Can You Put a Basket on a Mountain Bike?


Yes, indeed! Mountain bikes can have baskets attached at the front and rear for added convenience.

Whether you’re commuting to work, out on a casual ride, riding for fitness, or running errands, the extra storage space that a bike basket provides is quite advantageous. Owing to the ability of mountain bikes to conquer all kinds of terrain, it isn’t uncommon to use them as a preferred method of daily transportation.

Can I Put a Basket on a Mountain Bike?

Yes! If you want to add a basket to your mountain bike, it is possible to do so; the process is quite straightforward. Based on your preference, you could have one at the front or the rear.

The type of basket you must install depends on the type of mountain bike you have; not all baskets are compatible with all bikes. Suspension bikes limit your options of installing baskets since the support struts may affect the bike’s performance. Also, the intended purpose determines the installation of a handlebar basket or a rear rack basket.

For light parcels, front baskets are a perfect choice; while for bigger, heavier loads, rear baskets would be better.

Why Put a Basket on a Mountain Bike?

For the benefit of additional space and convenience, mountain bike baskets are the best option. While you could use a backpack to store your belongings, carrying groceries or taking your pet along requires more space. If you’re on a mountain bike expedition, a basket helps carry your gear around too.

parked mountain bike with front basket

On average, bike baskets can carry about 110 lbs. (50 kgs) of weight, although it depends on the basket type. Life is a lot easier, without having to carry things around in a bag or backpack; baskets make your ride much easier. I would recommend getting one installed for all the benefits it offers.

Pros and Cons of Putting a Basket on a Mountain Bike

Let’s have a look at the benefits and drawbacks of mountain bike baskets.

Pros:

  • The extra space a basket offers makes it easier to carry your belongings. Getting your wallet or water bottle out is easier from a basket than from a backpack.
  • If you’re out for a nature ride, you could carry snacks, water, and probably even some first-aid items.
  • A backpack could get you hot and sweaty on long rides, and heavy bags could lead to back problems. By using a basket, you can avoid these issues.
  • With a wide range of choices, including many fashionable ones, baskets look cool and enhance your bike’s appearance.

Cons:

  • Baskets add to the weight of the bike, at times not evenly distributed. This unbalanced weight distribution on the bike could bother some riders.
  • Bikes with front suspension limit the type and size of baskets that you can attach. The basket mustn’t impact the suspension or the shocks.
  • At times, installing a basket could be a tedious process for some types.

Things You Need to Put a Basket on a Mountain Bike

white dog inside mountain bike basket
Front basket baby!

Installing the rear rack on a bike needs a few tools and materials like:

How to Put a Basket on a Mountain Bike

Once you’ve decided on the basket based on the type of mountain bike you have and your personal preference, you’ll need to decide where to attach it. There are different ways to attach mountain bike baskets.

If you’ve got a handlebar basket, you could install it in the high position or the low position. It’s more common to have handlebar baskets installed in the high position since it’s easier to reach for stuff while you’re riding. However, if you’re looking at transporting things over long distances or carrying heavy items, the low position is the better option.

Front Basket

With a rigid mountain bike, it’s easier to install front baskets hassle-free. If you’ve got a rigid retro MTB, you’re in luck as almost any front basket model can be used. On the other hand, for a modern hardtail mountain bike, with in-built front wheel suspension, it’s suitable to use smaller baskets, if possible.

Front baskets attach to your bike in one of three ways: via a front fork, via the handlebars, or the handlebar stem.

Usually, zip ties can be used to attach front baskets, in case they don’t have straps of their own. The basket needs to be tightly secured to the handlebars, ensuring that it doesn’t touch or interfere with the front wheel suspension.

Baskets with struts need to be attached to the bike’s fork, using the eyelets or the axle. Alternatively, a rack that connects to the bike’s front fork can be used to install a basket.

Rear Basket

While rear baskets don’t influence the steering directly, a loaded one will most definitely affect the handling of a bicycle. A rear basket can be mounted only when attached to a rack. With eyelets, like in retro MTBs, installing frame-mounted racks is easier. If there are no eyelets, like in most modern hardtails, you could go with one of the following options:

A rack that fastens directly to the seat stays: Such rear racks come with clamps that grab the seat stays. These could be installed even on hardtails that don’t have dedicated rack mounts.

A rack that connects to the rear wheel axle: Rear racks like these attach to the axle of the rear wheel. The drawback of this is that every time you remove the rear wheel, you’ll have to deal with the rack’s support legs.

A seat post rack: Such a rack is handy for a full-suspension bike. The downside of this is its low capacity and it holds the weight very high over the rear wheel.

A rear rack: Regular racks cannot be used for full suspension bikes as the rack’s support arms would break. Instead, rear racks are compatible with full suspension MTBs.

Different Types of Attachment Styles

To install a front basket, there are three different styles of attachment.

Support Struts Attachment

The basket using this type of attachment directly mounts on the handlebars and forks. Most mountain bikes have fender eyelets in their forks making it ideal to install a basket. For those bikes that don’t, you could use P-clamps or attach the basket to the front wheel axle.

Pros
  • The bike basket stays stable even when traveling on rough roads.
Cons
  • Baskets that use support struts attachment cannot be used on bikes with a front suspension fork.
  • If the struts are attached to the axle, it has to be dealt with whenever the front wheel is removed to replace a punctured tire.
  • The setup isn’t very stable with P-clamps.

Quick Release Attachment

The unique mechanism of quick-release baskets makes them a favorite among commuters. These could be mounted on the handlebars or the stem.

Pros
  • Easy to mount and dismount
  • The handlebar-connecting models can be installed on both rigid and suspension bikes.
  • You can avoid using zip-ties by attaching these types of baskets to the handlebar.
Cons
  • These types of baskets work for bikes with threadless systems
  • Low weight capacity, averaging about 11 lbs.
  • The baskets that are only stem-connecting, are unlikely to fit on a threadless stem MTB.

Front Rack Attachment

Once you have a front rack installed, you could use zip ties, planks, bolts and nuts to attach a basket to the rack. Some racks have built-in attachment ports for relatively easy basket installation. The rack usually connects to the bike’s front fork.

Pros
  • Front rack attached baskets are sturdy, with a weight holding capacity of up to 20 lbs.
Cons
  • The rack itself has considerable weight.
  • Not all front racks are compatible with MTBs that have front suspension.

How to Put a Front Basket on a Full Suspension MTB

Installing a front basket, while relatively easy, is something that very few people would want to do for a full-suspension bicycle. The suspension forks limit the choices of front baskets that can be installed; especially those that use support struts aren’t compatible with suspension forks.

Here are two ways to go about it:

Attach the Basket to the Handlebars

Handlebar baskets are compatible with full suspensions MTBs as they don’t interfere with the front suspension.

man standing in front of bike handlebar basket

The issue that could arise is that the attachment clamps of the basket could be too small for the bars. With the thickest part of most MTB bars being either 31.8 mm or 25.4 mm, you’ll need to find the right clamps, else it could be loose. Another option is getting anchors that can be attached to the front suspension fork, for added stability on the bike racks.

You could also use zip ties to secure the suspension handlebar basket for extra support.

Attach the Basket to a Front Rack

The other option is to attach a basket by using a front rack. However, finding a front rack that is compatible with front suspension bikes may be difficult, apart from a tricky installation process.

Everything is safe and secure since the bike rack prevents the basket from interfering with the front-wheel axle. With zip ties, you could even use quick-release attachment baskets on the rack.

Things to Keep in Mind When Adding a Basket to a Mountain Bike

Typically, mountain bikes aren’t designed keeping baskets in mind. Front and rear suspension limit the range of baskets that could be installed. Also, the lack of eyelets makes it difficult for fork attachment. However, securing a basket with zip ties is an affordable and easy way.

Remember, for front or full suspension bikes, a specialist bike rack can be used to attach a basket. Attaching a basket to your handlebars can be done, provided the handlebars are no wider than a 31.8 mm diameter. Handlebar baskets are great for storing smaller items, while rear baskets are good for heavier items or long-distance transportation.

Since rigid bikes have no suspension, choosing bike racks and baskets is easier. Some front baskets that can be mounted to the handlebars are also compatible with MTBs that have front and rear suspension, provided they fit the diameter of the handlebars. Alternatively, struts or P-clamps can be used for mounting a basket.

Conclusion

There’s no need to overthink putting a basket on your mountain bike. Just keep in mind that you need to select a basket based on what type of bike you have, where you’d like to fix it, and what’s the intended purpose. Once you’ve had one installed, you’ll think why you’d never considered it any earlier. I know I did!