I have not had a front basket since the 80’s when I still had a fetching pink bike with handlebar streamers. I had friends at school who had them and they always seemed so unwieldy that I steadfastly stuck to my backpack or rear rack. I love the aesthetic of a front cargo style rack, but never had the right bike with straight bars. Then I found the Portland Design Works Takeout Basket and everything changed. If only the same could be said for the social acceptability of handlebar streamers.
What is it?
Portland Design Works (PDW) are a brand based in, you guessed it, Portland Oregon in the good ol’ USofA. They have been making some excellent gear for everyday cycling for a few years now, with their most popular offering being their incredibly high quality Full Metal Fenders, which we have tried and love. They also make a range of lights, accessories and luggage carrying options. It is to this luggage carrying that we look for this review.
The Takeout basket, costing £69.99, is a small, black metal basket that can fit on handlebars from 25.4mm-31.8mm thick (adapter is included for thin bars). It can fit on flat or riser bars as well as between drop bars like those found on a road bike. The bars on the Flyer were 40cm wide and there was a little room to spare either side, so it will fit most bikes. Without the bag the basket weighs 500g. The bag weighs 290g, therefore the combined weight is a little more than something like a n Ortlieb Ultimate6, but it has a more urban look and the bag itself is lighter for carrying around.
The basket comes with a removable bag to fit into it. This bag is tough and rolls down so it is waterproof. As it rolls down and has adjustable clips on the side, it is quite possible to adapt the carrying capacity and cinch it down when empty or expand it when carrying more. The metal basket itself is sized to hold a 6 pack of beer (bottles, this is an American product after all) or most standard sized takeaway containers, hence it’s name. Finally, there is an extra loop or slot in the front of the basket, intended to be used to carry a small d-lock.
The basket was pretty easy to attach to the bike, and it comes with everything you need to get it on your bike. The only slight complication was that the brake cables take a little manoeuvring depending on how you have them placed within the bar tape. The basket comes with a piece that looks like a handle and sits through the lower screws to stop the basket drooping by hitting the stem. Sounds complicated but is pretty simple in practice and works like a charm.
Once in place it felt very sturdy. The bag was most stable if i made sure the straps went
The empty basket doesn’t really have any discernible impact on handling, so having it fitted and empty is not going to change much. Adding a lock to the holder will obviously ramp up the weight and therefore immediately alter handling a little, regardless of what else you add to the bag. The real world impact on your bike will depend on the bike itself, and I found with the Flyer that whilst it made getting through barriers and things a little slower, it didn’t ruin the feel of the bike.
The basket is a good size for keeping essentials in, or carrying enough for a day ride. In the bag I have been able to fit: a windproof jacket, poncho, arm warmers, tool and first aid kits, wallet, phone, keys, tissues. All this and the bag was not as full as it absolutely could be. It is therefore really very practical and a great option for carrying essentials around.
It looks really nice. Like, really very cool. It has got a lot of love and enquiries while I have been using it. The black metal is chunky enough to be reassuring strength wise, but still doesn’t stand out too much and looks just the right amount of industrial awesome.
It is a bit expensive. I think as a main piece of luggage for the bike to be used almost daily, it’s not too bad and as you are getting the bag with it rather than having to buy that separately, its kind of ok. However, some people who have been interested in mine have certainly been a bit hesitant about the price and therefore it certainly is an off-putting price for some.
The basket being in place makes it a little hard to hold the top of the bars as you cannot fit your fingers between the rack and the bars. It is definitely possible to hold the bars and then basket, and it is not uncomfortable. This would not be an issue if you have straight bars instead of drops. I don’t really find it a deal breaker – just something to keep in mind.
I have found that I use it all the time now, and it is far more utilitarian than I had initially hoped – if I didn’t have to carry a laptop around the Takeout would be everything I need on a daily basis. Weight wise it is not a terrible sacrifice to have it on your bike, and to be honest it is not meant for super light weight rigs anyway.
It is very aesthetically pleasing and looks really awesome on the Flyer. It would look similarly awesome on most city orientated bikes, particularly steel ones. I love the fact that it fits between drop bars, even fairly narrow ones (38cm and up probably), making it a really great alternative to a traditional handlebar bag.
Whilst the price is not low, the basket and the bag at least have the premium feel and quality that go along with it. There is nothing worse than paying out for a slightly more premium product and not getting anything for it – not so with this. It is really well made and feels incredibly robust.
The Takeout basket by PDW is currently a rare beast in the UK, but I have been told Velorution and Everyone Bikes will be stocking it. There are several stockists of other PDW items though who I am sure would be happy to order it in for you – it’s worth it. The RRP is £69.99.
Do you have a Takeout basket? Do you have a different front carry option? As usual, let us and everyone else know.