bakfiets: “It can haul groceries”

100 mile radius potluck at the park

Someone commented about my new bakfiets cargo bike this morning that “now I could I haul groceries on the bicycle”.

I had been getting groceries fine on my “normal” bike fine for some years. But you couldn’t tell that from casually looking the bike.

I never once made a trip where I couldn’t bring home everything I wanted. Usually just some saddle bags were used for the hauling, but occasionally a trailer was used to fetch a large bag of dog food.

But on most trips the saddle bags and trailer are left at home, so the carrying capacity isn’t visible.

The importance of the bakfiets in the US now is that it is obvious that the bakfiets is built to haul. And it does in fact haul a lot. I believe it’s rated to haul about 250 lbs of cargo or kids, plus the weight of the driver. (That’s 175 lbs in the bucket, and 75 more on the rear rack).
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Surprisingly dry bike commuting in a $10 jacket

Today I tried a cheap nylon jacket for rain protection. Like, “ten dollars” cheap. The jacket I wore is from Eastbay, and is discounted from $40 to $10.

It kept me completely dry for a 10 minute bike commute through the pouring rain. Ten minutes is enough time for cotton clothing to get drenched. It’s also enough time for me to get from home to grocery or from the office back home. It’s enough time for a $150 Marmot Oracle rain jacket to begin to leak through the pockets.

That’s precisely why I’m trying the backup jacket– I’m sending in the Marmot jacket for what I believe is a design flaw and which I expect they’ll take care of through the warranty process.

I was so surprised by the performance of the Eastbay jacket, I went online to check to see if it made any claims to be waterproofing. The jacket does not even classify itself as a rain jacket, but simply “water repellent”.

From what I’ve learned about what “water repellent” means, a chemical was probably applied to the nylon, which causes the water to bead-up and roll off, rather than soaking through. Over time, this feature will work less and less well. They are spray-on solutions than can be applied to later to rejuvinate the effect, but from what I’ve read they often don’t work as good as the original repellency.

This also means that had I taken a longer ride, I’m sure the jacket would have eventually soaked through, which a waterproof jacket should not do. Further, waterproof jackets have taped seams, and sometimes have special waterproof zippers, while this jacket does not.

What I’m saying is that the Eastbay jacket is not a magic alternative to the quality of a waterproof/breathable jacket. However, it may just be “good enough” for some around town trips, despite perhaps being less durable. At $10, or even $40, it’s certainly worth a shot for staying comfortable in the rain.

Bike Gear and Clothing Recommendations for Commuting in the Rain

My solutions for comfortable clothing and dry gear.

Rainy day gorge tour
I was afraid of the rain. The car used to protect me from it when I got around. After several years of being car-free, I’ve been able to replace this fear with an understanding of how to stay comfortable when bike commuting in the rain.

What I’ve learned along the way that is the staying comfortable in the rain takes an all or nothing approach: Repel it or enjoy it.

Here are my strategies for both cases.

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Bicycling Mittens for Five Degrees

photo of gloves and mittensI eased out the alley and navigated through Fairview neighborhood and onto the greenway. Accelerating as fast as I could down the light grade, the computer reported speeds accelerating to 20 miles per hour, with a air temperature of 32 degrees.

My new overmitts were being put to the test. According to a parka website, I had just generated an effective temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

This hadn’t fully clicked for me before: moving through space on a bike in cold weather generates significant wind chill.

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Calculate Your True MPH

Morning commute

 “Let’s Race!”

I challenged Ehren to a three mile crosstown race. I would ride my bicycle (as fast as I could!), and Ehren would drive his Volvo, taking a normal route and traveling average speeds in his car.

The destination was slightly uphill from us.

 “Go!”

Soon the routes we chose to follow diverged, and I didn’t see Ehren until the destination.

He pulled in about 30 seconds after me, complaining about traffic.

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Stealth Commuting Rain Pants

I had this dream. Pants that looked normal enough to wear to work, but with hidden super powers of water repellency. The elusive versitale garment sought after by bicycle and pedestrian commuters: Stealth Commuting Rain Pants.

It was immediately clear when they arrived tonight that they looked fairly normal and fit very well, but the hidden super powers needed to be tested. Conveniently, the kitchen floor needed mopping as well.
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