Should you be using a bike bag?
If you're a regular bike to work commuter or you like to take the occasional weekend ride into the town or the countryside, then you'll have seen that other riders use a variety of methods of carrying their spare clothes, purses, locks and tools; you'll see panniers, rucksacks, bar bags, shoulder bags - even the occasional carrier bag hung over the handlebars.
So, assuming that you do want to take things with you on your journeys, what is the best way to carry 'stuff'? What is the safest, most sensible way to move those little essentials that we take with us on every journey? For starters, carrier bags are neither sensible nor safe - the extra weight on one handlebar will upset the balance of the bike and there is always the chance that the hanging bag will get caught in the wheel or the steering and cause you to fall. No, carrier bags are never a good idea.
Rucksacks? Well, at first sight they look quite useful - the weight is central and they can carry a large volume of items; some of them are even made for cycling. But, if you think about how high they are from the ground (which alters your centre of gravity when riding), and then account for the fact that you have all the weight on you - so not on the bike, but on you, your shoulders - then they don't seem, such a good idea. Surely the best way to carry anything is to put it in a bag attached to the bike - low down and central where it will least affect the balance of the bike?
Bike bags which fix to the bike come in a variety of shapes and sizes and you can always buy the one perfect for your needs - a small bike bag for the handlebar where you can put your purse and phone; panniers which come in twos and sit either side of your wheel to balance the weight in the best possible way; travel bags for those who want to travel with their bike even further field by train or plane; frame bags for cross country travellers. Not only is it easy to attach these bags to your bike, they are easily removable when you stop.
All of the bike bags mentioned above use the strength of your bike to actually do the carrying - there are no sore necks and shoulders or sweaty backs. The bike remains far more controllable and you only take the size of bag you need for the journey.
For those riders that ride the neat little Brompton bikes, there are even a variety of Brompton Bags designed to fit your machine. Take a look at the bicycle bags and accessories section and see just what you choices are. Getting yourself a properly designed bike bag that fits to your bike will make your journey so much more pleasurable and safe.