Suburban Assault

Trying Out A Basket

with 17 comments

Po-Man Rack

Ever since I got my transit rack on the back of my commuter bike, I haven’t been able to use it to it’s fullest potential. Sure, I was able to strap down the occasional package or grocery bag, but nothing of great utility. My ultimate goal was to get some sort of pannier or folding basket and convert my bike to a true stuff hauler.

There was one problem, those things are expensive. I wouldn’t mind making the investment if I knew for sure, that was how I really wanted to roll. But as I’ve been occasionally commuting to work these past few weeks, I’ve discovered that the lighter I travel, the better. Would having a heavy stuff hauler be the right choice? Would it be worth the investment?

Well, the only way to know for sure was to actually try it out. Since there aren’t any basket or pannier rental services in town and I don’t know anybody willing to loan me theirs, I decided to opt for another solution. A cheap one.

My first thought was to get some sort of milk crate and strap it to the top of the rack. But as I was searching for a cheap one that would fit, I discovered something in the domestic section of my local Walmart. It was an accessory refrigerator basket, designed to help people store more frozen dinners in their freezer. It was about $6, which was much cheaper than most bike-ready baskets.

Zip Ties

I strapped it onto my rack with a few zip ties, and found that it fit really well. I’ve used it to haul quite a few things, including my work clothes and all my emergency bike gear – stuff I would normally carry in my messenger bag. It was really nice getting those things off of my back, leaving me a little less sweaty when I got to work.

After a couple of weeks, my conclusion is that I prefer the convenience of having the basket. My only complaint is with how open it is, and not being able to secure small objects. I’ll keep using this temp solution until I find something that’s better enclosed and built for multi-use. Perhaps something like the TransIt Epic DX Rack Trunk at Performance Bike.

Written by dickdavid

July 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

17 Responses

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  1. Way to go on the cheap functional basket. I wanted panniers until I priced them. A reusable grocery bag helps me secure small items in my Coca-Cola crate.


    July 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

  2. I use a basket on the rack on my Mixte. It’s nice, because the mixte of course is a step-through frame. Easy to mount. I love using a basket though. Combining it with panniers and you can really carry a lot of stuff.

    Bob Loftin

    July 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  3. I love this solution!

    Toni Salazar-Loftin

    July 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    • You’re a Super Genius! Bike hauling and bike functionality are a constant issue for me and my army of bikes. And when I’m using an open basket I often throw small items into a cloth, re-useable grocery bag and roll it up and bungee it down.


      July 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm

  4. Sent message on FB. Willing to let you try any/all of mine for a week at a time.


    July 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    • Thanks for the offer. I may do that before settling on a final solution.


      July 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm

  5. Re the openness: I have looked into dry bags. One would simply drop into that basket and they’re made for kayakers. Available at REI or Cabelas or Bass Pro. I’d say a 20L would probably fit in that basket. They cost more if you want one that doubles as a pack.

    Steve A

    July 13, 2011 at 4:49 am

    • They also carry dry bags at Academy next to the kayaks. VERY waterproof. The 10L size is $13. Perfect for a basket such as that, though I had other reasons to look at them.

      Steve A

      July 14, 2011 at 4:38 am

  6. Refrigerator basket…brilliant!


    July 13, 2011 at 5:53 am

  7. Do you have a cargo net to go over the top? I’d say put all your things in a tote bag in the basket and put the net over the top and you’d be all set for the short term. But panniers might be the best long term solution as the weight should feel easier to carry if it’s lower down, and I’d imagine it would be easier to get on the bike as well. You might also like a seat bag for your tools.

    Jenny R.

    July 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

    • Yep, I’ve been using a cargo net and recycled grocery bag combination to hold things. It works.

      I had a saddle bag for my tools/spare tube, but it doesn’t quite fit with the basket in the way. I might try some sort of pouch to hang on the basket, next to the seat post.


      July 13, 2011 at 8:12 am

  8. I did something similar on my winter bike. It was a basket from the bath section in Home Depot. Less than $10. I didn’t use zip ties, though- I found these orange cable binders that ratchet closed but can open up again. I use bungee cords to keep things in.


    July 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

  9. Was just thinking. On a lot of bikes panniers create a problem when your heels hit them while peddling. I wonder if you could actually hang the panniers from the top of the basket, thus increasing wheel clearance AND capacity.

    Bob Loftin

    July 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

    • That’s my biggest problem with panniers. Sounds like a good solution.


      July 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

  10. I really like Wald folding baskets. There when you need em, out of the way when you don’t, and they leave the top of the rack free for big boxes. They also don’t get in the way when you’re trying to cram the bike into a crowded bike rack.

    adam in toronto

    August 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

  11. […] reflective gear or bells, but I wouldn’t put it past myself to use them. I am definitely the homemade modification guy, and I always carry enough gear to take care of most roadside […]

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