What I’m riding in town these days.

This is a Cruzbike Sofrider loaded with groceries, including kale and swiss chard.

For the past few months I’ve been riding a Cruzbike Sofrider around town as my city “beater.”  The Sofrider is a capable commuter and touring bike, but it’s not immediately obvious how properly to attach luggage.


I’m using an Old Man Mountain Sherpa rack, here shown with standard Axiom rear panniers packed with groceries.  The Sherpa is a well-made, versatile and strong rack that you can install in the manner intended by the manufacturer, which is what we want to do for best results.  I’ve attached the rack’s vertical struts to threaded bolt holes just forward of the rear dropouts.  The forward “horizontal” supports attach to the rear caliper brake bolts.  This is a secure fitting and allows for a decent real world payload.  It is easier to install a seatpost-mounted rack, like the Topeak models, but their typical payload ratings of 20 lbs. isn’t enough for (my) grocery shopping.  For those concerned about weight, be aware that the 32-ounce Sherpa is not lightweight.  Also, note that the rack is rated for a payload of 40 lbs.  My belief is that the rack will support a heavier payload for a short time, but for a longer trip I’d stay below the 40 lbs. payload rating. (Errata: I had  originally written in this post that the luggage is fully suspended when using the Sherpa rack, but the luggage is not suspended since the rack is attached directly to the rear wheel.  If one were to use a seatpost-mounted rack, then the luggage would be suspended.)

Seatback bag.
I’m using a Radical Designs Solo Aero on the back of my seat.  You can buy it from New York City Recumbent Supply.  This is an excellent, well-made, capacious bag of 12 liters volume.  That’s about half a good-sized daypack.  It quickly slides down over the seatback and comes off just as fast.  With the carrying strap it’s easy to manage.  Reflective tape on the back.  Comes in five pretty colors.  I love it.

Wearing a lock.
Another detail that makes the Sofrider good for a city bike is that there is a hole in the frame where you can string a lock.  While riding, I loop a chain-style lock two-times through the frame and under the seat.  The lock hangs a bit loose and sometimes makes noise, but it hangs out of the way of the wheels and contributes its weight in a useful place — right under the seat.

Where are the fenders…
I haven’t gotten around to adding fenders and I’ve suffered for it.  I need to add them soon.  The last rain was cold and wet and dirty.

Sherpa installation.
On the Sofrider, I want to keep the weight forward of the rear wheel as much as possible so the front wheel doesn’t lose traction on the hills.  So, I’ve mounted the rack backwards, with the rear of the rack turned to the front, to bring the carrying rails as far forward as possible.  Then, I mounted the vertical supports such that the curve of the vertical adapter moves the rack forward of the rear axle.  I have also used the fender mounting holes in front of the axle.  This is not so much to move the rack forward as it is to allow me to use my front wheel Pitlocks on the non-drive (rear) wheel.  The installation would be stronger if I attached the vertical supports to an extra long quick release through the axle, but I much prefer to keep the wheel locked.  So, I guess I’m living on the edge a bit.  If I had done this for a customer, as opposed to for myself, I’d have used extra long Pitlock skewers through the axle and mounted the rack’s vertical supports on those extra long skewers, because that is really the right way to do it.  Notice that the mounting rails on the Sherpa come well forward of the rear axle.  It’s easy to load the panniers so the weight is forward of the rear axle.  When the rack is installed like this, the front drive wheel maintains a good grip on the street even with heavily loaded panniers.

Have fun and stay healthy,

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson

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