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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 »