In a previous post I showed you how to make your own panniers. I’ve seen my site show up in the Google search results for this keyword so I thought I’d share some of my experiences with them.
This past summer I toured the US Pacific coast using homemade panniers or bike buckets. I made the buckets using cat littler or mayonaise buckets, rope hooks, bolts, and webbing. They were easy to make and pretty cheap compared to buying good panniers.
The buckets preformed really well. I made it all the way from the Canadian border to the Mexican border without breaking a bucket. One of the front buckets cracked but I was able to stabilize it using a discarded inner tube I found on the road. The cracks resulted from the bucket swinging on the mounts which stressed the plastic. In my how to guide I mounted the hooks at an angle to counteract this swinging. I haven’t tested the new design on a big tour or a big ride but the riding-around-my-block test camp out positive.
The buckets were super useful. I loaded them to nearly full and strapped things to the top for easy access. They held so much that loading them completely full is a bad idea, it gets to be too much weight. They are amazing for lugging things around town or on long tours.
The main drawback is their profile. In any kind of wind they act like sails. If the wind is against you it is very apparent. If the wind is with you you literally sail down the road. It is amazing when that happens.
Overall I’m really glad I made the buckets. They weren’t just cheap and useful, they were recycled and a medium for art. I got a lot of comments of the art and the design of the buckets while I was on tour. So much that I wanted to sell bike bucket kits on the internet. I never did anything with that because the design improvements I had in mind didn’t pan out, at least not with the most commonly used racks. My current design should work for all racks though.
I feel like I should really use this paragraph to sell you on the idea of bike buckets. Instead I’m just going to add another picture.
If you have any questions write a comment and I’ll answer it asap!