It’s hard to carry things while you bike. Even if you’re willing to put on a backpack, you’re sharply limited in terms of what you can bring with you. Having Bike Basket can help solve this problem.
Between things like groceries, camping gear, biking gear, and sports equipment, it’s easy to think of things that you’d like to be able to take with you while you ride.
When you add a basket to your bike, you massively increase the bike’s utility. When you go out and hit the trails, you can easily carry a bit of equipment, from climbing gear to camera tripods to tents.
Your bike becomes an option for quick trips to nearby stores and restaurants, giving you more fun and flexibility in your daily routine. Want to know more about bike baskets?
Here’s everything you need to know about how mountain bikes and bicycle baskets interact.
Table of Contents
- Can I Put a Basket On My Mountain Bike?
- Why Add a Basket To a Mountain Bike?
- Bags vs Baskets: Which One Should You Add?
- Installing a Front Basket To a Mountain Bike
- Installing a Rear Basket To a Mountain Bike
- Bike Basket Type You Can Install To A Mountain Bike
Can I Put a Basket On My Mountain Bike?
Bike baskets come in all different shapes and sizes. There are many baskets that are made with mountain bikes in mind, and many more that are designed to be universal and work on almost every bicycle.
While some baskets might not work with your bike, there are many more that will. Mountain bikes differ from other bikes in two key ways: they have big tires and they often have front and/or rear suspension.
The second point is usually the factor that will prevent a basket from working properly on a bike designed for off-road use. Baskets that attach to a bike’s front fork seldom work on front-suspension bicycles, forcing the use of handlebar-mounted baskets.
People with rear suspension on their bikes usually don’t mount baskets on their bikes’ back end, but the suspension should cause a similar set of issues for most rear racks and baskets.
Almost every front basket will work on a no-shocks mountain bike.
Similarly, almost every rear basket or rack will work on a mountain bike without rear suspension. If you have shocks on your front fork you’ll want to stick to a handlebar-mounted basket to ensure compatibility.
Why Add a Basket To a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes are many things to many people. For many riders, a mountain bike is the only serious bike available. Adding a basket to a bike makes it a much better option for short trips on roads.
Whether you’re going to a store, a friend’s house, a park, or even just riding to your favorite off-road trail, being able to carry a few pounds of baggage is a big plus.
You can return with groceries, bring a board game or a sack lunch, and carry equipment like spare tires, a first aid kit, or even a camera.
In many cases, this extra carrying capacity enables you to actually use your bike for transportation. If you can’t carry things while you ride, it doesn’t make sense to go to the store.
Adding a basket to your bike won’t let you stock up on a months’ worth of food in one go, but it will let you grab some fresh fruit and milk every once in a while.
Adding a basket to a bike doesn’t detract from technical trail riding as much as you might think. Modern baskets often come equipped with quick release systems, enabling you to detach the actual basket from the bike.
You’ll still add a bit of weight from the mount, but there’ll be no clunky basket when it’s time to hit the trail.
You probably don’t want to use a bike with a rear rack for serious MTB competition, but you’ll be totally fine when it comes to riding for fun.
Bags vs Baskets: Which One Should You Add?
The big difference between bike bags and bike baskets is the form factor. Bags are enclosed spaces with very limited volume, while baskets tend to be open.
Thus allowing you to carry items that extend far beyond the top of the basket.
Bike bags can also be mounted to more areas of the bike: you’ll see bags inside the frame and bags that mount to either side of the rear wheel, for example.
Baskets, on the other hand, are mostly limited to being mounted directly above either wheel.
When choosing between bags and baskets, consider what you’re going to be carrying. If you’d like the flexibility to stick arbitrary objects in your bike’s carrying space, choose a basket.
If you know that you’d like to carry a set of gear that’s reasonably constant, like your camping gear or a first aid kit and some field repair tools, consider choosing a bag.
Some cyclists will argue that you should also consider exposure to the elements when making this decision.
Bags are sealed and often insulated, making them a better choice for protecting items from wet, hot, or cold weather. This is true. You can put a bag in your basket, however, enabling you to reap these benefits no matter which option you choose.
Installing a Front Basket To a Mountain Bike
Front baskets are all different. It’s possible to go over the basics of different types of baskets here, but this article should not be a substitute for reading the manual that comes with your basket.
Most front baskets can be installed with very few tools. You may need an alan wrench, screwdriver, or adjustable wrench, depending on the basket you choose.
Front baskets can attach to your bike three main ways: via the handlebars, via handlebar stem, and via front fork.
If you’ve got a bike without suspension, look for eyelets at the end of your fork, near where it connects with the wheels. These eyelets will make it easier to attach a basket more securely to the front fork.
If you do have front suspension, however, you’ll be very limited in your ability to attach a basket to your front fork. Some do exist, but they tend to be very small and often don’t work on bikes with disc brakes.
On Classic Mountain Bike Without Suspension
If your basket uses support struts, you’ll need to attach them to the fork of your bike. Use the eyelets on the fork to secure these in place, or, if your bike doesn’t have eyelets, look for p-clamps included with your basket.
You can choose between using these clamps on the fork or securing the basket in place directly on the axle of your front wheel. Using the p-clamps will make your basket less stable and secure.
Using your axle will make it a bit of a pain to remove your front wheel.
Next, you’ll want to attach the basket to your handlebars and/or stem. This is the same process that you’d use for attaching a basket on a bike with suspension, so keep reading!
On Mountain Bikes With Suspension
Modern bike baskets often come with mounting equipment in several different diameters. Look for a set of clamps that’s close to the size of your handlebars or stem.
If the clamps don’t seem like they’ll be secure, see if there’s a shim included with your basket.
By combining a properly sized clamp with a shim, you should be able to attach the clamps to your handlebars and stem very securely. Don’t tighten them all the way yet.
It’s a good idea to keep things a little loose until you’re sure that it all fits together. This will ensure that it’s easy to fix any mistakes as you go.
Once you’re sure you’ve got everything in place, go back and tighten up all of your screws.
Many baskets come with quick-release equipment that needs to be screwed into the basket itself. Again, it’s a good idea to screw this in loosely at first. Hold the basket and try sliding it in place.
If everything connects properly, you can tighten things up. If not, you’ll still have some play to slide things around.
Installing a Rear Basket To a Mountain Bike
There are a variety of types of rear baskets. Many attach to a hard rack that sits above the wheel. Some are exclusively mounted on the seat, however, making them easier to install on bikes without eyelets for racks.
These baskets usually have lower weight capacities than baskets that are placed on racks. They’re also less stable and can make it difficult to casually adjust the height of your seat.
If your bike doesn’t have eyelets for a rack, don’t worry. Many rear racks can be mounted on your rear axle instead. Just like with front racks, this will make it more complicated to remove your bike’s rear wheel.
It’s less common to want to remove your rear wheel on a whim, however, so this is definitely less of a downside. As with installing a front basket, be sure to get everything in place before you go crazy tightening screws and clamps.
It’s very common for people to install components facing the wrong way or at an incorrect angle the first time they put a rack on a bike. Keeping things a bit loose will make it much easier to correct these mistakes.
Be sure to go back and tighten everything when you’re done!
Bike Basket Type You Can Install To A Mountain Bike
Modern mountain bikes aren’t always designed with baskets in mind. Many modern bikes lack eyelets near the front or rear wheels for easy fork attachment, while the inclusion of front and rear suspension can limit the range of baskets that work on a mountain bike.
Despite this, there are still many baskets that will work great for even the most rugged off-road bike.
The easiest type of basket for most bikes is a quick-release front handlebar basket. These baskets are equipped with a clip that allows them to slide securely on and off of a mount that stays attached to your handlebars.
By itself, the mount is small and lightweight, consisting of a couple of clamps. a receptacle that locks the basket into place. When you want to carry a bit of gear, simply slide the basket on and load it up.
These baskets have reasonably low weight limits, but they’re still perfect for hauling a few pounds of gear. If you don’t have rear suspension, rear rack mounted baskets are also an excellent option for any bike.
Just like with a front quick-release basket, the rack stays in place more or less permanently while the basket can be removed or added whenever you like.
The rack itself is supported via eyelets on your frame or your rear axle, giving it a much higher weight capacity than a handlebar-mounted front basket.
This will give you the ability to haul lots of equipment, groceries, or other gear as you ride.
Adding a basket to your mountain bike can dramatically increase its utility. By making it easy to carry a few things, these baskets will give you the freedom to take your bike on trips that require supplies.
This might mean taking items to a friend’s house, carrying camping gear or emergency equipment on the trail, or even hauling some light groceries back from the store.
Opening up these new riding possibilities will make it easier for you to find excuses to bike, giving you lots of fun opportunities to get a bit of exercise.