July 29, 2022

Baskets & Racks

WORDS & IMAGES @MRBABCOCK

If you read my previous post, you know that I’m a big fan of front racks and baskets. I have an embarrassingly extensive collection of bike bags, but if I could only use one cargo-carrying solution on my bike, I’d choose a rack and basket.

Why I Chose the Basket Life

Before I explain why I’m so gaga for baskets, please understand that I’m not talking about the kind of baskets one finds precariously attached to the front of rental beach cruisers. Those are convenient for occasional use under tame conditions, but it’s not the setup I’d suggest for people looking to optimize their #gobybike lifestyle. I’m talking about a quality basket firmly mounted to a quality rack, which is in turn firmly mounted to a quality bicycle.

A reliable basket/rack set up makes any bike more useful by providing a secure place to hold pretty much anything. Also, it allows you to use shopping bags, duffel bags, backpacks, drybags, etc. that you already own. Just throw a bungee cord over them, and you’re good to go.

As long as you make sure not to exceed the weight limit of the basket/rack combo, and ensure no errant straps can get tangled in the front wheel, there’s not much you can’t carry.  

My Rack Setup

I have a Surly 8 Pack rack mounted to the front of my bike. I like this rack because it’s durable, versatile, and reasonably affordable. It’s adjustable to fit pretty much any bike with rack mounts on the fork, and it provides a solid base for cargo without adding excessive width to the front of the bike. 

The rack offers plenty of lashing points and multiple options for mounting lights and other accessories.

NOTE: Surly also makes the 24 Pack rack. It’s pretty much the same as the 8 Pack, but about 2.5 times the width. Unless you’re using your bike to deliver pizza, you’d probably be better served by the 8 Pack.

My Basket Setup

I go back and forth between two baskets, the Wald 137 and the Wald 139. Wald has been making bicycle baskets since the early 1900s, and in my humble opinion, they’re the only basket company worth considering.

The 137 basket measures 15″ x 10″ (tapering down to 13″ x 8″ at the bottom) and  4 ¾” deep. This basket is big enough to be useful, but it’s not obtrusive. I use this basket paired with an old camera bag for most of my non-commute riding. I put stuff that needs to be protected (like my camera) in the bag, and I use the surrounding space for whatever else I choose to carry that day.

When I need more carrying capacity, I swap in the 139. At 18″ x 13″ (tapering to 15 ¾” x 10 ½” at the bottom) and 6″ deep, this basket will hold pretty much anything you’d want to carry on a bike. I’ve used it to carry firewood and a cooler, and (sadly more frequently), I use it to carry my very large laptop to and from work.

In either case, I secure the basket to the rack with two rubber ski straps (I like Voile). They allow me to remove the basket quickly, but they are secure enough even for off-road riding.

There's a pretty big difference in carrying capacity between the 137 and the 139.

Feeling Basket Curious?

If you're wondering about fitting a rack and basket to your bike, come on by. The Hub crew will help you find the right combination of rack and basket to perfectly suit your needs. Not all bikes have rack mounts, but there are racks made to fit almost any kind of bike.

Not Ready to (ahem) Put All Your Eggs in One Basket?

We still have you covered. Stop by and see our wide variety of handlebar, saddle, and frame bags. We're particularly excited about these Roadrunner bags!