Brendan 1 of our Ambassador families (find him here) has written a great piece on how tp prepare on shopping with your Urban Arrow bike:
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and do the weekly grocery shop with the Urban Arrow, but you don’t know where to start? Here are some things to think about when you’re starting out and how we usually do our shopping trips. Preparation First thing is to find a route to the shops where…
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and do the weekly grocery shop with the Urban Arrow, but you don’t know where to start? Here are some things to think about when you’re starting out and how we usually do our shopping trips.
First thing is to find a route to the shops where you feel comfortable riding. A bit of local knowledge comes in handy here, if you already ride in the area then you’re one step ahead! If not, there are plenty of websites and apps to help with route planning – Open Cycle Map (shown below), Google Maps Cycling Layer, Strava and Komoot are ones that we use. Check they are not routing you onto busy roads, steep hills or tight corners that aren’t suitable for cargo bikes – Google Street View can help you do a quick preview. Wind your way through back streets, even if it takes another 5 minutes for the detour.
Another thing to consider is whether you’ll have your kids or not, as this can change your cargo arrangements. With one or two kids on the bench you’ll be able to fit a lot up the front of the box (approximately 400mm x 400mm footprint). If you have a capsule/kids up front or if you just need to carry more groceries, consider using pannier bags – standard ones work just fine and as a bonus they will clip onto the shopping trolley!
Also, be prepared for all weather situations. The Box Cover (flat tonneau) or Rain Cover (clear cover for kids) will stop your load getting soaked in the rain, don’t forget a rain jacket for yourself as well. Under the hot summer sun, the Box Cover or Sun Cover (sun shade for kids) will stop your veggies from wilting and your ice cream from melting.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure your tyres and brakes are ready to carry the extra cargo. With our Urban Arrow unloaded we typically run tyre pressures at 35psi front / 40psi rear, but with a passenger and shopping we will increase it to 40/45psi. Check your brake pads still have enough meat left (you should do this every ride anyway), heavier loads will wear out pads quicker.
Once you get to the shops, you’ll need to find somewhere to park – most supermarkets have huge car parks but limited space for bike parking. If you’re going to your regular supermarket you can scope it out beforehand, sometimes you can even check on Google Street View. A good parking spot will be right near the entrance or in a high traffic area (not hidden away in the back of a carpark), with secure bike loops or another solid object to lock to. This applies to almost any situation where you need to park the bike out of your sight for a period of time. Also, try to find somewhere flat and with good access for loading your groceries, this will help later on! Lock your frame securely with a D-lock and/or security chain, don’t forget your front wheel as well if it is a quick release skewer.
Try a small shop first, if you’ve run out of milk or cat litter this is a great opportunity to practise and check out the facilities. Even better to do a small practise run when you’re not in a rush, take your time and even combine with a trip to the park or a Cafe. Reducing our reliance on cars for these small trips are going to make the biggest difference, and they are the easiest to do!
Also take note of parking alternatives, in case the best spot is taken. If you’ve found 2 or 3 different routes, check these out to see if one works better than the others. You might find one more scenic, less traffic or less hilly, making the journey more enjoyable.
The Urban Arrow has a huge cargo box with 125kg capacity, so you can carry almost anything you can fit in a shopping trolley. General rule of thumb is to load the solid/heavy stuff as low as possible and keep pannier contents light as this can affect the handling.
We like to use a tub or crate to contain bulky and heavy things like drinks, tinned food, rice, etc. in the cargo box. A couple of canvas bags for veggies and other odd-shaped items can sit on top. We use a cooler bag as well, this can go on the bench if there is room or put in the crate as well.
Panniers are best filled with light items. We’ll usually put things like salad leaves, bread and coffee beans in here. You could also hold bulky but light items like toilet paper and nappies to the top of the rack with some cambuckle straps.
If you haven’t ridden with a heavy load before, it takes a little getting used to. Get a good hold of the handlebars before you retract the kickstand, then give it a decent push forward to get the wheels on the ground. Make use of the Bosch “Walk Assist” mode – press the WALK button on the controller (either top of bottom edge depending on model) and then hold the + button. This is great when you have to push up a footpath to get going, you can adjust the gears to match your speed.
Select an easy low gear and a decent level of motor assist to start off – TURBO mode is very addictive but even SPORT will give you a hand off the line. Once you’re moving you’ll notice straight away that the steering is heavier yet still smooth and steady. This is the advantage of a bakfiets style cargo bike where the load is low and between the wheels, the handling doesn’t change significantly. Some users actually like the Urban Arrow better with a load, as the front doesn’t bounce over bumps as much.
Once the Urban Arrow is up to speed it is pretty effortless but be aware a loaded bike will take longer to stop – keep your eyes up and leave a little bit of extra room to stop. You’ll quickly get used to riding with a load, just remember to take it easy and not hit those bumps too fast.
We hope these tips and tricks have helped out, grocery shopping is so much more fun by bike. Remember you can always start with smaller trips to get your confidence up, once you’re hooked you will want to do everything with the Urban Arrow!