Friday, January 24, 2014

Make your own bike panniers

     I rely on a bicycle to get around as many know that follow this blog. What do you do when you have groceries? Cabs are expensive and I do have very reliable transportation, it just happens to be two wheeled transportation.  Recently I got a new bike and when I went hunting through everything for the old grocery panniers I only found one. Interestingly enough with the rack attached there isn't quite enough room to put the bike trailer hitch on the axle. Anyway, it's time to make a new set of grocery panniers and I decided to share what I'm doing so you can make your own. They aren't difficult to do. 

     This black nylon strapping came with our new sofa when it was delivered. I've been saving the strap for over a year. I'll be using some of it around the top of the pannier bags. It's two inches wide so I'll fold it over, sew it together and then to the bag. 

     What the 's' hooks will be used for is to connect the grocery pannier to the rack of which I've got a really good one, an Axiom rack. It was really worth the money and I've had it on three different bikes now. I think it maxes out at 130 Lbs that it will carry. It's one of the most durable ones you can get. I've had others that I wasn't too happy with. Most of them are not designed for hauling $100 worth of groceries home. Each of the hooks will hold around 40 Lbs of weight which is more than enough for this application since I'm using three per bag. Notice that I've taken the hooks to the left I've squeezed one end in and it's the part that will be directly attached to the nylon webbing.

     Here is the initial bag as just an unfinished bag. I thought it looked good so I had to shoot a picture of it. To the right of it is the pliers I used to squeeze the one end of the s hook closer. You also see part of the sewing machine.

     Both of the blue materials I bought on a close out sale several years ago. I bought up all there was of the blue canvas they had in stock because to tell you the truth it was extremely cheap on that sale. In fact I wish I would have bought even more colors now that I look back. I think at one time I had five yards of the light blue and 3 1/2 of the dark blue. If you get new canvas you'll probably pay about $7.50 per yard now.

     Here's the pannier bag attached to the bike. You'll notice the bottom is slightly narrower than the top. There is a reason for that. It's so that my heel doesn't have as much of a tendency to hit the pannier while I'm peddling along. That's been something I didn't figure for on other panniers I've made. 

     If that's happening you have to slide your foot forward which isn't entirely natural and it's harder to peddle as a result. What should be centered on the peddle is the ball of your foot, not the arch. 

     The rough size of the finished pannier is 6 1/4" inside to outside panel, 12" wide along the top, 9 1/2" wide across the bottom. The reason for the 6 1/4" size is for gallons of milk so that it will fit and not get damaged.

Here is a detail of the hooks. You can pretty easily see what I did.

Update, 25 January: What I've also done is finally came up with something that will work in the bottom. Some cardboard cut to size, multiple layers that are running different directions to give it the greatest strength. I simply used masking tape to hold the pieces together. It turns out I don't have any glue to turn it into a solid sandwich. I've used four layers here. It turns out the bottom is 6 1/4" by 9 1/4" inside.

     Because the cardboard won't do well once it gets wet and it will at some point I wrapped it in a black store bag to help keep it dry. I believe in recycling whenever possible.

Here are both panniers complete and on the bike. The left one is the particular one I put together today and it's a little neater than the one on the right.

I'm thinking they'll do a good job on the groceries they'll be hauling.

     Here they are with a full load. I just got back from the grocery store today. Yes, they worked exactly as intended. My heels didn't hit the bottom of either pannier as I was peddling. I will say it's a heavy load that I readily noticed especially as I started moving forward. Because of the angle on the front side it did take a little while I was at the store on loading them.

     The rack itself is by Axiom and this is the particular one has been an extremely good one. In fact, I haven't had one that does as well as this one does. Of course I bought it in January 2010 so the same model might have different characteristics now. It doesn't say it on Amazon these days but the rack will hold 100 Lbs (45 Kgs) pretty handily and it seems to center the load well. 

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