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  1. #1
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    Custom bags for V- racks

    Supposing a feller was gonna build some "custom" bags to use in place of Freeloaders, what sort of things should they include?

    What would you use them for the most?

    What features would be the most important to retain from the current design? What are the things you only wished for from magical unicorns and mermaid fairies?

    What do you dislike about Freeloaders?

    A sling-type bag, like the current design, or a more enclosed roll-top construction? Zippers?

    Thanks!
    Scott

  2. #2
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    Things I don't like about the my current free loaders
    * Bottom is too narrow. I'd like them to be more squared off on the bottom or just give them the ability to hold wider loads easily. a square bottom means a seam and that might not be good.
    * Due to the above, I don't always feel like my grocery bags/items are in solid, so for a squared off bag I'd like the outside section longer.
    * More straps (5 vs 3)
    * A rain flap would be nice to be able to pull out and flip over a load
    * mesh on the ends doesn't seem solid enough, nor is it tall enough
    * that long internal pocket would be more useful if it was 2 or three smaller ones.

    Seems like for me, a more enclosed design would be desirable. I don't think zippers would be as flexible as the straps for oddly sized loads.

    A cool thing would be fabric that was black during the day and reflective at night. I'd also take reflective strips that could be velcro'd on the outsides at will.

  3. #3
    Devo
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    multi cam of course
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    "Bicycle Lifestyle, realized." D.G.

  4. #4
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    Of course!

    Devian, you kill me!

  5. #5
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    Ha ha !

    (Hi Scott, it's Alex. The bags have just arrive !)

    Well, I quite enjoy the system of the free-loaders 'cause they're versatile & permit to carry a lot of different kinds of stuff.
    Personally, I use a system that I stole to Devo : 1 B.O.B Drysak in each free-loaders. It works just fine for me.
    But I share some of sfuller's ideas :
    - a rain flap would be very useful.
    - 5 straps.
    - for the internal pockets, I think 2 zipped pockets in each free-loaders would be nice.
    - a reflective strap on the side.

    Need to think about it...
    You know the poor skills of french people for foreign languages so please be indulgent with me !

  6. #6
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    I think more attachment points on the bottom of the bags would be useful for holding smaller, dense loads (i.e. cans of food) securely to the center line of the bike. The current (2011?) freeloaders only attach in 4 spots with straps - and it seems to me like they were designed for keeping the v-racks secured to the bike (a vertical tension), and not for preventing the bags from moving side to side (which would require horizontal tension). I hope this makes sense.

    Things I like about the current bags - I love how they stay out of the way if you have a passenger on the back. I also like the sling design with looong straps better than a defined "bag" because of the synergy it has with wideloaders. I barely need the wideloader straps at all because most of the time the slings and straps are more than sufficient for securing loads. The xtracycle "belt" and other accessories are also a great way to strap down strangely sized loads. I for one take pride as I pedal down the road with a very oddly shaped thing strapped to my bike, and the freeloader design really works with that.

    I'm looking forward to see what you can come up with.

  7. #7
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    I like the Yuba bags they seem to do a great job.But I have not use them nor do I have a set yet.But if you are going to make something maybe I need to see what you come up with.

  8. #8
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    IMO, One of their primary design flaws is that they pretty much just hang from the top. The straps/buckles also attach at the top. So they tend to "swing" out from the bike and/or rattle around a bit. I think this design may have come from making them super compatible with any bike using an XtraCycle FreeRadical attachment. They've since made some half measures to fix this that don't work amazingly well (two small straps at the diagonal corner to attach to the lower frame).

    However, with the big dummy you can design frame bags that are much more stable on the bike. You know where all the frame tubes are and can use that to your advantage. First, I was thinking about a "circumference strap" that goes around the back end near the bottom of the free loaders. This would hold the bottom ends tight to the bike and eliminate the swinging. This could even be removable by just having "belt loops" around the bags so you can feed through a cam-strap when needed. You could also add a small velcro loop strap on the back of the bags in the center area to hold them onto the frame - more measures to eliminate swinging or movement.

    The current freeloaders are also the worst combination of waterproofing possible. The inside bottom is water proof with only one drainage hole in the center with a non-sloped base. ie: you can pool like a cup of water in their and it'll never drain/dry out. (Maybe this is because they are designed in southern california and I'm in the pacific north west? ) It either needs a lid flap to help shed water, or much better drainage design on the bottom. Other cargo bike companies are now producing bags like these with lid flaps. (Yuba Mundo and Kona UTE both have bags). If you are really crafty you could make the lid optional by lowering the buckles on the outside of the free loaders and having the lid go across the deck to both side. Then it could be removed when not in "commuting mode" to save weight.

    Last but not least, the "wide loaders" that can optionally attach to the bike are kind of one size fits all and quite wide actually for anything less than an 80L duffel bag or huge cargo. I was going to have some smaller/lighter wideloaders made that only stick out the depth of a pannier, maybe 6". Then you could build a "slip on pouch" into the bottom of the new freeloaders that would allow for an optional support platform, optional stiffners, or removed when and left empty when in lightweight/no cargo mode.

    Anybody else share any of my gripes?


    I'm excited to see what a community of real-world experience + scott felter's skilled craftsmanship can produce! I'm totally going to order some up when we get the concept flushed out a bit!

  9. #9
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    Oh yah, I like the reflective patch that is on velcro idea! (Good call @sfuller!) Velcro on the reflector for the daily commute, but removable when you're out in the wild and like the pure looks of your kit.

    Also I find the internal pockets of the free loaders to be inconvenient. They have quite a bit of velcro and are hard to open without removing any/all cargo you have in the bag. (Maybe I just need to get some frame bags and say forget the freeloader internal pockets altogether?)

    Right now I keep my flat repair stuff (pump, tube, patch kit) in the free loader internal pouches because anything I access more regularly than that would be annoying. Maybe the internal pouches should be split into 2 or 3 (maybe even 2 on onside and 3 on the other for diversity of pocket sizes?) and be zippered at the top. This would let you access them more easily than a flap with 2" velcro. And really the biggest thing I put in there is my pump which is probably about a foot long or so.

    What do other people put in those internal pouches of the free loaders?

  10. #10
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    I'd like to add another strap or two to each end to make the bags close, without the mesh.

    Reflective strips along the length.

    Small zippered pocket on the bottom of the bag, for tools/flat repair without needing to unload.

    Perhaps a sling setup for the inside, that functions as the interior pocket, but can be removed and snapped to the outside for really really big loads.
    Jason
    Disclaimer: www.paramountsports.net

  11. #11
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    Another cool option would be a dedicated space to store 1 wideloader in each bag. I like to keep my wideloaders in the freeloader bags all the time "just in case".

  12. #12
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    Well, I use my Dummy for kid transport mostly and I've got a few peeves and thoughts about the xtra bags.
    . If you use a child seat in anything other than the full forward position (looking up your crack) it greatly cuts down the your carrying ability and flexibility as you can't tighten the front strap easily and the feet of the seat interfere with cargo. If you've got larger cargo you often need to loosen all three straps to get it to fit. My kid doesn't like the full forward position and I'm not a fan of it either. Though she does like to pull on my shirt and stick her hands down my pants when riding. The best position for riding seems to be about 1/3 of the way back which puts the legs of the seat right above the front buckle, this puts her feet in the middle of cargo or pins the fabric down.

    . If you're carrying lots of small things on the bike the interior pockets are too big/not divided. On the dummy all the time are, plastic bags, bungee cords, multi-tool, tire levers, lock, pump, patch kit, toys, first aid kit, gloves, hats and some snacks. If all of these are in one large pocket, or split between the pockets, it makes a huge mess and is a big pain to find what you're looking for. Ideally I'd have U-lock storage and some smaller pockets rather than two large interior pockets, a smaller compartment for tools. It's great that they're hidden though.

    . Something reflective on the back and sides. I'm thinking of sewing some reflective tape or something to the sides and have 2 lights and a triangle on the back. It would be nice if something were integrated rather than a big patch of black cloth. It makes me a bit nervous at night.

    . Removability. It's easier to take the rack and platform off than remove the freeloaders. I'd like to have a bit more flexibility and be able to pare down the dummy easier. I've got other bikes, but it'd be nice to use the dummy as something other than the minivan.

    . A horizontal strap along the back to secure large loads. When carrying big stuff I've worried about bags falling out the back.

    I like the sling type bag as it allows a great flexibility with cargo. I usually carry a kid + her stuff + push bike + groceries or shopping but have carried luggage for our whole family for vacation and I'll probably get dry bags and go bike camping with the family next year. I'm not sure that another type of closure would be as flexible. The everyday load is a timbuk2 bag & push bike or the messenger bag & 2 bags of groceries. These fit pretty easily. I don't really care about waterproofing as I tend to pack my gear in waterproof bags, but better drainage would be nice.

  13. #13
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    Hey Scott when do you think you will have something we might like hope it's soon if you make it it's got to be good from what I hear.

  14. #14
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    Who said it was me?

    It will be a bit. I have to build a prototype, and have some reputable hardcore Dummys beat on them first.

    Thanks for the props though, I do appreciate that!

    These are all amazing, well-though-out comments here. Some great food for thought! Keep 'em coming!

    Thanks guys!
    Scott

  15. #15
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    Scott...

    I use my freeloaders in several ways... I like the dump and strap nature of the original design, and would hate to loose that functionality.

    That said, for a lot of what I do (running kids and groceries), something a little more structured would help carry thing like groceries.

    I saw some custom bags on flickr from mountain soles and really liked them:

    Xtracycle Bag v 2.0 (Nov. 2008) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Xtracycle Bag v 2.0 (Nov. 2008) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    But what I would also do is include, like many camera bags include a rain cover, in the bottom a more traditional "cargo flap" for when you carry crap that just doesn't fit in the bags...

    I would like mine in blue to match my dummy. But man, sewing the elwire back into a new set will take some time

    g

  16. #16
    Devo
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    hey Mollie!

    I like the monster messenger bag method.
    when I use the V-Racks, I'm most apt to also use WideLoaders.
    It seems to me that I try to avoid the sling load method by using the FreeLoaders, simply because I don't like having things sway around. Instead I like to secure things into a BOB trailer bag, and lay it onto a WideLoader, and strap it down.

    in that line of thinking
    I've often wondered of a messenger bag type/duffel bag/BOB trailer type of box bag, with the soft side of velcro on it, and the hook side being onto the WideLoaders/V-rack. thinking that the weight in the bags would probably keep it in place, especially if using super strong Velcro.

    compartments into the likes of the FreeLoaders, seems like a great idea, however, compartments can become very specific.
    in that notion: maybe compartments/straps to accommodate common bag sizes.
    i.e. backpacks and messenger bags.

    thereby making it easier to simply use your bag of choice, and having a place in the FreeLoader to secure it.

    aka: civilian version MOLLE gear: MOLLE - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  17. #17
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    My thoughts:

    *Squared off bottom, maybe 12" or so?
    *Ditch the mesh, solid fabric up maybe 12" or so, with 2 or 3 staps up the rest of the way. *Maybe stretchy fabric for the short side panels?
    *oversized top 'messenger' flap.
    *waterproof or heavy canvas?

    Ideally, if not overpacked, you'd be able to close everything up to keep 'most' of the weather out. Still expandable for overfilling, but more structured. The shapeless bottom of the freeloaders crush groceries and anything else not in a rigid container. Sure, you can secure anything, as long as you don't mind crushing it at the same time. Something that gained a little support from the wide loader or extended footsies (running boards?) would be sweet, but if it were self supporting it would be even better. I can't run wide loaders on both sides if I'm pulling the chariot.

    Oh yeah, add some frame ties in the middle as well, instead of just the corners. Reflective striping, doesn't need to be removable for me...

    Interested to see what comes out, if you need a Midwestern tester, let me know..

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good eh!

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