Thursday, June 9, 2011

Diminished (Cargo) Capacity

Bicycle commuting, like just about everything else, involves compromise and trade-offs. For example, my Jamis Commuter came with a set of North Road style handlebars, which provided a nice upright riding position and left me with plenty of room to attach a wire basket to the front of my bike. The basket was incredibly handy, and let me carry everything from groceries to small musical instruments fairly easily.
Unfortunately, the handlebars, which were fine for short rides (say, under 5 miles), were causing me problems with hand numbness, in no small part because they didn't offer much room to move my hands to different positions, and kept me locked into a not-quite-comfortable 45-degree angle.
In the interest of saving my nerve endings over longer rides (most of my commuting ends up being between 8 and 20 miles at a stretch) I swapped them out for moustache-stylehandlebars, which bring my hands back parallel to each other, and give me room to move them to different positions as I ride.
The downside is that the new handlebars and the basket don't seem to fit together all that well. The moustache bars sit quite a bit lower and sweep forward, partially covering the top of the basket, and making me bang my knuckles on the basket edge if I have my hands in the forward position.
So for the moment, I've had to remove the oh-so-useful cargo basket in exchange for being able to feel my fingers after a ride (important if you're playing music). But I'd like to get some of my carrying capacity back (I do have a large bag mounted on the rear of the bike, and I can use a messenger bag, but that gets warm really quickly in this weather).
One option is to get a front rack which attaches lower on the fork. This would be ideal as I'd have the option of affixing either a basket or using the flat of the rack and a bungee cord, however, most of the decent racks seem pricey (I'm broke). The other is to try to fabricate some sort of alternate attachment system for the basket I have, that will carry it lower on the front of the bike. This might be doable if I can come up with something simple and sturdy that won't rattle all over the place.
I'm open to suggestions.