Build a Better Bike Basket

I might possess a modicum of crafty-techie skills but, I admit, when it comes to tinkering with my bicycle, I get intimidated. Not only is my bicycle my primary mode of transportation (and therefore essential to keep in working order at all times) but it's hard to live up to some of the amazing things true bike-modification geeks do with theirs. The hardcore bike mod junkies have created such two-wheeled masterpieces as fire-breathing bicycles, tall bikes, wooden bikes, and bicycles made of bones, not to mention bicycle carnival rides, boom-box bicycles and pedal-powered DJ equipment. Sometimes it seems better to just admire the handiwork of my fellow cycle enthusiasts and leave my bicycle unmodified, save for whatever it takes to keep it rolling.

However, one cycle accessory that lends itself well to modification even for those of us who are all thumbs with a welding torch is the bike basket. An essential component of my morning commute, my basket allows me to carry everything I need during the day, plus anything that I might pick up on the way home, including my groceries, my CSA box and my inevitable curbside scores. And, though my current basket is perfectly serviceable, I’m always on the lookout for innovative options for when it comes time for an upgrade.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the possibilities:

  • Milk crates. The ultimate DIY bike basket, milk crates are sturdy, weatherproof, and free — if you keep your eyes peeled you might spy some dotting the curb. Wooden produce boxes are also serviceable, if a bit shallow.
  • Trash cans. From front-mounted little wire wastebaskets to panniers made of durable plastic bins and some judicious drilling, your next bike basket might already be sitting in your bathroom or underneath your desk.
  • Wicker baskets. Once Easter comes and goes, the wicker baskets that once held colorful eggs and delicious chocolate bunnies end up decorating street corners and Dumpsters instead of being stored away for next year's festivities. Add a little springtime flare to your ride by attaching an unloved basket with nylon cord, old inner tubes, or zip ties.
  • Funky plastic totes. I love the recycled appeal of the ubiquitous woven plastic shopping tote and its unexpected practicality when strapped to the handlebars of a freewheeling cosmopolitan cycle.

And don’t forget, used bike baskets can be used around the house as organizers, racks, and, of course, wastebaskets!

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