Pedal pefect: The Basil Jada Shopper XL

Over the holidays I treated myself to a girly (but sensible) new bike.  For the last 12 years in Ottawa, I have been riding the same orange mountain bike around the city and it was starting to show its age.  That orange bike was one of my first purchases when I moved to Ottawa – it moved wherever I did, to Sandyhill, to various points in Centretown and finally to Centretown West.  It crossed the Portage Bridge for many years, back and forth, back and forth to work at Eddy Street.  In my university days, I had big ideas about biking in “the Gats” after work, but really that meant going to the Chelsea Pub for burgers.  Covered in scratches, a mismatched bell and assorted lights; it didn’t really reflect the kind of biking I do now.

We don’t own a car.  This bike is our hybrid vehicle.  It tows the grocery cart, it pulls the small boy in his trailer, it gets me to work and out and about around the city.  And I wanted to look good doing all of these things.  Maybe not Copenhagen “lady in a skirt” good, but chic-er than a tangerine orange mountain bike.

The idea had been in my head since I complemented a neighbour on her Dutch bike and she replied it was her “social bike”.  That’s what I wanted too.  A social bike.  Bike as accessory to city life.  The finishing touch.

The new bike would be everything the old bike wasn’t: pretty, super functional, kid friendly, stylish and gentle on my work clothes.  I chose the City Detour Deluxe and added a few accessories to “prettify” its somewhat ho-hum frame.

A flower for the handlebars:


A vanity plate on the back (found on Ebay) and a foldable basket:
Novelty PEI bike plate

My basic black pannier from MEC did the job, but its hook always caught on my clothes when I took it off to shop.  It was also awkward to carry.  Really, it just wasn’t meant to be removed from the bike.  The new bike needed an upgrade.  Enter the Basil Jada Shopper.
Basil Jada Shopper

It’s a bike bag that is more bag than bike.  With multiple zipped pockets and non-zipped pockets and a roomy interior, it’s sort of the perfect mom-bag.  (Heck, buy it for a new mom – perfect diaper bag.)  And the bonus?  It attached to your bike rack.

Basil Jada Shopper

The clips are hidden in a little zippered area.  When not on your bike, they are hidden away and no one would know the difference.  At a generous 20L capacity (more than my faithful black pannier) it can carry groceries, toys and snacks for your toddler or your laptop and work from the office.

It’s a pretty affordable $69.  However, if it’s a little too pricey, MEC has come out with a collapsible “urban shopper” grocery tote for $49. It has fewer pockets, the rack hooks are exposed and it has four somewhat fussy velcro straps to keep in collapsed when not in use.  A good option if flowers and birds are not your scene.


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Comments: 11

  1. Jen says:

    Great blog and photos! I am interested in the Basil Jada Shopper XL too. I have never tried a pannier bag on my rack. Does it require a specific rack (tube) size? I am concerned about it staying in place.

    Happy cycling!

    • Lana says:

      Hi Jen. My Basil bag fits easily on both my regular as well as my cargo rack that is very thick. I don’t have a problem with it moving around, I just clip it on as far back as it goes. I never even use the velcro strap. So far, it’s been super reliable and I recommend it!

      • Jen says:

        Good to know, thank you! I ordered the blueberry color a few days ago—will send pics! Just saw your review of the Under the Weather bags, lovely! Glad I am not the only bag-obsessed cycler out here 🙂

        • Lana says:

          Cool. I hope you like it! I end up using the Linus bag more than the Under the Weather bag, just because it is plainer. I find the turquoise Under the Weather bag harder to match with what I’m wearing.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Hi, i enjoyed reading your article. Is your folding basket the basil one? Just wondering how strong it is – would it carry heavy shopping ok? Also, how heavy is it?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Lana says:

      My foldable basket isn’t Basil brand. I’m actually not sure what brand it is. It’s pretty sturdy. Can easily carry 12 beer…if that helps.

  3. Helen says:

    Thanks for writing your thoughts. I’m the only one in our family who doesn’t cycle much. I’ve decided this year to try to cycle the kids to school. I got the jada bag and a basil rear side basket mail order to chose between. Does the jada bag get dirty quickly? I had imagined that the dark grey would have been all around the bottom of the pannier. Thank you

    • Lana says:

      I don’t find that the bag gets too dirty – my bike has fenders so I think that keeps most of the dirt off. I drag it everywhere, so it’s a bit worse for wear after a year. The bottom of the bag is solid grey. I haven’t tried washing it yet. There’s a blue version too that probably would hide any dirt a bit better. : )

      • Helen says:

        Thanks! I too have mudguards and the rack has a solid top, so that’s encouraging! I look forward to reading more of your blog now I’ve come across it. Kind regards, Helen