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Bike Buckets - An inexpensive pannier system you can make
By Brian Huntley - (contact)

From Kitty Litter to Luggage in 30 minutes

I put together a new set of Bike Buckets this morning and thought I'd take some photos of the process. Some are a bit blurry as my camera's macro mode turns itself off quite quickly, but I think they're still useable.

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While I didn't look at the clock, I did complete the pair during one episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, so I figure it's about 30 minutes. Your first one will probably take longer.

Here's what you need:

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The buckets are "Ropak 4 Gallon Square with Lid" models. Buying these new costs about $4 each, but I get them free with $7 worth of cat litter (which is cheaper than buying the bags. Don't ask me, I'm not an economist.)

The hooks near the drill are sold in hardware stores as "rope cleats", and these one are about 2" tall. The bolts are Phillips head #10 x 1/2", stainless steel. The nuts are to match, but this time I happened to have 4 Nylok nuts and 4 normal ones (couldn't find 8 Nyloks.) I use small washers under the bolt heads and large ones under the nuts, to help spread the load.

Not shown are a pair of short bungee cords to use as tensioners.

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First, remove the labels from the buckets. If you get the sort that use slip-on plastic sleeve labels, this is extremely easy.

Next, mark the top flange for a cut-out. This needs to be just a bit wider than your rope cleat hooks, or about 1/4".

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Cut perpendicularly through the flange with a sharp knife, then score across the bottom of your intended cutout. Bend it with a pair of pliers and it should snap right off.

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Place a hook so it's level with the top of the bucket, and mark the bolt holes. Note: this is easier to do with the bucket inverted, with the hooks upside down and sitting on the table. It's just very difficult to photograph yourself doing that.

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Mark the hole for the upper bungee hook, too, which should be centered on the bucket's finger flange.

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Drill out the holes with a slightly undersized bit. Remember that the bungee hole doesn't go all the way into the bucket, just through the flange.

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Attach the hooks with the bolts, washers, and nuts, getting them good and tight with the screwdriver while holding the nut with the wrench. Attach the bungee cord by bending its hook slightly wider open and lifting up on the finger flange. Adjust the bungee's length to suit your rack - about 6-7" is normal. I do that by tying a double knot at the appropriate place, then cutting the cord below the knots and sealing the nylon strands with a lighter.

Apply reflective tape and you're done! (There's a non-flash photo at the beginning of this article.)

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This "SafeTape" (Safety Ape?) is automotive rated at at least 70 candle power per square foot or some such oddball number. As you can see with the flash photo, it's good and bright!


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"Bike Buckets - An inexpensive pannier system you can make" Copyright © 2006-2014 By Brian Huntley - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on August 7, 2006 11:53 PDT, last updated on June 16, 2012 20:14 PDT
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