The project ‘Kalathuna’ was born when I saw my friend Aris’ commercial basket in action. I realized how useful a basket can be on a bicycle trip. It’s always in front of you and always accessible! From your cellphone and winter clothing to food and toilet paper (in cases of emergency this is super useful!) all the stuff that can be used while you’re cycling can be put in your basket. Hence my original idea was to design an easy to make -that means with simple tools that everybody has- heavy duty basket out of very cheap materials that can actually withstand the abuse of a bicycle tour. If, for example, you are on a trip on a mountainous area, you will be able to ride on rough terrain without worrying about your basket. The same basket could be used for commuting and that means your basket could handle much more weight than a tiny chihuahua.
With these thoughts in mind and after many weeks of sketching and thinking while I was traveling by bus or waiting in queues, I had a very unique and doable concept in my mind that could work. With a very tight deadline I’ve managed to build and field test the final prototype in my Christmas bicycle tour in the island of Kefalonia for 4 days. I couldn’t be more happy with it! With a big load of 10 kg -it can take way more- the basket performed flawlessly in VERY windy situations and rough gravel roads. Not bad for a handmade bicycle basket that weighs 2 kg and costs 5-6 euros to make!
UPDATE: I took Kalathuna to The Tzoumerka trip on roads not so friendly to baskets and bicycles! It handled it with ease!
Without further ado, here are the instructions, so you can make one Kalathuna yourself 🙂
By the way, Kalathuna only works on suspension forks! I am going to make an other version for solid forks though in the near future!
What you are going to need:
- 5x wooden broomstick
- 30 m synthetic rope (Shouldn’t be too thick )
- 30 x Galvanized screws (should be long -like 6cm)
- Good knife
- Wasted 700c inner tube
- Wasted tire
- Big zip tie
- Thin Round file
- Thick piece of branch (two times the thickness of the fork brace)
Firstly, let’s have a look and name all the basic parts of the Kalathuna so we have an idea of what we are going to make :
We will start with the cage (Part 1.).
These are dimensions of the sticks I cut for the cage – you can change these dimension if you want a bigger or smaller basket- :
26.5 cm x4
26 cm x1
Before we start, take a look at the (bad ) picture bellow, hopefully it will help you understand the basic concept behind the Kalathuna.
Ok, let’s start. For the cage we want to make a cube out of the sticks. You can see the technique I used for this in pic [1.a] (don’t mind the ropes yet). As you can see, every stick with a red dot (the 35cm ones) has two sticks with a blue dot on its side (vertically and with a 45 degree angle). In order to do that you will have to create a curve on each end of the blue dot sticks. You can either do that with the tool you see in the pic [1.b] or with a knife and sandpaper (you take off some wood with a knife and finish the job with sandpaper rolled on a piece of broomstick). To simplify it, start making the upper square of the cube, then the bottom and lastly connect the two with the rest of the sticks (28.5cm in my case).
Leave for last the one in the middle (26cm). Later one we are going to connect this with the ‘first support base’ stick.
By drilling a hole, smaller than the screws, on each end of these sticks you will make the screwing much easier (broomsticks are usually from very hardwood). Take a look at the white area of pic [1.a] to understand the concept.
NOTE: The broomstick are quite thick, so you can use a big drill first to open a hole (halfway) so the head of the screw doesn’t stick out [pic 1.c].
Making holes for the ropes to go through.
With a drill as big as your rope drill 6 holes or more drills (from top to bottom) on each of the red dot sticks and 4 or more on the blue dot ones (EXCEPT the stick in the middle). Use a ruler to make them symmetrically. Blue dot ones take less holes because of the big screws that go through them.
We are going to knit the rope at the end.
NOTE: To make the cage really sturdy we have to use this technique they used to use on old Greek chairs.I haven’t done that yet this step is missing for now. If you understand the idea you can try it yourself.
Part 2. First support base
Now, we are going to make the ‘first support base’ of kalathuna. QUICK NOTE: If you want to make kalathuna REALLY strong you can put 2 sticks for a base.
Take the bigger stick of the bunch and put it vertically and below the middle stick of your cage. Using a pencil mark the areas that the middle stick touch the stick [2.a]. With your sharp knife create a curvature on those marks [2.b]. It should look like pic [2.c.]. Then take the drill you used for the rope holes and open two holes on each ends of the curvature [2.d].
What we want to do is attach with ropes the big stick on the bottom part of the cage. Using a ruler find the middle point on the bottom red dot ones and the middle stick. On exactly those points create a circular groove like the picture [2.e]. Can you understand where I am going with this? Check pic [2.f]! Make the rope very tight before make a knot on the end.
Part 3. The mount
We call this part mount because it is going to sit on the fork brace. To understand it’s purpose look the pic [pic 3.a]. It’s basically a thick piece of branch that fits nicely on the fork brace and creates a broader area for the ‘first support base’. It’s very easy to make it, just take the thick piece of branch and put it on your vice. With your thickest drill take as much wood off as you need so the mount can sit nicely on the brace [pic 3.b]. This steps requires some tries until the mount is perfect for the fork. If it does, take a piece of inner tube, put it inside the hollow mount and fit it snugly on the brace.
Part4. Bouncy Block.
The bouncy block is a piece of tire rolled and zip tied on the end of the first support base that goes under the fork crown. Before you roll the tire on the end of the ‘first support base’ cut out the parts with the steel rods and everything else except the thick rubber part in the middle [pic 4a]. Using a tape you can try to see how much rubber you need to leave until the basket is level with the ground or better with an inclination upwards (the load will make it level with the ground ). When you find the right length of tire, use a big zip tie to hold it in place [pic 4b].
NOTE: The bouncy block SHOULD slide forward and back so we can disassemble the Kalathuna (that’s why the rear end of the stick must be thinner). But to make it stable when we use it we will drill two holes right on the two ends of the tire roll AFTER we adjust everything and we are sure that the basket is nice and level with the bike. We will use those holes later to strap the block on the fork.
Part 5. Second support and stabilizer
This contraption will stabilize our basket (from turning left or right) and also support some of its weight. It’s shape is an ‘H’ shape with the angles of ‘V’. using the attach system of part.2 we are going to attach our ‘H’ with the upper back part of our cage. Take a look at pics [5a, 5b and 5c] to understand how it looks. To make the the ‘H’ tightly holding the cage we are going to need a easy system that could be tighten it by hand when it’s needed. In order to do that we need a small piece of stick with a curve big enough to cover the stem of our bicycle. See pic [5d, 5e]. Make a piece of inner tube to go through like a sleeve. As you can see from the pics the holes are further apart on the upper part. We want This little piece to press hard against the bottom part of the stem while it pulls the ropes of the H downwards. To do that we need a ‘handle’ with two holes that will be turned few times until the ropes are very tight . Then, each of its ends will go though the cord loops to preventing from unwinding [ See 5f and the first pic ‘Anatomy of Kalathuna’ ]. I am going to upload a video showing you its action very soon to make it easier to understand!
Some final things.
Remember the whole we opened on the ‘first support base’ on each of the rolled tire? While the Kalathuna is on your bike, make a rope go through those holes and around the fork crown and lastly around the mount and the stick above. Make it tight and knot the two ends of the knot with two bows.
Knitting the rope. You can improvise and see what works best for you. You can take an idea from the rough sketch bellow:
This is it! I hope you understood the instructions. If you have questions, please send me a message or write a comment bellow. I will try to make a video showing how to mount the Kalathuna on the bike and also how it works. Hopefully that will make everything clear!