Kitty Litter buckets are converted into bicycle panniers. After 3000 miles they are still holding up great! The only problem that came up was that one of the hinges started to wear out - and a little duct tape fixed that right up!
This group of folks started on the east coast and stopped in Missoula on the way to San Francisco. They are taking something of a windy route. They are trying to draw attentions to sustainable stuff. You can visit their site at http://culturalrecyclists.com
And after 3000 miles, these folks had a lot of kind things to say about the awesomeness of Missoula. So I had to include that in the video.
One of the group talked about his experience with http://www.wwoof.org and working on an organic farm. I like wwoof.org, so naturally I had to include it in the video too!
This is a great idea. A lot of people in Portland do this. The only difference that I want to do is to have them be removable. I want to attach them to each other with some kind of a flap in the middle, and have it stay there on the spring retractable rack catch. That way I can use the buckets when I go to the library, buy vegetables for my sauerkraut, etc, but when I want to use the bike as a shuttle device when canoeing or rafting, I can remove it so it will fit nicely on the multi-bike rack or in the back of the car/pickup.
I really think that doing errands on a bike gets you exercise and turns errands into fun. Learn the safe, peaceful, navigable routes in your area and have fun! Busy people need to stack functions like this.
After being inspired by Paul's original Kitty litter bucket video my cycling partner and I decided to try this. The buckets needed to be quickly and easily removed from the bikes as part of our journey was by rail. We decided on 2 1/4" automotive exhaust clamps after pondering and wandering the hardware store. The U-bolt was not used, just the steel brackets. Two brackets were welded side by side, one rotated 180 degrees from the other. One clamp slid over the rail on the rear bike rack, the other pointed up and fit perfectly inside the gaps of the bucket designed to reinforce and mount the handles. We did not remove the handles from the buckets. My partner cut holes in the buckets to attach a bungee cord that applies downward pressure. I was concerned about tearing the plastic and installed a couple eye bolts on my buckets. This method keeps the buckets 100% water tight because no holes were drilled in the buckets themselves. On both bikes our backpacks sat on top the buckets and were held down by another bungee. This kept the buckets from bouncing up and falling off. We had a couple mishaps after some large pot holes...those are some tough buckets! The only other mod was thick adhesive tape over the lids where they hinge. Our buckets held up great after a fairly short ride of 600 miles, only a bit of discoloration from the plastic stressing where they mount to the bike. They also make great carry on luggage for Amtrack! We were happy with the performance overall.
But........... I would want to get more creative on the look. I do not have a problem with the buckets, I think the idea is great. Just having it look like homeless luggage. Paint scratches off. Stickers just look like kitty litter buckets with stickers. Slide them into a material bag of some kind?
Other problem for me would be I would load them up too heavy for the carrier or bike fender. I know the bucket would hold it. But the bike rack and fender?
Low cost and the re-use of a waste product are the main goals here, but if you want to pretty them up I would suggest some sort of large sticker wrap to go around them, like what they use to put graphics on cars. Whatever you put on there is going to get scratched up, as when you lean the bike against something to park it you are leaning it on the buckets usually. A cloth wrap could work, but it would have to be very tight fitting so it doesn't get snagged on the bike when you take the panniers on and off.
As for the weight issue, I stuffed my buckets full of stuff and put more luggage on top of the rack and buckets. My rack was not even hard mounted to the seat stays, it used those little metal straps with rubber coating. It all held up fine over 500 miles of rough back roads. Most rear racks are rated for 55 lbs, but they can take more. What you really have to be aware of is your back wheel, it needs to be able to support the extra weight you are putting right over it. I ended up putting a 29er mountain bike wheel on my bike after the stock one kept popping spokes. There are special rear wheels made for tandem bikes that are extra strong too.
Here's a picture of my touring rig in the B.A.R.T. station beneath San Francisco. I left the kitty litter labels on the buckets so more people would as about them and give me a chance to talk permaculture. I sure did get a lot of questions!
I've had buckets like these (exact same brand actually) for over five thousand miles. At least two thousand were fully loaded. I keep them on for my commute. I opted for one U- Bolt and one J hook on each bucket, so that I can be totally sure they won't fly off if I do something crazy. They still come off pretty quickly with a couple nuts. The holes haven't been an issue. No visible integrity issues with the plastic, and no water leakage- even during a legendary thunderstorm in the Columbia river gorge.
I'm super happy with them. More waterproof than Ortliebs, and just as roomy/lightweight. Cost $3.67 each side for the hardware. Makes a nice platform along the back to carry my camp gear, and can double as a camp chair.
I spray painted mine to match my bike, the paint has worn considerably but I kind of like the look (plus when parked next to someone with their $4k Bike+ set up I consider it an added anti-theft device.)
I'm thinking about trying to make front panniers out of scraps of landscaping pond liner...
Sounds like you gave these things quite a test. I too especially liked the way the two flat lid buckets made a nice platform in the back to carry other stuff, especially bulky items.
Epdm pond liner is the same material at bicycle tubes, so I imagine you would be able to get a big tube of the rubber vulcanizing cement that comes with patch kits, and use that to seal up the seams in your custom front panniers.
I went to both the hardware store and the dump last year before leaving on my bike trip and came out with kitty liter panniers. I used them on my 8400 mile bike trip last year and they worked absolutely great. I still use them around home everyday during the warmer months since during the winter months I use a bike that doesn't have full rack mounting capability so I made up my own rack for that bike and it doesn't have a round mounting point where I can hook the hooks over them. Granted I'm not even sure if I could manage to get the buckets far enough back on the other bike to keep from heel strike. They work great and are free to replace. Just a little time to drill the holes in the buckets and mount the hardware. I took off the handles and the LBS owner, can't believe he suggested the idea, told me to write "USED" on the back. I did and still keep it on the back. I ride with the lids if the forecast is for rain but most of the time I don't put the lids on as that makes it easier to get to whatever I have in the buckets.