Taken by Design

Cricket - November 27, 2009

So I bought this really cute bike basket for my burrito bike, a Schwinn Continental. The basket is cut white plastic with flowers. It’s cuter than cute actually. The basket comes off the bike to double as a shopping bag too.  It made me smile the moment I saw it. I’d fallen in love with it. It seemed the perfect intersection of form and function so I  had to have it…and that’s when I got taken by design.

I pulled my old metal basket off the bike – which required a fair bit of wrangling. The old basket had served me well for more than a decade. Sure it rattled over bumps and all, but it was trustworthy to carry all my precious cargo: my laptop, the six pack from Party Port, my satchel and last minute groceries for dinner. But when I saw the new one -  I immediately got  excited to pimp my ride. I installed the new one all by myself and when I got done I proudly took it for a spin down the hill to the store – I tossed my apples and the weekly paper in the basket and began to pedal home.

(insert here: sound of  needle falling of the record) I watched the basket tilt down and start rubbing on my front wheel and make it all but impossible (and dangerous) to ride further. I walked home and took everything apart, and back together, soliciting some extra elbow grease to really tighten the brackets on the handlebars that allowed the basket to flop down. Only to repeat this process again and again… And Again.

I got a lot of compliments on my basket when riding around. Yes the bike was adorable. But this week I rode to work with my satchel over my back and my laptop in my left hand. And my basket was virtually empty. Carrying anything more than just my bike lock is a ton of work, not to mention dangerous.

I’d been taken and I was seething mad and just a little more than embarrassed. I’m smarter than this, gosh darn it. Why didn’t I see through the hype?  The marketing pictures looked great – I saw myself in the pictures happily and comfortably strolling the grocery aisles and then carrying those few groceries in the basket on my pedal home from work. It seemed ideal.  I make my living as a graphic designer and firmly believe in pragmatism and function. In my world it’s a given that function comes before form. Since buying my bike basket I’d seen it show up on pages of design annuals, and featured in articles for magazines like Dwell and Metropolis. So it seems like one could safely assume that it would be functional as well as beautiful.

Did anyone test this basket with cargo? Did anybody feel the plastic lip of the basket jab into her back when carrying it with the shoulder strap??? Does the designer of this basket, sleep well at night – and does she have this basket on her bike and use it for any practical purpose?

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