10/01/2010

Trash Can Pannier

A few months ago, I started riding a bike. I mean, I've ridden bikes before but not in the last two decades. But all of a sudden, I had a new commute and I wanted to give biking a try. So far, I love it. Yes, the cars make me nervous at times. But since I am a safety nerd, I took a road-skills class offered through the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. It's free(!) so if you've wanted to start riding in the city, I highly recommend this course. The fewer jerk bicyclists we have blowing through stop signs during rush hour traffic, the better. It's made me a better rider and made me feel a lot more comfortable and safe riding on the streets of San Francisco.

Anyway, I'm a big believer in hand signals but found that trying to signal with a bag on my back was difficult. I take my lunch with me to work every day so not taking a bag is not an option. After brief research on panniers and how much they cost, I figured there must be something cheaper out there. I checked out some Instructables panniers and finally settled on a trash can pannier after coming across this guy's post. Most of the plans I looked at were for ones that can be removed easily. Since I live in a city where anything not bolted down can disappear, that was not an option so I used zip ties to keep it attached. Here's what's up.

Materials:
small plastic trash can
zip ties

Tools:
drill
snips (I'm sure that scissors would work too)
permanent marker

I found a small trash can at my local hardware store for less than five dollars. As I already owned the zip ties, that makes the total cost of this project less than five dollars. I am awesome.


I started by getting the location right, making sure that the trash can was far enough back that I wouldn't kick it while pedaling. I marked the points where it hits the rack with permanent marker.

Then I cut between the marked lines with my snips.

Once I got it snipped to my satisfaction, I marked where I wanted the zip ties to go through. They attach around the bike rack. I used two on the top and two along the side. I drilled on both sides of the lines, using a bit large enough for the zip ties to pass through.

When I fastened the trash can to the rack, I made sure that the part where the zip tie tightens was on the outside of the rack, not inside of the trash can. Once you cut the slack from zip ties it leaves a really sharp edge and that's the last thing you want inside your pannier.In fact, I sanded the edges of the cuts I made in the trash can too. I like it smooth, baby.

Make sure cut the slack once your zip ties have been fastened. You don't want anything interfering with your back wheel.

That's it.

Done and ready. When riding, the helmet is on my head, not in the basket. But now I have a handy place to store all of my safety gear.

I want to put one on the other side now. There's enough room for my shoulder bag (including lunch) and a bike lock in the pannier but not enough for my nicer work jacket. An additional pannier on the other side should be enough room. 

If you think I don't know that it's ugly as sin, you're wrong. But that's not the point. These puppies are light, functional and I have a hard time picturing someone wanting to steal them. Plus, I can put reflective tape on them and up the safety. I haven't made the covers for them yet. Once it starts raining, I'll get those together.

1 comment:

this humble abode said...

brilliant. ugly as heck, but smart. i think a shower cap for a cover will work fine and add to the charm of it.