Instructables

Plastic Jar Bike Saddle Bag

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I was a rider for the 2011 Ride for AIDS Chicago, a 2 day, 200 miles bike ride to raise funds and promote awareness of HIV/AIDS (I'll be riding again in 2012!). Having never done an endurance ride like this before, there were a lot of bells a whistles I needed for my bike. Purchasing all this kit on a budget led to me looking for cost-cutting options for everything. For my saddle bag, I was lucky enough to find this: http://www.howtofixbikes.ca/2008/12/how-to-make-real-cheap-hard-saddle-bag.html

Love at first sight! Unfortunatly, after about a month of hard use on the training course, one of the zip ties pulled through the thin plastic of the jar (it's all good, I wanted to "upgrade" to a bigger jar anyway). This led to a little design-tweeking, and this instructable.


Things you will need:
- A clean, empty plastic jar.  I'm a fan of the 28oz peanut butter jar, but any plastic jar with a wide mouth and screw-on cap will do.
- 2 smallish zip-ties or cable ties
- 4 washers (I used 1/8 x 3/4 fender washers here, but I originally used miss-matched washers and it worked fine)
- a big nail, awl or small drill
- a hammer (not necessary if using a drill)
- duct tape
- marker
- Bike in need of a saddle bag
- reflective tape (optional)

Step 1:
Make sure your jar will actually fit under your saddle!  Tall people are probably fine here, but I'm pretty short and my seat is pretty low.  You may notice in my photos I actually had to take my rear reflector off (I'll re-mount it later).  You don't want a jar that can't fit between your rear wheel and your saddle, nor one that's so big your legs touch it when you peddle.  On the other hand, it should be big enough to hold things.  The jar in the pictures is actually a smidge too small to hold everything I wanted (spare tube, tire levers, patch kit and multi-tool), but I don't know what you are going for.  Try packing the empty jar once before mounting it, to be sure it works for you.  Again, I recommend 28oz peanut butter jars :-)

Step 2:
Hold your jar under your saddle, against the two metal bars that attach your saddle to the seat post. This is where you will ultimately attach the jar. Use your marker to mark on the jar, where the edges of the bars touch the jar. In total, you will have two sets of two marks. You may need to just mark the outside marks and then eyeball for the inner marks.

Step 3:
Punch 4 holes in the jar.  You will reduce the chances of the plastic tearing if you can make the holes round, so I advise against using a blade.  I used a big decking nail and gently hammered until it punched through the plastic, then kinda twisted it around in the hole to widen it and smooth it out.  An awl or small drill would probably give you an even tidier result.

Step 4: 
Thread in the cable ties and washers.  First insert a cable tie through a washer then into an outer hole, with the female (open) end pointing outward. Inside the jar thread a second washer onto the cable tie, then thread the 'tie through the inner hole on that side.  Your end result should be the cable tie bent in a "U" with both ends outside of the jar, one washer flat against the outside of the jar and one flat against the inner surface of the jar.  Pull the cable tie pretty tight so the washers lay flat.  Repeat on the other set of holes, making sure the cable is a mirror of the first, so the female side is facing out on both.

Step 5: 
Place a rectangle of duct tape on the inside of the jar over each washer.  You don't need a ton of duct tape, just enough to cover the washer and holes on the inside of the jar.  This keeps the washer in place, and stops stuff from catching when you pull your gear in and out of the jar later.  It also stops grit and water from leaking in through the holes.

Step 6:
Mount the jar on your bike.  Thread the ends of the cable ties through your saddle bars, going from inside to outside, and loosely pull them through the female ends of the cable ties. When both sides are set, tighten the cable ties as much as you can.  Load that puppy up and head out!

Optional Things:
You can trim of the ends of the cable ties if you don't like having them visible.  I kinda like it.  Also, if you are blocking or had to remove your rear reflector in order to mount the bag, you'll want to slap some reflective tape on the jar to make up for it.  Also if you need to use up a whole jar of peanut butter to do this, this is my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quick-peanut-butter-cookies/detail.aspx
twopussez2 months ago

Excellent idea but weeny criticism, quite a lot of words to describe setup :)

I see Smarties in my saddle bag jar..

Reiff10 months ago
I actually really like that idea. I always wanted to get a saddle pack. I spray painted my peanut butter can on the inside and on the out (so when it wares off on the outside, it'll still look colored from the inside) to match my bike. Really simple but yet I never thought of it.
Reiff10 months ago
To put a hole in the jar more easier and smoothly, use a candle to heat up the nail and just slide it through holding it with a pair of pliers. It is easy and for some reason fun.
chiefredelk2 years ago
Heat will distort a peanut butter jar.. Soak in warm dish water. WD-40 will remove the adhesive.. I use this idea in my sail boat. If you cut a tube and make a seal it will be water proof.... If you burn the holes with a small solder iron tip they will make a reinforcement ring at the hold and will not tear out..

IF you locate the small holes at the BOTTOM portion about 1.5 inches apart then run the Zip ties through them UNDER the plastic bottle water will not likely get in from rain.. Once the ties are in place Duct tape over the holed and zip ties should keep the jug from rolling to much..The lid can come open.. For that I use a bent piece of Piano wire. It comes from a hobby shop. The wire is about 1/32 size.. Bend it in the shape of the bottle..half moon..Make it just a tiny bit bigger than the jug is around. Make TWO small holes in the jar lid on each side. Now that spring steel will snap in those holes. IF you cut it the right length it will just barely hang down past the bottle.. Good post brother, Bless you,,
Haha, I wouldn't do it but find it very cool and clever idea :)
For the label, just put the jar in boiled water and let it there for 10 min. Then rub the surface and it would be easier (be careful of jar's temperature).
Or just use alcohol
smirnoff042 years ago
I like the concept. I'd be inclined to use some heavier duty hardware but then again how much weight is it really going to hold (and how much do I really want to spend). Let us know how it holds up, Glorgana. Thanks for sharing the idea :)
Glorgana (author)  smirnoff042 years ago
I'm happy too say I installed my first reinforced jar in April (it's now July), after the just-a-jar-and-two-zipties failed, and It's been perfect. Packed with my tire-changing kit and a multi-tool it stood up to 3ish months of training rides (including in the rain) and performed flawlessly on my 200 mile Ride for AIDS. It was good I had it too, I has a blowout on the hills of Wisconsin.

The only issue I have had at all is one day after I'd been fiddling with it, while out biking the lid came unscrewed and I had to pick up my lid and multi-tool from the side of the road. I think that was my error not screwing the lib back on right, but it's worth noting.

I think in the end, punching four holes in something and strapping it to the saddle is a very flexible recipe, if you come up with a new twist I'd love to see it :-D
"new twist i'd love to see it :-D"

Nice pun ;)
rimar20002 years ago
Maybe you would paint the inner of the jar, in order to avoid seeing its contents. Burglars are tempted by the eyes...
Glorgana (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Very true. I only keep common items in mine, so I don't worry too much. A blast of spray paint, or even a sheet a paper would do the trick!
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