Commuting with Laptop and hard drive-
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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Commuting with Laptop and hard drive

    Hey everyone,

    First post here.. I've read up on a bunch of threads but haven't quite found the right information.

    I'm just starting to use my beloved '98 Rocky Mountain Soul to commute down to my work. Today was the first ride and us I used an otherwise comfortable laptop backpack, but even on this short-ish 10km commute, I can feel strain on my lower back and crotch (ugh...). I would like to bring my laptop back and forth from work, along with an external hard drive. I run a small recording studio and I use the laptop and hard drive as a form of off-site backup. Combined they weigh about 13 lbs / 6 kg. I frequently bring other miscellaneous items around as well like spindles of blank CD-Rs etc. Anyway, the usual total weight is about 25 pounds / 12 kg.

    i have found this rack: Filzer Rear Pannier Rack
    And this collapsible basket: Folding Basket
    And I figure i'll just toss my backpack as-is into it on commutes....

    The thing is I'd also like to be able to take the whole rack off easily for regular trail riding... Anything better than this idea?

  2. #2
    A mean teen...
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    This is a QR rack but only holds a maximum of 9KGs.

  3. #3
    ...a wiggle theres a way
    Reputation: wiggy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    i will second the topeak racks they make a wonderful product i am currently using this rack on my commuter road bike, and my grocery getting mountain bike

    i use the MTX TRUNKBAG dxp and it is awesome, i just recently picked up this for my laptop and it works awesome

    there system is very cool because you simply slide it into the slot, it clicks in and is very stable and secure - with the trunk bag they also give you a raincover for your notebook.

    its a little more expensive than some of the other racks and bags, but i have used my trunk bag for a year and half carrying 30 pounds of stuff to and from work and it looks great still, the laptop bag i've only had for two months but it rocks!!!

    i highly suggest it


  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    I would actually recommend that you buy a solid state backup device for transport and keep your external hdd at home. Most audio files are not very large and a 15+GB thumb drive can be had for pretty cheap.

    Vibration is not a mechanical hard drive's friend, if a head crashes into a platter you're pretty much screwed you may be able to pay someone a lot of money to recover what's not destroyed. Add in the possibility of dumping your bike and that could be a bad situation.

    Preferably find and online backup and buy a laptop with a solid state drive.

    As far as transporting gear is concerned I prefer to have my stuff with me, and I've been very happy with my Chrome messenger bag, it keeps my things dry and can be accessed without removal.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Homebrew7; 06-06-2009 at 11:08 PM.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    if a head crashes into a platter you're pretty much screwed you may be able to pay someone a lot of money to recover what's not destroyed.
    Shhh.... I like getting money for recovering data. It's expensive because its very time consuming, and the good recovery software is $4k a license!

    Homebrew is right tho - I never carry drives or even laptops on my bike. If I really need to physically bring anything I have a 32GB stick. I use a VPN client on my home machine so I can get in to my work machine, drives, etc. should I need to.

    If you must carry them, the drive and laptop would be much safer on your back as they were - with your butt, spine, etc. taking the brunt of the vibrations. In a pannier (even a padded one) you're passing the vibration on much more directly.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Get a quality messenger bag.

    BAH! I've carried laptops and external hard drives on my motorcycle and bicycle for years and never once had a failure. I'll either carry it in my Timbuk2 messenger bag (in a padded sleeve), or in my motorcycle's Givi bags (again, in a padded sleeve). They get bumped, jostled, vibrated. With the HDD parked, there are no worries. Just make sure your laptop is in hibernation mode before you take off with it. (I've seen laptops go active from sleep mode... mostly to go into hibernation mode, which runs the HDD.) The problem is when the HDD is running, that is when the plater can get scratched by the read/write head, not while it is parked and shut down.

    For the OP: When I was 18 I commuted for a few years when I was a college student with a backpack, and also used my backpack for part time messenger work and I did get some discomfort (nothing like carrying a 60 - 80 lb rucksack when I was in the Army though, but that's another subject). Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend a quality messenger bag over a backpack, any day. They are so much more comfortable.

    I purchased a Timbuk2 large 'classic' bag 7 years ago, used it daily on my motorcycle to go from work to night classes to the gym with all kinds of textbooks, laptop, extra clothes, lunch, etc packed in it daily, and it still is in beautiful condition. I've also used it on my bicycle rides when carrying some gear, like for a picnic with the family, and even prefer it for day hikes over my various assorted backpacks and rucksacks I have in the closet. I also regularily use it for a carry-on bag when flying and as my 'briefcase'. Sadly, my job is too far away to ride my bicycle to (40 miles one way), but if I was commuting to work on my bicycle, it would be with the Timbuk2. I've ridden with it on in pouring rain on my motorcycle on the highway and my gear stayed dry inside too.... good waterproof liner.

    In the past when commuting to school with my bicycle I got a rack / pannier packs setup to get away from using the backpack, and while it was nice for taking the load of several heavy textbooks, it was a bit of a PITA to load and unload when you go to take off and arrive. A messenger bag solves that problem.

    Finally, your laptop will suffer from more road vibration when mounted to the bike than it will when in a messenger bag. Seriously, check them out. Timbuk2 bags

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: megafrenzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Laptop HDs are really durable, I wouldn't even worry about it unless your laptop is on.If you are worried about it, check out the toughbooks. My F8 Toughbook can take a 4ft drop while powered up!

    On another note, I've had a Win XP computer running in my car for 4 years with the same 80GB 3.5" HDD - over 60K miles with the laptop streaming MP3s, no shock mounting or anything. Still working fine.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    I have a neoprene sleeve for my work laptop, and then stuff that into a pannier. I hope this never happens again, but the pannier did go flying one time when I hit a bump at 20+mph and the laptop came up aces. Whew. Good thing I wasn't getting tailgated by a bus...

  9. #9
    I'm feeling dirty, you?
    Reputation: jonowee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Which specific backpack are you using?
    How's the fit of bike?

    I'm thinking if it's a proper load carrying backpack, it should have good waist belt-straps that relocates the strain onto your hips.
    Then the issue of bike fit, could the riding position be a little more upright maybe with a shorter stem to place the weight more on your cushy bum.

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