When packing for our bicycle tour around the world, I knew that having my guitar with me would be great to meet new people, animate some nights and have some time on my own. But how to carry it?
I searched the web looking for ideas from other travellers to carry a guitar while bicycle touring. I saw some of them using a trolley, others carried it on top of the back panniers and a few even had it in one of the front panniers in a vertical position.
Honestly, none of these options convinced me at all.
I wanted to protect it from the jarring of the road and at the same time to carry it in a way that didn’t interfere with cycling. In short: if it was going to be a pain, I was probably going to end up ditching it.
IT’S NOT HEAVY BUT BULKY
You might think the main problem is the weight. But I’m carrying many other things on my bike that are heavier than the guitar. The real problem is the size. To carry such a bulky and delicate instrument, I needed to find a good way to transport it where I could cycle in a comfortable position and not damage the guitar.
IT CAN PRODUCE A LOT OF RESISTANCE
Some of the systems I found on the internet seemed to affect the aerodynamics. Once, I even met a cyclist who carried his guitar on his back and he dreaded every downhill because of the added resistance of the guitar. I’m one of those fellows who thinks that downhills are there to be enjoyed!
So the pieces of the puzzle started to fit in. In order to reduce the resistance, the guitar should go on the back of the bicycle. If placed on a vertical position, my body could protect it from the wind. The other option would be to have it horizontal, but it would stick too far on the back.
WHAT SIZE SHOULD I CARRY?
Another option I had was to carry a travel-size guitar. It would be smaller and easier to fit on the bike but it changes the way you play. I personally hate travel guitars. I find them very annoying to play. I decided that if I was going to make the effort of carrying an instrument, it should be one I was happy to play. In my case, a full-size classical guitar.
MY WAY: BUILDING A RACK FOR IT
With the help of my good friend John, we started to design the rack. We wanted it to be light, resistant and durable. We decided to use steel. It would be heavier than aluminium but it would be easier to find someone on the road who could weld steel in case it needs a repair.
For the design, we opted to use the existing rear rack and built an extension for it. A simple triangle model would do the job. It was a very low-cost project at the end. The materials cost around 20 dollars (steel bars and some clamps) plus a few beers for my friend for helping me out with the welding part.
SO, AM I HAPPY WITH IT?
The rack has been working great so far. I don’t even notice I am carrying a guitar while I cycle. Also, because of its vertical position, it’s perfect to stick things into it like a spare tire, a helmet or even laundry!
The only downside is the weight. Steel is heavy so the rack alone weights around 2 kgs. But the fact that I can get it fixed pretty much anywhere if it gets broken is assuring.
check out julien, he is also traveling with musical instruments http://www.julienmueller.com/voicycle
Nice. I didn’t know him. Thanks for the link!
Nice idea! I guess an additional weight is bearable than a strong resistance. So, your way of bringing the guitar is pretty good.
Absolutely. I don’t mind carrying a couple of extra pounds for a more resistant system. 😉
Hi! could you post some more pictures of it? not from behind, but side pics, where we could see better how it’s mounted the rack and the guitar on the bike… =)
thanks and great idea!!
Sure, I will make sure to upload some side pics 😉
Back in the 1960s my girlfriend’s father made me a great guitar carrier, which was essentially a triangular aluminium frame with a “foot” bent out at the bottom to support the weight. The carrier was strapped to the bike frame, and to attach the guitar you just had to wrap a bungee around the frame and the waist of the guitar.
No criticism of the steel carrier is intended, I think it is a good way to go for durability. Just wanted to say a simple carrier can be made with cheap, light materials like aluminium, stainless steel or even plywood sheet. You may decide to use your best guitar but I’d recommend a smaller, cheaper one in a soft case, as a hard case is more cumbersome and makes more drag.
Great tips, Tom.
The main advantage I see with the steel is that it can be welded easily if it breaks down. This is particularly useful if traveling in developing areas. But yes, it’s heavier than the options you mention.
Thanks a lot for your input!
I play my Fender Stratocaster as I ride, with the guitar plugged into a battery-powered amplifier that is strapped to the rear rack of the bicycle. I have done this many tens of thousands of miles since the early 1980s riding the same vintage Schwinn the whole time. Check “The Bicycling Guitarist” YouTube channel. For the most up to date info on what I am doing check my Facebook page.
Nice story. Thanks for sharing it!
I myself am a musician going on a 1200 mile charity bike tour playing shows for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and have been searching for the best way to travel on my bike with my guitar and yours looks the best yet! The trailers seem like the easy way albeit expensive and adds weight and drag. I also thought of using a gun rack mount that I’ve seen for sale that could be modified for a guitar. Thanks for posting this, if I can find someone who works with steel in time I might give your design a go especially for the wind resistance factor.
Just one tip if you go for this design. Go as simple as possible. Try not to “wrap around the guitar” with steel and any bump on the road might damage it.
thanks for the tip! i’ll be working on it this week. cheers!
How much does your guitar and case weigh? I’m interested in this design, but my brass guitar with its case weighs about 35 pounds and I’m fearful that that may put me in wheelie mode more often than I’d prefer.
My guitar and case are pretty lightweight. The guitar+case all together weights around 2-3kg (5-7 pounds)
Hi Antonio, Thanks brother for sharing this process, it will surely help me to carry my guitar while travelling. Keep posting more useful articles 🙂
You are welcome, Jeetu.
Glad you liked the article!
Great idea. I have been trying to connive a way to bring my Taylor GS Mini on tour. This may just be the thing. I have the same pannier racks as well. Thanks for sharingAntonio. You are quite clever.
Great.. thaks for sharing valuable article
I recently began taking guitar lessons. I have a soft gig bag case with 2 shoulder straps. so I can carry it centered on your back. but this seems great solution and it’s wonderful not to have the guitar on my back. I must try this one. Thanks for sharing
Hrm, building your own rack for it is an interesting idea. I was leaning more towards just a simple trailer, but now you’ve got the wheels turning in my head. Thanks, mate!
Building a rack is a good idea, how weight is your bike after you packed?
Nice idea and great tips!
Just what I was looking for.
I love how you searched for a solution to a problem, and when you couldn’t find one, improvised your own! Very clever and from the pics it looks like this was a perfect fit.
Interesting decision between steel and aluminum, I probably would have went with the lighter option but your reasoning makes sense and I’m sure it’s not a major issue either way.