Wicker baskets are not made of wicker
Wicker baskets are well known for their strength and durability, and for the unmatched beauty and comfort that an expert craftsman can produce. But wicker baskets are not made of wicker. The term “wicker” is usually used to describe the basket, but wickerwork is actually an ancient hand weaving technique used to manufacture the baskets.
Wicker baskets are made by weaving strands of fibers around a frame of thick stems, vines or plant stalks. Fibers normally used are willow, rattan, palm, various species of reed, bamboo, or a synthetic material called fiber rush, which consists of twisted paper. At Beach & Dog, we choose to make our baskets from willow.
Most natural materials are not suited for bike baskets
Baskets made of fiber rush (paper), paper splint, rope, or sea grass are not acceptable to hold heavy materials (i.e. dogs). They are too flexible and will deteriorate if left outside no matter how you treat them. If anyone tries to sell you a bicycle basket made from these materials use extreme caution.
Baskets made from rattan, palm, reed, or bamboo are a little better than those made from paper or grass, but they have many drawbacks. In order to easily weave these materials most manufacturers use a very fine weave. These baskets generally only hold a few pounds so they typically come with inferior straps or plastic mounting hardware. The mounting hardware will break the moment you place anything heavy in them. Plastic mounting hardware should never be used to hold your animal; it’s a recipe for disaster.
Willow makes a better basket
Willow is the superior choice for bicycle baskets due to its strength and durability. Willow’s natural ability to retain moisture make it easy to weave into a variety of shapes that retain their strength when the willow dries. Willow baskets are a bit heavier than fine weave rattan, reed, and bamboo, but that’s exactly what gives the basket its superior cargo carrying ability. You can feel the quality the moment you pick up a basket made from willow. Combine the willow with a steel frame and it will hold anything that will fit in it.
Willow is a true sustainable resource
Willows are fast growing trees from the poplar family. Basket willows are special species of willow that have been grown for centuries specifically for basket weaving and farm use. They grow straight, without branching in their first year growth and can grow 4 to 8 feet per year. The trees can be coppiced multiple times, year after year, and will continue to grow straight poles perfect for basket weaving. They typically don’t need fertilization or water after the plot is established. They are truly a sustainable resource. These trees help the environment by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the stems.
Riding a bicycle is the ultimate carbon saver, and by buying a willow bicycle basket you are helping to reduce air pollution even further.