Late last year I was looking for a way to more conveniently carry things while on my commuter bike. I found what I thought was a great bargain; the Sunlite Handlebar Basket. Since I wrote that post eight months ago a few readers have inquired about how the basket was holding up. I was going to wait until the one year point to evaluate the long term durability of the product but since another commenter recently asked I thought I would go ahead and address it today.
I'm pleased to report come hell or high water the Sunlite Handlebar Basket has served me well. The powder coat paint is still glossy and black with no cracks or peeling. Welds are all solid and the basket has retained its shape. Now after many months of use I would not hesitate to recommend this carrier.
For average daily use the usual cargo is my lunchbox and my jacket and gloves if it warms up later in the day. Occasional trips to the grocery to pick up items for the day's meal or a six pack is another area where the basket shines. I am always curious and looking for other odd things I might be able to portage while leaving the auto back at home in the driveway. Earlier this spring when it came time to start mowing the grass I hopped on my bike and peddled down to the gas station to fill my can.
One concern that was brought up on numerous online reviews and even here on my blog was damage to the head tube area where the lower bracket makes contact with the bicycle. On my bike I have never pulled the black nylon hook and loop strap off to look underneath so I did this morning on the way to work.
A little marring is visible on the surface of the titanium head tube where the bracket slides as the bike's steering is actuated. Too me this is no big deal and is no different than the wear spot visible just above where the cable jacket rubs against the frame.
Of course the consideration for someone thinking of using a basket like this is how much damage are you willing to accept. My situation is perfect because my frame has no paint to wear off exposing the metal underneath to potential corrosion. Even so on a painted frame the rotating motion of the nylon strap would simply polish the metal once it did wear through a paint layer. Bicycle head tubes are made from pretty stout tubing so I would guess it would take several centuries of use for wear to cause any real detriment other than cosmetic.
Some bikes have thick three dimensional head tube badges that may or may not fall right in line with the bracket strap. If so I would think the uneven surface of the badge would more quickly wear through the nylon material of the strap allowing the steel rod of the bracket to do greater damage to the bike. A head tube decal on the other hand would allow the nylon strap to turn easier and wear much slower but the decal would certainly become scuffed and unattractive in a short time.
Another problem that may be a deal breaker as we recently discovered when the RoadQueen picked up a Sunlite basket for her hybrid bike is the bulging 31.8 mm center clamp section of her handlebars. It is this thicker area where the two upper hooks of the basket's mounting bracket hang. The basket's intended market is on commuter and cruiser style bikes. Handlebar diameter of these types of bikes generally have ranged between 22 and 26 millimeters. The rubber covered hooks of the bracket grip this thickness range securely but are too tight a radius to work with the new standard on sportier bikes. We worked around the issue by clamping the hook in a wooden furniture clamp and bending the hook open enough to slip over the 31.8 bars on her bike. It's not perfect and the bracket isn't quite as solid as on my older style mountain bike bar but it still works ok for her.