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Monday, September 17, 2012

DIY Bike Rack Made from PVC Pipe


Problem:  We have three kids.  And six kids’ bikes.  Don’t ask how that happens.  It just does.  In our continued quest to tame the horrible, no good, ugly garage, I decided that we needed a bike rack.  I have this strange nostalgia about bike racks that dates back to my elementary school years.  I think it may stem from those few times I was allowed to ride my bike to school.  Our school had a fenced in area full of bike racks, and I was able to lock my bike up there.  I felt so independent, and responsible.  And everything was so organized.  Rows and rows of bikes.
Twenty-five years later, I am greeted to a tangled heap of bikes and scooters in our garage.  A bike rack was much needed, but it was important for it to be accessible to the kids.  I was absolutely NOT interested in hanging bike racks.  Although those save some floor space, that leaves Mr. Motz and I to do all the dirty work (pulling them down and putting them back up).  No thank you.  We prefer our kids to have some independence and some responsibility…which is shorthand for saying that Mom and Dad are lazy.
I got curious recently and Googled ”DIY bike racks”, thinking that there was surely no way to build a bike rack.  I was envisioning something Old School, like the metal vintage bike racks that those American Pickers guys come across every now and then.
I found a ton of PVC bike rack tutorials.  I never thought of PVC.  I raised an eyebrow, thinking that PVC might be a bit funky looking.  Most of the tutorials were geared towards mountain bikers and people who needed a bike rack for their truck.  The more I mulled it over though, the more it sounded better.  If one were to build something from scratch, would you rather work with PVC or iron?  Hmm.  Weigh in the price difference and I was sold.
I was torn between two versions.  This was the first one I considered.It has an awesome, easy to follow tutorial. It tells you how to make a rack for three bikes, and even adjusts all the measurements if you wanted to make a rack for four bikes.  I needed a rack for five.  Hmm.  After doing the math to adjust it to a rack for five, I opted for a different version altogether.  This one is the one I went with:
Photo Courtesy "thepalsrus" via Google Sketchup
It was designed by thepalsrus.    It was already designed for five bikes.  Costwise, and partwise, it was going to cost less.  And I liked the design of it a little more than the first.  My only beef with it was that I couldn’t open the diagram through Google Sketchup.  All three of the versions were programs I didn’t have on my computer.  It was really hard to zoom into the measurements with the small image, but I had a pretty rough idea of what I needed.
Materials Needed (Home Depot prices):
  • 50′ - 1″ Schedule 4o PVC pipe (I bought 50′ and had about 7′ leftover) $3.22 ea x 5= $16.10 + tax
  • 20 T-connectors.  $.69 x 20 = $13.80 + tax
  • 14 – 90-degree elbow connectors (elbows).  $.53 x 14 = $7.42 + tax
  • PVC pipe cement
  • Something to cut your PVC pipe with.  I used a small-toothed handsaw.
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
Cuts List for PVC pipe:
  • (8) – 12″ pieces
  • (2) – 23 1/8″ pieces
  • (20) – 16″ pieces
  • (14 )- 2″ pieces
Cut all the big pieces that you can first, and use the leftover pieces of PVC for your smaller cuts.  Once you have everything cut, it should look something like this:
It is basically a big Tinker Toy at his point and takes about five minutes to assemble.
We expected this rack to fit five bikes, but to our sweet surprise…it fits more!  Because our kids are pretty young (ages 4-9), their bikes are fairly small too.  The biggest bike shown is a 20″.  We were able to fit more bikes and Razor scooters on the other side of the rack.  Completely unexpected, yet welcome.
I still haven’t cemented it together yet.  We are giving it a trial run to see if that is necessary.  We are keeping it only in the garage, so I think we might be ok skipping that step.  I also really wanted to paint it, but it sounds like the paint chips off pretty easily.  And I felt that I didn’t want to bother painting it unless it were glued together.  So I skipped both steps and saved myself some time.
Calculating the PVC and connectors used, I spent $37.32 + tax.  The PVC cement will run you about $12 more.  But for something that contains all of your bikes, this is much better than paying $150+ for something that is probably cheaply built anyway.

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