Picture of How to make DIY Bike Panniers
Make professional looking panniers from mostly re-used materials. As an added constraint for me, it has to work with my recumbent bike AND your traditional diamond frame bike.

At a Glance

Total Cost
$20 - Costs vary based on price of bag and quality of hardware (if you have a bag already, cost is ~$5 for new hardware)

1-2 Hours

Cargo Capacity
15.4" Laptop, Charger, Mouse, Fleece Sweater, Brick Digi Camera, Multi tools, cell phone, wallet, city maps, spiral notebook etc. etc.

The bag can accommodate 2L bottles (3) and even gallon (milk container form factor).
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Choosing your pannier style

Picture of Choosing your pannier style
There are many resources available for DIY panniers. Steven E. Pav has an awesome write up on sizing and making custom panniers from the ground up - this is excellent reading.

Of course, there's your DIY standard "bucket pannier" made from old cat litter buckets (or similar) as seen here or [ here] or even here. While utilitarian and high capacity, these lack a certain sense of sexiness. You can make the panniers seen in this instructable for the same price as these bucket panniers if you use some recycled material.

There's also the surplus army bag conversion - [ as seen here by Peter Moore].

You could, gasp!, buy panniers... Arkel makes some great bags - the one closest to my DIY version is the Arkel Bug Pack. It's convertible - it goes from pannier to backpack easily. It also has a quality engineered mounting mechanism. The price isn't something I get excited over, $165... But I've met a happy customer, and will vouch that it is quality.

Photo Credit (Buckets): Brian Huntley
1-40 of 63Next »
NanR2 months ago

For all fabrics, an awl is the best choice for making the holes. Slip the point into the weave, making sure you don't sever any fibers, and slowly widen the hole by rocking the awl and pushing it farther in. This way, you don't have to worry above the weave coming apart.

Later when you take the bag off the bike and carry it around, don't the hooks poke into your body?
Oh, these are lovely! I recently made my own paniers as well and I'm in love with them :P Details here! I'll probably upload another version for instructables when I find the time :) 
If anyone's interested, we have uploaded some kind of pattern in our site, bit of green, I'll try and make another version for instructables; I just don't have many photos from the process so it's not that easy! :)
hguvg4 years ago
What in the world? what kind of bike is the yellow one in the first picture. it looks awesome but hard to balance
Whales hguvg4 years ago
Recumbent bike i believe it is called. It's just as hard to balance as any other bike. Pretty fun to ride around in, get to lay back and pedal instead of sitting up.
hguvg Whales4 years ago
Wow, I need me one of those...
kiwinewt6 years ago
How is it possible to do it on the gears side as well? I'm a bit stumped at the moment on how I can attach the cord to hold it down on that side (everything else will work fine)
this can be easily done on the gears side, the rack goes outside the cogset (gears) so the bag never touches the cogset.

As long as there is sufficient clearance between the dérailleur (the arm holding the chain) and the bag, the gears will work perfectly.
Dariuza4 years ago
I just made Panniers about 2 weeks ago. Neat instructable.
I had the easy job. I cut the frame and hooks. My wife did all the sewing.
these are sweet. any chance your wife would be willing to share the sewing pattern?
Love those monster panniers... add a splash of color with boot laces (your favorite color) through the 'exterior bungee loops'. They would act as compression straps, that could be cinched down after you're all loaded. just a thought...
trebuchet03 (author)  David Cousins6 years ago
Those are some monster panniers - for touring? Or Mega groceries (and similar)? What material are they - just curious. I should say - awesome monster panniers :p
They are for touring, carrying camping gear, sleeping bag and clothes. Material is a medium/light canvas. The bags are for my daughter. My wife had the hard part, all the sewing. I cut the structural back plate and made the hooks to hang it. I like your recumbent bike. I'd love to try one. You know, try before I buy. Anyway, thanks for posting your Panniers.
trebuchet03 (author)  David Cousins6 years ago
Thanks :) If you're ever in the central Florida (Orlando) area - let me know. My 'bent isn't the easiest to learn on (short wheel base and very sensitive steering), but you can go for a test ride :)
RideCentral4 years ago
 Thanks for the info.  My husband just bought a recumbent (Lightning P38) and we have been researching racks and panniers.  Did your rack come with the bike, or did you purchase it?  its a very interesting design.
trebuchet03 (author)  RideCentral4 years ago
 It came with it ;) The bike and rack were designed for each other :p Have fun with your P38!
leander375 years ago
Here's mine!
leander375 years ago
I don't understand how you get the bag to keep its shape. It seems that the bungee would pull the bag corners together... Perhaps your backer board goes all the way down?
leander375 years ago
I think the mirror hook is better because it does not have a tapered profile and it has 2 holes for more secure fastening (though I guess one hole might do the trick, and be lighter at that).
leander375 years ago
I used an old LP as a backer board... Make sure no one wants to listen to it anymore, then it is effective reuse! It is easy to shape if you score the surface and then snap it. I then sanded the edges so as not to poke through the bag.
i just realized that the defective bag i picked up from the bike shop i work at has the same inner pocket to store the backpack straps. i can totally use your design! thank you!
(removed by author or community request)
trebuchet03 (author)  DELETED_dmdeford6 years ago
It does not have an impact on balance whatsoever - even when fully loaded ;)

You don't need to have a matching set (one on each side), but that doesn't mean you can't do it :p
velos6 years ago
Love your "bent"..what is it?
mister_e6 years ago
I have these "Drupa" cutting boards from IKEA:

$1.99 for a pair. I think they'll make a decent backing plate. They fit the laptop bag that I have perfectly. They are made of polyethelyne and are slightly flexible.

I'm going to look into an alternative for the hooks, maybe straps...

Thanks for the idea!

--Mister E
scottredd6 years ago
Very nice! I've just started bike commuting and have been mulling over ideas for some home build panniers. It's great to see different methods, choice of hardware, etc. Do you have any problems with the shallow, square angle of the mirror hooks versus the sometimes rubberized, deeper hooks used on manufactured panniers? Again, nice job.
trebuchet03 (author)  scottredd6 years ago
I originally planned on plastic dipping the metal hooks - but my hooks just barely fit my 10mm rack. As far as shallowness - Nope, no problems with them coming off. Getting them on has given me trouble a couple times - but nothing to remake everything over. I've even gone riding without the bungee (accident) without a problem - but that's not recommended. The bungee really keeps everything secure.
Not to mention, replacing the hooks withsomething different only requires unscrewing what's on there now.
gmgfarrand6 years ago
What is the brand and model of the bike pictured??
Its a challenge distance from holland
trebuchet03 (author)  gmgfarrand6 years ago
The company that made that bike is called Challenge-< that's their model list.

The model is "Distance" - which is no longer made (it was replaced by the "Seiran." I bought the bike, used, on eBay ;)
nhaberman6 years ago
I found some fantastic hooks from Ikea (named Blecka, meaning "pannier hooks" in Finnish, I think) that work perfectly, and are easy to come by:
dalesd6 years ago
This is great. I made two already. One from a bag I got at my local army navy store, a "Musette bag" for $15 (it looks a lot like the bag used by Peter Moore), and the other was an attache bag I got free from somewhere. I used 1/8" luan for the backer board. I used cable clamps for the hooks instead of mirror clamps. They're aluminum and cost $2 for a pack of 15 at my local big box hardware store. 1/4" brass grommets and cheap 10" bungee cords.
altomic6 years ago
very cool. Hmmm, I have some nice african hessian coffee bags that I could cover some old laptop bags. thanks for the idea.
dave136 years ago
Clever use of acorn nuts. Provides a smooth interface (as compared to a hex- or pan-head) when putting the pannier on the rack and will offer some protection from the hook bouncing off the rack when in use. (The counter sunk flat head screws on my installation don't provide the anti-bounce feature. I guess you could call my self-releasing hooks a "feature".)
jon1233216 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
trebuchet03 (author)  jon1233216 years ago
Here's the Manufacturer

The model is Distance - which was discontinued and replaced by the Seiran. It's a touring 'bent - which is why it has such beefy racks - but, it's geared for both high torque (pedaling up a hill - like the ones in San Francisco) and high speeds (pedaling downhill and flat out).

I bought the bike on eBay - used.
hmmmm...i dont trust a recumbent bike going high speed downhill...
1-40 of 63Next »