Monday, June 06, 2011

DYI: PVC Bike Rack

I used to be a one bike family, so finding a place to store it in the basement was easy - just pick a free wall and lean the bike against it.  I recently purchased a bike for my wife, and a kids bike trailer for the offspring.  The biking is great, but it leaves me with a minor dilema... namely I really only have one free wall in my basement, so where do I put the other bike?

The obvious answer is to acquire a bike rack.  One issue, they are either a) expensive, or b) poor quality, and in either case they are c) no where near large enough.  The bikes are put so close together they want to occupy the same physical space and one has to fight with them to get one bike out.  I don't know who actually designs multi bike racks, but they obviously never had two bikes in the same room at the same time before. (To be fair I only looked at the local WalMart and the local hardware store so there may be brilliantly designed bike racks out there, but in my small town I didn't find any good ones).

It was clear that I had to build my own rack, so I headed off to the local hardware store and purchased some 3/4" PVC pipe, a bunch of connectors, and locked myself into my shop and started building my own rack.  The following are the results of my exploits.

The rack before painting.  It holds two bikes, far enough apart that the handlebars don't touch each other, but close enough that it fits into my basement properly.  This is basically the original design I mentally came up with before I started assembling pieces.  The two things I did differently was to narrow the slot where the bike tires go, and to angle the back braces to save floor space.  Before I angled the braces the bike tire was 14" away from the wall. With the angle it is 6".

A paint job later and it is looking pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself.

The rack in its final spot.  Looks like it will serve our needs perfectly.

Some things I learned:

  • You need more PVC than you think.  I ended up using about 34' of the stuff.
  • The slot where the tires go really must be the right size - too big and the bike just flops around.  This was the main mistake I made with my original design.
  • Spray paint is annoying.
  • If you don't ventilate your work space properly, the PVC glue fumes makes your wife angry, and requires one to make it up by providing snacks.
  • PVC glue is unforgiving.  You have 3-4 seconds max before it sets, and it won't move again.  Be quick and accurate.  
So that is my bike rack.  It was easy to make, and hopefully will last me for years to come.