10 Eco-Friendly DIY Projects for Your Bicycle


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Any bicycle enthusiast will tell you that customizing your pedal-powered ride at a bike shop can be expensive. Ditch the flashy paint jobs and mass-produced bike baskets in favor of a DIY pick-me-up that suits both your style and your cycling needs – whether you use your bicycle for exercise, two-wheeled transportation or lazy-day fun. Check out these 10 innovative DIY projects for your bicycle, and kiss boring, run-of-the-mill bikes goodbye.

1. Decoupage bike makeover


Photo: Vanessa Ryerse/The Vintage Butterfly

If your beloved bike is looking a little drab or dull, give it a makeover using trash like vintage enthusiast, bicycle-lover and creative reuse-aholic Vanessa Ryerse. When Ryerse, who chronicles her adventures in do-it-yourself on her blog The Vintage Butterfly, snagged a Manton and Smith Golden Eagle Pacer at a local thrift shop, she knew it needed a little TLC to realize its full potential.

After stockpiling a collection of 1950s travel magazines, she broke out the Mod Podge and got to work on decoupaging the entire bicycle frame for a quirky collage-like look. The final design also incorporates pages from a turn-of-the-century geography book for added personality.

To use this fun weekend project to pimp out your own two-wheeled ride, check out Ryerse’s detailed tutorial to find out how she did it. To see more of the creative crafter’s innovative reuse ideas, check out her Etsy shop, The Mosaic Butterfly.

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2. Basic bike basket

Bike baskets can cost big bucks at retail stores, but they’re virtually free if you go DIY. Simply start with the upcycled container of your choice, such as a wicker basket, plastic bucket or milk crate, and use a few simple steps to attach it to the front or rear of your bicycle.

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Check out this video from Howcast for tips and step-by-step instructions on building your bike basket. To avoid unwanted surprises, take a test-drive with books or hand weights before using your basket to carry groceries or breakable items around town.

Tip: Embrace upcycled containers for your bike basket to showcase your unique personality. Try wooden wine crates or produce boxes for a spunky natural look, or a pannier made from reusable shopping bags for a convenient eco flair.

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3. Picnic-ready bike basket liner


Photo: Hilda Grahnat Design: Brittany Watson Jepsen via Design*Sponge

“Picnics and bicycles are an absolute must in Denmark,” said Copenhagen-based crafter Brittany Watson Jepsen in a guest post for Design*Sponge. “I’ve been wanting to combine the two, so I decided to maximize the space in my bike basket by creating a liner that could also act as a drawstring bag for the inevitable waste that comes at the picnic’s end.”

The DIY maven, who blogs at The House That Lars Built, harnessed the power of spray bottles and sewing machines to create a sunset-dyed basket liner that converts into a convenient pouch for easy post-picnic cleanup.

Check out her guest-post tutorial at Design*Sponge for tips and stunning photo instructions. Since most baskets will differ slightly, Jepsen will even show you how to customize her craft to suit your bike’s dimensions.

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4. Quick and easy cup holder

You’re bound to get thirsty on your long biking excursions. But don’t shell out bucks to have a cup holder professionally installed: use this simple tutorial from eHow to attach a purchased cup holder in just a few minutes.

Tip: Many thrift and secondhand stores sell bike parts and accessories. Head to one of these locations first to snag a gently-used cup holder that’s easy on the planet and your wallet.

Want to go entirely DIY? Check out this instructional video from Montreal designer Jesse Herbert, which will show you how to construct a cup holder from scratch in record time.

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5. Drawstring seat cover

Bike-lovers have many reasons for installing a seat cover: to hide worn-out uppholstery, protect the seat from damage or cover its brand name to ward against theft when parked outdoors. But why pay more for store-bought alternatives when you can make a cute and functional seat cover in less than an hour?

In the video above, Becky Stern – avid cyclist and contributor to Craftzine.com‘s CRAFT Video – will show you how to transform a durable piece of fabric into a convenient drawstring seat cover that slips on and off with ease.

Tip: Stern used a purchased peice of polyester for her bike seat, which she selected for its durability and water-resistance. But any piece of heavy-duty fabric will do. Reclaim a pair of old blue jeans, athletic shorts or ski pants from the back of your closet to keep your project zero-waste.

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6. Mailbox bike basket

Like many DIY projects from craft maven Martha Stewart, you’ll take one look at this clever bike basket made from an upcycled mailbox and think, ‘genius.’

The DIY diva simply attached a standard aluminum letter box over the rear tire for ample storage and a quirky look that’s sure to turn heads. For added convenience, the door’s latch keeps your makeshift basket securely closed so you won’t spill any precious cargo. Check out this quick and easy tutorial to see how she did it.

Warning: You’ll need to break out the drill for this one. So, ask a handy friend or family member for help if power tools aren’t exactly your thing.

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7. Vintage-inspired bike basket

Not satisfied with boring bike baskets? Create a convenient carry-all that reflects your unique style and personality, like this adorable vintage-inspired basket dreamed up by stay-at-home mom and A Lemon Squeezy Home blogger Christie Hurst.

To try it at home, simply select the vintage-style fabric of your choice, browse Hurst’s detailed photo tutorial and give that sewing machine a workout to create your hip new bike basket.

The frilly nature of this basket may make it look like it’s for women only. But all you bike-friendly guys out there can easily replace the fru-fru fabric with a simple patterned or solid-colored pick that suits your style.

And if you’re in search of a tricked-out basket for the kids, check out Hurst’s tutorial for a fabric basket that’s perfect for a child’s bike. The creative mama used a printed firetruck fabric to craft a basket for her young son’s birthday, but feel free to shop around for the look that best appeals to your little one. For green brownie points, use upcycled fabric from old clothes or scraps left over for previous craft projects.

Tip: If you already have a bike basket but are simply craving a new look, use the same method to cover your bland basket with fabric for a stylish touch with half the work.

8. Bike frame lunch bag


Photo: Lenore M. Edman/EvilMadScientist.com

For years, veteran bike commuter Lenore M. Edman has been modifiying her mid-century Hawthorne ladies bicycle, affectionately named Stella. The Portland crafter’s unique DIY projects, which combine clever functionality and eclectic style, are chronicled at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – a project blog provided by family-owned DIY and open-source hardware startup Evil Mad Science LLC.

This funky lunch bag project is a commuter’s dream: It provides an easy stowing space for your midday munchies while doubling as an eye-catching accessory. Give it a try on your own two-wheeled ride using Edman’s simple tutorial, and start exercising your inner “evil mad scientist.”

Check out more of Edman’s clever do-it-yourself bike projects (and peek a few photos of Stella) at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

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9. Rice bag pannier

Panniers are great alternatives to front or rear bike baskets. These sidecar-like carriers make it easy to transport everyday necessities, groceries and other items without the luxury of a trunk or backseat.

You can craft panniers out of pretty much anything, from 5-gallon buckets to reusable shopping bags. For a clever recycled twist, try making your pannier from an old rice sack using this step-by-step tutorial from Instructables.

For a heavy-duty storage solution, use this instructional video from youTube user xmo0n to create a pannier from recycled plastic buckets for $15 or less.

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10. Stylish skirt guard

Hey, bike-lovin’ gals! Make sure you never get those flowy skirts and dresses tangled in your bike spokes again by installing a simple skirt guard. The term “skirt guard” may sound fancy, but it’s basically just a piece of lightweight fabric that covers your rear wheel so your skirt doesn’t get stuck. These babies can be pricey at retail stores, but making one takes only a few dollars and a free afternoon.

Check out this simple how-to from Instructables or this step-by-step video tutorial from Howcast to craft a skirt guard of your very own. Note: You’ll need a bike with a fender for your skirt guard to work. If your bike doesn’t have a fender, check out online sharing communities like Bright Neighbor to see if a cyclist in your area would be interested in a trade.

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Mary Mazzoni

Based in the Phoenix metro area, Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.