Introduction: Flexible Side Bags for Longtail Cargo Bikes

Longtail Cargo bikes are very versatile, more so if you use open side bags. This instructable covers how to retrofit inexpensive "open sling side bags" to a longtail bicycle, in this case the Justlong model made by italian Company Bicicapace. Closed bag versions are also around, i find open slings work best.

I have verified the retrofit on the Justlong model with X1 or X2 bags and you are welcome to comment your suggestions, i will update this instructable irregularly.

There is very little Information online on how to retrofit bags, if your producer doesn't offer some or official bags don't fit your requirements or are too expensive. I therefore want to draw your attention to the company Xtracycle, which sells cargo bikes and cargo bike frame kits. Xtracycle offer a wide range of bags from first generation X1 to third generation X3. Sadly X1 are discontinued, nevertheless they are the most flexibly suitable for retrofitting non-Xtracycle Longtails. The X1 sling bags come in two sizes. The "Free Radical" version for 26" longtails and the "Edgerunner" version for the smaller 20" longtails. If your Bicycle already has a vertical wheel skirt or you only want the slings, then the current "X3 Slingset" is very suitable for retrofitting.

Materials needed for the retrofit on a Justlong longtail:

  • one pair of "X1 sling bags" by Xtracycle. (~100 USD new, ~70 USD second hand) or one pair of "X3 SlingSet" (~50 USD new)
  • 2 metal tubes, preferable aluminium or coated steel, outer diameter ~8 mm, inner diameter ~ 6mm, min. 60 cm each
  • 4 re-usable/releaseable zip ties
  • 1 m of strong cord

Some items (feet type, attachment hardware and attachment type) will vary on the type of your bicycle.

Step 1: Upper Rail for the Bag Mount

Xtracyle X1 sling bags are built for a longtails whose rails can be disassembled (see video), threrefore a small hack via an additional horizontal rail is typically necessary for retrofitting.

At first, open the X1 sling bags completely. The top mount is easily done by inserting an 60 cm tube below the cargo bike plattform and through the bag top holes at the same time. Do not fix them yet, zip ties will come into after the correct position is set.

Xtracycle X3 SlingSet does not need that top rail, because it does not include the wheelskirts. (see Video)

Step 2: Fixing the Upper Straps

The X1 slings have one strap at the back -> tie it loosely arount the last horizontal deck tube. It also has one strap at the front -> make an attachment to the front end of the deck inside the two seat stays. Then tighten the first mentioned strap at the back.

The X3 SlingSets don't have upper straps, only the 3 slings.

Step 3: Fixing the Lower Straps

The X1 bags in the Pictures have two lower straps. Bind those around the two chain stays at the front and arount the running board tube at the back.

The X3 SlingSets come with two velcro lower Clips, mount those at the same points and fix them with some rope.

Step 4: Zip Tieing the Upper Rail

When all upper and lower straps are tightened, push the upper rail into ist final position and fix it with four reusable zip ties in a cross-pattern. Move their ends downwards and outwards in order to have a clean upper deck.

Step 5: Top Clips and Ready to Load

At the end, position the top velcro clips for the sling attachment on the top deck tube. Make sure that the position of the three clips corresponds to the position of the slings on the bag.

Now you are ready to go, hauling whatever the bags can take. If you haul bigger stuff, simply load it on the cargo bike without using the bag, it will simply dissapear below the cargo.

Do you know other non-official working Bag-Bike combinations? let me know. happy riding!