Milk crates are one of the versatile objects around. They’re great at garage sales for storing dozens vinyl records, they are also great for sitting on while busking on the street. A lot of cyclists adorn these plastic boxes on their rear racks as cheap, sturdy and rust proof baskets. Unfortunately, because many of them are bolted or zip-tied onto the rack it prevents riders from using the sides of the racks for panniers or more baskets. My neighbour was throwing out some old trinkets in a milk crate so I managed to get a hold of one (along with an Ikea stool), rather than slapping it on the top of my rack I decided to turn it into a removable pannier. Here’s a quick (and easy) DIY on how to make your own for less than $10.
My Beater Bike ready for some grocery shopping.
What you will need:
-Pannier clips (I got mine at MEC for $6)
-longer bolts and matching nuts
1. Pannier clips often have about 2 hooks or clips which attach onto the rails of the rear rack. These clips attach onto the pannier using 2~3 bolts. Find a place near the top of the crate where you can attach the clips onto making sure that the clips are parallel. Use the holes on the clips as reference points and drill holes in the crate, make sure these holes line up. The bolts will run through both the clips and the crate.
2. Chances are the bolts provided with the clip are too short to go through the crate so you will need longer ones (I used spare bolts I got from a fender set). Insert the bolts into the holes and tighten them in with a washer and nut. Use a wrench and a screwdriver or allen key (depending on the type of bolt used) to keep everything tight. Make sure there is no play and that everything is tight. If you mess up, don’t worry there are 3 other sides of the crate you can mess with.
3. If your bolts are too long you may need to cut them down using a bolt cutter and grind them down using a file to prevent things from getting caught on them like grocery bags or sleeves.
4. To keep the crate from jumping up and down whenever you hit a pot hole run a bungee cord around the leg of the rack and the crate to keep it in place.
5. Add reflectors for extra visibility, this is important because the width of your bike has now increased and drivers (and cyclists) need to be able to see that while passing.
That’s all there is to it! All you need to do now is slap it on and buy some beer or groceries!
Remember to keep in mind that your bike is now bigger than it is before and probably can’t maneuver its way around traffic like it used to. If the bolts start loosening up you may want to apply Loctite or nail polish to help keep them from loosening.
The temperature in Toronto continues to drop and so does the mileage a lot of us put on the road. I’m sure most of us still plan on commuting through sleet and snow but for the most part a lot of us will be tapering down on our weekly riding time. But just because winter is coming doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our hearty legs and toned butts. There are many ways to get some saddle time without having to bear with ice on the road or snow in the bike lanes, so if you want to get more riding time in this winter even in a blizzard here are a few ways how:
A bicycle trainer is a piece of equipment that a bike would mount onto so that the rider can pedal on the bike without actually going anywhere. Trainers easily install on the rear wheel of your bicycle and can provide various levels of resistance to the tire (or rim of the wheel) to simulate the rolling resistance you would feel pedalling on the road. Trainers are great because newer models provide various levels of resistance, are easy to install and require very little space to use and use. Trainers that add resistance to the rear tire are restricted to smooth (bald) tires so knobby mountain bike tires need to be swapped out. In addition, they do wear out normal tires very quickly so it is recommended to get tires specifically designed for the use on a trainer.
Here’s a youtube clip of a high-end Kinetic trainer
Bicycle rollers are very similar to trainers, the big difference is that the bicycle is not securely attached to the frame but rather rests on top of 3 cylinders or rollers. Rollers add a sense of reality to indoor riding compared to trainers as they force riders to maintain balance while riding rather than zone out while watching the TV, rollers are a great way to fine tune balancing. This may look very bizarre and unsafe but once after a few minutes of riding it gets easier. In the event you lose balance you don’t fly over the handlebars or anything like that, rather you would just topple over sideways since there is no forward momentum. Aside from the risk of tumbling, another drawback is space. Some rollers have folding frames for easy storage but others have rigid frames which are harder to tuck away.
Rollers may look hard but with a bit of practice and patience they will get easier to ride on
If you’re like me and you need a group setting to keep you pumped then joining a spinning class maybe right for you. A lot of gyms and fitness centres now offer spinning classes which feature large groups of people on stationary bikes (called spinning bikes) with an instructor at the front giving instructions on effort and keeping people energized. These classes are great because the instructor can really make you break a sweat and avoid giving you a monotonous workout.
Here’s a funny clip of how not to run a spinning class
For those who need to feel the wind in their face as they’re cranking up the pace there’s also riding on the velodrome or indoor cycling track. Riding a bike without gears or brakes on track with banked turns may seem intimidating but it’s actually very safe and a lot of fun. We’re very fortunate to have one of the few indoor velodromes in North America which is the Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario. For a better look at track cycling check out my previous blog post.
Ricker Mercer at the Forest City Velodrome, if he can do it anybody can!