In keeping with this week’s agricultural theme, let’s talk about how to bring home the summer bounty of the greenmarket on the back of a bike. Although the design blogs have lately been rife with products of undeniable style and novelty (bike basket porn!), this post focuses on utility in a urban setting where durability, portability and theft-prevention are everyday concerns.

Here’s the set-up that I use not only for weekly shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan, but also for daily errands around town. Swap out the vegetables for a purse or small briefcase, an extra pair of shoes, and in this heat, a fresh shirt, and this system takes you to the office as well. For destinations with a coat or bag check, I stow my helmet and outerwear in the basket and offload the whole thing. Easy.

The basic components are a sturdy rear-mounted rack, a roomy but lightweight, detachable basket and a stretchy cargo net.  All are made by Topeak:

Explorer Tubular Rack – This aluminum rear-mounted rack is equipped with a channel that enables you to slide and lock the basket into place. If your urban ride has disc brakes like mine does, be sure to buy the model with disc mounts.

MTX Rear Basket – Constructed of sturdy welded metal wire, this basket measures 16 in.  x 13 in. x 9 in. and weighs a modest 3.4 lbs. Line up the rectangular composite track on the bottom of the basket with the channel on the rack, and slide forward until the basket clicks into place. To remove, press down on the orange tab, and slide the basket off. My one tiny quibble with the basket is that the wire handle is pretty unforgiving; a padded grip would provide added comfort.

Cargo Net — This stretches over the basket to keep the contents secure. One of the helpful technicians at Water Front Bicycle Shop in Manhattan, where I bought these components and had them installed, suggested that I zip-tie one length of the cargo net to the basket frame. Following his advice has not only saved me time in loading, but also has probably prevented me from misplacing the net — many times.

If you’d rather roll your basket than tote it, you might want to consider the Topeak TrolleyTote Folding MTX Rear Basket with a telescoping handle, wheels and a collapsible frame for easy storage. It’s compatible with the rear rack above.

If your load of groceries exceeds the capacity of your basket — and whose doesn’t in August? — read my recent post about From Earth to Kitchen, a service that delivers your purchases by bike from the Union Square Greenmarket to your home or restaurant kitchen.

Photo gallery: velojoy

Readers: Please share tips or products that make it easier for you to transport your stuff by bike in the city.

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