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How to Choose Front and Rear Bicycle Baskets

how-to-choose-front-and-rear-bicycle-basketsWe take look at different types of bicycle baskets and their mounting options – retro, wicker, wire, mesh, folding, pet and dog baskets.

A bicycle basket will convert any bicycle into a cargo bike. Baskets are typically 10 to 20 inches across: small enough to fit a child’s bike or large enough to carry a case of beer. For carrying grocery bags, the width should be at least 7 inches.

Prices range from $10 to $50. Popular brands include Wald, Topeak MTX, Basil and Kettler.

Front or Handlebar Bicycle Baskets

Front baskets are usually metal but the classic oval wicker baskets can still be found.

Advantages

  • Easy to keep an eye on items in the basket: especially important when transporting dogs and other pets.
  • Dedicated pet baskets, such as those by Snoozer, are available.
  • Retro good looks (wicker baskets).

Disadvantages

  • Additional weight can make bicycle difficult to steer. Unsecured, loose items that slide from side to side are especially dangerous.
  • Basket mountings can interfere with brake and gear-shift cables on the handlebars.
  • The basket can block front reflector or lamp. For these cases, baskets that can mount a reflector/lamp on the front enable the reflector/lamp to be shifted to the basket.

Simple baskets are attached to the handlebars with straps or hooks. Some have handles and can be lifted up and carried into the grocery store. This also works well with folding bikes.

For medium sized baskets and heavier cargo, bracket-mount baskets are used. The mounting bracket is bolted on to the handlebars and the basket is attached with a quick-release mechanism. A small padlock can prevent theft.

Large baskets (up to 20 inches long) have struts for support. The struts are bolted to the front wheel axle, or mounting holes on the front forks if available. The struts can be too short for some bicycles or have mounting holes at the wrong height, requiring additional holes to be drilled.

Rear Rack Bicycle Baskets

rear-rack-bicycle-basketsHeavy cargo is more suited to rear baskets. The baskets are usually attached to the rear rack, which may have to be purchased separately.

Side baskets are like pannier bags, hanging down over both sides of the rear wheel. The low center of gravity helps to stabilize the bicycle. Some are collapsible to take up less space when empty, but may rattle. One disadvantage is that the heels of the cyclist can hit the side baskets when pedaling, forcing the basket to be repositioned further back.

Simple box baskets are mounted on top of the rear wheel. They can be larger than side baskets but their higher center of gravity makes them less stable. Their height also means that it is possible for the cyclist to kick the basket when dismounting. Like front baskets, some have a quick-release mechanism. Some are also collapsible.

Bicycle Basket Materials

Retro baskets made out of wicker or ratan are natural and look good but aren’t as strong as steel baskets, however they are more likely to come with a lid or cover. Plastic strips are often used in place of wicker. Plastic baskets are cheap and easy to clean, but can look cheap too.

Steel wire cage baskets are tough and popular but small items can fall through the gaps. This isn’t a problem if a bag is used.

Wire mesh baskets are good for carrying small and loose items but can be difficult to hook with bungee cords (the holes in the mesh are too small to fit the bungee cord hooks).

Bicycle Basket Tips

A few simple installation and usage tips:

  • The top of the basket should tied down with a bungee cord or cargo net. Otherwise items can be thrown out if the bike hits a pothole.
  • Use nylon zip ties (cable ties) to mount the basket if the supplied fastenings aren’t effective.
  • Use rubber tubing for vibration insulation to reduce rattling, and to protect the bicycle’s paint finish.

The Best Bicycle Basket

Rear side baskets are the best in terms of bicycle stability, with wire cage construction providing the best strength and tie-down flexibility.

For dogs and other pets, a dedicated front pet basket is the safe choice. Some pet baskets come with a safety wire cage cover.

 

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