Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is it a Bakfiets? Not really, but it is useful.


I call my mountain bike with the Wald handlebar mounted basket my bakfiets. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a bakfiets is a traditional Dutch cargo bike. I believe it loosely translates to 'basket bike'...if any Dutch speaking folks are reading this blog please feel free to correct me. I'll illustrate what I'm talking about:

Antbikemike builds a 'basket bike', where the basket is integrated as part of the front fork/wheel/headset assembly:

So why did I mount a Wald basket on my beater mountain bike? A short story long...

I bought my wife a Giant hybrid a couple of years ago. She rides occasionally, VERY occasionally, maybe twice a year if she's so inclined. As nice as it would be, a Glorius isn't in our future bicycle acquisition plans. At least one Saturday a year we ride the Wabash rail-trail to Mineola, a small town about 10 miles South of the trailhead, eat lunch at the aptly named Mineola Steakhouse, and ride back. Being a rail trail, the road surface tends to be dusty and if we've had any recent rains, dirty puddles tend to accumulate.

Of course, we needed to protect our investment from the weather and pimp out the Giant. Any excuse for bike accessorization.

So I bought some SKS fenders to protect my lovely wife's bike drivetrain and lower extremities from the elements. While I was at it, I bought a small saddlebag for her personal items, a bell for safety, and a handlebar mounted Wald basket. Mind you, it was a utilitarian black resistance welded wire basket, not a white wicker basket adorned with pink and yellow flowers.

It wasn't cute, but I figured it would be useful. We could haul more necessary stuff on short trips like bricks, bowling balls, and gold bars :>) However, after a couple of rides she decided she didn't need a basket. She didn't really carry anything in it, it rattled, and generally just got in her way.

It's a nice basket, and I just didn't want to remove it and set it aside in some corner of my bike workshop/laundry room or hide it in a closet somewhere. After some careful consideration and haphazard tinkering, I decided to mount the thing on my mountain bike.

Yes, it does look out of place. Here I am, bombing down the ATV trail in the wooded area behind my house on my basketed mountain bike, rattling away. I'm afraid if I take a header or smash into a tree the basket will be squished beyond repair, but then maybe it will provide a bit of 'crash zone' protection. And it comes in very handy for short trips to the store, picking up the paper, a half gallon of milk, or the occasional six-pack. Very utilitarian, at times.

And isn't a bakfiets a purpose-built utility bike?

It's not a bakfiets, but my old beater mountain bike just got way more useful.


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