Y’see, if I go too long without a basket bike, I go into withdrawals. I don’t realize my need for the basket bike until after I get rid of one, of course.
My first two bikes in Portland, my Giant Rincon and my 70’s Schwinn three-speed weren’t basket bikes per se, but each of them sported one of those Wald quick release baskets at some point. My first true “Basket Bike” was the Schwinn Collegiate given to me by my old room-mate Chris Larson in spring of 2006. True, it didn’t sport a basket until I got one, but something about a vintage Schwinn just calls out “Wald basket”.
|The Collegiate in action at the Clown Wedding Parade, 2006. Yes, how Portland. Photo J. Maus.|
I enjoyed the bike while I had it, but it only lasted me a year before it moved on. I couldn’t stand it’s primitive sixties rear derailleur, which would only ever get at best four (but sometimes only three) of the five speeds. Also I hated those Schwinn specific 26″ x 1 3/8″ wheels and all the problems it caused.
It wasn’t long, however, until I found another basket bike: the Univega Safari Ten bought for $30 in White River Junction, Vermont (of all places.) I had the bike rebuilt as a three speed with a Sturmey Archer AW hub. And yep, on went a Wald basket! First was the venerable 139, then the uber basket 157. The Giant Delivery Basket hauled lots of groceries and the bike served me well for almost three years, until the bikes started to over-run the stable and I realized I didn’t use the bike much.
|Pedalpalooza 2009. Photo J. Maus.|
And then the Worksman Cycle Truck entered the mix, with its more-basket-than-bike approach. Much has been written about that bike here.
And now, the Raleigh Crested Butte is basket bike number four!
What is it about “junk in the front” of baskets that I like? Well, there’s a few reasons:
- It’s nice to be able to see your payload. No worries if something fell off (or is about to fall off) and you can get to things easily in transit.
- You can carry objects that are too big to be transported in a typical pannier or backpack/shoulder bag. Those same objects can be carried on a rear rack, but can be unwieldy (unless it’s a long tail cargo bike.)
- They look cool.
- Tres retro Americana. America doesn’t have much of a tradition of utility bicycling, except when it comes to front baskets. And WALD baskets are still made in the USA, a rarity for American bike parts.
- Grant Petersen likes ’em. (Wait, I wasn’t supposed to say that out loud.)