘A’ position. How long can you ride before your muscles tire and you are no longer able to maintain the ‘A’ shape.
- How good is your core and back muscle strength . The stronger your core and back muscle strength the easier it will be to maintain your ‘A” position especially under load (when using a backpack) See Tip 2 of our Chi Riding series
- Do you suffer from any back issues. If you suffer from back pain or your back is compromised it will be harder to keep your ‘A” position.
Features of a backpack for you to consider that will support you to maintain your ‘A ‘ position. You need:
- a bag that goes on your back, not to one side. The load needs to be even and kept to the middle of your back.
- a bag that keeps the weight close to the spine and stable (it shouldn’t move around). This can be achieved by good bag design ( make sure the bag has comfortable and adjustable shoulder, waist, and chest straps that help hug that load to your back) and by selecting the capacity of the bag that fits your needs.
- a bag that allows you to get the load (the weight) low on your back. Load that is carried high on your back is more likely to pull you into the rounded back position
- a bag that has the right capacity for you to carry what you need. You want a bag that allows you to carry what you need, you want to avoid having a bag that is over filled because it doesn’t have enough capacity or a bag that is really large and has very little in it. The capacity you can carry will differ for different people and for riding situations. You need to work out what capacity works for YOU. This is similar to Goldilocks and her porridge it needs to be just right.
If you are not able to keep your ‘A’ position for the duration of the ride then consider what you might need to change. Is it the bag , the amount you are carrying or is best to use one of the alternative options for carrying your gear on the bike?
This story is part of a goRide series covering Carrying gear on the bike- what are your options? To help cover this big topic we are going to look into four options.
- You the rider carrying the gear
- Gear being carried on the bike
- Additional ways to transport gear eg.trailers
- Specific bikes designed to carry gear.
Your needs will determine what option or combination of options will work for you. Look out for other stories on this series.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
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