Ever wanted to bike tour but you didnt have the money to buy the expensive rack panniers? Or better, ever wanted to use your bike to transport you to the base of a mountain and take your backpack from the rack and go hiking? Or maybe even better, ever missed a proper table to put your morning coffee or your dinner while you bike tour? I have a solution for you, and it’s called the bike table or the rackatabla! And ofcourse, it won’t cost you anything. Let’s see how you can make one. You are going to need:
- a good pocket knife
- A round file (optional)
- Nylon rope
- A square piece of not very thick plywood
- A drill
- Pop river gun (optional)
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Waterproof topcoat or a plastic film
First you take a square piece of plywood (to save some weight I’d suggest a thinner one) and put it on your rack. Mark underneath the plywood the places where the protruding parts of the rack prevent it from fitting nicely, and cut them out with a fretsaw. Check how I did mine. Its important to make two grooves on each missing part. That way you make sure your rope is covering bigger area when you tight your rackatabla on the rack. I made a handle for the bungee cords to hook on in the front part of the rackatabla (also to reinforce the area with less wood). The handle was made by splitting a wooden tuna chest I found on the side of the road once. I used pop rivet gun to attach it there. You can made this handle simply by using a piece of rope (two holes across each other, where the rivets are now, and a rope whose ends have knots, connecting them). On the bottom side of the plywood, I’ve attached two small pieces of strong rope using parts of the wooden chest and the pop rivet gun. These loops are very important. You will use those (make them as short as mine) and the front handle to hook your stuff on your rackatabla. Again, you can do the same using the method with the rope I described above.
Now that your rackatabla is ready, you have to make sure you know how to attach it reliably on your rack using only a rope. This is probably the most important aspect of the rackatabla. I found a technique that works beautifully. I call it “the big knot technique”. It’s called like that because it uses a big knot to make the one end of the rope to stay in place while you tying up your rackatabla on the rack. The idea is you’re tightening the rope in a way that plywood is pushed again the racks. So you make the rope go over the rackatabla and then under the rack, then over the rackatabla and then again under the rack. Please have a look at the pictures to understand the concept.
To attach your things on the rackatabla, just hook your bungee cords from the loops underneath above your load and on the handle in front. You can experiment a little and you’ll find many ways to make your stuff very stable. Also, take notice of those holes. These will help you put more stuff under your rackatabla if you need too!
Rackatabla plays the role of the cover and also leaves space for more stuff! You can use a rope or bungee cords. Now, you want to paint the rackatabla with a good waterproof topcoat because the constant rain will deform it eventually. If you don’t have the topcoat, you can use a plastic sheat under your stuff and above your rackatabla as I did (upper right pic).
UPDATE: You can see the new version of rackatabla without the corners here.