Mountain bikes are not traditionally made to be ridden with baskets attached. But with many opting for mountain bikes as a way to get around and enjoy the outdoors, there are probably more reasons now to attach a basket to a mountain bike.
Baskets can give you extra storage space to carry your gear so you don’t have to haul it on your back.
Or if you’re headed to the grocery store or out for a weekend bike-packing, a basket could be an essential accessory.
Whether you’re using your mountain bike for your daily commute or weekends on the trails, here are some tips on how you can best secure a basket to your MTB.
The short answer is yes, you can install a basket on most mountain bikes. But the type of basket you can install will differ based on the type of mountain bike you have, as not all baskets will be compatible with all bikes.
You may need to have some type of attachment point, such as eyelets on your bike, so you can attach certain bike baskets, but this is not always the case.
You’ll probably have your own reasons for wanting to put a basket on your mountain bike. A basket can be pretty useful if you want to haul some gear while you’re riding. Let’s face it, our mountain bikes often have a dual purpose. As well as allowing us to explore the off-road trails, more and more of us are using mountain bikes to ride into town or cycle to work.
And if you’re commuting, you may want a basket to add extra storage for your gear. Even on the trails, a basket can be useful for carrying gear if your backpack is full or if you want to be able to easily access items while cycling.
Rigid mountain bikes will tend to have more options available with regards to baskets and can usually have both a front and rear basket installed because of the lack of suspension. However, again, the type of basket you can use will depend on your specific bike and the attachment points you have.
Front suspension mountain bikes tend to have fewer options available when it comes to installing baskets, as you don’t want to attach anything that’s going to interfere with the suspension system. Baskets that have supports that attach to the fork, for example, won’t work.
Baskets that attach to the handlebars can be an option. But you need to make sure that the clamps are wide enough to attach to your handlebars, as these types of baskets are generally made for narrower handlebars.
A downside to these types of handlebar baskets is that they may move around a little more than others as they tend to have less support underneath, which may make them rattle while you’re cycling. They may also affect your steering by making it feel heavier.
You also have the option of installing a rear basket, either mounted to the seat or the rear axle. But if there is only one point of attachment, it may not be as sturdy or secure as one with two points of attachment.
Full suspension mountain bikes have more limited options when it comes to baskets, as the attachments need to allow for the full operation of both the front and rear suspension.
You’ll find some rear racks that are specially designed for rear suspension bikes, which can let you mount a basket once the rack is securely installed. These types of racks can often be mounted on either the front or the back, usually attaching to the front fork or the rear seat stay.
Or you have the option of using the front baskets that can be used by front suspension bikes, for example, handlebar-mounted baskets.
For a front or full suspension bike, you can use a specialist bike rack, which you can then attach a basket or bag to. This Thule Pack ‘n Pedal rack can be mounted either to the front or the back of the bike by attaching to the fork legs or seat stays using ratchet straps so that the rack doesn’t interfere with the suspension.
You may also be able to attach a basket to the handlebars if your handlebars are no wider than 31.8mm in diameter. This Axiom one can be attached to the handlebars and easily removed so you can take the basket with you when you park up at the grocery store.
Some rear cargo racks can be mounted to the seat, like this one, which could work for many bikes, including those with both front and full suspension. This could then allow you to attach a basket or bag to the rack.
Because rigid bikes have no suspension to contend with, you have a little more freedom when it comes to choosing baskets and bike racks. You can install a rear rack to support a basket like this one or a bike bag. A rear rack like this Topeak Explorer can be ideal if you have disc brakes. This one is also compatible with front suspension MTBs with disc brakes.
A front basket like this Topeak Fixer can be mounted to the handlebars of most bikes. This basket can also be compatible with both front and rear suspension MTBs as long as your handlebars are no more than 31.8mm.
You also have the option of mounting a basket with struts that attach to the front axle, like this Blackburn one if your bike has suitable eyelets. If your bike doesn’t have eyelets you may need to use P-clamps as an alternative way to secure the struts to the bike frame.
Front baskets can, in some cases, be easier to attach than rear ones since rear baskets will require the installation of a rack first.
Some front baskets can be attached to your handlebars. These can usually be attached to all types of MTBs, whether they have full suspension or no suspension.
The problem you might face with this type of attachment is that the clamps may not always fit mountain bike handlebars, as the clamps are sometimes too narrow. Check the width of your handlebars before you choose a handlebar basket to make sure the basket will fit. Most of these types of baskets are designed for handlebars up to 31.8mm but some may have a smaller limit.
Many of the attachments can be clamped onto the handlebars and may not require much in the way of tools. You may need a screwdriver to tighten them.
Baskets that have strut attachments are usually fixed to the front fork, often connecting to the eyelets on the fork or to the axle. However, not all MTBs have fork eyelets and not all MTBs are compatible with this type of basket.
If you have a front suspension on your bike, you probably won’t be able to install a basket with struts, as this will get in the way of the suspension and could possibly either prevent the suspension from moving properly or break the struts.
You may find that you want to install a bike rack at the front, which could give you more freedom over the basket you choose. However, not all front racks will be compatible with all MTBs, which is especially true if you have front suspension.
To install a front bike rack to your MTB you may need either a screwdriver or an Allen key, depending on the model of bike rack you choose and the hardware that comes with it.
The rack can usually connect to the front fork of your bike. If you have a full-suspension or front suspension bike, you’ll need to choose a rack that can accommodate the suspension. These specialized racks are designed to attach to the front fork while allowing the full movement of the suspension above the rack’s attachment points.
To install a rear basket to an MTB you first need to install a rear cargo rack. The installation will vary depending on the type of mountain bike you have.
For front suspension and rigid MTBs, you can install a rear rack that mounts to the frame. You’ll need a screwdriver but the mounting hardware will usually come with the rack.
The struts on the bike rack usually attach to the eyelets on your rear axle. Sometimes racks have additional struts that attach to either the seat stay or the seat post. A bike basket can then be mounted to the rack. The attachment method will vary depending on the type of basket. Some may be able to be strapped on or zip-tied. Others may need to be bolted to the rack.
To install a rear basket to a full suspension MTB you’ll need to install a specially designed rear rack that won’t interfere with your suspension. Usually, you can attach the rack to the seat stays. But you may also use a rack that can be attached to the seat post.
To secure the rack to your seat stays, the rack will probably come with the attachment hardware. You will usually need an Allen key or a screwdriver to fix the attachment clamps to the bike.
You can then attach a basket in the same way as is done for other types of MTBs, either with zip-ties or straps, or bolts, depending on your basket or preference.
As you’ll see, it’s probably not too difficult to attach a basket to your mountain bike. No matter what type of MTB you have, you should find some options that can suit your particular bike and the type of gear you want to carry.
Hopefully, you enjoyed discovering some of the baskets and attachments out there.
Let us know what you thought, especially if you’ve added a basket yourself. And if you want to help others find simple ways to accessorize their MTB with a basket or cargo rack, share this article with them.