Picture of Simple Pallet Bike Rack
I'm a lazy maker. I will live with problems for a long time, waiting until I stumble on the simplest, cheapest solution I can imagine. I find that I often end up with elegant, low-tech fixes that are easy to make as well as easy to live with. 

A recent problem that waited a good long time for a solution was my bicycle-littered porch. My wife and I agreed that we needed a rack to organize a family stable of bikes that numbers between 4 and 7, depending on what's being built at the time (I regularly build or fix bikes for friends and local folks-in-need). For my rack, I imagined all sorts of constructions, but didn't really have the energy to cut and assemble. Like I said: I'm a lazy maker. 

The solution I finally hit on was so simple as to be ridiculous: two wooden pallets leaned against each other. It's so simple that it's hardly worth saying a word about it; the picture ought to be enough. But following are a few thoughts ...

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Step 1: Simple Pallet Bike Rack

Picture of Simple Pallet Bike Rack
These two pallets, salvaged from a dumpster, are slightly different, in ways that make a difference for the project. The one with thinner boards will be the upright pallet, as its narrower slots will hold bike wheels better. The other pallet will go upside-down, for reasons that will be clear in the next step ...

Step 2: Simple Pallet Bike Rack

Picture of Simple Pallet Bike Rack
For the pallet that sits on the ground, you'll want a little more wiggle-room for lining up the wheels to fit in the vertical slats. You'll do this by setting it boards-down. As you can see, this provides a 'well' for the wheels, and provides a cross-brace to serve as a stop, keeping the wheel from rolling out of place. Note in the third pic, the distance from the wall in the bottom pallet -- this  provides the right angle for the top pallet to lean against the wall (remember, we're not screwing anything down ... that would be too much work). 

Step 3: Simple Pallet Bike Rack

Picture of Simple Pallet Bike Rack
Some have expressed concern that splinters would be a danger to bicycle tires. I have no such concern: bike tire rubber is tough and pallet boards are not. But if you don't mind a little extra effort (ahem), then hit the rough spots with a file. 

Step 4: Simple Pallet Bike Rack

Picture of Simple Pallet Bike Rack
The "finished" rack. It's roomy enough, it looks clean, and it sure tidies up the porch.

Long-term, the rack needs a bit of adjustment every month or so, but it is remarkably stable for a solution that involves no screws, glue, or even duct-tape. 

*Note that this rack idea of mine first appeared on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lowtechatmo/5845643031/), where it was spotted by Make Magazine's bloggers (http://blog.makezine.com/2012/03/31/wood-pallet-bike-rack/) and Treehugger.com (http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/simplest-diy-ever-build-bike-rack-pallets.html), among many others.
Jojoh3 months ago

I made it! Except I used the base of an old futon bed. Same principal, took five minutes to drag it out and set it up on an angle.

maudlin (author)  Jojoh3 months ago

Love it. 5 minutes. :)

rippa7002 years ago
Perfect! I have about 20 bikes renovated from the dump for guests to use and I have an inelegant rack but i do have some pallets. Thanks. Looks simple and effective. Nice one!
PKM2 years ago
Brilliantly simple! This is already a good result from an "absolutely no woodworking" standpoint, though if you wanted it looking a bit more "finished", nailing a spare slat over the exposed ends of the pallets would perhaps make it look a bit tidier.
maudlin (author)  PKM2 years ago
Yeah, of course you're right. Paint would be nice too. But I was really going for the minimalist DIY here.