Condensed Answer: A basket can be installed on a folding bike. Sometimes the basket will interfere with the folding sequence and will have to be removed to fold the bike. A basket can be mounted on the handlebars, the stem, the head tube, or on a cargo rack.
Methods of Installing a Basket On a Folding Bike
There are three main ways to install a basket on a folding bike:
- On the handlebars
The simplest and fastest way to enjoy the convenience of a basket on your folding bike is to use a quick-release model that mounts to the handlebars. This approach is also lighter because you don’t need a rack.
A handlebar basket can be installed on a folding bike just like on any other bicycle. That said, there are some specifics.
First, one has to take into consideration the folding mechanism of the bicycle. If the handlebars themselves fold, this method is not recommended because the basket and/or its support bracket will get in the way.
However, if the handlebars are solid, then you can use a basket that comes with a support bracket permanently mounted to the handlebars. When you fold the bike, you will still have to remove the basket, but the bracket itself will remain on the handlebars. When you unfold the bike, you will have to re-mount the basket.
Most handlebars of folding bikes are 25.4mm in diameter. You will have to make sure that the clamps attaching the bracket to the handlebars are designed for that diameter. If the clamps are made for thicker bars (31.8mm), it will be necessary to wrap some tape around the handlebars to make up for the extra space.
In the image above, you see one of the most common and basic handlebar baskets. The clamps mount onto the handlebars. The basket is released by pressing the red button. The main issue with such a basket is that it tends to rattle and cannot support more than 5kg/11 lbs.
Another option for “rack-less” installation of a basket is to get one that mounts to the stem. Those models rely on a bracket that bolts onto the stem and ends with a platform for a basket.
The main advantage is the slightly higher stability. The downside is that the protruding bracket could create problems when folding the bike.
- Head Tube
Some folding bikes like the Brompton models have a head tube allowing the installation of a bracket for a basket or a bag. This is the most ideal mounting method because the basket connects to the frame rather than the handlebars or stem and therefore has no negative impact on the bike’s handling.
If your bike has this option, take advantage of it.
Another option is to install the basket on a front or rear rack. By using a rack, you will greatly increase the weight capacity of the basket at the cost of adding extra weight to the bike
How can you install a front rack on a folding bike?
Option 1: Head Tube Rack
If the bike has eyelets on the head tube, it’s possible to install a front rack on it and use it as a platform for a basket.
There are also front racks that can be mounted to the head tube via U-brackets if you don’t have eyelets. (The downside of this method is that it takes a bit of tinkering and could damage the frame’s paint if protection is not applied first.)
I’ve also seen people install standard rear racks at the front by mounting them to the fork and the stem. This is not a bad setup but requires many modifications depending on the rack and bike model.
Also, racks mounted to the fork and stem affect handling and could make the folding process trickier.
Option 2: Rear rack
It’s also possible to install a rack on the rear of the bicycle. This is a good option because the vast majority of folding bikes have a rigid rear end (no suspension) and eyelets for a rear rack.
If you have a folding bike with rear suspension, you will have to find a rear rack that attaches only to the chainstays and seatstays. Otherwise, the suspension won’t be operational.
The main advantage of using a rear rack as a platform for the basket is that rear racks usually allow normal folding of the bicycle. In fact, some rear racks designed specifically for folding bikes have wheels on them so that the rack can be used as a stand for the bike. In some cases, the wheels allow the user to slide the bike when it’s folded.
The downside of relying on a rear rack is that you’re giving up convenience. You can just drop something in the basket and ride away. You have to stop.
Also, a rear basket will not allow you to see the cargo. The lack of constant monitoring can result in loss due to failure of the tightening mechanism or theft.
The Advantages of Installing a Basket On a Folding Bike
A folding bicycle is designed primarily for comfortable commuting in the city. Thus, a basket (or a bag) will greatly expand the utility of the bike. You will no longer be transporting just you, but a lot of cargo too.
- No backpack
A basket will save you from commuting with a backpack – an uncomfortable experience when done for medium or longer distances.
The Downsides of Installing a Basket On a Folding Bike
- Incompatibility with the folding mechanism
Unless the basket is small and mounted on a rear rack, you will have to remove it to fold the bicycle. This isn’t very convenient because you will have to carry the basket and its contents separately. If you’re going home, this isn’t an issue, but if you’re on the train, it could be annoying.
- Extra weight
A basket by itself will add at least 500 grams to the bike. If it’s larger and heavy, it could reach 2kg /4.4lbs or more.
And if you rely on a rack, the total weight will climb by another 1kg/2.2 lbs. If you have to carry the bike over stairs, the extra weight will make the experience a little uncomfortable at first.