Cyclist carrying mattresses, Puttalam District. An example of ordinary bicycle used to transport difficult loads. Photo: Practical Action.
Extended bicycle Photo: Practical Action

Panniers and luggage carriers can be installed unto regular bicycles, ie to allow use of the bicycle as a freight bicycle.

Pannier installation[edit | edit source]

Figure 1: Construction of panniers
Figure 2: Construction of luggage carrier for a standard bicycle
Figure 3: Construction of luggage carrier with small (20") rear wheel

The carrying capacity of the bicycle can be greatly increased by attaching panniers either side of the wheel. However, the loads in the panniers must be reasonably well balanced. Panniers are particularly suited to carrying containers such as used for carrying water.

Panniers may simply be sacks or woven baskets hung from lengths of wood or bamboo fixed across the carrier or may be frames manufactured from wood or steel. They need to be as light as possible.

The design shown is a steel frame, which may be either welded or pinned together so that it can be folded up when it is not in use.

The base and sides may be filled in with wire mesh (weldmesh), wooden slats or canvas type material. The ends can be filled in on fixed panniers but not on fold-up designs.

Luggage carrier installation[edit | edit source]

These low cost adaptations of standard bicycles enable larger and more bulky loads to be carried on an extended rear carrier.

The load that can be carried is limited by the strength of the rear wheel and tyre. A strengthened wheel can be used so that the limiting factor is the load capacity of the tyre.

This particular bicycle adaptation requires; the chain to be lengthened, the brackets for the rear break to be moved, and the brake rods to be lengthened. The frame does not have to be cut or modified in any way.

Construction of a luggage carrier with small (20") rear wheel[edit | edit source]

The advantages of a small rear wheel are; there is more space for the load, the load is lower and easier to balance, the wheel is stronger, and the bicycle is easier to pedal. The main disadvantage is that the smaller wheel does not ride as easily over pumps and potholes.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Bicycle Trailers (Practical Action Technical Brief)
  • Low-cost Load-carrying Devices: The Design & Manufacture of Some Basic Means of Transport Ron Dennis and Alan Smith ITDG Publishing 1995
  • Puncture Prevention Techniques for Low Cost Vehicles Michael Ayre & Alan Smith
  • The Impact of Road Condition on Operating Costs of Bicycles, IT Transport, 2004, DFID.
  • Forum News, IFRTD

A quarterly newsletter looking at the issues of transport with animal power, bridges, bicycles, gender and transport, financing, engineering, sustainable rural livelihoods, and community planning. Forum News is produced four times a year in English, French and Spanish.

Useful contacts and addresses[edit | edit source]

International Forum for Rural Transport and Development - IFRTD
2 Spitfire Studios
67-73 Collier Street
London N1 9BE
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7713 6699
Fax: +44 (0)20 7713 8290
The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development is a global network of individuals and representatives from government, academia, multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, consultancies and technical institutions, national and international NGOs and groups of community organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America.
I. T. Transport Ltd.
The Old Power Station
Ardington, Nr Wantage
OX12 8QJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1235 833753 /821366
Fax: +44 1235 833753/821366
Consultants in transport for rural development
International Bicycle Fund
4887 Columbia Dr S
Seattle WA 98108-1919
A non-governmental, non-profit, advocacy organisation, promoting sustainable transport and international understanding. Major areas of activity are non-motorised urban planning, economic development, bike safety education, responsible travel and cycle tourism, and cross-cultural, educational programmes.
Pan Africa Bicycle Information Network (PABIN)
Working to improve opportunities for bicycle transport and low-cost mobility to improve productivity, the quality of life and the environment in Africa.
Unit A Global Park
Essex, CO1 2TW
United Kingdom
Tel: 0845 4580 852 or 01206 863111
Re-cycle is a charity whose mission is to collect and ship second hand bicycles and parts to less developed countries. Re-cycle helps to teach local people the skills of how to repair and maintain bicycles, to improve their lives in a sustainable manner.
First African Bicycle
Information Office
PO Box 1537
Tel: 00256-77-620312
FABIO (First African Bicycle Information Office) is providing literature and videos on bicycles as sustainable means of transport and is organising national and international seminars on bicycle-awareness. There is a bicycle-workshop and training-centre for youths in assembling and maintenance of bicycles.
Cycling out of Poverty
Cycling out or Poverty is a Dutch organisation engaged in raising funds for bicycle micro credit projects in Africa. Cycling out of Poverty is running 3 projects: in Uganda, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
Jacana Real World Development
1321-B North Carolina Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA
Jacana has been working on the Build A Better Bicycle (BABB) project. The objective of the BABB project is to commercialise a bicycle designed specifically for use in demanding African conditions. They have an office in Mozambique. Jacana is a member of bicycles for Humanity.
Bicycle Empowerment Network - BEN Namibia
PO Box 23150
Tel: +264 61 250 200
Fax: +264 61 225 006
BEN import donated new and secondhand bikes from partner organizations and refurbish them by employing and training local people. They distribute bicycles to community-based organizations (CBOs) whose staff in their work. BEN is a member of Bicycles for Humanity. They are supported by biking for Bikes
Bicycles for Humanity
Bicycles for Humanity began in 2005 with the aim of enabling others to raise funds and collect unwanted bicycles to send to reliable partners in developing countries.
Practical Action The Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401

Related projects[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Keywords cycling, transport
SDG SDG03 Good health and well-being, SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
Authors Steven Medina
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Ported from (original)
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 1 pages link here
Aliases Converting bicycles to freight bicycles, Bicycles in developing contexts
Impact 893 page views
Created March 18, 2009 by Steven Medina
Modified June 18, 2024 by Felipe Schenone
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