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

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

  2. Ghost Rider

    Moe, check them out the folding panniers here:

    I guess technically they are baskets, not panniers…since they have no top? They mount on any regular rear rack (I used zipties rather than the original hardware, which was rusty as hell).

  3. Ghost Rider

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

  4. Moe

    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….

  5. russ roca

    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!)

  6. Ghost Rider

    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.

  7. Greg Raisman

    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?!

  8. Ghost Rider

    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!

  9. climbinskier

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

  10. Ghost Rider

    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.”

  11. Joe

    What did you choose for the gearing?

  12. Mike Myers

    Nice job, Jack!

  13. Ghost Rider

    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.

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  15. Rick

    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.

  16. Ghost Rider

    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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