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How to Make Bike Buckets

by Bike Shop Girl

This article was originally written on Flickr by a friend of mine Joey Emanuel from Charlotte, NC.

Bike Buckets from the Rear

These deep buckets are perfect for grocery getting or any utility type errands you might want to handle with your bicycle.

For a size reference, the buckets will hold two 4 1/2 gallon cartons of soy milk in each! THIS REFERENCE IS FOR VOLUME COMPARISON ONLY! *If you were to put 4 1/2 gallon cartons of soy milk in your bucket, you may exceed the strength limitations of the bucket and the rack would end up with a sad and delicious mess.

* I’ve also fit a big frozen pizza diagonally in one during a moment of weakness for cheese.
Bike Bucket Before

Bike Bucket Before

You Need One or Two Buckets

The buckets can be any size you want, pick the right one for your load and your bike rack.
These are 9 & 1/4 x 9 & 1/4 x 13 inches deep. Pretty honkin’ big. When fully loaded, just one can exceed the weight capacity for my rack, but sometimes I prefer to push the limits of bicycle carrying capacity rather than using my car. A bucket with a handle helps out a lot.

Other Tools You May Need

Tools for the Buckets

Tools for the Buckets

  • 4 Machine bolts and 4 nuts per bucket.
  • 9-10 matching flat washers per bucket.
  • An adjustable rubber strap to tension the bucket to the bottom of the rack stays.
  • 2 hooks per bucket.
  • 1 miscellaneous bolt and nut to secure the rubber strap. (I think mine were spare fender bolts.)
  • A utility knife
  • A screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • A power drill with bits that will accommodate each size of bolt.

Not pictured

  • A pencil or marking device
  • Reflective 3m Tape


Step One:

Step One

Step One

  • Being careful not to choose a side of the bucket where the wire handle is connected, pick a side to mount the hooks on.
  • Make a mark on either side of the trapezoidal bulge; a straight line where the hooks will go.

Step Two

Step Two

Step Two

  • Mark the width of the hook on both the flanges that protrude from the side of the bucket. You’re going to cut through these with a utility knife. Once these flanges are notched, you can bolt the hook to the side of the bucket and the hook will be flush. (Really, I don’t get the opportunity to say ‘flush’ enough.)

Step Three

Step Three

Step Three

  • Cut the flanges where you marked them.

Step Four

Step Four

Step Four

  • Score the flanges between each cut. Doesn’t have to be too deep, just enough to fold the notch you’ve made until it pops off.

Step Five

Step Five

Step Five

  • Now you can place your hook where you want it to go. Some people bolt their hooks so that the top of the bucket is flush with their rack. This is helpful if you have something large to attach to the wide platform of bucket and rack, like a frozen pizza, family-size 36-roll package of toilet paper, case of beer, etc. Mark where you will drill your holes in the next step.

Step Six

Step Six

Step Six

  • Drill your bolt holes!

Step Seven

Step Seven

Step Seven

  • Using washers, put those bolts through the hooks and the bucket.  Make sure to put washers on the inside too, underneath the nuts!

Step Eight

Step Eight

Step Eight

  • I cut my rubber strap to six inches long, but this depends on your rack, how tight you want the strap, and the type of bucket you use. If you’re using one of these adjustable straps, try to cut between two of the holes.

Step Nine

Step Nine

Step Nine

  • Because I hang my buckets as far back on the rack as they’ll go (to avoid heel strike) I choose a spot just forward of the middle of the bucket’s side to anchor the rubber strap. If you’re making a bucket for the right of the bike, the anchor would be on the left of center, if it’s a bucket for the left, anchor on the right of center. This way, when mounted, the strap hangs just above the place where it hooks to the rack.
  • Drill the hole through both the trapezoidal bulge and the inside wall of the bucket.

Step Ten

Step Ten

Step Ten

  • Slide the cut end of the strap underneath the trapezoidal bulge.
  • Now grab that spare fender bolt and poke it through the trapezoidal bulge, the strap and the inner wall of the bucket. Make sure you get the bolt through the hole in the strap, sandwiching it between the layers of plastic bucket.
  • Give it a tug to make sure it’s caught.
  • Inside the bucket, screw a nut on the end of the anchor bolt. You can put a washer on first if you want, if your bolt is long enough.

Step Eleven

Step Eleven

Step Eleven

  • Crimp the “S” hook around the strap slightly so that when mounted on your rack the pointy bugger won’t poke and scratch a hole in your bucket. This helps your bucket hang upright when on the rack.

All Done!

Bike Buckets All Done

Bike Buckets All Done, now paint and add reflective tape.

Mounting the Buckets

Installing the Bike Buckets

Installing the Bike Buckets

Installing the bike buckets

Installing the bike buckets

 
Burley nomad 229

10 Responses to “How to Make Bike Buckets”

  1. George says:

    Nice idea and pretty simple to complete. Having lots of cats in the house I am always buying buckets of cat litter that are similar to the buckets you used. Currently I have some 40 lb buckets of LitterClean brand litter from Sam’s Club. They don’t look quite as tall as the ones you used (they measure 12″ high), which may prevent overloading. Another bonus (besides recycling) is that the cat litter bucket comes with a hinged lid that would be handy in bad weather. Haven’t tried it, but the litter bucket might be painted with one of the new Krylon products made for plastic. Otherwise you would be a rolling advertisement for cat litter.

  2. Bob says:

    George, What I can’t understand is why you want to haul 40 lb buckets of cat litter around town on your bicycle.

  3. Those are great. I think I would drill one or two drain holes in each, and look into putting some metal plates on the inside for reinforcement around the bolts. Wondering if there wasn’t an easy way to also add some theft-deterrent, then read George’s post about the rolling advertisement for litter. Not only might that deter theft, but it also says “Look, I made panniers from cat litter buckets,” just so people know.

  4. Forgot to tell everyone, you can find these particular buckets at a popular big box hardware store. The buckets contain bulk lengths of chain that are cut to length for customers, and to my knowledge are thrown out once empty. Go ask and for free, you shall receive.

  5. George says:

    Bob:

    I’m recycling the EMPTY cat litter buckets as carriers for my bike, not carrying them around on the bike full of cat litter.

  6. Kevin Love says:

    “When fully loaded, just one (bucket) can exceed the weight capacity for my rack…”

    Kevin’s comment:

    That’s not a very good rack. I’m used to seeing lots of people ride around on bike racks. They call them “girlfriend racks” for a reason y’know.

    Interestingly enough, Mikael at Copenhagenize recently wrote about this as a difference between Dutch and Danish bicycle culture.

    From:

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/12/galapagos-islands-of-bicycle-culture.html

    “Doubling on a bike in Holland involves sitting side saddle as a rule whereas in Denmark it’s the straddle that is the norm. Personally I don’t know which one I prefer, as a passenger. They both have their qualities.”

    In Toronto we definitely go for the straddle when riding on the rear rack. Must be the Danish influence. :)

  7. Matt says:

    Just made one bike bucket today – hardware store only had one empty chain bucket! I’ll pick up another hopefully this week to complete my set. Thanks for this article and the instructions. Very nice.
    Home made bike trailer anyone?

  8. Matt -

    Good to hear that the instructions went well!

  9. Matt says:

    Joey
    Thanks for that. All the others I found required welding or other skills I don’t have!

    BTW, I now have both buckets completed and I’ll be giving them a test ride to the local bulk foods/organic/Amish thrift store this weekend. I’ll let you know how many pounds of lentils I can carry.

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