Wald Sports is an American company that has been quietly manufacturing bicycle components and accessories since before the invention of the automobile. Based out of Kentucky, they’ve produced parts for many other American bicycle companies, most of whom have long-since been sold or relocated overseas, yet they still remain committed to manufacturing their products in the USA. These days, their offerings consist mostly of steel baskets, one of which I currently own: the 520 twin rear basket.
To many, baskets are synonymous with beach cruisers and Dutch bikes, while serious commuters use a rack and pannier system; this, in my opinion, is an erroneous assumption. I’ve found that having a rear basket, especially the Wald 520, has multiplied the utility of my bicycle beyond what a standard pannier setup could offer.
(Above: baking brownies for an air show.)
The biggest difference for me is the ease in which items can be inserted and removed— a bike with the rear basket installed is almost like a pickup truck in that you can literally toss things in or grab them out without having to first uncover or open a compartment. If I want to bring a backpack but not necessarily wear it while riding, I set it in either basket and go on my way. Bringing recyclables to the redemption center is pretty easy, too and there’s no concern over something leaking or spilling onto the fabric of a cloth pannier.
Another perk of having a steel basket is its intrinsic modularity: you can add anything with straps or clips to the outside of it, or zip tie anything without. I typically have a small patch kit in a velcro pouch snapped to either side; it protrudes very little and doesn’t get in the way of anything I put inside the basket.
My favorite feature is not really a feature per se, but I think it’s handy—the basket serves to prop the bike upright when it’s leaned against a wall or tree, making for a fairly stable loading/unloading process. Previously, I had spent way too much time finding a surface on my bike that I wouldn’t mind getting scratched up by a hard surface, but now I just prop it up against the basket and don’t have to worry about it.
As far as weight goes, I expected the Wald basket to weigh significantly more than a set of panniers, but depending on your setup, it oftentimes weighs less. This is because the basket is also the rack that mounts directly to your stays, so there isn’t any superfluous structure in the design. Altogether, it’s just about 5 pounds, which isn’t a lot considering it’s plated steel.
The only drawback, and you’ll see this fairly often in ‘'one-size fits all” products, is that the installation can be a bit tricky, if not downright frustrating. With the Wald Twin Rear basket, this is because the two lower support arms are either too long or too short to match up with the rack eyelets, depending on your frame size. What should really come in the package is a pair of rubberized “P” clamps, because that seems to be how most people end up attaching theirs to their bikes.
Otherwise, I’m very satisfied with the basket, and consistently regard it as the single greatest utility multiplier for a bike. Add to that the fact that it’s made in the U.S. when many products no longer are, and the price is an incredibly reasonable $39.00 (a rack/pannier combo will set you back triple that amount), I could not say enough positive things about it.
Official Bicyclist Abroad Rating: 9/10
You can buy it here:
Or from the WaldSports website: [link]
- Bicyclist Abroad