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DIY Milk Crate Pannier

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:
-Milk crate
-Pannier clips (I got mine at MEC for $6)
-longer bolts and matching nuts
-zip ties
-power drill
-bungee cord

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.

Posted: December 14th, 2010
Filed under: How to
Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

LGRAB Summer Games (2-1)

The second leg of the LGRAB Summer Games contest has begun! For this challenge I have merged two tasks into one by reading some classic bike literature on bike maintenance while overhauling a vintage ride I had in my garage.

There’s something about vintage bikes that we can all appreciate whether it’s the simplicity in their construction, their ruggedness, or even their timeless look and I certainly love older bikes for all three reasons. My first real bike was a 25+ year old Peugeot UO8 which I rode all over, even on a trip to Niagara Falls, I loved using it because I didn’t have to worry about things like pre-load on a fork or cycling through a gazillion different gearing combinations.

Though these bikes were rugged they were still required maintenance which is hard considering bike technology has really changed over the years. Luckily, I managed to nab the Compelte Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair, a hefty book dating back to the days when bikes weighing 25lb was considered light and neon coloured frames were all the rage.

The book covered a whole slew of things from removing a cottered crankset to changing out the cogs in a freewheel, tips and tricks which have long since forgotten by many since we’ve moved onto cotter-less cranks and cassettes. I had to read up on a lot of stuff in order to tackle the task at hand which was a complete overhaul of an 80s road bike I managed to get my hands on.

This right here is a no-name Canadian made road bike from the mid 80s. When I got it it was barely in ride able condition; the hubs were creaking and needed to be repacked with grease, the headset was on too tight, the gears would not shift properly, the brakes were really loose, cables were rusting and the handlebar tape was just ick. After scrounging around nearby dumpsters as well as Craigslist I managed to secure most of the parts I needed. I got a sweet fluted seat post, leather saddle, crankset, and handlebar off dumped bikes and I bought a New Old Stock (NOS) set of Campagnolo (Italian…mmmmm….) wheels.

After many hours here and there I managed to get her in beautiful condition; the swept back handlebars gave a relaxed, yet low position, the new crankset and rear derailleurs shift responsively and the reflectors keep me safe ‘n visible. Not bad for a weekend of wrenching, I’d say.

Posted: June 10th, 2010
Filed under: LGRAB Contest
Tags: , , | 2 Comments »