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Musings

How to move by bike

By February 28, 2018 No Comments

When I saw someone moving a mattress on a bike, I said to myself “this guy knows what he’s doing.”

Moving a mattress in Amsterdam

I recently moved to a new home in Amsterdam. But with a two-week overlap before handing the keys back over to my old place, I decided I was going to move as much stuff over as feasibly possible. The one plus is there would be a small savings in time and money when the moving company does it all. But there is the added bonus of satisfaction knowing it’s another small victory for the bicycle.

I did about 25 trips in total with each being less than a kilometer ride. I carried one or two boxes at time, unpacked them and headed back with the empties. In doing so, I was (for the most part) able to get ahead of the game by organizing any pre-moving squalor.

Moving stuff by bike is nothing unique in Amsterdam. Ideally, one would use a transport bike to do a proper job. But all you need is a rack on your ride and you’re good to go. Here are my 5 tips for anyone who wants to move by bike.

5 tips to move by bike

1. Double kickstand

The most important factor when moving by bike begins when standing still. I use a Ursus Jumbo kickstand with a 45 cm spread. The wide stance isn’t just useful but practically necessary as it will keep the bike centered so you don’t have to do a balancing act when loading things on top.

Ursus Jumbo Double Kickstand

2. Bike with bungee

You got to love bungees. These cheap elastic cords are a quick and easy way to secure objects without the hassle of tying knots. They’re also well suited to absorb shock when riding over speed bumps and potholes. 

Bike with bungee

3. Work the angles

The ideal situation is to have a front rack that is attached to the downtube to prevent you from tipping over when turning. But having a rack attached to the front wheel has its advantages, as most versions can be adjusted on an angle to keep the boxes properly weighted. By simply doing this I could skip the previous tip in some cases and ride without using bungee cords.

Bicycle front rack

4. Watch the weight

The width of the bike rack will in most cases be smaller than whatever you’re carrying. It works great if you want to move chairs or furniture with legs. But if there is a lot of overhang, it’s important to centre the weight. This is something to keep in mind when packing boxes and suitcases. 

5. Use gears

I used a single-speed which made it feel like I’m starting foot deep in mud when I had 70 Ibs. of steel chairs on the front rack. This would be a nuisance during rush hour traffic or when you have to stop for lights. Even a three-gear bicycle would be a big help with a heavy load.  

Bike shifter

No post about moving in Amsterdam is complete without mentioning the traditional way of doing it. Here is a clip of going out the window.

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