Bicycle tire tubes are the most prolific piece of trash that is generated by the bicycling industry. Luckily it’s nowhere near the poundage of old car tire waste out there. Still because it’s the thing most often replaced on a bike, people have found several clever ways to use punctured tubes instead of putting them in the landfill.
I like to keep one in my bike trunk bag for carrying things. I use the tube as a shoulder belt to strap things to my back. I’ve used them to carry a shovel, a pole saw, and most recently: snowshoes.
I used one in January to go snowshoeing at my local nature center:
Went to Innsbruck Nature Center… Honestly didn't need snowshoes – the trail was already hard-packed from hikers. Was good to venture off of the trail however.
Tested out my SCX24 RC Crawler 😎
Rigging With Bike Tubes
Fastening one end of any object is simple, go around the object(s) and loop the tube back through itself to to create a cow hitch.
You can only create a cow hitch on one end. On the other end I use a cheap carabiner (that I also keep in my trunk bag) as a link to fasten it similarly.
Then I sling it over my shoulder and head on my way. I keep a couple different sized punctured bike tubes in the garage. You’ll find that some are too loose and others are too tight, depending on what you’re trying to carry. Experiment with sizes and then put the most versatile one in your trunk bag for ad-hoc trips.
My only complaint about this trunk bag is the Made in China tag. Not because of the country of origin, but because of its placement. From day one of owning this bag, it was perfectly in the way of the zipper. You can see that mine has been “run over” by the zipper a number of times.
Despite the stupid tag, this thing has several useful compartments. Mesh zippered pockets on the sides where I keep sunscreen, lip balm, zip ties, and rain covers for shoes.
There’s a mesh pocket and elastic cords on the top for anything you want to have quick access to – or if you want to strap something down that is bigger than the bag.
Inside it’s one big compartment, but on the lid there’s another pocket inside. I keep a set of repair tools with a patch kit, and a couple maps of the local trail system.
I am not a gun nut, but this build was inspired by this comic and conversation:
Looking at it made me think that a similar, but more useful application of vertical bike rack storage, would be for fishing rods. Moore Lake is just down the hill from where I live, and it’s stocked with Bluegills and Bass 🎣
I made this fishing rod holder that attaches to my bike rack for less than $20, mostly from scraps I had in the garage. It holds four rods, but you could adjust it for as many as you’d like, as long as your bike rack setup will accommodate them.
I chose 1-1/4″ PVC because all of our rod handles will fit into that size pipe – you should test fit your thickest fishing rod before you buy.
I attached a PVC coupling to the pipe and then cut the pipe (with the coupling attached) using a hacksaw to 9 inches. This was both the size of my scrap wood and the size of the longest rod handle. You should go longer if your handles are longer than 9 inches.
To make a permanent connection, I used PVC primer and cement to bond the couplers to the pipes.
The couplers are there to serve as stops for the tubing straps – so they don’t fall through them.
To fasten the tube straps to the board I used #10 x 1/2″ sheet metal screws. I pre-drilled holes in the wood with a 1/8″ drill bit, then used a screwdriver on the screws.
I designed 3D printed hangers because I couldn’t find any readily available hooks that I liked at the hardware store. I like Topeak racks because of how their bag systems attach. I designed the hangars to conform to the Topeak’s 10mm rod construction – which I believe is a standard size for many bike racks.
To fasten the hangers to the board, I used #10 x 3/4″ sheet metal screws.
Backing and Hangars
The board I used was some leftover 1/2″ plywood. Mine was 9″ wide so I went with that – luckily that’s how long our rod handles are. You can cut the width to however many rods you want to hold. For my 4 rod holders it wound up being 15″x9″.
To make sure everything lines up well on the back, I used my Thule panniers as an example. The metal plate that sticks to the magnet is approximately 9″x4″ – so I cut a piece of sheet metal that size. You can use a hacksaw to (slowly) cut it. I used a cutting wheel to make quick work.
I also used the Thule pannier as a reference to gauge the placement of the metal backing position relative to the hangers so they’d be generally in the right place. It will ensure the steel plate is the right place so it will line up with the rack magnet without having to move it around on the rack.
I used 3/4″ screws to fasten the hangers, and 1/2″ screws to hold the steel plate. I pre-drilled the steel with a 3/16″ drill bit, and the wood with a 1/8″ one.
There’s no provisions on this rack for bait and tackle, but you can use the opposite side of the rack for a pannier, or just put your bait and tackle in a backpack.
When I’m fishing while paddling, I keep a very small tackle box on the boat with me, and that is also perfect for local fishing by bike.
Riding around with 6-foot fishing poles is like riding around with a whip antenna – it’s real tall. Just beware of any low tunnels or doorways, tree branches, etc.
Also, you’re not going to be able to put a leg over the back like you normally would. A pole (and hooks) will prevent you from doing that. Be mindful while you’re getting on and off.
I (perhaps stupidly) tried out the purple worm seen in my tackle box above – set up as a Texas Rig. I felt some serious bites, but I didn’t land anything. In the end I’m lucky because I didn’t bring a net if I actually had caught a tenacious bass.
While I didn’t bring one, you could certainly put a net in one of the holders. This is more of a catch-and-release type of rig, and I wasn’t planning on any big bites my first time out, just a couple of sunfish 🐟
Milk crates were surely one of the first accessories ever strapped to a bicycle. It’s the simplest way to add significant carrying capacity to any bike. One of the first things I did when I got my bike was add a rack and a milk crate – but I wasn’t quite smart about it.
I wanted the crate to be removable, so rather than securing it with zip ties, I recycled some old tire tubes and inter-wove them with the rack and the holes in the crate. It seemed pretty solid, so I thought I’d make a trip to the liquor store. The problem with the tubes is they’re made of rubber, so they stretch. They stretch a little too much for a beer-laden milk crate.
When I got out of the saddle, rocking the bike ever so slightly was enough to stretch the tubes, and send my beers flying. I burst some Surly’s halfway home. Lesson learned. Continue reading →
After I purchased the Babyseat to tote Jules around, I found that Topeak also makes a milk crate sized basket called the TrollyTote that works with the same rack as the Babyseat.
At $50, the TrolleyTote is the most expensive milk crate you’ll ever buy. It’s worth it for me because it is easily removable and super-secure when on the rack.
The TrollyTote can fold up which I guess is a feature, but I find it to be more of an annoyance, as the clips that hold it “unfolded” don’t fasten very tightly. But no beer has been spilled over that issue. The retractable handle and wheels are handy, but honestly I could do without them, especially if omitting these “Extra Features” would lower the cost.
I’ve used the crate for numerous grocery and beer runs and haven’t spilled a drop (or broken an egg) since my first misfortune with my poorly rigged crate.
A year and a half after I purchased these bags, it’s time for a review. You can’t buy them anymore, but this is more of a review of panniers in general. I used to ride with a backpack. It works (and is good for laptop shock absorption), but be prepared to have an instantly sweaty back. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs with a backpack on and not start to feel damp 🙂 Getting the bag off of my back and on to the rack on my bike is a huge win for comfort and convenience.
These Thule bags were a steal at $120 for the pair. Most decent panniers cost this much just for one! They were a deal because Thule discontinued this model. The replacement bag is a “unidirectional” one that can go on either the left or right side of the bike rack, whereas the ones I got are specifically made for left and right sides – they are slightly narrower towards the front of the bike.
The Thule bags have a pretty rad feature where you can “flip” and hide the rack attachment hardware and carry it as a normal-looking handbag, or add the included strap and wear it as a shoulder bag or backpack.
With my new job, I use one everyday to carry my laptop to work. The other bag, sadly sits idle most of the time as I only need one for what I’m carrying. They came as a pair and at the time of purchase I was thinking about all of the epic bike adventures I’d be going on, with both bags packed to the hilt. Carry all the things!
I will use both for something like another bike camping trip, but for day-to-day commuting, just one is great.
I have racks on both my road bike and my mountain bike (which is really more of a kid-hauler than a mountain bike). I like my Topeakracks because they have a secure mounting system and Topeak offers severalattachments. The Thule panniers fit nicely on both of my racks despite their differing thickness of tubing. You cannot, however, attach a top mounted Topeak trunk bag and the panniers on the side at the same time – they interfere with each other. I plan on devising something that can go on the top while both panniers are on with some spare parts, but that will have to wait for later.
100 years ago, when spinning hard drives in laptops were the norm, there were several creative ways to carry your laptop in a pannier. Solutions from suspension to excess padding were employed to ensure you didn’t jar the hard drive beyond its shock tolerance. I’ve gone the other way and simply purchased a laptop with a solid-state drive instead of a spinning disk. I lined the bottom of my panniers with a bit of bubble-wrap left over from a mailer, just to prevent any dents when I’m doing sweet jumps.
While the bags aren’t waterproof they come with a waterproof cover. I’ve only used the cover once (in a total downpour). Normally I can just ride home quickly in a sprinkle, because it’s only one mile to work 😎 The covers stow inside each bag and are easily added: