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How to make Grocery Panniers for $4

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How to make Grocery Panniers for $4

Old 07-07-10, 06:40 PM
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Sweet - beauty in simplicity - love it.
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Old 07-08-10, 07:42 PM
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i just did a cheap version of it as well....i've got a large sams club bag and a smaller walmart bag thats a freezer type bag, i used duck tape and taped the straps criss cross...i've got the bugee right under the brakes on the frame...i'll see how it works this weekend
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Old 01-07-13, 01:15 PM
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I never gave panniers much thought mostly because I don't think a rack would work on my bike so I bought a Marmot bag that I wear on my back. But these are really nice DIY panniers and outstanding modifications.
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Old 01-07-13, 01:50 PM
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Old 01-07-13, 02:27 PM
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For the cost, this can't be beat!

Great idea / execution.
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Old 01-07-13, 04:33 PM
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I recommended sheet ABS above, but sheet polyethylene would work, too, and could be had by cutting up a cat litter bucket or something.

Or you could just use the cat litter bucket for the pannier.
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Old 01-08-13, 12:55 PM
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i did a version as well i used the cover of a cheap notepad papper book like writeing papper it has a plastic cover thats very stiff i used it on outside and inside on wheel side of panier
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Old 01-08-13, 06:43 PM
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I did something similar with two cat litter plastique container, rigid and waterproof. The container is free when you buy the litter
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Old 06-03-13, 04:25 PM
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I like the basic idea. Some changes that I'd make:

1) As others have said, try using heavy-duty plastic of some sort (easily-cuttable) instead of something that would absorb water.

2) Instead of using the handles to bear the weight of the panniers, get a couple of vinyl-coated hooks and bolt them onto the stiff back (vertical piece), and hang the pannier from that. I prefer this type of pannier rather than the "saddlebag" type; it allows me to take only one pannier for light shopping, for one thing.
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Old 06-03-13, 07:21 PM
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I wonder if coroplast would be an okay substitute for masonite? It would be lighter, and not all that flimsy. Unfortunately, I can't use that particular setup because of my large klunky feet, which makes heel-strikes a real problem for me.
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Old 06-03-13, 09:47 PM
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Love this idea, can't wait to try it. Anybody seen this?
https://www.firebox.com/product/5927/6-Bottle-Bike-Bag
it could also be reproduced fairly easily!
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Old 07-06-13, 05:20 AM
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I made a set...very similar, but the width of the masonite was perhaps about an inch shorter than the full width of the bag. About 20 minutes into my trip, the back bottom corner of the bag opposite the chain got caught in the spoke. The masonite snapped and bag ripped open. The issue was that the bags hang pretty low - lower than panniers you'd buy that are actual panniers. They are perhaps about two inches too high. What would have made this less likely to happen would be a small piece of elastic that hooks to the bottom of the rack. This would have kept the panniers from swinging which is how I believe they got caught in the spokes. The masonite keeps the bags and contents away from the spokes, but when the bag is swinging, the angle can change and terrible things happen. The other side was fine and they were weighted heavily (10 pounds plus on each side) so I think these bags are surprisingly durable.

About my design.
- I used clip board masonite which was almost an exact fit. Saves cutting.
- I bolted the masonite to the bag with four bolts and washers which worked fine, but it is likely to scratch your rack. I didn't care if the rack got scratched, only the bike. If you care, glue it; don't bolt it or cover the screws with cloth.
- Stitched bags together with dental floss (held up fine)

If I were to do it again, I would 1) attach some small elastic band about five inches from the bottom of each bag to prevent them from swinging. I believe that's the reason why they got caught. 2) I'd leave an inch or two of space between the masonite and top of the bag. 3) I'd use that extra space at the top to shorten the distance between the bags and prevent them from hanging so low. You'd lose an inch or two of space vertically, but at least on my rack, they wouldn't hang below the bottom of the rack (the hub). It wasn't by much, but it was too low. 4) I'd try to find the beefiest grocery bags I could. While they would have worked, regular reusable grocery bags are just not durable. I'd be looking for something closer to backpack material. Anything less is not likely to hold up more than a few months. One sharp corner digging into these bags and they're done.

This design worked, but I am starting to understand why panniers are so expensive. You need quality materials.

Last edited by rek101; 07-06-13 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 07-06-13, 05:30 AM
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You can drill through masonite and it won't shatter. It's like drilling through drywall.
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Old 08-13-13, 11:13 PM
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Great idea, and... OK, I made these. Exactly the same bags [see post in utility bike thread], but the straps ripped off the second time I used them. Worked fine for the bread and fruit. Not strong enough for big loads like milk of canned tuna. UNLESS, maybe you use heavier canvas bags and resew the straps doubled or tripled. Just saying..
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Old 08-20-13, 06:27 PM
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For heavy duty you have to use canvas bags like this, same idea.



the velcro on back is to fold up in the third photo, convenient unless you really stuff them. These have held up for several years so far, to anything I've stuffed them with. I sometimes slide a piece of cardboard in, most times not.
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Old 07-19-14, 11:14 AM
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Fantastic replacement to expensive panniers. Great that OP included pictures
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Old 07-19-14, 12:10 PM
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OK until it rains .. and if you cant get it far enough back, you may kick the bags with your heels

with every pedal stroke .

the non woven plastic bags do tear after a while , handles comme off.
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Old 07-27-14, 08:53 AM
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Thanks for the idea!! i used thermal bags ($2.50) with zipper closures purchased at my local grocery store.
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Old 12-14-15, 06:01 AM
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I love the bags, just knocked a set up using ALDI bags and cardboard as a trial and have read lots of comments for improvements. I need to carry two huge school bags for my kids and they fit into the ALDI bags perfectly! (Can't seem to find manufactured bike bags big enough) my alteration to the original so far... Cable tie the bags on, permanent instillation but no swinging or falling off. I plan to make waterproof canvas bags for the proper version.
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Old 12-14-15, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by gotcha640
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.
Wald makes a folding basket that perfectly fits a grocery bag. I know, not DIY, but it works really darn well.
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Old 12-14-15, 10:23 PM
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Coroplast works very well for stiffeners. Free for a few days after an election. You can even make whole panniers out of them.
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Old 04-11-17, 08:23 AM
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I went with wald baskets front and rear. I can haul tons of stuff.
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Old 04-19-17, 01:07 PM
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The last set of DIY panniers I did were from a couple of clearance school backpacks from WalMart. 1/4" plywood cut to fit inside, flat bungee halves and hooks bent from flat steel bolted through the nylon and plywood. (Two bolts through each bungee half, with large washers, IIRC.) You could even still wear one as a backpack with a bit of duct tape over the upper hooks.

Since my BV panniers are finally at the point where I'm just tired of fixing them, (zippers started failing within a month, the bungee hooks failed shortly after that, and I've been kludging them ever since, but now the fabric is wearing through too badly for patching) I broke down and ordered a set of Axioms for the commute, and I noticed mom uses a bucket type cat litter when I was out there last, so I'll likely be making some panniers from those for larger capacity on grocery runs.
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Old 08-17-18, 02:01 PM
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Bumping this from the dead because I will be making something like this. Anyone else use these?
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