Grocery Getter Completed

Over the weekend, I was able to complete my take on the European-style utility bike — what I’ve been calling “Jack’s Patented Grocery Gitter”.

Using an actual European city bike frame (an old Belgian-made French Astra), I was able to salvage enough parts to make this project a winner. Heck, I even salvaged an old chain from another bike! The total parts cost to me was about $30 — $15.00 of which went towards a chrome Wald front basket . The rest went to cables and to a neat little adapter I needed to make a gearie out of this old frame.

For those of you out there who have an old, low-grade frame you might want to convert into a geared machine…you might discover that there is no place to hang a derailleur from. Sunrace to the rescue! Here’s a handy bolt-on derailleur hanger adapter that works perfectly for my application:

Sunrace derailleur adapter

These adapters are available from a variety of sources. I got mine from Bike Tools, Etc.

Once the adapter was bolted on, I was able to cobble together a 1 x 6 drivetrain using a collection of old parts: a six-speed Suntour 14-28 freewheel, a first-generation Shimano 105 derailleur, old Shimano LX cranks, a grimy Sachs PG chain and a Salsa 40T chainring. I need to include a special shout out to our own Russ Roca, who provided great insight into appropriate gearing for a cargo bike.The whole thing is pushed around with a left-side Shimano friction thumbshifter (designed for a front derailleur…I couldn’t find the right side!). It works, and is surprisingly smooth considering that all the parts are pretty well used.

The drivetrain:


Once I got the front basket and rear folding wire “panniers” on, I realized that this bike can really haul a load. I estimate that this setup will easily hold 3 full bags of groceries — and heavy stuff, too — Wald baskets are made TOUGH!

Wald basket

In my opinion, no errand bike is complete without a kickstand. God, I haven’t ridden a bike with a kickstand in something like 25 years! But hey…this bike has gotta have one, so on it went:


And, to really complete things, I threw on a Zero Per Gallon sticker from Jonny5, the goat-hating madman behind ZPG.


I’ve got a couple more final touches to do…figuring out how to mount lights to the front basket and fine-tuning the brakes and shifter. But, I’m ready to ride — and who knows? Maybe the next big trend in bicycles will be a utility bike conversion of an old classic!


  1. Moe February 3, 2008 10:07 pm 

    I really dig the bike… can you elaborate on the ‘folding panniers’?

  2. Ghost Rider February 3, 2008 10:20 pm 

    P.s. I’ll snap a pic of the rear baskets (with DOT reflectors ziptied on) in the next couple days.

  3. Moe February 3, 2008 10:30 pm 

    Sweet… Now I need to find me a decent vintage bike to do the ‘Jack’s grocery gitter’ make over… Maybe a Bianchi or a Peugot….

  4. russ roca February 4, 2008 1:36 am 

    Nice build….how do those bolt-on derailleur hangers work? do the drop outs need a hole for them to bolt on to? or do they magically just clamp to the slot in the dropout?

    I just see so many nice road bikes that have been stupidly neutered to have a “clean” fixed gear look. I’m wondering if there’s any way of un-neutering them (like neuticles, but for bikes!)

  5. Ghost Rider February 4, 2008 5:39 am 

    Russ, the Sunrace adapter has a shaped “key” on the black side of the device (to help position it at the back of the dropout) and an odd-shaped washer on the other. The bolt helps “sandwich” the bike’s frame by both of these pieces. I’ve seen models that use a threaded hole in the dropout to mount as well.

  6. Greg Raisman February 4, 2008 8:41 am 

    Pretty sticker. I have the exact one, same color and everything, on my daily commuter.

    The bike looks really nice. But…

    Dude, where’s the chain guard?!

  7. Ghost Rider February 4, 2008 10:25 am 

    Ha ha…I’m looking at chainguards over at Velo Orange, or salvaging something from a junker around here. This bike could really use one!

  8. climbinskier February 4, 2008 3:10 pm 

    I’m inspired. I will definitely be putting together a “Jack’s Patented Grocery Gitter? this spring.

  9. Ghost Rider February 4, 2008 3:41 pm 

    Hooray! Feel free to call it “climbinskier’s patented grocery gitter”, though! Because, as the man said in The Highlander: “there can be only one.”

  10. Joe February 4, 2008 5:43 pm 

    What did you choose for the gearing?

  11. Mike Myers February 4, 2008 6:02 pm 

    Nice job, Jack!

  12. Ghost Rider February 4, 2008 6:48 pm 

    Joe…the gearing is 14-28 (six speed) in back, 40T chainring up front. Low of 38.2 gear inches and a high of 76.5 — it should be enough on both ends for both quick runs and heavy loads.

  13. Rick November 16, 2008 3:16 am 

    Hey, dead thread. Cool bike. I just finished up redoing my old Schwinn Varsity, which was rusted and in pieces, in much the same way — right down to the kickstand (welded on; I left it there), the 14-28/40 gearing and the swept-back handlebar style. It’s heavy anyway, so I figured, why not build it for comfort and around-town convenience and forget speed all together? Finished it a week ago and have done about 40 miles so far. I’m pleased with mine, though I still have a few kinks to iron out and this bike does tend to move at, um, a leisurely pace. I’m now looking at rack and fender configuration. Your page has inspired me to finish my bike. Thank you. :)

    Did you ever sort out the chain guard? Where’d you find one? That’s actually the next step, so I can commute in khakis without showing up for work all greasy.

  14. Ghost Rider November 16, 2008 6:11 am 

    Rick, I never got around to a chainguard…right after I completed this, I got an Xtracycle, so this bike is gathering dust.

    Velo Orange is a good place for chainguards — eventually I will sort that out with one of the VO offerings.

    Grocery getters FTW!

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