Cheap Bike Rack

About: I'm an industrial designer and inventor. I make furniture, decorative boxes, and other fun stuff in my free time.

This project was part of an undergrad design class where we wanted to make cheap bicycles more utilitarian. My goal was to make something that you could produce in a dorm room, but would hold 3 people.

I used a 3 speed, gear-hub, girls bike, but you could probably adapt the simple design to work with any bike. The end result is pretty goofy looking but very effective at hauling people and cargo. You can find a bike like this for $15 at goodwill and should plan on spending $10 on the bolts and wood.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

This is what you need:
1" paddle bit
1/2" twist drill bit
1" chisel
crosscut saw

x4 lag bolts, nuts, and washers
x2 6 foot long 2x4s

( you may also want a spokeshave/ sanding block to shape the peddling area and a coping/ jigsaw to cut out the front brake area )

Step 2: Marking

Hold the 2x4 against the frame and mark what you'll need to notch out. You need to make sure that the front brake has clearance to move when you turn the handlebars. Leave some room for the brake and gear shift cables too so they don't get crushed.

Step 3: Notching and Drilling

Cut out half of the thickness where the frame goes, but make the cut for the front brakes all the way through. Drill the countersinks for the washers and nuts before cutting the bolt holes all the way through.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

In order to make the rack more useful and user friendly, I added some special features.:

- Rows of holes along the top edge of each side so you can temporarily jam in bamboo sticks or dowels to make more of a table like surface (for carrying a stack of pizza boxes)
- I also shaped the part of the rack where it sits between your legs, so that if you do accidentally brush against it while peddling, you won't be hitting a corner, just a nice rounded edge.
- The lower half of the rack's ends are tapered, just so it doesn't look like a battering ram.

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    18 Discussions

    darn dangit i just got back from home depot and didnt see this ible on time.......... they had a 2x4 perfect fpr ths for like $2.50 !!!!   ,,grrrr,,

    1 reply

    take a look at the cull-lumber pile/cart also, check some of the other dimensions, one near me had some 8ft 2x3 for less then $2 each. or just scavenge from pallets or something- you don't need anything pretty for this


    9 years ago on Step 4

    i really like this design!
    i made a quick one that was good but it swayed too much while i was riding.
    i recently lost my bike was and with it the rack so im starting over , the only piece i like to add is ,with my old rack and i think this one as well,
    loading them is a problem because the kick stand isnt meant to balance something that top heavy and they are unstable.
    my idea is to find some sort of two sided kick stand , like they have on mopeds but other wise im lost.
    any ideas 

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    they sell these. try rivendell bicycle works' web site. I admit this may not provide the cheapest example, but if you search for "kickstand" you will get the item(s).


    10 years ago on Step 4

    any trouble with the bamboo sticks rattling out while underway? looks very nice and secure overall.

    1 reply

    I think I had planned on threading string through the bamboo to cinch it tight against the frame, but I've never tested this design. It was just a school project.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is a great idea. I used your design to build my own version that you can check out HERE Thanks for the inspiration.


    11 years ago on Step 4

    Sublime! A truly revolutionary idea because of it's simplicity and the measly material resources needed to realize it. Well done!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    love the innovative/lateral thinking. (also, you know you can easily create "notes" in the images to help explain things... easier than photoshopping in lines and soforth)


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I love it!!! I'm going to try and make one Wednesday. I've been looking for a good soplution to carry copy boxes / food deliveries. Has anyone tested this out? ~shep


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is darned clever... Didja make an "A" on this project? If not, ya should've... A big "+" to you...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I can't wrap my head around this thing carrying people, or actually cargo either. Is the cargo just to be strapped onto the wood? and the people too? sounds less than comfortable. a picture or explanation would be wonderful. And I think it's awesome that you're studying this kind of thing in school!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    One of my favorite Instructables...and so underappreciated. I plan on attempting to build this tomorrow.

    I just updated with some images I had on a drive at home. It now shows a better studio shot of the final product.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very very neat! I wonder how much cargo can one take on this thing?? Sometimes you see people in parts of the world carrying in one bike cargo that would fill the trunk of a large truck!!!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Nice design. I often follow existing designs for racks (and then get to use the bolt holes for such purposes). This is really innovative. I also like that it can be adapted for use as a framework for attaching decorative woodwork, or a cowling (did I hear repurposed tent with shock-corded fiberglass poles?). Add to that the whole hand-tools-only approach and it's even better. Wow!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    It would be great to see a picture of this hauling people and cargo. ? L