After date night, I attended an amazing lecture by Lawrence Lessig at Kane Hall. On the way home, when I should have been thinking about things like hybrid companies, government regulation, and our broken intellectual property system, I found myself moved to conduct an impromptu bike-basket photoshoot. As much as I wanted concentrate on Supercapitalism, etc, I was smitten by the beauty and function embodied in my Wald #585!I think our Xtracycles are perfect car replacement vehicles. As we have noted, one can cram a car-trunk’s worth of groceries into the side-loaders without blinking. The down side is that access to small stuff — either on the go, or when stopped (especially with a full load) isn’t the best. My lovely Wald changes all this.
The first place I appreciated this new ease was accessing my camera mid ride. Instead of stuffing the point-and-shoot in a pocket and then have to wrestle it out later, the Wald lets me velcro on a camera case to the basket for quick-draw photo-ops.
This time of year I have a pretty difficult time nailing my combination of layers on the first try. Do I wear a shell? Gloves? Thin or thick? With the basket I can embrace my tendency toward over-dressing and shed as I go. Handling is good enough that I can even remove the shell or whatever and stow them while riding.
As an added bonus — the Wald provides a perfect place for my to-go cup. I was flirting with one of those nifty Soma “Morning Rush” coffee sets, but the Wald and a piece of old inner tube strapping meets that need in a utilitarian way, yet requires no style apologies.
The nitty gritty details of my setup:
- The basket is a Wald 585 I sourced from Niagara Cycle Works via Amazon.com. It’s designed as a “rear” basket and sized for a grocery bag at 9″x14″x9″high.
- I considered similar Wald baskets from Rivendell. They carry a similar “medium” basket with the same 9″x14″ footprint, but it’s only about 4.5″ tall. For a tall bike like mine, it’s a real stretch to reach to the bottom of a basket like that. I figured it would limit on-the-go access. On my tall rack I can mount my camera case up high within easy reach. On the riv rack, I’d really have to work for it. Smaller bikes (and/or riders) may reach different conclusions.
- I’m running my rack wide way, zip-tied to a cheap-ass ($12) Nashbar front rack designed to fit on cantilever brake studs. I’m not normally a fan of Nashbar but this rack allowed me to try out the system on the cheap (and I wasn’t ready to commit to the jewelery-like Nitto racks). The canti mounts are important because my disc brakes make standard front rack mounting difficult.
- Wald also designs racks with built-in struts and mounts so a rack isn’t even required. My bike is so huge that that the supplied struts would fall way short of my front axle, plus I’m not sure how they’d work with disc brakes. Such a rack, however, would be a great option for a vintage three-speed.
Other great front cargo options abound: I’m especially liking the following:
- The messenger-grade, hand-crafted, Eugene Or.-made, CETMA racks. I’ve heard people say these racks are too heavy, but it all depends on your planned use. If you think the racks are too heavy, then they probably are too heavy for you. If you are actually planning on carrying heavy stuff most of the time, you most-likely care more about load-carrying capacity than unladen weight.
- A lighter-weight (but still strong enough for anything short of commercial work, I’m sure) would be Velo-Orange Porteur rack. Elegant.
- Velo Orange also carries some nifty woven baskets. I love this look but am not sure how they would hold up to our drizzly weather.
As my fickle carrying tastes evolve, I’m sure I’ll post some new basket or other carrier “crushes.” For now, my ♥ (heart) belongs to Wald. How about you?
Pingback: NY Times ♥’s Portland Bikes « Car Free Days
Pingback: Perfect for the Spatially Challenged « Car Free Days
Nice night photos, the front basket is very handy I particularly like the way the rack is mounted.
I’ve been looking at the same Wald basket on amazon. How hard is it to mount to the rack and how secure is it? Thanks for any feedback. Your setup looks like just what I’m after.
The mounting is easy. The basket has two clips on the bottom — I flipped those under the rack rails and threw on a couple zip ties — easier to figure out when you are looking at the rack than it is to describe — and it’s been good to go for ~7 months now. I’ll probably replace the zip ties because they don’t hold up to UV real well. Stainless hose clamps would probably be ideal.
I don’t carry real heavy stuff in it — maybe a six pack of beer and a jacket. It works great for that. I don’t know if I’d trust the zip ties for much more, but that’s OK — much more weight would probably mess with the steering quite a bit. Hope that helps!
Well, I have two large “side loaders” (the brand is “Ortlieb”, and they are water-tight), really intended for long-distance cycling. I nearly always use one to pack the groceries in. It really works great!
Having a basket in front like on the picture is neat, too; expt. it makes the bike want to swerve and becomes a bit uncomfortable if you put something heavy in there.
Pingback: Dexter Darkness brings Danger « Car Free Days
Last spring, when considering a front basket for my bike, I found your blog. I ended up with a setup identical to yours, except I used a smaller Wald atop the Nashbar rack. I love it too, and used it all summer. Several weeks ago, the metal strap between the fork and the rack broke. Not fun. I’ve since made a stronger strap and will support the rack with a nylon strap between the basket and the handlebars when carrying a heavy load. You can see pictures here:
Thought you might be interested.
Hey Mark – sorry for the late response. Thanks for sharing the scary rack experience. I actually had a similar issue but mine was the bracket that mounts the rack to the canti posts. It’s actually cracked on both sides. Luckily I was already using a support strap between the top of the basket and the steerer tube.
Your failure makes me think it’s good to get this info out there. So far the actual cheap-ass rack has held up fine, it’s their hardware that that leaves much to be desired.
I’m still a huge (HUGE) fan of the front Wald, but prefer to keep the load light (bulky is OK). Most of that is due to handling, but I gotta admit I won’t trust the crappy rack with heavy loads until I beef up the hardware.
Pingback: Groceries by Bike: Turn a Chore into Fun | Car Free Days