I love to cycle. Not so much for exercise as to get from A to B faster and with less uncertainty.
One of the joys of cycling is that you can easily stop and run errands, without having to worry about parking. This means that I often end up cycling along with unintended groceries or books or kids’ shoes and backpacks.
I have never been a fan of panniers (those pockets that hang over your back wheel), as I like to keep an eye on what I am carrying. And besides, they require careful packing.
But old-style bike baskets also have their drawbacks: not only do they tend to be made of mesh, designed to make me lose small items, but they are also fixed so you have to empty them each time you leave your bicycle. In the old days we could unthinkingly use plastic bags inside our baskets…but life is much more complicated now we actually think about the environment.
Fortunately, I have found the (almost) perfect bike basket. It is a KLICKfix Shopper made by a German company called Rixen Kaul. The company makes all manner of bicycle accessories. Its really smart move has been to design a series of baskets, bags and map-holders that all make use of the same handlebar adapter.
You mount the adapter (which comes in various sizes to accommodate varying handlebar widths and configurations) and then clip on your chosen basket. I have the most basic basket, the Shopper, but somewhat covet a more jazzy one (such as this) or a purse-style carrier for my work days. You can also get baskets with raincovers and special pockets for your phone, which could come in handy.
When leaving your bike unattended, you simply unclick the basket and walk away with it. It takes 2 seconds, really. And unlike other click-off baskets that apparently (according to my local bike shop) wear out very quickly, it lasts. I have had my basket and adapter for more than 5 years, I would say, and they are still going strong.
So what is the downside? For me it is that I have had some difficulty in keeping the adapter tight on my handlebars. This is probably a function of my overloading the basket (which then rubs on the front mudguard) and poor installation. I suspect that were a bike shop guy to have installed it for me, I would not have had problems.
The second problem is specific to Canada. For some unfathomable reason, Rixen-Kaul products do not seem to be available here. The company has no listed agent in Canada and I have never seen KILCKfix products in a bike shop (even in Ottawa, a keen cycling town). You can order the full range through the US agent/distributor, and they will ship to Canada, but shipping costs are high and you risk those heavy duties.
In Europe and in the US Rixen Kaul products are easy to find and, in my opinion, pretty well-priced. The shopper is priced at €25.95 in Germany, about £28 in the UK and in and $39 in the US (though you have to buy the adapter separately which will cost you another approximately $20 or £12 in the UK).
So, Canadians, my advice would be to add these items to your list when you are out of country! Then you can cycle and shop to your heart’s content. Or even volunteer to carry your kids’ backpack as you cycle to school on the first day.