Homemade Hardside Panniers

These hardside panniers cost just under $30 to build but they are super rugged and, although weight weenies need not apply, they hold a lot of stuff.

Homemade Hardside Panniers

The idea for these ‘bags’ began after purchasing my new bike. It had a rack, but a rack is only as good if you have the ability to carry stuff on it. I looked at some of the commercially available options and didn’t think any of them suited my bike. I wanted something rigid, that would add mass ot the bike and hopefully make me more visible to drivers around me.

I shopped for about 2 weeks at every store I could think of looking for suitable containers to use. I’ve seen panniers made from small trashcans, 5G buckets, and milk crates but I wanted something that would look homemade without looking trashy. To make one you’ll need:

Parts List:

  • (2) 24″ 3/8″ threaded rods
  • (4) 3/8″ acorn nuts
  • (16) 1.25″x3/8″ washers (overkill, smaller washers would have been fine)
  • (16) 3/8″ nuts
  • (2) bungee cord
  • (2) large wall mounting hook
  • (8) large zip tie
  • (2) marine battery box (series 27 i think?)
  • (2ft) 3/8″ ID black tubing
  • (2) reflectors (optional)

Tools Required:

Drill and 3/8″ bit

  • Wrench
  • Torch or lighter (to seal ends of bungee)
  • Small vice grips (optional, to tighten zip ties)

Let’s build!

  1. Drill 4 holes in the top corners of each battery box. Be sure to leave enough clearance in the corners for the washers.
    Begin by threading a nut and an acorn nut onto one end of the threaded rod. Add a washer from the ‘open’ end.
    Push the threaded rod into the first “outide” hole in the box, before you push it through the “inside hole” add another washer, 2 nuts, and another washer.
  2. Each location where the rod passes through the box it should be like the diagram below: —(nut)-(washer)-[box]-(washer)-(nut)—
  3. Repeat this process on the front and back of one box until one side is finished.
    Now you need to measure the diameter of your rack, and cut 2 pieces of poly tubing to cover the threads. This will keep the threads from grinding the paint off your rack, also dampens vibrations a bit.
  4. Add the second box in the same manner as you added the first. Remember to use washers and nuts at every location where the rod passes through the plastic.
  5. You may need to cut the finished end off the threaded rod with a hacksaw before adding the final acorn nuts if it is too long but 24″ was almost perfect for my application. I added a little locktite to the acorn nuts to keep them from wiggling loose. You could use lock nuts and forget the acorn nuts completely but i like the look of them so I kept them.
  6. You should now be left with 2 boxes, connected by 2 rods with a rack-sized gap between them. A test fit is a great idea.
  7. To hold the boxes to the rack you’ll need to chop the ends off a pair of bungee cords. I use a torch to keep the ends from fraying.
  8. Slip the wall hook onto the middle of the bungee and loop one end around one of the tube-covered rods. Secure the loop with 2 zip ties pulled as tight as possible. Repeat process with the other end of the bungee on the other rod. You want the bags to be held tightly so make sure the length of the “slack” will keep the bags pulled tight when the hooks are attached to the bottom of the rack. Also, you want both hooks to be facing toward the inside as they are very hard to unhook if you put them on backwards.

Homemade Hardside Panniers next to the bicycle

The instructions sound complicated but if you just examine the pictures you’ll see it is a very basic setup. I wear a size 12 shoe and I have never experienced heel clearance issues but YMMV. I didn’t use the “lids” that came with the boxes because I don’t use my bike for utility rides if its raining, but for all-weather riders, the lids are form fitting and should just pop right on.

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Homemade Hardside Panniers — Bike Hacks