Best Cat Litter Bike Buckets





Introduction: Best Cat Litter Bike Buckets

Every bike worth its salt has some way to carry cargo, and I am not the first to think of using cat litter buckets. However, I am the best at it. I say this not because I'm egotistic (although I am) but because I have had several buckets fall apart on me, and the next incarnation is always built to remedy the problems of the last generation. What you are about to see is the culmination of years of Cat litter bike buckets, perfect for groceries, bike camping or anything you can imagine.

Step 1: Buy Your Cat Litter

Start by gathering your material.

Most of the work is done by the cat litter manufacturer, it's hard to mold your own plastic bucket. In my experience, use one of the buckets that comes with a full lid, not a screw on cap. As well, square sides makes it much easier. My preference is Scoop-Away, but that's more for their quality litter than anything else.

Cut 2 pieces of pipe strap 8 large holes long. Well, 4 if you want to make 2 buckets.

Gather 8 bolts and matching nuts for each bucket. Ideally they should fit snugly through the holes in the pipe strap.

Pannier hooks, whatever you find works best. I have tried a lot and get the best results from 1 3/4 inch L brackets pounded into shape with a hammer.

Eyebolt and corresponding nuts and washers

A drill, screwdriver, and blade makes the work go quicker

For best results, leave a PBS cooking show on in the background while you work.

Step 2: Break Out the Drill

Line one of the 8 hole segments of pipe strapping on the top of the cat litter bucket. Drill through the 3 outer holes on each side. Now would be the point to enlarge the holes to fit your bolts.

Step 3: Start Bolting Things On

Take 4 of the bolts you have accumulated and sandwich the cat litter bucket between two bits of the pipe strap.

Step 4: Add Mounting Hooks

If you took my advice and used 3/4 inch l brackets pounded into shape break them out now. They work better than any other homemade alternative I've tried, and better than some commercial products.

align the bottom hole of the hook with the empty hole in the pipe strap and bolt away. If you need to cut away some of the plastic for a better fit, now is the time.

If you've followed my instructions each hook is now hold on by 4 bolts. 3 of those bolts are hold together with the pipe strap. No way those are going to pull out, like most other designs.

Step 5: Eyeblt

Mount the eyebolt on the bottom of the bucket. You can use a few washers if you want, but it isn't under tremendous pressure so it can make due. Attach a bungee cord to the eyebolt that is just long enough to make it to your dropouts when the bucket it mounted.

having the bungee mount this much lower gives it a lot more leverage in holding the bucket on. I have never had a bucket mounted like this bounce off. I've lost too many bags of groceries that way.

Step 6: Decorate

It still looks like a cat litter bucket, it's time to change that. Decorate however you like, duct tape, spray paint, sharpie.

I do suggest a nice reflective tape pattern though.

Step 7: Final Improvement

IT has just recently come to my attention that some of the nuts can wiggle loose with use (a lot of use, but it still happens), so in my attempt to create the ultimate cat litter bucket, I now suggest Nylock nuts, or a thread locker. Or just tighten them once and a while, if absolute perfection isn't your goal.



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18 Discussions

hmm, I got some off of Craigslist and really like the lids. I'll need to find a way to attach them and still be able to use the lids.

Probably the best detail so far. A few ideas on my prototypes. As my Bike Friday has smaller 20" wheels, the boxes hang lower than the axel, so you can't pull down from the bottom (as in this design) for stability. To overcome this, I bent some 1/8 inch aluminium perforated metal so that is hooks the rack stay when the panniers are mounted, like Ortlieb does, see picture #2, the little black hook: I did this by taking a rectangle, then cutting a mounting plate section of the metal, and then cutting and bending the hook.
Second, I didn't want bungee cords to take on and off but the buckets needed down force to ensure they stayed on. Since my buckets ride about 3 inches above the rear rack, I drilled small holes in the ridge extension near the rack (a series of ridges go around the buckets to add strength). Just one micro thin and short bungee hooks to the hole, goes down and under the rack, then up to the other side (pulls down on the buckets). Still testing the design. You can reach me at, bottom of the page for a link to an email.

Some acetone (nail polish remover) and a little elbow grease will remove the label.

To remove the labels, a belt sander works quickly (10 minutes, but half of that is flipping the bucket and trying to hold it down), but with some smudging from the heat. The resulting "matte" finish (a blatant euphemism) might be prone to collecting road dirt, but some people like that rustic look. You could do it by hand, starting with 80 grit and then hitting it with 120-150. ~ ~ If you sand them off, there are spray paints that stick quite well to plastic (Krylon and Rust-oleum), especially CLEAN, sanded plastic, but leave it alone and let it cure for a week or so. This makes a huge difference in the adhesion. Lots of color choices. Make it pretty. ~ ~ Yeah, I know the instructions say you can use it after an hour, but I used this stuff on recycling bins, and it scratched easily after a couple of hours, but the ones I left alone are still doing fairly well. And that's on the kind of tall, lidded bins that get picked up by the trucks and flipped. On the surface that the trucks' dumping-arm presses against. They're scratched, but no more than any other surface-coating would be scratched. I love this paint. I prepped the painted areas of the bins with 150-grit sanding, and then wiped with a damp rag, BTW, going further than the instructions require.

Hello it's me again.  Well I finally finished my cat litter panniers and thanks very much for the inspiration!  I took a pretty different design path with cues taken from the Arkel systems for attachment.

My problem now is that I have two huge advertisements for cat litter on my bike.  Have you over your years of experimentation figured out how to get the decals off of these buckets?  I tried GunkOff (basic solvent) but it would have taken many hours and tons of the stuff to do the job.  I heard a heat gun might help.  Any suggestions?  Thanks.

Hi Fuzz, thanks for this idea of how to re-use cat litter pails.  I don't use clay for our cats but have wanted some reuse for the ones I see discarded. 

Quick question: What kind of short rack is that over the front wheel?  Is it specifically made for over-the-front-wheel, or what?  I'm searching models but don't find a bunch.   Thanks!

How does this add to the strength of the bucket? It seems like some of the designs which incorporate a small piece of lumber would give a lot more strength.

3 replies

it doesn't strengthen the bucket as such. The buckets are plenty strong as they are, they were designed to carry 30 pounds of cat litter. Rather, the pipe strap serves as a series of washers, preventing the bolt heads from pulling through the plastic and coming loose.

Okay I understand that. I'm about to build a set of my own though, and I'm concerned with the forces applied to the plastic around the bolts because it's very localized, and very different than then bucket was designed to accept. I was planning on mounting a 1/2" think board just snug underneath the top rim of the bucket so that the forces are distributed along this top lip. The bolts would go through this board as well as the bucket. Do you have any experience/troubles with such a design?

Having several bolts serves to de-localize the force, and the strip of pipe strap helps even more. I can say that I've put these buckets through the test, and never found the need for additional reinforcement. I've carried all sorts of things, camping gear, produce, even cat litter, and they have held up marvellously.

How do these handle when well loaded on the front? Also, not sure if you have any idea, how much does an empty bucket weigh? Thanks for posting this.

I can't tell what you've attached your buckets to, but I don't think my bike's got it. I also can't tell what you've done w/the bungee cord(s). :/

3 replies

You raise a very good point. The hooks go over the rails of your bike rack, either front or rear. The bungee cords hook into the eyelets on your dropouts. I'd post more pictures to be perfectly clear, but I'm afraid my camera is broken at this moment.

Ok, I don't have a bike rack. No wonder I couldn't' see how it could work on my bike, eh?

Makes sense, now it's time for you to get a bike rack. Makes your bike so much more useful for carrying stuff.

what a great idea! Thats probably one reason why I haven't gotten a bike... that and I'm lazy. But the, 'not being able to carry things' is a big draw back from biking!

good reuse/repurpose. If I lived near anywhere i travelled I'd to this with my huge bucket left from laundry detergent.