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Old 09-15-08, 07:35 PM   #1
trevorbikes
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How to make Grocery Panniers for $4

I had this idea for inexpensive, functional grocery panniers for my bike. I just got done constructing them and they seem to be holding up really well!

It seems like every grocery store is now offering those reusable grocery bags. Turns out they can be easily reconfigured into some panniers!





The materials are really simple:
  • 2 reusable grocery bags
  • 1/4" thick 2'x4' piece of masonite (or "hardboard" at Home Depot; same stuff used for clipboards)
  • 1 bungee cord

I got my bags from Kroger. Other possible places include Target, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Meijer, Walmart, Publix, and Ikea. They also make insulated ones which would be great for refrigerated items.



Tip: You can get a piece of the wood deeply discounted if you look for one that's damaged. This one was $2, normally $3.75.



Cut some of the wood to fit into the bags:



I stapled the wood inside the bags to keep them in place.



Then cut two of the handles in the middle:



Sew the bags together:



Then, throw them over your bike rack!



Use a bungee to keep them in place, and voila! You have lightweight panniers that fold down flat and that you can take into the store with you!



I loaded up the panniers with random items to test them out and they work great! I'll go do some shopping tomorrow so I can use them for real! Sure beats paying $50+ for ones from the bike shop.

Enjoy!
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Old 09-15-08, 07:56 PM   #2
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I like, great idea, let us know how they hold up.
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Old 09-15-08, 08:12 PM   #3
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That's an awesome idea, thanks for the tutorial. There are also similar reusable bags made of plastic that may hold up better.
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Old 09-15-08, 08:25 PM   #4
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SaaaWEEEETTT!!!!! I'll have to try that out.
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Old 09-15-08, 08:29 PM   #5
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That's an awesome idea, thanks for the tutorial. There are also similar reusable bags made of plastic that may hold up better.
Hmm. You could use the plastic ones as an outer lining over the canvas bags, and it'd be light and reasonably waterproof.
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Old 09-15-08, 10:24 PM   #6
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Hey, I LIKE those! Our local Co-op grocery has exactly that style of bag...
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Old 09-15-08, 10:32 PM   #7
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It just need a little reflective tape around the corners or something, then it would actually look like it was made that way.

That's a great idea.
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Old 09-15-08, 11:02 PM   #8
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The genuis of the bike forum never fails to amaze. Great idea.
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Old 09-15-08, 11:13 PM   #9
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Great stuff! I've often wished for an easy way to attach that type of bag to the bike, I love what you've done with them!

I might try a variation on this:

I'm theeenking... it might be easier in the shop to carry them one-at-a-time rather than permanently stitched together - maybe instead of cutting the straps, stitching a loop into each and attaching them with a carabiner or keyring or something.
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Old 09-15-08, 11:14 PM   #10
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Oh yeah - let us know if the back corners of the bags stray into the line of the spokes. My 1st set of panniers did this, they used to wear out at the back corner because of it.
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Old 09-16-08, 12:01 AM   #11
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Awesome Idea I will have to try this, But i think the carabiner might work better for me since I have to get everything up stairs to my Apt.
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Old 09-16-08, 12:04 AM   #12
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Nice work. I've been mentally obsessing about how to do the laundry bucket panniers, but this looks easier. Plus you can kind of fold them in, I assume, when not in use.
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Old 09-16-08, 01:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cave View Post
Great stuff! I've often wished for an easy way to attach that type of bag to the bike, I love what you've done with them!

I might try a variation on this:

I'm theeenking... it might be easier in the shop to carry them one-at-a-time rather than permanently stitched together - maybe instead of cutting the straps, stitching a loop into each and attaching them with a carabiner or keyring or something.
Try velcro. :-) And no need to cut the top of the strap, either. That way, you could have two separate ones with carry handles. Although, something else to give the velcro extra strength would be advisable--maybe something to wrap the tops of the two velcroed handles together.

another thing I would consider is using some kind of spray adhesive to hold the masonite to the bag--or maybe even better, bolts through, and on the outside, some kind of metal strap to keep the fabric from tearing. But maybe that's going a bit over the top. ;-)

-Jon
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Old 09-16-08, 05:00 AM   #14
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First off, that is a completely cool idea. What's next is completly constructive criticism.
However, as someone who sews backpacks, panniers, etc... For about 10-20 dollars that same design could be done better. I have serious doubts that the materials will hold up. Its just too cheap and lightweight (hence the reason they are sold for a dolar a bag). If the bags were made out of packcloth and the straps out of nylon webbing, it would hold up much better. I would worry the most about the handles ripping out of the bags.
Are you going to tie the remaining handles together to help it keep shape?
I'm brainstorming ideas to make my own now, thanks for the inspiration.
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Old 09-16-08, 05:12 AM   #15
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Oh hay... another idea. Replace the cheapo plastic bottom with the masonite. Possibly tie a cord between the two at a 45 degree angle to make a shelf.
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Old 09-16-08, 05:22 AM   #16
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If you take a bungi cord, cut one end off of it and staple it in the middle (vertically) of the Masonite with the hook at the bottom, you can use it to hook to your rack and keep the bag from flapping. This is how my store bought panniers are attached.

I wish I had pictures...
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Old 09-16-08, 05:38 AM   #17
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The genuis of the bike forum never fails to amaze. Great idea.
+1
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Old 09-16-08, 06:21 AM   #18
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Sweet.
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Old 09-16-08, 08:22 AM   #19
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Everyone's posting some great ideas to make them better! I'll definitely incorporate a lot of them into Version 2.0.

I'm glad I gave some of you the inspiration to make some.
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Old 09-16-08, 08:37 AM   #20
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Fred strikes again!

Absolutely brilliant!
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Old 09-16-08, 11:21 AM   #21
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I'm not going to try it, I already have 2 grocery bag panniers.

But I gotta hand it to you. Really great idea and execution.
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Old 09-16-08, 11:24 AM   #22
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Will the masonite swell if it gets wet?
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Old 09-16-08, 11:31 AM   #23
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This is awesome. I'm sure these aren't as durable as a more expensive store-bought pannier solution would be. But who cares. At this price you could make many sets of these as they wear out and still be cheaper than a set of panniers.
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Old 09-16-08, 11:32 AM   #24
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Will the masonite swell if it gets wet?
I believe so, but the beauty of it is that it's cheap... so who cares.

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Old 09-16-08, 11:38 AM   #25
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The masonite would probably die entirely after a few rains, but since he's only using it there and back (it appears) I doubt it's an issue. Right now I'm thinking about a shelf I could fold up when not in use that would hold a bag like those. Coroplast would be waterproof and light, wire shelves might be heavier but stronger and would not cause the funky handling in the breeze.
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