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Picture of Cooler Bike Cooler
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An insulated bike cooler makes an excellent addition to a shopping or commuting bike. Or, I suppose, a drinkin' & partyin' bike.
 
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Step 1: Prepare.

Picture of Prepare.
First you're going to need a bike, and a cooler. I found mine at the police auction for $2, and it's a great shape for this project. See what you have lying around or can find at garage sales.

To do this the way I did, you'll also need the following:

- one bike
- one cooler. I think this is what I used: http://www.rubbermaid.com/rubbermaid/ecommerce/product.jhtml?prodId=HpdProd200006&catId=HpdCat190071
- one steel right-angle bracket
- an electric drill and various bits
- something to attach the cooler onto the frame: I used the kind of brass bracket that slide bolts (for doors) slide into: see http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=73299-1277-SP1271for example. You could also use the kind of copper bracket they use to hold copper pipes against the wall.
- various bolts, screws, and bits of chain
- you might find it useful to have zip ties to temporarily hold the cooler in place while you try it out.

Step 2: Drill the hole in the angle bracket

Picture of Drill the hole in the angle bracket
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I had one of these angle brackets lying around in the basement. It's the sort of thing that gets used to provide support for stairs or decks. I have no idea why I had it. Still, it was conveniently pre-drilled with small holes. All I needed to do was to add one big hole so it would fit on my bike axle. One half-inch drill bit later and a bit of neatening up with a Dremmel and we're set.

Step 3: Attach the bracket to the bike

Picture of Attach the bracket to the bike
Nut comes off, bracket goes on, nut goes back on. Now we feel like we've accomplished something already! Isn't it inspiring? Don't you feel you could put all sorts of things on there? But no, we're going to keep going with Plan A.

Step 4: Position the cooler

Picture of Position the cooler
Now you're going to figure out where the cooler is going to go. Now, ideally, you'd put that bracket right in the center of the cooler. But if you do that, then it'll be too far forward and hit your foot every time you turn the pedal. So put your foot on the pedal and see how far back it goes. Then get a friend to mark with a sharpie on your bike how far back your heel is. Give it another inch, and plan on positioning the cooler there.

Step 5: Make a hole for the nut

Picture of Make a hole for the nut
The nut that's holding your bracket and frame on will stick out into your cooler, and that'll make it wobbly. So we're going to cut a shallow, <1/2" deep hole the size of the outer diameter of that nut in the side of cooler with a hole saw.

First mark where it's going to go with a sharpie. You can probably figure it out just by marking the approximate position of the bracket on the side and putting it in approximately the right place. Then drill your hole.

Step 6: Attach the top bracket to the vertical tube

Picture of Attach the top bracket to the vertical tube
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So for now we're just going to rest the cooler on that bottom bracket. It shouldn't wobble too much, as it's now got that shallow hole for the bolt to sit in. You may want to put a screw in through the bracket into the bottom -- just make sure it's not so long that it goes through the bottom of the cooler; : I found that I needed to use 3/4" ones. Ideally, use coarse drywall screws through the bracket into the cooler. You can just use wood screws if you don't have drywall screws this short. Don't put in more than one at this stage; you'll want to take the cooler back off again.

Now you're going to attach a piece of metal around your vertical support and use bolts to hold it onto the cooler. Again, I used the kinda piece of metal that slide bolts slide into. Seen in profile, it's shaped like this: _n_ and has a hole in each one of the flat sides. Mine's brass, but that's only because that was what was lying around. You also find similar copper ones used to hold pipes in plumbing. You could also just use a strip of metal and bend it in shape.

So first mark on your cooler where it's going to go. Then drill both your holes through the cooler all the way to the inside, and put in one side of the bolts loosely. Then hold your cooler up against your bike, put your bit'o'metal around the vertical support, and slip the bolts through the other side, through the cooler, and tighten them up.

Before you tighten them all the way, slip three or four screws into the bottom of the cooler through the bracket. Then tighten up. That'll make sure that everything's where it's supposed to be once it's all installed.

Step 7: The final holding strap

Picture of The final holding strap
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So you've now got a cooler that's held at the bottom and at one corner. We now want to put on one more piece of support.

After trying a bunch of solutions, I've finally decided that it's useful to have a bike rack in place on your bike. Then you can simply attach a bolt to the far corner of your cooler and tie that to your bike rack. It's possible to do it without, but I wouldn't recommend it. Then again, unless you're me, if you're planning on having a cooler on your bike then you probably already have a bike rack.

So you know the routine by now. Drill through the cooler; put in a bolt. In this example I used an S-hook on the bike rack, some lightweight chain I had lying around, and a bit of old brass toilet seat hardware to provide something for it to attach to. No, this is not the classiest solution.

Nor is it the best; I think putting in some kind of turnbuckle would be much nicer and let you adjust tension and the like. Then again, I've used this for a few months now and it seems in pretty good shape.

Step 8: You're done!

Picture of You're done!
Check all your various points of support, and take it for a whirl! Off to the farmers market. Be prepared to receive compliments. People love this thing.
bikebum19754 years ago
Dig that idea seems to me would be a cool mod for going touring to something I plan on doing good way to carry fresh foods with ya.
knagles5 years ago
Cool. Would this not make the bike heavy sided when the cooler is full?
i wont use a cooler ! but i will use this to mount my extra cool Camera bag ! yay no more going for take away and having my food at the bottom of a bag
lucek7 years ago
its a good idea. if I can find some of thees coolers I may just have to build a rig to attach them to my rack. and a cooler is good for nonfreezing groceries too. a hard box beets paper and plastic or cloth on a bike. you may have just saved some eggs. and I wonder would my super market give me credit for the cooler like they do for the bags I return?
MrStupid7 years ago
How about using 2 smaller coolers, 1 on each side kinda like saddle bags? Balance would be better and you could probably carry more stuff.
jofish (author)  MrStupid7 years ago
Sure, that would work. Personally, I just added a backpack pannier on the other side which gives a bit more flexibility. It depends what you're using it for: if this is the bike-o-beer then you'd definitely want the cooler. For the farmers market, the pannier is a bit more useful.
dkfa7 years ago
wouldnt this make the cooler not a cooler? Wouldnt the holes make the cold air out?
jofish (author)  dkfa7 years ago
Well, there's no significant air holes through the cooler itself. The ones in the base don't penetrate the inner shell, and the ones that the bolts go through are pretty much the size of the bolts and have big washers on each side, so there's absolutely minimum heat exchange there. Worth thinking about, but I think there's barely any difference.
the purpose is to keep things cool longer not indefinitely and putting small holes in cooler then plugging them up isnt going to effect the temperature much unless he was putting the bolts on say a heat source but its a bike not an exaust
John Smith7 years ago
oh thats a good idea! if i could add one to the side of my mountain bike... that would be a great way to bring water and food into the woods.