I’ve been riding the same Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo Mountain Bike since my uncle found it in a sandpit and gave it to me to ride while away on my first internship. It was in somewhat rough shape back then, and it’s kind of the bicycle of Thesius at this point as parts failed and I found ways to replace them.

I was replacing the front tire and realized I’d like to make this thing into a cargo bike (I currently use it to scout for furniture to restore on trash days, but usually have to ride home and return on foot to grab anything I find, plus I could get groceries). I’m not sure what level of standardization this bike follows and I have no familiarity with cargo bike parts, but I was thinking I’d like to add a Rear Pannier Carrier Cargo Rack and perhaps a large basket on top of that - in fact, I happen to have this homemade welded steel basket I pulled out of a dumpster a couple years ago:

It’s 23" long, 12" tall, and 16" wide. I could weld on whatever mounting hardware it needs.

So basically I’m looking for advice on layout and things to add, specific parts if you have any recommendations, is that basket a horrible idea, etc. What traits make for a useful cargo bike, what would work well with this old mountain bike? And thank you for any ideas!!

  • Showroom7561@lemmy.ca
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    2 months ago

    I can only give you advice, based on my experience with an older MTB that has hauled over 130lbs worth of groceries at a time.

    I’m a fan of keeping the bike modular, so it can be ridden with no extra bulk (except for front and rear racks), but I can increase its capacity with a combination of baskets, panniers, or a cargo trailer.

    My standard haul configuration is usually the trailer with rear panniers (25L Arkel Shopper bags x 2 + the Wike City Cargo Trailer with 100lbs capacity). It typically looks like this, although I don’t usually bring the trunk bag on grocery hauls, and will instead (if needed) mount a large steel basket, which is secured by voile straps.

    If I’m picking up a really large/bulky grocery haul, I will bring two front panniers and a handlebar basket (Wald).

    But… most errands and smaller hauls will either see me with a Burley Travoy trailer, which converts into a handcart for taking into stores, or just the rear panniers.

    As I said, I like to keep things modular with the option of just having a “naked” bike to ride around with.

    • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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      2 months ago

      This is great info, thanks for taking the time to write it out! I didn’t even notice the front rack at first, does the handlebar basket just latch on to the rack? I think this (minus the trailer for now) makes a lot of sense for me

      • Showroom7561@lemmy.ca
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        2 months ago

        does the handlebar basket just latch on to the rack?

        Ok, so Wald makes several types of front baskets. The one that I have has a bracket that gets mounted to the handlebars permanently (you can remove them, but they aren’t means to be removed like their quick release mount), and then the basket latches onto it.

        Here is what it looked like after I installed the Wald mount:

        It was a challenge to make sure that I could still have a functioning headlight and camera with the basket installed, so I also installed a handlebar extender to lift those up, and a bike light mount on the front rack. Since then, I’ve learned that you can get a clip-on mount for baskets that will hold the light, but I’m not sure if they use the same Garmin quarter-turn mount as my light, so…

        But… I found that the Wald mount interfered with my regular handlebar bags (Arkel Signature BB and BB packet), so I’ve strapped some horizontal tubing to the Wald mount, so those handlebar bags can mount better without excess rubbing. I can remove the tubes very easily for when I need the front basket.

        This particular bike is pretty busy, but it’s an AMAZING utility bike! I’ve also added a frame bag for added carrying capacity (mostly for extra straps and tools), a top tube bag, and it now has double feed bags attached behind the handlebars for quick access to snacks, my powerbank, compact camera, etc.

        If I had only one wish, it would be that I wish I went with a front rack that has a platform. My front rack is a low-rider, which is great for stability, I won’t lie, but I would have made use of a platform.

        One final mention. When I strap a basket to my rear rack, I tend to add a cut piece of 2x4 under it to give it a few inches of lift off the rack. This makes it easier to get the Arkel panniers off (and back on). It’s not necessary that I do that if I plan to use only the rear basket.

        Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’d be happy to help!

        • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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          2 months ago

          This is awesome advice, thank you! I bought a rear rack and some cable housing (I’m worried the rear derailer cable will scrape on the rack mountings). I’m going to start with the rear rack and panniers.

          My front fork is some kind of chunky mountain bike built-in-shocks thing and I’m not sure there’s a way to mount a front rack to it, but I’ll try to figure something out once the rear one is set up. Failing that, I’ll look for one of those handlebar baskets.

          I figure I’ll start small, see if this is useful, and add capacity as I go.

          Thanks again!

          • AchtungDrempels@lemmy.world
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            2 months ago

            There are also handlebar mountable baskets, klickfix for example. I have klickfix adapters for all my bikes, currently not using it on my touring bike, but i did for a lot of tours. They’re not the most stylish baskets, but i like the easy possibility do dismount it and go shopping with it or whatever.

            Except on my citybike i have a fixed basket that is mounted to the head tube.

            Something like this might work with your fork. Front baskets are really nice to have imo.

            • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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              2 months ago

              That’s a good idea! I’ve got the rear rack attached, I’m going to add a kickstand and then some kind of front basket. I think these will work with my front fork.

              Thanks!

          • Showroom7561@lemmy.ca
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            2 months ago

            I figure I’ll start small, see if this is useful, and add capacity as I go.

            That’s what I’ve done! I’m lucky that the used MTB I linked is a 26"er, and so was my older one. I built up my older MTB with a bunch of gear, and they all ported over without issues. Then I just added more as I saw fit.

            Good luck with your build!

    • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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      2 months ago

      That definitely adds a lot of length to the back! I think I see these on the bike path sometimes but didn’t realize its an add-on rather than a custom-built bike. I’d been thinking when my SO and I have kids in a few years, we’d get one of those cargo bikes with the big wheelbarrow bucket on the front, where kids or probably another adult or groceries can ride. But I’ve never ridden either version - do the ones with the cargo in the front handle worse? Are there other tradeoffs?

      I like his electric bike conversion. I’m brand new to anything more than the most absolute basic bicycle maintenance (this bike’s rear derailer was held together with zip ties at one point), so I hadn’t waded in to electric bike options and tradeoffs yet. I’ve heard they’re a huge game changer and an improvement on cars in the kind of built-up areas where I live. I’d figured I’ll set this one up for some cargo capacity, then sort of feel out what I want once I’ve been using it a bit.

      • misery mansion@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        OK in that case I definitely recommend a reasonably heavy duty rear rack and some good quality panniers. Your Kona will be able to take a decent amount of weight.

        If it was me I’d then also put a flat front rack on the front and then you can fix a basket to that but also run it flat if you need to. Something like this: https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Specialized-Pizza-Rack_95421.htm

        Then like you say, once you want to upgrade an amazing option would be the proper cargo bike like you say. Definitely on my list!

    • misery mansion@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      I’d also recommend putting the basket up front and just having a flat surface at the back, gives you more options to strap bulky things to it

      • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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        2 months ago

        That’s good to know! My SO’s bike has a basket, and I was surprised at how much of a difference it made. I found myself using her bike more than mine last year. For stuff like hauling groceries, would it be better to use saddlebags over the rear rack?

  • FartsWithAnAccent@lemmy.world
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    1 month ago

    I’m late to the party but I use my Trek 820 as a combo commuter/grocery getter and have not had luck finding a front rack/basket that works with my front suspension (though I haven’t really made a dedicated effort yet).

    For now, I’ve settled on just using the rear rack with pannier bags combined with a saddlebag and a big frame bag.

    It’s not quite as versatile as my ebike with 50liter pannier bags, but I am still regularly impressed with how capable a cargo bike it is despite being an old singletrack MTB.

    If you find yourself struggling with front cargo options, it might be worth swapping to some sort of touring fork which can support not only a front rack/basket, but bags on each side of the fork as well.

    Good luck and I hope you’ll keep us posted on your progress!

    • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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      1 month ago

      Thank you! This is really good advice! I’m definitely not counting on the claimed 310 capacity (especially since I had to replace one post with a longer one I made from a 3/8" rod, so I could attach it to the little bolt above the rear gears instead of wrapping it around the seat stay). I’ll definitely post my progress soon, and I think brakes are going to be my next step. Supposedly there’s an adapter kit to add disc brakes to this bike but everything’s so cluttered back there I think better pads make more sense and are more achievable. The pads on there now might be some of the only original parts left, not sure.

      Well, brakes and one of those wrap-around-the-chain-stays kickstands. So I’ll have a kickstand. It’s a work in progress.

        • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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          1 month ago

          Step 1 in the cargo bike transition is complete! I have some secondhand panniers to try out with some groceries, and I’ll see about adding better brakes, a rear basket and eventually a front basket, options like that.

          (I mentioned in another comment that I’d had to modify the rack to get it to attach since the right seat stay is crowded, that’s the blue part in the picture.)

  • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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    2 months ago

    The bike has rear mounting points but the type of bike racks that seem to be designed to use them claim lower weight limits. There are others that wrap around the seat post and rear fork.

    Like this one claims to be able to support 310lbs

    Would the frame of the bike and the wheel able to take that? Is the weight made up?

    • FartsWithAnAccent@lemmy.world
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      1 month ago

      I’d think the limiting factor most mounts would be the seat stays on any given bike. Mounting to the seat frame could take some of the pressure off, but even so, 310 lbs seems wildly optimistic because don’t forget: The whole bike has to support you, your cargo, and all the extra parts/bags. The wheels themselves also have a weight limit and with a loaded down bike with a bigger rider, you could easily get into 500lb+ territory.

      The seatpost rack would probably be OK, just don’t try to load it down with more than a fraction of that 310 lbs (if not for structural reasons, then for practical ones). Bike trailers are another option for expanding capacity without adding more wear and tear to the bike itself (just be extra careful with how you load it up, putting weight on the wrong spot can make handling increasingly difficult - the general rule is to place 60% of the weight in front of the axle and 40% behind which applies to bike trailers and vehicle trailers alike).

      Another important thing to do is make sure you have good brakes: That’s very important, but even more-so when you’re using a cargo bike. If your rim brakes aren’t up to snuff, consider upgrading the pags to Koolstop salmons, they’re very well regarded and new pads aren’t a big investment. Make sure that your braking system as a whole is up to snuff/in good repair because the more weight you carry, the sketchier stopping can get.

      • LovesTha🥧@floss.social
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        1 month ago

        @FartsWithAnAccent @JacobCoffinWrites A generally good point to remember is the manufacturers load limit. Exceeding that is probably okay, but remember you have started to enter “hear be dragons territory”.

        Many regular bikes have a 150kg load limit, w1hich isn’t too hard to exceed with a few panniers and a full sized rider (heck, it isn’t that hard to exceed with a backpack and a large rider).

        Trailers help get around load limit a bit, but when going that way remember the brakes!

        • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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          1 month ago

          Thanks! I’ll start slow with adding weight and I’ll look at better brake pads next, to help deal with it. I had to modify the rack a little so it’s wrapped around the seat stays at three points, and where it gets crowded with the rear derailer cable and it’s attachments, I modified the back right post to use a longer rod so I could attach it to the little bolt above the gears the way the bike designers intended. Not sure what that does, if anything, to it’s weight capacity but I’ll be careful.

  • JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.netOPM
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    1 month ago

    Update:

    If “Bicycle Pickup Truck” was a good idea, people would probably be doing it already.

    Don’t worry, I have actual panniers to put on it, I just wanted to see how my pre-advice plans would have worked. After that, I’ll try the Koolstop Salmon brake pads, then maybe a removable basket for the front and a frame bag.