Ok, I'll admit that I have always liked front baskets on bikes. There seems to be a strange dichotomy with them though, they can either be really stereotypically girly and have flowers on them or they can be quite manly and utilitarian. Either way I just like their practicality, you can just chuck your stuff in them whilst riding and keep an eye on it. I had a front basket on my Raleigh Twenty for a while which I loved for the extra cargo capacity and convenience, my Raleigh Superbe felt a bit insufficient with only rear panniers. Baskets are great because you can fit in large bulky items, they are basically theft proof and are convenient because you can really just chuck your normal bag in them and take it when you lock it up. Whilst the panniers I have are great, it's annoying to have to lug them around off the bike, it also looks a bit odd to take them into the pub.
So the way it started was that I won a randonneur style front rack on eBay, originally to be used with a handlebar bag for Mr Ramen, however the new brakes I have didn't quite fit. The plan B option was to fix it to the Raleigh Superbe and use it to support a basket. I ended up buying a Wald 137 basket which is one of the smaller ones in their range. Originally I wanted a 139, however at the shop I put it up against the bike and it just seemed too big. The 137 and 139 are both relatively shallow baskets, normally it's better to have them taller so stuff doesn't jump out over anything resembling a bump, however a shorter basket gives you a lower profile which is less cluttered.
The factory struts are way too long for my 26 x 1-3/8 tyres, so ended up just fixing the rack to the fork brake bolt and using that as a support. The only real challenge was relocating the light, so I fabricated a mount to the basket using some aluminium strap. That was reasonably easy and now I have a fair bit more cargo capacity as well as more convenience. The front rack support looks a lot cleaner than having struts going down to the front axle anyway, however I feel the weight capacity is a fair bit lower. However I tend not to put heavy items in the front anyway as it screws with the steering.
I also had to drop the handlebars a bit to get the basket to mount, the basket has these straps that fix to the handlebar which isn't adjustable really. I do however kind of like the look with lower bars and the basket, the bars are just a bit lower than the saddle now, it kind of gives it a look reminiscent of French porteur bikes, now I just need a huge bundle of freshly printed newspapers to deliver...
|Just the basket means I can take stuff with me on the bike|
and not have to lug panniers around when I'm off the bike.
|Now with a pair of panniers and a front basket I should|
be really able to haul a buttload of groceries.
I'm pretty happy with the basket, it just gives you that extra flexibility. I can go out and just take whatever bag I normally use and just chuck it in the front. It also gives me that extra capacity to take more cargo, particularly odd shaped things. The size of it is just about perfect, not too big and not too small; from a purely aesthetic view the shallow depth of the basket makes it just so... more like a courier/porteur rather than just a bike basket.