You know that it’s really, truly spring when I get on my bike for the first time of the year. Even though many people bike all throughout winter (like my crazy husband), May is actually known for being National Bike month & this coming week in particular (May 10-18) is Wisconsin’s “Bike to Work Week.” Although I love going for a nice, leisurely bike ride, I definitely don’t have the nerves or the desire to hop on a bike anytime before the snow is melted & the temperature is more friendly. I biked almost daily the summer before I was pregnant up until I gave birth & once Ruby was a year old, she was able to join in on the fun. We purchased an Ibert bike seat after doing much research & we have completely loved it. I have appreciated being able to keep an eye on Ruby while she rides in front of me & I enjoy being able to experience the ride with her, pointing things out along the way. Contrary to how it might look, it doesn’t make the bike tippy at all. The only obstacle for me will be cruising around with my growing pregnant belly, so she might be moved over to John’s bike soon!
Biking is definitely part of our family’s lifestyle & because of that, we are excited to get others involved too. John bikes to work all throughout the year & just about any chance we can get, we hop on our bikes instead of driving. Because we live downtown, it’s almost always easier & quicker than piling into the car, navigating traffic, & finding a parking spot. Plus, it’s just a lovely family activity that we can all do together, not to mention the health & environmental benefits.
John built this portable ballet bike rack to use at our church for all of the bike enthusiasts. Our church actually won the prized “Bike to Worship” award last year because we had the most people bike (per attend) on a particular Sunday. Even though we’ve got a small church, a lot of them are bikers, so we ended up blowing all of the other churches out of the water. But our church also meets downtown & shares a parking lot with other businesses, so we don’t have tons of space for permanent bike parking. This bike rack is genius because it can be rolled out onto the parking lot to hold several bikes, & then can be easily rolled away when not in use. Plus, it recycles several pallets & is relatively inexpensive to make.
Here’s what you’ll need to male the bike rack
- 2 pallets that are in good condition
- 2 heavy galvanized door/gate hinges + hardware
- 4 caster swivel wheels + hardware
- 2 eyehole screws
- 1-2 feet of smaller gauge steel cable
- 2 cable clips
- large crowbar
- box of 1.5”-2” screws
Most pallets are made up of many top support boards nailed to 3 thicker wood beams, & then 4-5 bottom boards also nailed to the beams (some pallets have 6 wood ‘posts’ that are sandwiched between the top & bottom boards. This style won’t work for this design). The top board spacing of the pallets is usually wide enough to fit bike tires between them, the problem is that the center beam gets in the way. The bottom boards need to be removed from the pallets. The best way I found to do this is to back-hammer the boards with a large crowbar. Prying the boards up will also work, but may cause more damage to the boards. You’ll want to keep those as intact as possible.
Remove all the nails from the bottom boards. Once the bottom boards are pried off, the center beam will need to be pried off the top boards. Again, back-hammering takes longer but will keep your boards more intact. Once the center beam is free, remove all the nails sticking out of the top boards. You should now be left with a bunch of free bottom boards, a free center beam, & the upper & lower beams still attached to the top boards.
Now would be a good time to sand everything down a bit, just enough to remove splinters.
Next, re-attach the center beam to the top boards with screws, but shift it closer to the upper beam, so that a bike tire can fit between the center & lower beams. Most road bike tires are 27”, while mountain/cruiser bikes are around 26”, so you’ll want to shoot for around 28-30” between the insides of the center & lower beams (I did not measure correctly, so I had to hole-saw out some extra space after I had it all put together. Not fun).
Now you should have the three beams attached to the top boards, with the center beam shifted up to allow 28-30” between the center & lower beams. Re-attach the bottom boards with screws to the beams.
You will want to make sure the spacing between the top boards will allow bike wheels to fit, otherwise you’ll have to remove the top boards as well to readjust the spacing (again the spacing on most pallets will already be wide enough for this, so I didn’t mess with the spacing at all).
I also reinforced some of the top boards with screws where there were only a couple nails or where the boards were loose.
Do this whole thing for the 2nd pallet as well.
Once you have the 2 pallets configured so that the center beams on each are shifted up to fit a bike tire between the top boards, you will want to attach the pallets together with the top boards of each pallet facing out away from each other. Attach the hinges to the two upper beams of the pallets. Make sure your hinges are wide enough to reach the beams themselves, not just screwed into the bottom boards.
Attach the eyehole screws to the bottom of the center beams near the middle of the beams. Attach the steel cable to the two eyehole screws using the cable clips, & give it enough slack so that the pallets will swing away from each other & stop at something like a 30-45 degree angle (I didn’t actually measure this, I just eyeballed it & readjusted the cable as needed to be wide enough).
Attach the 4 swivel casters to the bottom of the bottom beams of the two pallets. The pallets should now be able to roll/move when they are upright, & then stay immobile when the pallets have swung away from each other (I use a bungee cable to hold the pallets together when I want to move it around).
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