Since road bikes don’t come with racks, it’s harder to use them to haul pets, grocery supplies, and other stuff. So, your option is to attach a basket. But can you put a basket on a road bike?
You can put a basket on a road bike if it’s small enough to sit between the drop bars perfectly. Alternatively, you can install it on either the front or rear rack if the bike frame has rack mounts.
I’ll talk more about these conditions to help you have a seamless installation process. I’ll also suggest an alternative in case your bike frame lacks the necessary rack mounts.
In a rush? Check out my most recommended baskets for road bikes below.
4 Best Baskets for Road Bikes
- MTX Rear Bicycle Basket: Best Rear Basket for Road Bike
- Retrospec Steel Apollo Basket: Best Front Basket for Road Bike
- ANZOME Rear Bike Basket: Best Seatpost Basket for Road Bike
- ANZOME Front Bike Basket: Best Front Basket for Carrying Pets
Can You Put A Basket On A Road Bike? (Explained)
Generally, you can only put a basket on a road bike if it meets any of these two conditions:
- It’s small enough to fit nicely between your drops and features attachment clamps that match the handlebar diameter
- It’s compatible with the rear or front rack
1. Drop Bars As A Limiting Factor
The drop bars should allow you to fit the basket on the handlebar seamlessly. So, they shouldn’t be too narrow or too thick.
Narrow Drop Bars
The external distance between the two drops usually is 400-460mm (40-46cm). While this is an important consideration when picking a basket, it’s not the only one.
You also have to determine the inside length between the drops. Then subtract 20-40mm (2-4cm) from the measurement.
For example, if the inner drop-bar length is 430mm (43cm), then you should get a basket that’s about 390-410mm (39cm-41cm).
Doing so ensures that the basket won’t be too wide to prevent you from shifting. The basket shouldn’t be too close to the bike’s shifters to get in the way of their performance.
Thick Drop Bars
You also have to consider the thickness of the handlebar to know if the basket will fit.
Since baskets are made for commuter bikes, their attachment clamps work on handlebars with a 25.4mm diameter.
You, however, need something with a 31.8mm diameter if you have a modern road bike. So, a handlebar basket may not work with a modern road bike unless it has a 25.4mm clamp diameter.
Road bikes with such handlebar clamp diameters are not typical, but they do exist. You’ll likely find them in old-school models.
Don’t worry if this is not an option, as you can attach the basket to the rack.
Alternatively, switch to comfort or flat handlebars. That may change the geometry of your road bike but will at least nullify the restriction that comes with drop bars.
Carbon Drop Bars As A Limiting factor
A carbon drop bar just won’t cut. Primarily, that’s because their shape makes it harder for any basket to fit. You may end up doing a lot of modifications and messing up with the handlebar’s design.
Carbon drops are also not rugged enough to take on excess stress, as it’s the case with steel. So, the chances of the handlebar snapping are much higher.
2. Racks As A Limiting Factor
If you cannot fit the basket on the road bike handlebar, your second option is to attach it to the front or rear rack.
In this case, you’ll be installing both the basket and the rack.
Front Rack and Basket Combo
A road bike can accept a front basket on its front rack if:
- There are rack eyelets on the front for securing the rack
- The fork employs rim brakes and not disc brakes and feature a middle hold in the arch
Note that the hole usually is absent on disc brake bikes, and you need to bolt the front rack onto the fork. Once you install the front rack, you only need to zip-tie the basket around it.
Alternatively, you can bolt both the rack and the basket for a secure hold.
But why a front basket and rack combo?
Front baskets usually have an 8-10 pound capacity, which is small. But once you install them on a front rack, you double their holding capacity.
The other advantage is that you’ll have more clearance as the basket’s width doesn’t restrict the handlebars.
Having said that; your drops will restrict the drop bars’ height, and so it’ll only rest below them (the handlebars).
The other issue is that the rack and basket combo will put too much weight on the handlebar, making its handling a little more complex. So, you will not go as fast as you want.
Rear Rack and Basket Combo
You can also install a basket on the rear rack. In this case, you first have to install the rear rack before the basket.
Overall, the bike frame should feature two sets of rack eyelets. Once you fit the rack, you can use zip ties or bolts to secure the basket on it.
But why a rear basket and rack combo?
Like in the case of a front basket, doing a rear basket-rack combo offers you a large-capacity basket. In most cases, you can load 40-55 pounds onto the basket.
Additionally, you enjoy more clearance.
How To Add A Basket To Your Bike
1. Front Basket
When it comes to the front basket, there are several ways to go about it.
Some baskets come with hooks that you attach to the handlebar for a seamless installation. One such basket is the Retrospec Detachable Steel Front Bike Basket.
Its installation is seamless as you don’t need any unique tool, making it the best front basket.
We also have baskets that require you to strap them around the handlebar, and a good example is the Retrospec Bicycles Woven Basket.
Other options come with a quick-release attachment like the ANZOME Bike Basket (which is best for hauling pets). They, too, are also seamless to install.
2. Rear Basket
The process of mounting a rear basket doesn’t differ a lot from that of front baskets. The only difference is that you’ll be dealing with a much larger basket.
It’s essential, however, that you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
An option like the MTX Rear Bicycle Basket. allows you to bolt it using its mounting fixtures. The rack gets to hold up to 16.5 pounds, making it the best rear basket for road bikes.
What If Your Frame Lacks Rack Mounts?
Your bike frame may lack essential rack eyelets, limiting you from installing a rack and basket. In such a case, consider any of these options:
- A rear rack featuring clamp-on mounts
- A rear rack which is directly mounted to the rear axle
Alternatively, install a basket that requires you to mount it on the seat post. One such basket is the ANZOME Rear Bike Basket.
This under-seat basket comes with cable ties for easy installation.
Again, remember that seat post baskets don’t work with carbon seat posts as the material cannot withstand the extra clamping force you put during the installation.
1. How Do You Attach A Basket To A Road Bike?
You can attach a basket to a road bike on its handlebar, front rack, or rear rack. For the first case, the handlebar should be sizeable enough to match the basket’s width.
As for the racks, your frame has to have rack mounts to allow you to install the bicycle rack and then the basket.
2. How Do You Carry Things On A Road Bike?
You can carry light loads on a saddle bag, handlebar bag, top tube bag, or rucksack. But if you want to haul more loads, consider fitting a rack or basket or both.
3. How Do I Choose A Good Bike Basket?
When picking a good bike basket, ensure it’s compatible with your handlebar, front rack, or rear rack. It should also have the correct holding capacity and should be easy to install.
Additionally, it should be more robust enough to serve you longer.
It’s possible to attach a basket to any bike with a rack. But if the bicycle rack is non-existent, you’ve to install it. Alternatively, you can mount the basket on the handlebar if it fits.
Yes, it’s possible to fit a basket on a mountain bike. You can do it on its handlebar or rack. The problem is that the extra load may reduce the effectiveness of the bike’s suspension.
6. How Much Weight Can A Bike Basket Hold?
Front bike baskets usually have an 8-10 pound capacity, while rear baskets can hold 20 or 40-50 pounds if installed on a rack.
In conclusion, can you put a basket on a road bike?
As discussed, it’s possible to do it on the handlebar or rack. The basket, however, has to fit, and that’s where the issue of compatibility comes in.