Saturday, August 17, 2013

A-Tisket, A-Tasket, I've Got A Couple Baskets

I'm must confess, when it comes to bike baskets, I turn into a consumerist version of Mary Poppins. I love bike baskets. I own a couple, and actually bought them for the same purpose before settling on the one I prefer.

Here they are. On the left we have the Linus Farmer's Basket, on the right is the Wald 139 in size "Huge", procured from Rivendell Bicycle Works. They are both awesome, but for totally different reasons.

Now, in the wide world of bike baskets you have as many choices as there are ways to weave rattan. I tend to prefer rectangular baskets, because I can shove more stuff in them. My rack does not offer any integrated systems, so I do have to get a bit creative. I originally started buying baskets because I was getting a small dog and wanted to go on Puppy Bike Adventures.

The first basket I purchased was the Wald, both for the price and because I've never bought anything from Rivendell that was unreliable. And indeed - it's an awesome basket. The dimensions are 13" x 18" x 6", large enough to hold a case of beer or two large grocery sacks side by side. When it's empty the loose mesh allows air to pass right through it and it provides no discernible wind resistance. It's sturdy without being overly heavy.

It looks really good on the bike and is easy to mount with zip ties (though this does mean that putting it on and removing it involves cutting zip ties). However, for the purposes of putting my dog in, there were two limitations. The easily surmounted limitation was the bottom - I cut a piece of stout cardboard in the proper dimensions, then put a towel over it and created a solid floor for the dog to stand on. However, the 6 inch depth of the basket is too shallow to provide an adequate enclosure and even as a tiny puppy Shiner was prone to jumping right out. I was unable to locate a similarly constructed basket that was any deeper and so had to move on to another option.

My search led me to the Linus Farmer's Basket, an excellent compromise of dimensions and price. I didn't realize when I got into this, but wicker baskets are DAMN expensive. This one wasn't cheap, but the picture on their website showed an adorable puppy having bike adventures, and the dimensions were as good as I was able to locate, so I forked over the cash. I'm easily sold.

Earlier in the summer, I've posted a picture of Shiner rocking out in his new basket, here. In case you forgot how adorable it is.

It's taken a bit of training but this basket is both more "solid" and deeper than the Wald and he'll stay in it quite nicely. Puppy bike adventures are a go! That said, this thing currently lives on my bike full-time and does need to function in more practical situations and it performs admirably in everything I've asked of it. The wicker has some flex to it, and it's amazing how much stuff this basket readily swallows - yesterday afternoon I had both of my locks, my backpack, and two largish tupperware containers in it with room to spare. However, the fact it's more solid than the Wald does catch the wind some so it is a bit more noticeable in windy situations. But it's quite lightweight and when empty, you don't really notice it's there.

See?! Practical!

One thing I am realizing about baskets has nothing to do with the individual basket and more with it's placement on the bike. The back rack is not the best place for a basket (which, I guess, is why they're traditionally mounted to the handlebars). If I can ever get the cash together, I'd like to get a front rack and move the basket to that end of the bike. For one, this will enable Shiner to have the wind in his ears, and for two it will free up my rear rack for panniers, etc.

That all said, a basket is a super-utilitarian accessory for getting around town. The permutations are nearly endless, and they can always be removed so I'd definitely recommend giving one a go.

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