Having a basket on your bike will make you feel like a kid, and you were never cooler than when you were a kid on a bike. Think I’m crazy? Need some shock and awe right out of the gate? Well here’s some serious basket inspiration, courtesy of Manny Acosta, with some other great front-load methods thrown in. That’s a guy who refuses to see limitations when it comes to what he and his bike are capable of. OK, so now that you’ve seen some awesome and imaginative carrying techniques, let’s dive right in.
Here’s my line of thinking; you love riding a bike, a basket lets you ride that bike to do more stuff. Simple. You can now get groceries, or take a camera, or pick up some flowers, or carry your books to class, or have a really awesome picnic lunch with you instead of gross gell energy packet stuff. A basket lets you grab for the bike more often than you could without it. Plus it’s a great place for your lock and your extra clothes. Having the load in front is nice because it’s instantly accessible and it doesn’t take long to get used to the feel of steering with a little weight up there.
I get comments and questions about my basket more often than I should, since it’s just a practical cycling accessory that I’m (frankly) surprised more people don’t use. Other than my bar tape, it’s the cheapest thing on my bike by a fair margin and almost impossible to have a conversation of any length about because it’s so plain and simple. My super fancy made-in-the-USA-of-Scottish-canvas bag gets barely a second look, but the $20 Wald basket gets oohs and aahs. Usually I get people talking to me about my bike when I’m outside a place like REI. It’s an interesting convergence point, because it isn’t quite as hippie as the naturorganicopatic co-op I go to sometimes when I want weird bulk foodstuffs, and not as blatantly, uh, aerospandexysexy as a few of the bike shops here in the city. All types of bicycle riders end up at the REI bike racks and chatting’s just natural. Usually these conversations are just a friendly interaction between cyclists, but once it resulted in me having to slink away from an argument when a woman accused her significant other of making her get a bicycle that couldn’t fit fenders and a basket like mine (she had some sort of racing bike that was wholly inappropriate for her I guess).
In some ways, it’s not surprising that I end up in weird basket conversations from time to time. I constantly see people that could use one, so I imagine they must be totally unaware that such a thing exists. I actually cringe when I see someone carrying a bag of take-out food through traffic, riding one-and-a-half-handed. I also cringe when I see someone carrying like 6 bananas and a rolled up raincoat in their jersey pocket. Just give in and embrace the kick-ass basket lifestyle. If you’ve ever wondered what’s missing in your life, but couldn’t quite put your finger on it, this might be it.
What else is good about it? Well, certainly part of the appeal of a basket is the relatively low cost and light weight when compared to the alternatives. Panniers are awesome if you need them, but good ones are pretty pricey. Ortliebs are maybe $150 for a set. Most bikes have pretty short chainstays as well, so your heels might end up hitting the panniers. Those super swanky randonneur bags are incredibly beautiful and useful, but cost maybe $250 or thereabouts. Backpacks can be expensive and they leave you with a sweaty back. Certain things are better when they can lay flat anyway, like cupcakes or a rotisserie chicken. Still want to spend some money and have a basket? Why not grab a porteur rack and strap a big basket on that? Super cool, super stable, and can carry a serious load.
How do you get a basket into your life now that you’re ready? First step, get a rack. It can be a super good one like this (if you have the proper braze-ons), or a perfectly fine but way less expensive one like this (that’s the one I have). Next step, get a genuine Made in the USA Wald basket for just $20. Final step, zip tie the basket to the top of the rack and you’re all set. I used about 16 zip ties on mine because I’m ridiculous and paranoid. Real final step, get one of those bungie net things with the hooks so you can secure your stuff in there.
I wouldn’t steer you wrong, and a basket would never let you down. Give yourself and your bike the gift of a basket. You’ll take yourself less seriously when you look down and see that shiny thing too, and that’s something most of us could use in our lives.