Mountain Bike "Pack Mule"




About: I live in upstate New York, a unique location for year-round outdoor activities because of our Great Lakes, Adirondack Mountains, four distinct seasons, lake-effect snow, year-round hunting and fishing, and ...

If your someone who enjoys biking, camping, fishing, or just being outdoors, you've likely dealt with the problem of storage. Its the problem of wanting to bike through the woods to your favorite camping destination to enjoy a relaxing day out on the lake, fishing to your heart's content... but you just don't know how to pack all your gear. Well, maybe that's an extreme example, but still, everyone likes convenient and efficient storage ideas for all their outdoor needs. In this Instructable, I will show you some of the ways I've turned my mountain bike into a pack mule for camping, fishing, and more.

Step 1: Handle Bar Basket

To make the basket, I used an ice cream tub (that way you have an excuse to buy an entire tub of ice cream for yourself).

On the front and side, I used some metal pipe straps for holding fishing poles and other gear.

On the bottom, I used a piece of PVC pipe which branches out into a "Y" shape to fit against the shaft of the front wheel. I actually cut some angles on two small pieces of PVC and attached them with cable ties and galvanized steel sheeting to make the "Y" shape, though you can probably buy a connector in that shape.

On the back, I have some "U" bolts screwed in.

If you look at the pictures, you'll notice I have some galvanized steel sheets behind the nuts on the inside. This is to ensure that the plastic doesn't tear over time. If you don't want to buy galvanized steel, washers will work just fine.

Finally, I made the basket removable by zip-tying some carabiners to the handle bar. The "U" bolts are attached using the carabiners, and the PVC simply rests against the shaft of the front wheel.

The great thing about this design is that it's cheap, and if the bike falls over and the bucket breaks, it can be replaced with another delicious tub of ice cream!

Step 2: The Trailer

This is where the word "extreme" comes to mind. I've gone and made an entire trailer for extra storage (who ever heard of a bike trailer?).

The trailer itself is made of ply wood and conduit, and held together with metal pipe straps. To decrease the weight a bit, you can make the platform out of thinner material than the 3/4 inch plywood I had available.

I was lucky enough to have some old bikes lying around that I had been stripping for parts (you'll notice the wheels are slightly different widths) so I had some wheels for my trailer.

After acquiring some wheels, all I had to do was buy a metal rod to fit the wheels, drill a hole on both ends, and make some pins to keep the tires from coming off. The rod is placed inside a piece of conduit and attached to the trailer using "U" bolts.

On top, I attached a plastic tote using screws (be sure to use washers or they'll tear through the plastic). I used zip ties in the back to work as a hinge for the lid, and was able to make it lock using some more galvanized steel and some small screws.

The key, if you'll notice, is attached to the lip of the lid with cord, and allowed to dangle inside the tote. The lid has enough flexibility for you to be able to grab the cord and pull the key out.

When all that is done, you can bungee some milk crates to the front and back. You could also bungee a small tarp over the whole trailer to make it rain-proof.

Step 3: Attachments

The trailer attachments are designed to make connection simple and frustration free. I cant recall the measurements and names of all the individual pieces, but that's something you can monkey around with yourself.

In a nutshell, I have a piece of rubber hose for flexibility and turning, some conduit attached to the bike, and pneumatic connector pieces, male and female (obviously).

The conduit is attached to the bike using more "U" bolts.

It's also a good idea to attach a cord between the bike and trailer in case the attachments fail while on the road.

Step 4: More Storage Ideas

If handle bar baskets and trailers aren't enough for you, there's also the option of attaching a milk crate to your cargo rack if you have one. I've also seen some neat ideas for storage in between the frame of the bike, and even inside the shaft that holds the seat! So have fun experimenting with various ideas. See what works for you and what you like. An extra bit of storage can mean the difference between a good trip and a bad trip.



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    6 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is awesome. I expected the whole setup and attachment to be a lot more complex. It's nice that there's nothing attached to the bike, so switching this setup between bikes would be simple. Well done.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I actually made the handle bar basket removable for off-road biking. The design works great for roads, but going fast over rough surfaces usually results in the PVC getting bumped off the shaft that it rests against. Still working out how to fix this while still making the bucket easily removable.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Attach a clip or buckle inside the pvc, and clip/unclip it around the shaft. Just don't make it tight, so the pvc is still just resting there.


    2 years ago

    this is really great way to make a bike much more practical. if I was in good shape I would totally use this. since I'm fat and lazy I have made something similiar for my atv. atv have nice front and back Storage racks but they really don't do well for bulk cargo. in my small rural town we can ride them on the streets and I use mine as a daily driver when it's warm. i utilize a plastic tote as a "trunk" to haul cargo, groceries, basically anything that fits.

    I want to hit the I made this button because our projects are similiar in nature (I even attached my tote with u bolts lol) but I don't know if the spirit is truly the same but I will attach a photo and thus is a great ible and project.


    2 years ago

    I am VERY impressed with your idea of using a quick connect and hose for the trailer hitch. If the hose starts cracking or wearing out later on, you might want to try a stainless steel braided hose that you can find on some old washing machines or sinks.