Cheap rear bike basket, commuting challenges and bike lock- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Cheap rear bike basket, commuting challenges and bike lock

    What's a decent, cheap option to carry a few supplies for family outings (sunscreen, diaper, some snacks) on the back of a bike? I may just get a basic $10 rack and bungee it down.

    Also, I've thought about commuting on my new city cruiser bike but have a few challenges. I'd pretty much have to ride on a 4 lane divided highway for about 2 miles. Some cyclists were riding on it at night a couple years ago and were hit and killed 3 miles from me. A surprising number of pedestrians and cyclists are hit around here, so that's obviously my biggest concern.
    It gets quite hot and humid in the summer time so although my commute would be short, I don't want to get to work and be a sweaty mess.
    I work at a University campus and would need to park my bike outside. My bike only cost me $160 new, but I think it would be a target to get stolen compared to some of the other bikes. So it seems like it's not worth it, but if there are any suggestions to make things safer and more pleasant.

    Also, what would you recommend for a decent, inexpensive bike lock for locking up two cheap bikes?

  2. #2
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    gotta have a rack of some kind for the back. beyond that, I love my kitty litter box panniers.

    2013 Bike to Work Day Indianapolis by Nate, on Flickr

    Jandd sells the hardware in a kit:
    Bucket Kit

    But there are instructions for doing it for less.
    Make 4 gallon square bucket bike panniers for less than $20
    Another Kitty Litter Bike Pannier

    For what you're asking about though, a basket in front might be a good idea, also.

    The biggest risk for bikes on college campuses tends to be overnight parking. And vandalism seems to be a bigger risk than outright theft. But theft rates are high, too. With the sheer number of bikes on campus, you'll just need to lock your bike better than everybody else's. Unless it's a really big campus in a pretty big area with lots of people trying to support drug addictions and whatnot (seems to be the biggest driver of bike theft), you won't need a huge lock, but you will need to make sure you're locking your bike correctly. Both wheels to the frame, at a bare minimum. Also be sure you secure the seat/seatpost. No unprotected quick release parts, be sure of it. Or they will disappear. Replacing QR levers with Pitlocks isn't a bad idea, either. Extra layer of security for wheels and seatpost.

    I ride a nicer bike and when I park it in a high risk area, I combine the cable with a heavy u-lock. The u-lock secures the frame and rear wheel to the rack, and the cable does the same, but also links the front wheel. My bike is almost always locked better than every other bike on the rack, so unless the thieves are a professional outfit and target the most expensive bikes with power tools (that no lock can protect against, anyway), the other bikes will get hit long before mine.

    Every campus I've been on, though, I've been able to secure my bike indoors most of the time. During grad school, I was able to keep my bike in my office. That made me feel better, because I would be there at all hours, never knowing from one day to the next what time I'd be going home.

  3. #3
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    Milk crate and some U bolts from the hardware store.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    Also, I've thought about commuting on my new city cruiser bike but have a few challenges. I'd pretty much have to ride on a 4 lane divided highway for about 2 miles. Some cyclists were riding on it at night a couple years ago and were hit and killed 3 miles from me. A surprising number of pedestrians and cyclists are hit around here, so that's obviously my biggest concern.
    You need to identify the hazards and issues that caused the deaths of the cyclist, who were riding your route...

    Check out other routes (be creative)....

    Once you have identified all the hazards...begin to mitigate them...

    Hopefully you can get to a safe commute....otherwise forget about it.

  5. #5
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    I have bungeed on a small laundry basket to the rear deck. Even a cardboard box with slits in the bottom side and wire ties could be made to work.

    If a cable lock and U lock protected my expensive bike on campus, I think you will be fine with the same as Harold says. Unless someone wants to clean out the whole rack. Locking up in the middle hide the bike some and makes it a bit harder to access. I never thought to try to store my bike in the building Likely was some fire code against it. You have gyms on campus, so getting cleaned up should not be as big an issue as for some employers.

    Riding on the shoulder of fast roads demands lights that can be seen in the day at a distance. You may spend more for the lights than you did on the bike.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies. I have an iBert on the front of my bike, so the basket will need to go on the back. I like the kitty litter thing for originality, but I'm also thinking dirt cheap and reusing something that I already have like a plastic flower pot, tupperware, or dishpan. Or I could just pack a soft cooler and bungee it down initially.

    U-locks and the cables look pretty reasonable. I already have a cable lock but it's not long enough to go around the wheels, saddle and frame.

    The tough thing about the road is that there's a narrow shoulder, the speed limit is 45 to 55 and there are multiple spots where cars are turning off of and onto the road. There are always accidents at the intersection next to my house. I could avoid most of it, but it would involve cutting through a neighbor's yard, trespassing on a couple future developments, bush wacking for about 500 feet and it would make my total distance about twice as long. I ride it for a bit to get to the trail head or for my road rides but I figure it's not worth pushing my luck to commute.

  7. #7
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    If you are looking to repurpose things for a pannier, anything you can drill or punch four holes in can be attached to a rack with two zip- ties. As for the road, lights and reflective bits will help. It becomes less uncomfortable with time.

  8. #8
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    milk crate works for me......had another one that was broken, so I cut it down to make a lid.....havent put it on the new commuter yet
    97 specialized rockhopper.- urban beater
    2013 GT aggressor 3.0- urban assault vehicle

  9. #9
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    Hi-Vis construction worker vests are cheap and help increase visibility. Since cops wear something similar directing traffic you might get a more respectful hearing if you had a n incident seeing as they might not like the idea of a driver that inattentive.

  10. #10
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    Part of the reason I like my kitty litter tubs is that they have AMPLE space for bright colors and reflective stickers, which addresses some visibility concerns.

    The reflective construction workers' vest is a good idea, too.

    Good daylight-visible lights aren't all that cheap. I use some Magicshine lights, which are at the affordable end of the spectrum, and I still have more into my lights than you have into your bike. But I generally get respect from drivers. The road network in my area mostly has quite a few bike friendly options, though. Certain parts of the city are a little more difficult to reach on bike-friendly routes, but ample planning goes a long way.

    One of my part-time jobs is with a cycling nonprofit that puts out a map of the city intended to do just that - help folks plan routes that are more bike-friendly. I am working on revisions to the final design of the new edition of the map. Many cities have similar maps. I know that when ours was first made, the folks who designed it used maps from other cities to help guide the design.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    What's a decent, cheap option to carry a few supplies for family outings (sunscreen, diaper, some snacks) on the back of a bike? I may just get a basic $10 rack and bungee it down.
    This is what I do... a basic rack, with a semi-permanent bungee, is enough to carry most of what I ever want to carry.


    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'd pretty much have to ride on a 4 lane divided highway for about 2 miles.
    Get a good blinky. I have Bike Planet's "Turbo" on all of my bikes. It's obnoxious, but people see me.


    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    It gets quite hot and humid in the summer time so although my commute would be short, I don't want to get to work and be a sweaty mess.
    How hot is it early in the morning? Is it really so bad?


    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    What would you recommend for a decent, inexpensive bike lock for locking up two cheap bikes?
    Like the others said, a cheap U-Lock should deter thieves. If you have a crappy $160 bike, then nobody's going to want your wheels or seat.

  12. #12
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    I lived in east TX for a few years and commuted frequently. Summertime sucked. humidity would be near 100% in the early morning. Temps would start in the mid 70's for a low, and be above 90 by 9 or 10am. It didn't matter what you did, if you did anything physical, you'd be sweating balls. I preferred to ride in the evenings after dark. Temps would be higher, but the humidity would be WAY lower. Still humid, but tolerable.

    If the OP lives anywhere in the southeast, conditions will be similar.

    I would argue about people wanting the seat and wheels from a cheap bike. It doesn't matter what they are, when it comes to bike theft, if they're easily stolen, someone will steal them if given the opportunity. I'll use the cable lock only option in limited situations. Namely, when I'm near the bike and can see it, or in an extremely low risk area (which a college campus is not).



    To secure the seat, you would use a separate setup. A short bit of cable or chain from the hardware store looped around the rails of the saddle and then physically locked to the bike frame with a small padlock would be fine.



    As I've mentioned, opportunity is a big one. This isn't a fancy bike. Yet it's stripped. It was likely left here for too long, which gave potential thieves time to cut the cables and strip the parts.


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I would argue about people wanting the seat and wheels from a cheap bike...
    10-4.

    What I meant was, if he replaces the quick-releases with nuts and bolts, then that's probably enough theft deterrent...

    Failing that, theft-resistant axles are cheap insurance.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    Also, I've thought about commuting on my new city cruiser bike but have a few challenges. I'd pretty much have to ride on a 4 lane divided highway for about 2 miles. Some cyclists were riding on it at night a couple years ago and were hit and killed 3 miles from me. A surprising number of pedestrians and cyclists are hit around here, so that's obviously my biggest concern.
    Understood, but I would consider how concerned you are about driving given the number of automobile fatalities in the same 3 mile radius in the same last few years...do you even blink before getting in the car?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I lived in east TX for a few years and commuted frequently. Summertime sucked. humidity would be near 100% in the early morning. Temps would start in the mid 70's for a low, and be above 90 by 9 or 10am. It didn't matter what you did, if you did anything physical, you'd be sweating balls. I preferred to ride in the evenings after dark. Temps would be higher, but the humidity would be WAY lower. Still humid, but tolerable.

    If the OP lives anywhere in the southeast, conditions will be similar.

    I would argue about people wanting the seat and wheels from a cheap bike. It doesn't matter what they are, when it comes to bike theft, if they're easily stolen, someone will steal them if given the opportunity. I'll use the cable lock only option in limited situations. Namely, when I'm near the bike and can see it, or in an extremely low risk area (which a college campus is not).



    To secure the seat, you would use a separate setup. A short bit of cable or chain from the hardware store looped around the rails of the saddle and then physically locked to the bike frame with a small padlock would be fine.



    As I've mentioned, opportunity is a big one. This isn't a fancy bike. Yet it's stripped. It was likely left here for too long, which gave potential thieves time to cut the cables and strip the parts.
    Yep, I live in the Southeast. I never sweated before just standing or walking around until I moved down here.

    I'm frequently see bikes that are completely stripped on campus.
    To lock down the saddle, I'm thinking about implementing pic 2 in the diagram but running the cable lock through the saddle rails along with the frame and rear wheel. Seems like cable locks can be easy to cut through, so I'm not sure who makes a decent one (that costs less than 50% of my bike).


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    They left the pedals, cranks and chain. That was nice of them.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Understood, but I would consider how concerned you are about driving given the number of automobile fatalities in the same 3 mile radius in the same last few years...do you even blink before getting in the car?
    Yes, automobile safety is something I look into quite frequently. Sure, more people die in cars, but there's also a lot more miles driven, more drunk drivers, more distracted drivers texting.

    I would think fatalities per mile driven in a car is far less than fatalities per mile commuted on a bike, especially on the sort of road that I would be riding.

    With that said, I'm all for making things safer. I would love more bike paths in my town or even bike lanes, or just roads with bigger shoulders to ride on.
    Last edited by bank5; 05-28-2015 at 06:33 PM.

  17. #17
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    I commute in Germany, where bike theft is rampant. I have locking axles (they require a goofy five-point wrench), and I use a cheap kiddy Abus chain lock to lock my seat to the frame.
    I have a motorcycle-grade Abus U-lock, but the problem is finding anything comparably sturdy to lock my bike to...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'm frequently see bikes that are completely stripped on campus.
    To lock down the saddle, I'm thinking about implementing pic 2 in the diagram but running the cable lock through the saddle rails along with the frame and rear wheel. Seems like cable locks can be easy to cut through, so I'm not sure who makes a decent one (that costs less than 50% of my bike).
    Stripped bikes on campus are most likely like that because they were left there for too long.

    The problem with running the cable from the frame/rear wheel to the saddle rails is that the cable won't be long enough to ALSO protect the front wheel. If you look at the bike as a whole, you could ride it in a pinch without a seatpost, or at least push the bike. Without a front wheel, getting it home becomes much trickier. And if you have to allow parts to have a greater chance of being stolen, lock down the most expensive stuff first. Rear wheel/frame gets priority. Front wheel next. Saddle becomes last.

    The best saddle locking solutions are semi-permanent. Meaning, it stays locked when you ride away. That way, you're not having to go through the hassle of locking it every time you park the bike.

    Spending more than $25 or $30 on a cable lock is silly. They ARE easy to defeat by a determined thief, and that's why I wouldn't spend more. A good U-lock or chain is more difficult (they basically require bigger tools to break through quickly - like battery powered grinders and whatnot, stuff your average tweaker won't be hauling around), and is therefore worth spending a little more on.

    There's a little bit more to look at than JUST the replacement cost of the bike, or its parts, too. Your bike is your transportation. So if someone swipes it, you aren't just out a "thing" that will cost you money to replace, you are burdened by less efficient means of getting around. You have to get a taxi, bum a ride from a friend, take the bus, or walk. You do have to replace the bike. Which may wind up costing more in the long run, especially if you factor in the costs of conducting the search. There's the time you have to spend dealing with the police and filing a report if you want any chance of getting it back.

    GOOD locks wind up saving you a lot more than just the cost of the bike. Smart locking technique matters, too.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post

    The problem with running the cable from the frame/rear wheel to the saddle rails is that the cable won't be long enough to ALSO protect the front wheel.
    From the graphic, I thought the U-lock went through the frame, bike rack and front wheel. My bike has small wheels, tires and frame so I think I could get a U-lock around all three, but not certain.

  20. #20
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    It can but rear wheels are more expensive than front so I would rather put my burlier lock on the back. Worst case take the front wheel off to secure it also.

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    Nice graphics Nate. Even replacing the QR skewers and seat post clamp with standard bolt ons will make your wheels and saddle less attractive to the casual thief. Combine that with even a cheap master lock cable and padlock or lock the cheap cable through the good U- lock and you should be in good shape for all day parking on most campuses. I wouldn't leave it locked up through the weekend nights if I could avoid it.

    Another thing to look into might be places to lock up where security cameras appear to be on and capturing the bike rack.

  22. #22
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    Have you thought about a folder? I had my bike stolen on campus when I was in college as well. This way, you can bring it in and put it in your locker/office.

    DAHON Bikes:*Dahon Folding Bikes

    As far as sweat--you're on campus, so I'm assuming there are showers?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Nice graphics Nate.
    just a Google image search.

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