So, you need a basket for your bike. You can always purchase one at your local bike shop, but where is the fun in that? You can save money, have fun and add a personal touch to your bike by making your own bike basket.
Whether you have a basket laying around the house or you find a really cute one at the local thrift store, there are some easy ways to take any basket and make it into an attractive, practical bike basket.
Here are some tips for our DIY Bike Basket.
1. A Basket. First things first, find an appropriate basket that fits your style and the style of the bike. You may have a metal basket lying around the house or a wine crate or grandma’s old wicker basket—all of these things would make a great addition to your bike.When picking your basket, make sure the basket is deep enough that your things will not fly out when you hit a bump in the road and make sure it is an appropriate width for your handle bars. Remember: the bigger the basket, the harder it will be to steer your bike.
I went to the local thrift shop to find a basket. There were plenty of baskets that would have looked great on my Liv Suede. I purchased a couple to make sure I had one that would fit well on my bike. I decided to go with a nice wicker picnic basket for $4. I liked that it had a lid that locked. Not only will my things be hidden if I need to run errands on my bike, but it will also prevent anything from jumping out of my basket!
2. Metal Struts/ Support for Your Basket. You can find struts made specifically to support a basket on your bike. Your local bike shop might have extra struts lying around. If they do, snag them up! You also might be able to find these at a thrift shop with an old bike or with an old bike basket. If the part you want is attached to a bike the thrift store, you can usually convince the sales person to sell you the part you want, if you have the tool to remove it and offer them a good portion of the overall bike sale for that one item.
If you cannot find struts for your basket, you can make them! Head on over to the home improvement or hardware store and purchase flat aluminum strips that are pre-cut to 3 ft long and 1/16 in- 1/8 in thick (about .9 meters long and 1.6-3.2 mm thick).
3. Zip Ties. To attach your basket to your handle bars and the struts, zip ties will come in handy. Zip ties are strong, but if you want to make your basket prettier, you can grab some ribbon to tie over the zip ties.
4. Bolts. If your bike has tabs above the front axle with bolt holes, then you will need bolts to attach your metal struts to the bike. Find bolts at your local bike shop or hardware store that will fit these holes. If your bike does not have tabs to attach a front rack, then you will be using the axle to hold the struts onto your bike.
5. 3/16 (5 mm) Drill Bit. You will need to make a couple of holes in your aluminum strips. For this you will need a drill and drill bit that is capable of drilling into metal. If you don’t have this at home, I will go over your options in the next section
6. Hacksaw That Cuts Metal. What? You don’t have a hacksaw that cuts aluminum at home? You don’t need to buy one. I will go over this in the next section.
7. Metal Files. You will not want to leave any sharp edges on your bike basket struts.
8. Vice Grip. Again, if you don’t have a vice grip at home, you have options.
Make Your Own Bike Basket Struts
So, you have two strips of metal and not much else needed to make your bike basket struts. That’s ok! There are some guys and gals at your local bike shop that would love to help you with your DIY endeavors! They have everything you need to help make your project a successful one (drill and drill bits, metal hacksaw, metal files, vice grip and they will usually have some bolts if you need those to attach your struts to your bike). The important thing to remember is your local bike shop employees are nice people, but busy people! Do as much of the work as you can before heading to the bike shop and always call ahead to see if they have time to help you. If they don’t have time at that moment, ask if there is a better time. Make sure you tell them what you want to do, what you have already done and make sure they know that you would like to be involved (or at least watch) what they are doing! The guys and gals at the bike shop will usually think what you are doing is pretty rad and want to help!
Get started. Go ahead and attach your basket to the handlebars using a zip tie. My basket has a lid, so I needed to make sure the basket was placed high enough so the lid would still open. Thread the zip tie through the wicker or whatever openings you have in the side of the basket you are using. Loosely fasten the basket to the handlebars. Do not cinch the zip tie down super tight yet. First, make sure the basket is not interfering with shifting cables, brake cables or the steering of your bike. Once you determine your basket is in a safe position, lock it in with the zip tie.
Measure. With a measuring tape, measure the distance from the bottom of your basket to the point where your struts will be fastened to the bike (either the axle or the bolt holes on the tabs above the axle). Take this measurement and add ½ inch (about 1.3 cm) to account for the distance you will need on the other side of the bolt or axle. You will also need to bend the metal to allow the basket to rest on something. Add another 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) to your measurement to account for this. After you have added up these measurements, measure your strip of aluminum and mark it. This is where the bike shop will cut your struts!
Mark. Also mark your aluminum strip with an X where you would like holes to be drilled. This will be ½ inch (1.3 cm) above the bottom of the aluminum and about ½ inch (1.3) cm from the top of the aluminum. Also draw a line where you would like the metal to be bent to create a resting place for your basket. This should be about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) from the top of the metal strip.
Get Some Help or DIY. If you have a work shop in your house and happen to have all the supplies you need. You can do this yourself. If not, take your metal strips to the bike shop!
Cut the aluminum where you have marked using a hacksaw with a metal-cutting blade. Place the aluminum strip in a vice grip so it is parallel to the floor. Pressing down, cut the through the metal with smooth strokes.
File the end of the aluminum where you just cut it until it is smooth.
Remove the freshly cut aluminum from the vice grip and place it back in the vice grip so it is perpendicular to the floor. The top of the clamp should be aligned with the line you drew on the aluminum where you would like the bend to be. Place one hand on the aluminum near the clamp and the other higher on the aluminum to give you some leverage. Push down until you have made a 90-degree bend in the aluminum strip.
Remove the aluminum strip from the vice grip and drill holes into the top and bottom of your aluminum strip. Placing the aluminum strip in the vice grip so it is flat may make the holes easier to drill.
Even if you are not doing this yourself, the bike shop guys and gals will appreciate the step-by-step direction and the fact that you know what you are doing!
TIP: If you are attaching your struts to your bike at the axle, use a thinner strip of aluminum. The thicker your aluminum, the more weight it will hold in your basket. However, you may also need to purchase a longer axle.
Put It All Together
If you are attaching your struts to tabs on your bike, align the hole on the non-bent end of your aluminum strip with the bolt hole above your axle.
Screw the bolt in using an appropriate wrench until snug.
Hold the other end of your strut under the bike basked and make sure everything looks good before you secure it with a zip tie.
Thread the zip tie through the bottom of your basket and through the hole in the metal strip. Cinch the zip tie down until tight.
Go through the same process on the other side.
Lastly, cut off the excess zip tie and cover it up with a pretty bow, if you’d like!
If you are attaching your struts at the axle, the process is the same except you will remove the axle completely, align the holes in the struts with the opening at the bottom of your fork and replace the axle by threading it back through and tightening the nuts or quick release.
Ride your Bike!
Take your bike for a spin around town to show off your repurposed DIY bike basket! Load up your basket with whatever you need for the journey. It looks like the next DIY project will be making a new liner for my basket to match the bike! Stay tuned!