How to Make Bike Panniers

How to Make Bike Panniers
Bike panniers let you carry a load comfortably and off your shoulders. They are the staple for touring cyclists and a common choice for commuters who need extra space to carry gear. Bike shops offer panniers with a variety of features, but to save money, it's possible to make your own.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bike rack
  • Measuring tape
  • Duffel bag
  • Needle and thread
  • 4 bungee cords
Step 1
Install a rear bike rack to carry your panniers. Choose a rack with side supports. On most racks, this is the piece that attaches to the lower part of your bike, securing it in place. Some models attach only at the seat post and do not come with side supports, making it dangerous to attach panniers because they can swing and get caught in your tires.
Step 2
With your rack installed, measure it from the base of one side support, over the top, and down to the base of the other side support. Next, measure the length of the weight-bearing portion of the top of the rack.
Step 3
Choose a duffel bag that has a width equal to or smaller than the measurement of the top of the rack and a length equal to or smaller than the measurement from side support to side support. The duffel bag will sit on top and hang over the sides of the rack. If the bag is too wide or too long, it will extent beyond the rack, potentially getting caught in your tire.
Step 4
Place the duffel bag on the rack so it hangs evenly over both side supports. With a pen, make on outline of the top portion of the rack onto the duffel bag. This outline will serve as a marker so you'll know where to place the bag and have it hang evenly over the rack.
Step 5
Sew along the outline to create two compartments in your duffel bag. You may want to position the zipper all the way to one side instead of in the middle so you don't have to sew around it. By stitching this outline, you'll make two compartments along with a flat surface in the middle where the duffel bag will sit on top of the rack.
Step 6
Use bungee cords or shock cords to secure your bag to the rack. Use at least two for each side, wrapping them around the sides of the duffel bag and attaching them to the rack's side support. Be sure that the cords attach in a way that leaves clearance for your tire.

Tips & Warnings

Purchase a duffel bag made from water-resistant materials to keep your gear dry in wet weather.
Add reflective tape to the sides of your bag to add visibility to your panniers.

Article Written By Kathrine Cole

Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

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