Guest Article: Ann’s DIY “Porteur” Rack

Our friend Ann Rappaport has been at it again…some of our readers marveled at her homemade kitty-litter bucket panniers, but that’s nothing compared to this incredible feat of DIY engineering! She was gracious enough to document the process in words and photos for us. Here it is:

The rack

Front Rack Supplies and Construction:

-Metal shelf supports/rods that are a squared off U shape:
Four @ 3 foot
One @ 4 foot
-Electrical Conduit Hangers
Two @ ¾?
-U bolts, threaded at each end and have the flat metal piece that runs between along with the two nuts
Two @ the size to fit your bikes front forks
-Clear aquarium tubing (One foot is more than enough)
-Metal Screws — I used 20 total, but the lengths may vary; buy a few extra of each size
10 @ 3/16?x3/4? long
6 @ 3/16?x 1? long
4 @ 3/16?x1 1/4? long
-Lock Nuts
20 @ 10-24
-Lock Washers
20 @ to fit screws
-Screws to fit your bikes predrilled holes on the bottom of the bikes front forks

-safety glasses
-Metal drill bits
-Hack Saw
-Metal File

Points of Importance:

1. These shelf rods have an “up? end. Always measure from that “up? end. This allows you to make use of many of the predrilled holes. To check this, measure the distance between the holes before starting. Mine were 12? apart from “up? end going down, but different when starting from the other end.

2. There are slots cut into these rods to put the shelf support into. When cutting place your blade at end of the slot but not any closer to solid metal between each of the slots (some of the predrilled holes are in this solid metal area as well). If you cut “too short? you will need to improvise.

2. Don’t use a drill in one of these pre-cut slots; use a hammer and a punch instead. The drill will grab and get caught. Once a large hole is punched you can enlarge it with the drill.

3. Very important to mark first, then cut/drill each rod piece after you have held it up to the portion of the uncompleted rack that is attached to your bike. Mark all drill holes this way, cut off waste end/extra rod length this way.

4. File every cut [of the rod] as you make them.

5. Verify before you get all those screws, lock nuts and washers that 3/16? is the correct size for your brand of shelf rod.

The Shelf Rods:

The 3′ lengths will each be used for one 12.5 ? piece and one 23.5? piece. From the resulting four 12.5? pieces you make the rack frame (the square). From the remaining 23.5″ pieces you make the uprights that support the rack from below at the fork as well as the ones that connect to the handle bars and the back of the rack.

The 4′ length will be used for two 12.5? pieces which bolt on the rack’s center. Also the uprights from the fork attach to them. The remaining length, under 2′, is used for the various braces.

Order of Construction:

Use these instructions as a guide. They worked for my bike. Your bike is different; it may need a different sequence of steps. I put lock washers on every time I used a screw. You have to assemble, then attach the rack while building it in order to mark where the cut or drill hole should be on the next piece [to be worked on]. Then take parts off/apart so you can cut and drill. It was the only way to ensure correct placement of cuts and/or drill holes. Note on the pictures which side of the shelf rod faces out. I made mine so that the finished side was out and all lock nuts are inside the shelf rod itself.

1. Make the flat surface of the rack; mine is 12?x12?


2. Using a predrilled hole, if available, attach each upright to the bottom of the fork in the existing holes.


3. Place the next two 12.5? lengths onto the rack frame while holding it in position so that you can mark where you need to drill the screw holes both in the uprights and the two 12.5″ lengths.


You will need another person to help with this step. The two 12.5″ lengths will each have 3 holes marked (one at each end and one in the approx. center); the two uprights will each have one hole marked. You will continue with this approach to marking, then drilling or cutting.

4. After drilling these 8 holes, screw the two 12.5? pieces to the frame and then screw the frame to the uprights. The four pieces that are parallel to one another on the flat surface of the frame should all be either on the top of the other two perpendicular ones or all under. I put them on top.


5. Mark where you will cut the extra length of upright off — the mark/cut should be on an angle so it lays flush to the bar it is joined to.

flush cut

6. Make the uprights that hang from the handlebars. I cut and bent the end to allow the two surfaces to meet better.

handlebar uprights

Measure and cut the other end for the conduit hangers. I did not have any shelf rod extend above the handlebar. This is contrary to any of these types of racks I’ve seen.

conduit hangers

7. Measure and cut the cross brace at the top of the lower uprights (just under the rack but over the tire).

8. Do the same for the cross brace on the uprights attached to the handlebars.

9. Use clear mineral oil to help the tubing slide onto the large U bolts. Cut it so that it does not extend onto the threads. Hold a piece of shelf rod near so that you can mark the location of the drill holes and cuts. Put the metal cross piece that came with the U bolts against the fork; I put the label touching the fork/paint.

u bolt

The many slots have been great for attaching those small bungee cords. It wouldn’t be hard to engineer a way to attach panniers under the rack. The benefit of this being just a platform is that you can attach whatever is needed and are not limited to one thing such as a basket.

We’d like to thank Ann for sharing this with us, and we can’t wait for the next incredible project to come…this lady’s got SERIOUS DIY skills!


  1. Rapps August 3, 2008 8:46 pm 

    Note: Step #6- the two surfaces that I wanted to “meet” flush are the bottom end of the upright and the back of the rack, where they attach.

    Between the panniers (kitty litter buckets) and a basket strapped on the rack I carried home a little over 4 bags of groceries today. The extra weight wasn’t too bad, kind of like a two wheeled low rider.

  2. Joe August 3, 2008 9:44 pm 

    I’m sure that thing is functional and very heavy duty, but damn that’s ugly.

    Nice work putting that article together.

  3. Ghost Rider August 4, 2008 4:35 am 

    To each his own…I happen to think it is quite striking! Of course, I’m a “function over form” sorta guy.

  4. Mike C August 5, 2008 7:26 am 

    OMG! An erector set for grownups! The hardware store is my oyster!!! I absolutely love the DIY nature of this rack and the kitty litter panniers.

  5. Mike August 15, 2008 4:33 am 

    If you’re building this, you’ll probably want to make use of thread-locking compound (Loctite, etc.). Even so, this design seems like it would quickly develop a lot of play. There’s just too
    many bolts holding way too many pieces together.

    Add some weight and vibration, etc. and that rack’s going to be all loosy goosie in no time.

  6. Ghost Rider August 15, 2008 6:09 am 

    Ann thought of all that when she was building it…that’s why she used “nylock” nuts in some spots and lockwashers throughout the build. That rack ain’t going nowhere!

  7. Henry August 22, 2008 10:55 am 

    Nice work! Thanks for the helpful photos and description of the build. I’m going to make one for my go-gettah (“porteur” to you francophones).

  8. bao December 2, 2008 10:35 pm 

    is this for sale?
    if it for sale..
    how i`m gonna to buy it?
    do you know where to find a bicycle rack..?
    a customize rack and large.

  9. rapps July 8, 2011 5:38 pm 

    Wanted to check in and update about the rack:
    Still solid, not a loose nut/bar yet, working well and handling any load I’ve put on it.
    I use it all the time as it’s nice to be able to see what’s there by just looking down.
    BTW mr trail safety, your rack is much nicer looking!!

  10. tipawan November 13, 2012 11:37 am 

    THANK YOU!!!
    Your idea will save me alot of money. I simply cannot afford the basket and rack sold at my local bike shop plus the installation fee.

    I’m going to pray my local hardware store will cut the metal shelf supports/rods too.

  11. Ann Rappaport July 9, 2015 4:59 am 

    Update: I still am using this bike and rack! I’ve yet to find anything loose, which 8 years later surprises even me. It still looks about the same. I have a feeling the rack will never be removed from the bike.

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