Whenever my husband asks me to "pick up a couple of bottles of wine" while shopping, I get surly. My favorite bike panniers are, without exception, NOT well equipped to handle heavy, glass bottles that may shift in flight. That's why the idea of Chang Chen-Wei and Chang Chi-Zhi's Somerset bike, with its built-in shopping "purse" is desirable in theory...if perhaps not in practice. The Somerset, which grabbed a Silver award at the recent Taiwan International Bicycle Design show, is specifically designed for urban cyclists looking for a carrier bag integrated with a fold-up bike. But will it work?The Somerset prototype in the photos, according to its designers, uses rounded - instead of straight - tubes. The rounded tube drops down when the bike is folded up and leave the attached shoping bag dangling, and the rest of the bike able to be pushed forward like a dolly. These folding backs that convert to dolly/trolleys seemed to be the darlings of the 2011 Taiwan show.
Though I have been on the lookout for a folding bike, one of their main drawbacks is the lack of a back rack, making any shopping of shlepping you need to do while riding destined to be carried on your back. That makes the Somerset intriguing, but perhaps not quite practical enough. For one, the attached bag is generally both too small and the wrong shape to carry much - keys, wallet and phone, yes, but not the bottles of wine and milk, loaf of bread, and hunks of cheese or heads of lettuce that constitute daily grocery shopping.
All the way back in the 1890's bike designers played around with attaching carrying bags to a bicycle's top frame tube (though usually it was underneath the top bar) in order to help cyclists easily carry their belongings. Round-the-world cyclists William Sachtleben and Thomas Allen featured in David Herlihy's The Lost Cyclist had a special boxy carrying case attached to their bikes, but they certainly wouldn't carry groceries very well.
But these require, as noted, a back rack,
so they won't work with a fold-up bicycle. Some folder bikes such as Dahon and Brompton (as noted by commenter below) do have rack attachments. Somerset is still an intriguing idea that deserves more development.
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