Mountain bikes are all about adventure, tackling trails, and carrying you through the great outdoors. People usually don’t haul cargo on them.
But what if you need to transport items while out on off-road rides?
Can you put a basket on a mountain bike and take along gear in it?
While uncommon, adding a basket to a mountain bike is absolutely possible.
Baskets provide extra carrying capacity that can be handy in certain situations. They allow you to conveniently bring supplies, commute with work items, or simply haul your picnic lunch to the park.
In this guide, I’ll talk about literally EVERYTHING you need to know about putting a basket on MTBs.
Can You Put A Basket On Any Mountain Bike?
Baskets can be installed on any mountain bike – rigid, full suspension, or front suspension.
However, the process and ideal basket choice may differ depending on the bike.
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
Full suspension mountain bikes with front and rear shocks are the most common today.
But this popular suspension system poses challenges for adding baskets – you have limited room to install a basket without obstructing the suspension travel and performance.
Smaller baskets mounted to the frame or handlebars tend to work best.
Try to avoid large baskets that will alter the suspension’s shock absorbing capabilities.
Rigid Mountain Bikes
Rigid mountain bikes don’t have any suspension forks which makes basket mounting easier.
Plus, you have more flexibility in basket size and positioning.
So, the installation process is straightforward without needing to work around front or rear suspension.
Front Suspension Mountain Bikes
With only front fork suspension, these bikes offer two main basket mounting options. You can either attach to the rear or the handlebars.
The rear accommodates heavier loads since weight on the handlebars can negatively impact steering.
When Might You Want a Basket On A Mountain Bike?
While baskets on mountain bikes are unconventional, there are definitely situations where having one can come in very handy.
Also Read: Converting A Downhill Bike To All Mountain
Here are some of the most common scenarios:
- Running errands around town – A basket provides an easy way to carry items like groceries or purchases.
- Picnics or camping trips – Baskets allow you to pack in food, drinks, and other supplies for outings.
- Commuting – With a basket, you can easily transport work items or a change of clothes without needing a backpack.
- Bike touring – Baskets give you additional carrying capacity for extended trips.
Attachments For Mountain Bike Baskets
There are a few different attachments you can use to mount a basket:
This type of attachment uses a unique mechanism that allows tool-free installation and removal of the basket.
Quick-release attachments enable you to connect the basket to the handlebars on full-suspension mountain bikes. For rigid bikes, you can mount it to the stem of the fork.
However, quick-release mounts cannot support heavier basket loads well.
On rigid mountain bikes, strut mounts that connect to fender eyelets are a solid option.
The support struts attach in front of the bike at the eyelets, providing a sturdy base to then mount the basket onto. If your bike lacks eyelets, P-clamps can also work to hold the struts, but may not be as stable.
Overall, strut mounts are best for bikes with eyelets and offer stability similar to a front rack.
Front Rack Attachment
Another option is to install a front rack as the basket mounting point.
The standard front rack attaches on top of the front wheel, which provides stability and increased load capacity versus other mounts.
You can then use zip ties, screws, or the basket’s built-in system to secure it to the rack.
However, lowrider racks are not suitable for baskets since they hang on the sides and have less strength.
Cons Of Installing A Basket On Your Mountain Bike
While baskets can be useful accessories, there are some potential drawbacks to consider as well:
Extra weight added by a loaded basket can impact the handling of a mountain bike, especially at slower speeds.
The steering may feel more sluggish and it can be harder to keep your line through turns.
Also Read: Do Carbon Handlebars Reduce Vibration?
Front-mounted baskets will be most affected, as they change the weight distribution. This can take some adjustment to get used to.
Loading up a basket adds overall weight to your mountain bike.
This extra mass makes it harder to accelerate and also puts you at a disadvantage going uphill.
Mountain bikes are already heavier than regular bikes, so keep the load weight reasonable if you need to pedal around town.
And definitely lighten the load for hitting any steep grades off-road.
Most baskets are not designed with aerodynamics in mind. The bulky cargo area essentially becomes like a sail when riding, creating substantial wind resistance.
This can noticeably slow you down, especially on flats or downhill sections.
There is not much you can do to improve the aerodynamics – the basket is just not a streamlined design.
So expect that having one will slow you down some.
Not So Great On Rough Terrain
While great for smooth paths, baskets are impractical for rough mountain bike trails. The jostling of cargo over bumps can be annoying.
Also, baskets reduce your mobility for dodging obstacles and technical features.
Anything more than casual off-road riding will likely require removing the basket temporarily.
Just plan on the basket being better suited to pavement and moderate dirt roads rather than aggressive trail riding.
Not all riders want to attach a basket to their carefully chosen mountain bike frame.
Baskets have a decidedly vintage look about them, and for those concerned with modern style and appearance, the retro vibe of a basket may not fit.
There is no getting around the look – baskets have a functional style that prioritizes utility over sleek aesthetics.
Other Considerations When Using A Basket
Adding a loaded basket will distribute weight differently than usual on your mountain bike.
This can take some getting used to:
- Heavier steering feel – Handlebar-mounted baskets will add mass up front.
- Toe overlap – Baskets mounted too low can obstruct your toes while turning.
- Obstructed cables – Handlebar baskets shouldn’t interfere with brake/shift cables.
- Limited lean angle – Large baskets can contact the ground when leaning into turns.
Take time to test out the feel and make adjustments as needed.
Also, empty your basket before tackling any aggressive or technical riding where agility and range of motion are more important.