My first commute to work made it glaringly obvious that I needed to get some baskets. The problem was which ones. I liked the idea of pannier bags and pannier racks, but I couldn’t find any I really loved until I stumbled upon Basil. Basil is a company based in The Netherlands specializing in stylish bicycle baskets and accessories. They have a lot of products that I really like and I have a feeling this will not be my last purchase from them. I definitely have my eye on some of their pannier bags as well. But I immediately fell in love with their “Bottle Basket”, a rear pannier basket available in the colors of sherbert. (lemon yellow, pastel green, salmon orange, and mint turquoise.) The salmon orange looked liked it would clash with the vibrant orange of the M3, so I opted for the yellow.
I was super delighted to find them available in the US from Niagara Cycleworks (via Amazon) for $27.99. Shipping seemed to take forever, especially since I ordered several other accessories from Amazon resellers at the same time and everything else arrived first. But I am very pleased I was able to find them at all because there doesn’t seem to be too many US distributors. (Though I guess that’s about to change, Andy tells me PUBLIC just announced in their last email blast that they will be offering Basil items as well.)
I purchased 2 rear baskets and 1 front basket in a matching color. I will be posting better photos later and probably a more detailed review once I’ve spent more time using them, but here are my first impressions of the rear racks. Please excuse the low quality point-and-shoot camera photos. (Also please excuse our grass – as I mentioned in our previous post, we are rarely home on weekends when the weather is nice due to our jobs and our yard definitely suffers for it!)
Here are both mounted on the rear rack. Try to ignore the yellow bungee cord I neglected to remove before taking photos. I feel the color in the image above is more representative of the actual color than the other photos. This is not a bright, vibrant, true yellow….Rather, it is more like a chalky, greenish yellow that can almost look just slightly chartreuse in daylight. Regardless, I think the baskets look pretty nice against the orange.
Unlike most pannier racks (I think), this one is designed to allow effortless removal. I really liked this feature as I only plan on keeping the baskets on when I’m actually hauling stufff. The easy on and off was a huge bonus to me, and one of the deciding factors to purchase these. The rack hooks are long and the baskets stay securely in place with very minimal movement. (I don’t notice any movement at all or hear any noise when using them so far.) I am not worried about them falling off at all, and they were completely fine even going over potholes.
One of the great features is this comfortably molded plastic handle. I didn’t realize how much of a big deal this was until I picked up a heavy load of groceries in it and found it super easy to hold. It’s one of those features that’s easy to overlook until you need it, and much appreciated.
The basket is huge and can easily fit a standard sized brown paper grocery bag. That said, we found it easiest to just pull the racks off, hook them to the inside of a shopping cart, and put our purchases directly inside them. (And if you were just getting light items or using one basket, you could skip the grocery cart altogether.)
My only point of contention at this time is that there are no rubber feet on the bottom and I’m worried about how well the paint on the bottom will hold up over time. I’ve found that even though I don’t want to do it, I need to occasionally put the baskets on the ground – and that ground is usually rough concrete. For example, if I’m lugging home two baskets of heavy groceries, I have to take one off and put it down immediately so I can grab the second one before the bike falls over. Any load over a few pounds is enough to cause the bike to fall over when it’s on the kickstand – especially if I’m only using one basket. This is probably just a function of having a side kickstand instead of a european style one with the supports on both sides. (And it makes a good argument for having a more supportive kickstand for major shopping outings.)
Our maiden voyage to Trader Joe’s with these racks really put them to the test….we bought quite a few heavy products, including a lot of dense stuff in glass jars (like almond butter) and wine, meat, cheeses and other heavier liquid products. The baskets were quite heavy and Andy even offered to put one on his bike, but I wanted to see how feasible it was for me to carry everything myself. And it was perfectly fine, no bending, no rattling, it was a perfectly uneventful ride home. So far these baskets get my seal of approval.