Katherine made this pair of bicycle panniers last November. They were a custom order for Ben Ferencz at Freeman Transport, who hand build bikes in Missoula, Montana. Ben wanted a pair of willow baskets for a tandem bike.
Ben sent us a Freeman rack so that Katherine could figure out attachment using willow and leather straps.
They also wanted these to be picnic baskets, so Katherine added a removable cutting board on the inside of one lid. The lids are held on by a leather strap and buckle on each end.
Here’s what the basket panniers looked like on an old bike we have with the Freeman rack tied on. They looked great even on this old beater, but it was going to be a pleasure to see them on a hand built tandem.
We knew the baskets were going to be mounted on a special tandem that Freeman was building, but we didn’t know who the actual customer was. Ben had briefly mentioned the name Mistress. We had no idea that Mistress was a “creative agency” in Venice, CA. It was kind of amusing to come across this video and see Katherine’s baskets riding around the streets of LA.
The next short video shows the tandem bicycle being made. There are some good shots of the baskets again near the end. The tandem bike is apparently now for sale as The Mistress.
willow bicycle basket
Katherine has donated this willow bicycle basket to a benefit auction for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, “advocates for a bike-friendly Washington”. She was asked to donate by Liz McNett Crowl the coordinator of Skagit County Physical Activity Coalition. Nothing makes a bike more friendly than a basket! (I guess that means we’re advocating for friendly bikes in a bike friendly place.)
removeable straps for attaching
Katherine has been working on her version of a basket to attach to the front handle bars. She decided an oval shape would work best for a variety of handles and front cables. She has woven it with four slots to give some flexibility on how it is attached. It comes equipped with two adjustable straps with quick release buckles which makes it convenient to remove from the bike.
shoulder strap attaches to side loops
She also put two side loops on the basket for attaching an adjustable shoulder strap. You can remove the basket from the bike and conveniently carry it with you into a store or library, for example. The base, stakes, and border are made from peeled ‘buff’ willow which makes it fairly light weight. The side can be woven from one of the attractive colors of willow we grow; in this case a nice red.
willow bike basket and straps
When shopping for a bike basket, pay close attention to the number of stakes in the basket, and how the border is attached. There are a lot of cheaply made wicker baskets being sold for bicycles.
Better to buy a well made willow basket that can be a friend for life.
willow bike baskets
Katherine made these bike baskets for this classic Sears bike back in November. These were made for our friend Eddie Gordon who wanted the orange stripe to match an orange stripe decal on the bike. These were the second pair of square pannier style bike baskets that Katherine has made. She had made a pair previously for her own bike. The baskets are fairly large at about 14 inches long by 10 inches wide at the top border by 12 inches deep. They taper to a base at 11 inches by 7 inches. The inside dimensions are 13″ x 9″ tapering to 10″ x 6″. (The square shape is essential for a six pack!) They have a heavy wire woven in to the basket near the top. There are loops formed from the wire that hang over the rear rack. The baskets can be easily removed by just lifting them up.
outside view of wire loops
inside view of wire hanger
You can see examples of front handle baskets that Katherine weaves and sells in this post.
Katherine’s bike baskets