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  1. #1
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    DIY Rack attachment to hold any bag like a pannier

    So I had this dilemma: I commute in work clothes and often go to places other than my office, so when I get to my destination, I don't have a place to stash extra stuff (aside from a coat and maybe a plastic bag with lunch in it). And I'm a lawyer, so I need to carry a bag that looks at least borderline lawyerly. And riding in a suit jacket requires a more upright position, which makes my lawyerly-enough all black messenger bag uncomfortable to carry. The solution, obviously, was to get a briefcase pannier like this one. The problem was that a new briefcase pannier would cost money, and although I'm a lawyer, I'm a public interest lawyer with two kids and a mortgage, so spending money is a no-no. So I made an attachment to my bike rack that allows me to strap my regular work bag on securely in pannier position:

    First, I took one square wire grid from one of these shelves:



    (Why? Because I had the shelves lying around and wasn't using them.)

    Then I bolted it to my rear rack:



    I used the lids to some old storage bins to hold the bolts in place. This is not an elegant solution, but it is good for me because I had the lids lying around, so no money was spent. U bolts would have been a nicer solution.

    Most of the bolts I used stick inward toward the rack, but two at the bottom had to stick out so they wouldn't interfere with the spokes. So I clipped them short and covered them with black and orange hockey tape. Shorter bolts would have been a nice solution, but, again, no money = use what you have.

    I also reinforced the connection between the wire grid and the rack with some clothes hanger wire at a couple points, just to be safe. The grid is sticking up higher than the level of the rack because I have big feet, and my heels hit panniers if they are hanging from the top of the rack.

    Finally, I added bungee cords and a bag, and voila:



    So far, it works really well. I rode 25 miles during my work day on Tuesday and the thing performed flawlessly. Today I rode to work with a heavier load that included a laptop (well padded, of course), lunch, and rain gear (in addition to my usual papers, pens, and necessary bike tools), and it was still rock solid.

  2. #2
    An Army of Fred harleyfrog's Avatar
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    Nice hack.
    Owner/operator of Fredkenstein™ I
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    You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense each year, trillions of dollars, correct? Instead -- just play with this -- if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world -- and it would pay for it many times over, not one human being excluded -- we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever in peace. Thank you very much -- Bill Hicks

  3. #3
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    Great adaptation. If it was me, I'd bend the thing about 1/3 up from the bottom at 90 deg to form an L profile--1) so that cargo has a support on the bottom, and 2) so that those dangly hook-shaped bungee ends don't end up in your spokes. (Just inherent distrust of bungees after decades of using them... call me a bungee bigot.)

  4. #4
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    Looks elegant to me!
    Cleveland, OH
    Breezer fan

  5. #5
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    Great adaptation. If it was me, I'd bend the thing about 1/3 up from the bottom at 90 deg to form an L profile--1) so that cargo has a support on the bottom, and 2) so that those dangly hook-shaped bungee ends don't end up in your spokes. (Just inherent distrust of bungees after decades of using them... call me a bungee bigot.)
    I thought about doing the bend, actually, but my bike is a folder and I take it on Amtrak trains, where I sometimes have to fit it into a narrow utility closet, so I didn't want to do anything to increase the width.

    As for the dangling bungees, they're usually secured, but I didn't bother for the photo, since I was just going to take my bag off the rack as soon as I was done taking the picture.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    Only thing I'd do different is to use a bungee net instead of the cords, it spreads the load out more and wont wear holes in the bag as easily.

    Then again, I tend to always have a couple nets laying around and don't have to go out and buy them.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  7. #7
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    If you angle the bag like a Carradice bike beauraueauex you can reduce heel clip.
    Take a file to the bolts to shorten them.
    Keep hold of nylock bolts for this kind of application, they dont vibrate lose.

  8. #8
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Good hack, but a little bit kludgy. Cargo netting will help distribute the weight better than just the bungees, but you might consider something along these lines:

    - Use the plastic backing to form cut an internal stiffener for your briefcase.
    - Mount pannier hooks and a bungee hook to the backside of the briefcase.

    That way you could just hook your briefcase to the rack like a regular pannier.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  9. #9
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    Good hack, but a little bit kludgy. Cargo netting will help distribute the weight better than just the bungees, but you might consider something along these lines:

    - Use the plastic backing to form cut an internal stiffener for your briefcase.
    - Mount pannier hooks and a bungee hook to the backside of the briefcase.

    That way you could just hook your briefcase to the rack like a regular pannier.
    I contemplated that approach (which is, of course, better in many respects), but didn't do it for the following reasons:

    1. My bag is leather and nice and I don't want to put holes in the back of it to attach the pannier hooks;
    2. Sometimes I use the bag when I'm on my other bike, which has no rack, and when I do I cinch it up on my back good an tight and an internal stiffener or pannier hooks would be wicked uncomfortable;
    3. I like the idea that if I want to ride with some other bag (like, if my final destination is somewhere where I want a backpack, or a violin case), I can do that;
    4. I had no pannier hooks in the house when I did the project.

    But I do want to get a cargo net, because, as everyone points out, it will distribute load better. Also, maybe, I will swap out the janky white plastic thingies for some U bolts.

  10. #10
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Nice job at finding a solution that works for you!

    I have a couple of projects that may benefit from some sections from shelving like that... what is the source?
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    I'm constantly finding them at garage sales and the like, usually missing some of the plastic connectors to makes them into shelves.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  12. #12
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    Target has them, I think. And probably Wal-Mart and lots of other stores. But you could make one of these with any number of objects - a piece of wood, for example, would do the trick.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    Hit the recycling yards and find some wire shelving from old fridges or suchlike, that'd work too.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  14. #14
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    Bah.... just travel in style like this guy (although without the smokes, taken from the sartorialist):

    Current: Lynskey R210 | Miyata 610
    Selling: Anchor PCD3 (NJS)

  15. #15
    Rebel Thousandaire Ya Tu Sabes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    Bah.... just travel in style like this guy (although without the smokes, taken from the sartorialist)
    I do travel in style like that, except with the less-exciting backdrop of Bridgeport, Connecticut. And I really need to carry stuff with me. (Also no cigarette or sunglasses, 'cause I don't smoke and sunglasses mess with my depth perception in a way I don't like.) Seriously, I wish I had some pictures of me riding my bike in my suit, because then you all would understand the meaning of the word "smooth." Also, if I had pictures of the way everyone in Bridgeport stares at me when I ride by, you could come to understand fully just how much a sore thumb actually sticks out.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    The hells with the gawkers, think about it, if they had anything like a clue would they even be living in bridgeport?
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by thdave View Post
    Looks elegant to me!
    Off topic...nice to see somebody else from cleveland (from your sig at least i think you are).

    To OP, that was very clever of you. Good job.
    Define you life. Ride a bike.

  18. #18
    Real Human Being wild animals's Avatar
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    yeah, great thinking!

    today i went to a local bike shop and asked for a reflector bracket, and the woman said she didn't have any, but had i thought of...zip ties? and i was like "...not really." haha. as bike accessories go, i am less do-it-yourself and more buy-it-myself. so this kind of stuff always impresses me a lot.
    Go until you stop, then take a break.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Marrock's Avatar
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    Zip-ties, coroplast, and duct tape... I think my next project will be to build a bike from all three.
    "Engineering! It's like math, but louder."

  20. #20
    Fossil Lurch's Avatar
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    There's something very satisfying about using available materials for a project. It's easy to throw money at something. You are to be commended for your resourcefulness as well as for commuting via bike and in a suit.
    Pray toward Heaven but row toward shore.

  21. #21
    wheelin in the years ebr898's Avatar
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    My wife bought several sets of those shelves awile ago. I use them now to orginize my bike area and the kids toys. When the plastic joints break throw them away and use zip ties / or wire. Works pretty good,.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Just a thought but if you could have bent the last couple of rows of the wire rack out at a 90 then there'd be a nice little shelf to help support your bag. Clamping it between a couple of sections of 2x4 and then to something fairly immovable would have held the "lip" and allowed the bending.

    Still, all in all a high 5 for ingenuity.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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