Building Better Bucket Panniers

I live in the rainy Northwest United States and have seen these nifty 4-gallon square bucket panniers on some bikes over the past few years.  A new pre-assembled pair will set you back about 90 dollars.  I knew I could build them cheaper. Plus, I get way more satisfaction out of DIY products. For around half the price I was able to make my own, using brand new buckets and hardware.  With a little ingenuity, you could save more scratch, it's up to you.

Here is what we'll be building:

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Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

Here is a pictorial inventory of what you will be needing:

Step 2: Trim and Drill and Awl

In this Step, we trim portions of the bucket lips so that the pannier brackets will fit flush with the exterior wall of the bucket.  Additionally, we poke a hole through the nylon webbing that will become the carry strap and the bungee retaining strap.  Use brackets and washers for a good guide on placement of holes.

Step 3: Get Strapped

Here we assemble the hardware to the freshly awled straps. 

Pictured below are the drilled/trimmed buckets, the assembled carry strap, and the assembled bungee retaining strap.  Shock, aka Bungee, cord is inexpensive so I bought new at approximate 2' lengths.  Overkill... better than underkill.  Really we only need about 18-20 inches.

Use your best judgment for the measurement of the webbing straps.

Step 4: Assembled and Attached

Everything is prepped and ready to be assembled. Work from the top down, first attaching the carry strap/pannier brackets, then thread the shock cord through the holes and secure them by tying knots on the interior of the bucket, and last attach the shock cord retaining strap ensuring a snug fit.  Remember to attach the S hook to the shock cord and crimp it with pliers so it won't detach. 
Optional: using cable clamps, attach to interior legs of shock cord creating interior tie down.

Attach to your rear rack ensuring enough room for proper heel clearance, place S-hook to bottom of rear rack.  That's it.  Finit.

For safety, mount reflective material on the rear and sides.  Tape, reflectors, dayglo paint... be creative and rational, depending on your usage.

I'd like to thank CityBikes of Portland, OR for providing the assembly directions -- and Necessity for inspiration.

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    11 Discussions

    John Pope

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great project and great instructions. I'm thinking of modifying it for hauling water on my touring bike. So to keep the lower penetrations water tight and to keep sway to a minimum I may also use webbing with a tensioner buckle instead of the shock cord. Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nicely done but pls don't abuse other people/ businesses; buy your own tools or borrow them from someone til you can get your own. Or join a maker network/ shop.

    spark master

    7 years ago on Introduction

    all of the plastic box paniers are nice! I took a heavy cardbord box and slapped on in my rack (not so great but fine for library trips)

    these (and all of the kitty litter/bucket type) look great

    here are two improvements

    1) add panels of foam insulation on alll side to make one side a cooler, you could get very fancy here.

    2) add LED lights if the black plastic is too dark to see contents, or, like your car boot, easy to see at night


    Economically, though, it was a win.

    Folks, you don't even need a drill for this job. The plastic is thin enough that a drill bit and a good grip (pliers) will do nicely.

    terroir du mondeCrLz

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. I haven't decorated them, but I did adorn them with 3M reflective tape on the rear and an amber reflector on the side so that they'd be easier to spot in the dark.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What kind of hooks did you use? And where did you get them? It looks like they are vinyl coated...

    1 reply

    They are. I ordered them off of the JandD website, somewhere under replacement parts, I think. They are rather inexpensive, very sturdy, and designed for pannier use.