04 November 2010

the demise of my basil basket.

On Halloween, I made my way to Target for the makings of a holiday fete. I tossed my Basil basket on the ODT and off I went.  When I arrived at the cherished big box retailer, I was bummed to find that one of the welds on the arms had weakened.

Fortunately, I was able to make it home with my precariously balanced 5lb bag of sugar, multiple 2 liters, and gobs of candy and hair product. This is just the kind of thing that would happen when I'm carrying a load like this, I thought.

But the reality is, I have been hauling loads like this several times a week for the past year as I've done my grocery shopping and commuting. The year before that it was daily loads of books.  The demands I have made on this basket have not been insignificant.  I mean, the day before it broke I hauled a pumpkin in it, and the day before that I filled it to overflowing with objects from a thrifting excursion. While I think I may be able, in the short term, to jimmy it back together with some super glue and industrial tape or something, but I'm taking the demise of my basket as a cue that I need to reevaluate my cargo hauling strategies.

I've been thinking about that for a while. I tend to hoard library books at home because the thought of one bulky trip to campus with them all is so unappealing.  Recently I bought and subsequently got in a fight with a plastic drawer unit that I attempted to anchor to my rear rack (it came apart- I had no idea those were so modular!).  There are limits to what I can haul even with the basket- macaroni and cheeses work better than enormous packages or Ikea hauls

So, what to do? In a fantasy universe (one where I have a garage and more extra cash), I'd maybe opt for an Xtracycle setup like Big Brother's. But realistically, I see two good options. One is to get another basket or pannier. I really like the concept of Public's rear bike basket, as I prefer rear loads, but I've been spoiled by the mesh on the Basil Bern.  There are of course a number of options around the web if I wanted to go in that direction.

The other option, and the one that I think might be most practical in the car-free long run, would be to get a trailer. I've been loving on trailers since I saw Jeff's bicycle ice cream trailer last summer.  Kent's review of the Burley Travoy only heightened the appeal-- I love that the Travoy is Dahon compatible (like my defunct basket!) and that it folds up for storage.  It is quite expensive though. Yet coming across the Bike Trailer Blog today further enhanced my trailer awareness.  Philly's Craigslist trailer postings unfortunately tend towards the suburbs- outside my car-free access area- but certainly there must be a cost effective way to move in the trailer direction.

For now, I'm limited to my rack and my unfortunate little pannier (its hooks aren't quite big enough for the ODT's meaty rack).

What are your thoughts on upping the cargo capacity of my bikes?


Kent Peterson said...

The Travoy is super neat and it makes a great solution for any apartment-dwelling car-free person. Put it on your Christmas list and hope your rich relatives take the hint!

Anonymous said...

If you like having the basket on the front, you might consider getting a front rack, and then just attach the basket to the rack, so that you can carry a much heavier load without damaging the basket - in the case, you maybe could even still use this basket, and just remove the other handlebar hook as well.

I've never used a trailer, but I've always felt like they would be somewhat unwieldy (just like they are when attached to a car). But if you need to haul bigger items, a trailer could be good.

I love using panniers, and since you already have a rear rack, just getting one of the pannier sets that is connected and drapes over the rear rack might be a good option (Basil has some, so does Linus). I had some Basil panniers on my Electra Amsterdam that were really high capacity (full grocery bag in each side) and lasted really well, and quite waterproof, too. I'm pretty sure I hauled 50-60lbs in them.

Good luck in the hunt!

Annalisa said...

What about creating a couple of Saved Searches on EBay for the trailer you want? You never know. I bought a Long Haul Trucker off of eBay for a great price, so there are deals out there and they can be shipped.

As far as pannier's go, I have the Detours Toucan, and what I like about it is that it attaches easily, holds A LOT, has a thick rubber bottom, and it has a shoulder strap so I can carry it off the bike. It also has a built-in rain cover.

Good luck in your quest for the perfect setup. I know it can be frustrating trying things out.

Anonymous said...

Just thinking of cost effective solutions (panniers are super unreasonably expensive), and seeing how you prefer rear weight, I'd consider Wald folding baskets for the rear (http://waldsports.com/index.cfm/wald582rearfoldingbasket.html) which seem to retail for about $20 per. I test fitted large canvas grocery bags in the rear folding Walds, and they fit perfectly. I've been assured by people who own these that they are not as rattley as you'd imagine.

Trailers just seem cumbersome for an dense urban environment like Philly.


Anonymous said...

With that said, the Public rear basket looks really really practical.


Matt in Tacoma said...

I agree with Kent. The Travoy could solve many cargo hauling conundrums both on and off the bike (since it works like a dolly, too.) You need to look at the cost as part of your long-term transportation budget. Put it on your wish list!

Meanwhile, I'd get a new basket. Very low cost per use. I have this one and love how I can quickly move it to different bikes.

Tim K said...

If you can swing the price of a frame mounted rack, that would be idea. Anne's Oma came with one. You can load it up with A LOT - either strapped directly to the rack, or zip tie on an wicker or wald basket, or milk crate or something.


Cheapo option (probably what'd I'd do for a while): I bet you could also just fix your basket with zip ties and/or old toe straps and get another 100 target trips out of it.

Medium $ option -- The rear, flop over the rack Dutch panniers. Anne has a set of the Fast Riders. They are large and mostly waterproof,and look very authentic Oma. But the trade off is that they are kinda floppy most of the time and hit her heels when she pedals. Clever Cycles makes a shorter version to deal with that (the weatherproofing looks better, too). Because they are pretty standard Dutch fare, I'm guessing you can find hundreds of options at all sorts of prices.