Ever Tried Juggling Violins?

September 4, 2005 at 08:43 PM · I am taking some classes at Cleveland Institute of Music this year, but I live about half an hour's walk from the building. Considering that I am having to make the round trip about twice a day, I am thinking about getting a bike. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to carry both a large, heavy backpack and a violin while riding a bike? I can't get a locker at the school.

Replies (34)

September 4, 2005 at 08:58 PM · I go to Conservatory in bike, so I brought a new violin case (to put the books, the sheets and of course the violin). I brought a BAM case, the model explorer for 200€, in a year I haven't any problem and it's very confortable.

September 4, 2005 at 09:49 PM · Two words; duct tape.


September 4, 2005 at 10:16 PM · Try getting back baskets for your bike. Don't get the black folding ones; they're flimsy. Instead, I recommend the non-folding ones; more sturdy. You'll have to take some stuff out of your backpack to make the backpack fit in one of the baskets and thus some books in the other. Then you'll be able to "wear" your violin case (do you have backpack straps on it?) and also transport your backpack.

September 4, 2005 at 10:46 PM · If it didn't have straps, I'd clip it onto the bike with those carabiners you see everywhere. It would work, and more importantly, it would look cool.

September 5, 2005 at 03:21 AM · Hmmm, I'll have to look into those ideas. Love it, Natasha! :-) Where on the bike would I attach the carabiners? Wouldn't they throw the bike off balence?

September 5, 2005 at 04:23 AM · Wherever you put everything, it needs to be evenly balanced. Also, consider that oddly placed weight on your back can do permanent damage to it. They make special packs for cyclists.

September 5, 2005 at 04:21 AM · I've seen two getups.

One is a backpack type getup, where you put a bag over your case, or you get a case with backpack straps. You would have to put your backpack in a basket. You can have two in the back and one in the front (folding and the cheesy basket across the handlebars ^_^)

The other method is to get a rack and cargo net for you bike. Put the violin on the rack, perpendicular to the bike. Bungee cord and cargo net the case securely to the rack. You have to be careful while riding to avoid bumping the case while riding

September 5, 2005 at 04:45 AM · Okay - good suggestions. Another [unimportant] thing, am I going to look like a total geek or "uncool" with all this paraphanelia hanging everywhere? Or will I have fond memories years later of heroically attempting to cross my huge campus with all my stuff?

September 5, 2005 at 04:57 AM · My roommate says I need a cannon or catapult to shoot myself across campus. Does anyone know where I could get this?

(Thanks Nilani)

September 5, 2005 at 04:54 AM · It's not the stuff memories are made of. Just be a troop.

September 5, 2005 at 09:44 AM · I would put the bookbag in a 'granny basket' on the front of your bike, and strap the violin (like a bookbag) to your body. That way, if you spill, the violin is most protected and the books can fly as they will.....

September 6, 2005 at 02:58 PM · Don't worry about the geek thing. If you ride a bike at all, you are already a geek ;-0. I have not only carried all sorts of stuff while on I bike, I have even dragged stuff. I once found a 20 foot long piece of aluminum that was too good to pass up, and I dragged it about 5 miles.

Any more than 2 pounds up at the handlebars can make steering difficult. I don't like front baskets for that reason--especially in traffic.

If you get a real pannier rack for the back, you can even get a pannier (bag) that will go on/off the rack and have a backpack function. Contrary to popular myth, you can balance just fine with a pannier on only one side.

I would back-pack the violin, too.

The other day, I had to take my violin 4 miles on my bike. I simply strapped it onto the outside of my Jansport Equinox 33 by using the belly straps. I reaved them through the handle of the violin (it is a very stout handle and a fiberglass case). The violin was suspended from the outside of my backpack, and the jansport is very comfortable. A hint: you don't ever need the belly straps when bike riding, so using them for lashing things to the outside is not detracting from the pack's function.

I am a long-time bike commuter and so the pack is a very important piece of equipment. I ride 16 miles a day but used to commute 50 miles round-trip. I love the pannier approach, especially in summer when your back gets sweaty. Yet being an ex road racer it is hard to accept having it there....

Since you are only going 2 miles each way you have a less critical issue, buy you still do not want to strain your back. But if you go pack-shopping, be sure to try them on. Put some weight in them and sit on your bike or in that position, to see how it feels. (Go to REI or EMS or someplace that has a selection of real packs--it is worth it--or to a bike shop that has real touring gear like panniers). Be sure that the padding on the straps will actually work while in biking position (it doesn't always work out that way!). Also be sure to adjust and try out the front chest-strap--it connects the main straps right across your breastbone. For me, it increases the comfort by taking load out of the armpits, but for some it makes it uncomfortable (seems to depend on your frontal "geometry").

I don't recommend hauling both your books and your violin on your back. It will be way too much and your back will tell you so!

With the pannier approach, oyu may even be able to set it up so that you can carry the violin on say the left side, vertically, lashed to the rack, and your books in the right pannier.

Good luck with it!



September 6, 2005 at 08:58 PM · Thank you so much, Bill. I have never heard of panniers, but I looked them up on the internet - I think it might work! I don't know how soon I'll be able to get this stuff - but I'll let everybody know as soon as I get things worked out!



September 10, 2005 at 03:06 PM · A few times, I have teetered to work on my bike with a satchel and my violin strapped to my back. Both times, it was terrifying. The violin would get caught on my seat at stoplights, causing me to almost tip over. It also really hurt my shoulders. I had given up this practice, but thanks to the advice in this tread I can renew my geekdom happily and safely.

October 12, 2005 at 04:52 AM · Well, I was finally able to bring my bike from home and I am using it every day at school. I really appreciate everybody's input on this. Now it takes only TEN MINUTES to get to school instead of thirty! :-) I am carrying my violin sideways-ish across my back and putting limited numbers of books in the case. I am leaving most of my books in my dorm and sharing with other people when I get to class. I will definately keep the pannier idea in mind, and probably get some in a few months...Christmas? :-)

Well, cheers!

PS: you know, bikes really aren't geeky in Cleveland, it is actually kind of cool to see someone plodding down the sidewalk far ahead, and you quickly catch up to them and leave them in your dust.... Then you feel sorry for them because you know how it feels. :-)

October 13, 2005 at 04:07 PM · Play it safe: Ride the backpack, carry the violin, juggle the bike.

(sorry, I was trying to be "cute." When I was a student I fell on my bike and I was carrying my violin, which hit the ground just before I hit the violin. I have never let violins and bikes mix ever since)

October 13, 2005 at 09:37 PM · Yes, well ... if you get a modern backpacking pack they are very well-designed and ergonomically safe, last Sunday I cycled 20 rolling miles each way to a concert with my viola and concert gear in such a bag. It's not fun and puts a strain on your hips but is the only option I can think of.

I'd like to get a trailer so I can use this with my recumbent bike but then there is the added risk of it being struck by motor vehicles.

My viola does have a shoulder strap but this cuts into my shoulder, and there's always the thought of it snapping.

October 14, 2005 at 01:56 PM · "Okay - good suggestions. Another [unimportant] thing, am I going to look like a total geek or "uncool" with all this paraphanelia hanging everywhere? Or will I have fond memories years later of heroically attempting to cross my huge campus with all my stuff? "

I would actualy find it sexy to see a nice girl on a bike with her violin!


October 15, 2005 at 08:27 AM · Yeah, you'd be a geek. If you wanted to be really cool, you'd go to the frat parties, piss in your friend's car, and puke in the elevators on your way back to your dorm room. That's what the cool kids do. The rest of us geeks on the honors floor just stayed up late eating Captain Crunch and composing songs that made fun of the frat boys and sorority chicks.

Pick the life that suits you best and don't think about cool. ...Something about the eye of the beholder, anyway, right?

October 15, 2005 at 02:05 PM · What about wearing the backpack on your belly, and your violin on your back?

Also, i've seen someone wear the backpack on his back, carry his violin in his right hand, and steer the bike with his left in the middle of Boston traffic. freaky... I couldn't do it...

October 16, 2005 at 04:30 AM · Yes, I do agree - being "cool" is not my higest objective, and it will not interfere with me doing what it takes to do what I need to do. But, if there is an option, I wouldn't mind have some semblance of knowing what I am doing! On the side, my school actually prides itself in being a school of "geeks and nerds" - and they do pretty well at that! Riding a bike would in no way make some one a geek, but perhaps having a violin on your back, a backpack on your tummy, a minidisk case around your neck, a bike that is so much too big you are having to shout - "Excuse me please!" all the time because you can't stop, and then your violin falls off your back, so you have to stop and put it back on is really uncool. Anyway, I can put all my absolutly necessary books in my case, and the days I need more books, I leave my violin at home and practice there in the afternoon. It actually feels neat to ride with my violin diagonally across my back. I feel like I know how to carry it even if I can't quite play it! j/k :-)

Emily, it seems like you and I have the same opinions about college parties! It is so much more fun spending your evenings going to concerts then going out for milkshakes or something.

October 16, 2005 at 12:47 PM ·

October 16, 2005 at 01:02 PM · Jim's post is gone

October 16, 2005 at 12:48 PM ·

October 16, 2005 at 01:02 PM · so I got rid of my response.

October 16, 2005 at 12:48 PM · How was church sunday?

October 16, 2005 at 01:04 PM · Everyone was still there.

October 16, 2005 at 01:35 PM · Whats my cute nickname?

October 16, 2005 at 01:05 PM · The rapture.

October 16, 2005 at 02:18 PM · Emily and Jim: I'm not sure I fully understand your interchange, but let me give it a try -- Never ride your bike to church, or you could rupture your backpack with the violin in it (unless you have a nickname). Did I get it right?

October 17, 2005 at 12:50 AM · huh?

October 17, 2005 at 04:40 AM · No, no, rapture, not rupture. It's what happened to Jim's posts. The rest of us heathen are left to reflect upon our wanton ways, and to ponder the possible content of his Illuminated Manuscripts.

October 17, 2005 at 11:27 AM · It's not appropriate for you to continually make fun of religion.

October 17, 2005 at 01:17 PM · I saw them but will remain mum.

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