Lateral thinking frugality

October 26, 2008

For some time I’ve been looking for panniers for my bike. When you get a bit warm, if you’re wearing a backpack your back gets all sweaty and yuk. The commuting cyclist needs panniers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find any that aren’t expensive (starting around $150) and over-engineered, or part of a proprietary “system” that requires you to buy a special carrier to mount them. I am not touring the Andes by bike, all I want is something that’ll take a lunchbox and a change of clothes, for crying out loud.

So today I went to the army surplus store on lower Cuba St, and bought two very cheap canvas knapsacks ($32 the pair). I’m doing a bit of surgery on the straps, and shortly they are going to become my new panniers. I’m thinking I might not even bother stitching them – riveters are really cheap, and I’d quite like to own one.

Write your own moral below.



  1. Carradice saddlebag. Mounts to your saddle (well, if you run a Brooks saddle, which I do, as the are the Doc Marten of saddles – a bugger to break in and then comfy as all hell for years), holds a reasonable amount. I use the Carradice Barley, which is 8 litres – that’s enough space for a rain jacket, change of underwear, daily essentials, etc. Take bulky stuff in and home when you drive or bus in once a week. Annoyingly, the dollar crashing has driven the price up, but you can still buy online from carradice.co.uk and they knock the VAT off when you enter an address outside the UK.

  2. Not quite as inventive but I’ve discovered if you hunt around you can find people that actually FIX things rather than havign to throw out items. I have an old but perfectly good vaccuum cleaned but the “elbow” part shattered. I discovered that new parts were unavailable so had a look on trademe for an old cleaner the same and found a guy in Aukcland who repairs things. Got a modified and much stronger elbow of him for about $15. I am currently looking for someone to fix or replace the alloy centre pole on our market umbrella. I bet somewhere out there there is a guy in his garange that can repair it for a fraction of the cost of replacement.

    Oh and on a slightly different tack, because of our forthcoming inter-island move I have been getting rid of heaps fo stuff to Freecycle and opshops. Shedding posessions feels good. Che – you don’t want a GIANT poster of “the Other Che” do you :-)??

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