Introduction: Make 4 Gallon Square Bucket Bike Panniers for Less Than $20

This is my first instructable. In 2002, my older son came back from Aprovecho Research Centre in Oregon to BC with square bucket panniers that a fellow named Miguel had invented.  I experimented with the concept, and modified the design so that my heels didn't kick the panniers while pedaling. The original inner tube hook for the pannier was located in the middle of the box. This means you will be building a left pannier and a right pannier. As well, I found that larger washers prevent the plastic breaking over time.  These panniers are quick to install on the bike and remove, and are great buckets for taking into grocery stores.  The panniers sit at the same height as the bike rack, so you can load a wide object on the back of the bike. They are even good for dumpster diving! My younger son used them for a 3,000 km (1900 mile) bike ride in 2005. I liked these panniers enough to promote them in Prince George, BC since 2005.

Step 1: Hardware Needed

  • 4 gallon square bucket - 1 (Use bucket that has stored food such as feta cheese or mayonnaise, not detergent.)
  • Utility knife to cut bucket flange to mount shelf brackets
  • Marking pen
  • 18 inch piece used bike inner tube - 1 (Prevents bucket lid from rattling off)
  • 12 inch piece used bike inner tube - 1, folded to accommodate S-hook (Holds the bottom of bucket to bike rack mount)
  • 3/16 inch drill
  • heavy pliers or vice to close one end of S-hook onto folded inner tube
  • leather punch or awl to punch holes in inner tube
  • 2 inch Shelf bracket - (when bent, hooks onto bike rack near the back)
  • 5/16 inch (1 1/4 inch dia.) fender washers - 10
  • 1/2 inch x 10-32 machine screws - 7
  • 10-32 lock nuts - 7
  • 2 inch S-hook - 1 (to hook on rear bike rack near the axle)
  • Adhesive -backed reflective tape

Step 2: Install the Shelf Brackets (bike Rack Hooks)

  • Place shelf brackets to one side of the bucket, just inside the corners, and mark flange to cut
  • Cut out plastic bucket flange to fit shelf brackets flush with the bucket, using a utility knife.
  • Bolt the shelf brackets to one side of the bucket, just inside the corner using 4 machine screws, and fender washers and lock nuts inside the bucket.
  • Bend down the brackets forming hooks, at the first screw hole.

Step 3: Install the Lower Pannier Inner Tube/S-hook Bike Rack Attachment

  • Decide whether this is a left or right pannier. Mark the bucket as such on the shelf bracket side. This will tell you which side is front and which side is back.
  • Drill hole 5 inches below front shelf bracket close to front corner.
  • Fold 12 inch lower hook strap inner tube, puch holes in inner tube.
  • Bolt in hole: first a washer, then the folded inner tube ends with holes through the bucket, backed with another washer and lock nut.
  • Crimp hook onto fold of inner tube.

Step 4: Install the Inner Tube Lid Strap

Using an inner tube lid strap allows you to place the lid on the bucket without fully clamping it shut. With the pressure of the strap, the bucket stays waterproof, and the lid is easy to remove.
  • Drill two holes 5 1/2 inches below the top, 3 inches inside the corner away from the shelf bracket on the front and the back sides of the bucket.  Bolt the 18 inch lid strap inner tube, with washer, inner tube, bucket, fender washer and lock nut in order.
  • Repeat on other side of the bucket.

Step 5: Put on Reflective Tape

  • Put the reflective tape on the back of the bucket, 4 inches up from the bottom, wrapping around the corner.
  • Now mount the pannier on the bike, by hooking the S-hook onto the back of the rack just above the axle mount, and hook the bent shelf bracket hooks onto the back of the bike rack.
  • ENJOY!

Step 6: Extra Strong Backing for Repair of Bucket After Years of Use

For extra strong backing, use 2 6 inch mending plates behind the shelf brackets inside the bucket - one for the top hole of the brackets, and one for the bottom hole of the brackets.  2 2/16 holes will have to be drilled in the mending plates

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