How to Make a Bicycle Rack Out of PVC Pipe

Are you tired of tripping over your children’s bicycles? Perhaps you just want to get more organized. Either way, I have a home improvement project that might just make your day. It’s a bicycle rack made from PVC pipe. It will help get your family’s cycling gear better organized in two hours or less. Here is how to do it.

Bicycle Rack Materials List

In order to complete this project you will need to gather together the following materials:

32 PVC elbows, 90 degree angle
8 PVC bottoms, 1 ½ inches diameter x 3 ½ inches length
2 PVC ends, 1 ½ inches diameter x 10 inches length
16 PVC uprights, 1 ½ inches diameter x 16 inches length
6 PVC cross pipes, 1 ½ inches diameter x 14 inches length
Miter box (optional)
Carpenter’s tape measure
3 emery cloths, medium
Safety goggles
1 jug lacquer thinner
5 cans plastic enamel spray paint, desired color
5 bags play sand
1 large funnel
2 cans PVC pipe cement

Step 1: Preparing the Pipe

Those that purchased 40 running feet of 1 ½ inch diameter PVC pipe will now need to measure and cut the PVC pipe pieces details in the materials list above. This may be accomplished with a tape measure, pencil, hacksaw and a miter box. After the cuts have been made it is best to wipe down the pipe ends of any debris and lightly sand the inside ends of the pipe with a medium grain emery cloth. Doing so will aid in the assembly process. As the pieces are being cut be sure to take your pencil and write on the pipe what size it is. This action will also aid in the assembly process. Those that purchased pre-cut PVC pipe pieces should take the time to re-check that they have the right number of pipes and the right sizes before proceeding.

Step 2: Assembling the Bicycle Rack, Dry Run

Anyone that has ever worked with PVC pipe cement knows that once applied to a pipe joint it is extremely difficult to adjust. That is why with this project a dry run assembly is recommended. Begin assembly by setting aside the 16 upright PVC pipe pieces, 8 bottom PVC pipe pieces and the 16 PVC elbow pieces. They are the PVC pipe pieces that will need to be assembled first.

The goal is to create several U shapes of pipe. To accomplish this task take each upright piece and insert it into one elbow piece. Then take one bottom piece and connect two of the upright and elbow pieces together to form a U shape. When you are done you should have a total of eight U shapes that will serve as your bicycle wheel slots.

With your eight bicycle wheel slots assembled, take four of those U shapes and top each of upright pipes with elbow pipes. Once that is done, take three of the six crosspieces and use them to connect the four U shapes together. At this point you should have a shape that resembles a series of rolling hills with three peaks and four valleys. This series of pipes will serve as one half of the bicycle rack.

Proceed by creating the other half of the bicycle rack as you did before. When done you should have two identical halves of PVC pipe that look like rolling hills with three peaks and four valleys. At this point you should also have four elbow and two end pieces of PVC pipe remaining. These pieces will be used to connect the two halves of the bicycle rack.

To connect the two halves of the bicycle rack, place an elbow on each end of the two halves. Once the final elbows are in place take the two remaining end pieces of PVC pipe and place one between each set of elbows, thus making the two bicycle halves into one whole piece.

To make sure that the bicycle rack wheel slots are big enough to accommodate your family’s bicycle tires, test out the rack before taking it all back apart for the final assembly. Remember that some mountain bikes have large tires so the wheel slots may not accommodate those at first. If that is the case, take note of the size difference and readjust your U shaped pipes so that the bicycle’s tires will fit in the wheel slots properly.

Step 3: Final Assembly of the Bicycle Rack

Now that you are confident that the bicycle rack works it is time to add the play sand and glue all of the pipes together with PVC pipe cement. The insertion of the play sand into the bottom section of the bicycle rack is designed to help keep the rack upright during windy days. You may opt not to add the sand if you are using the bicycle rack in an enclosed area and are not concerned about the wind. To add the play sand, first assemble and glue the bicycle rack’s two halves. Then stand the two halves upright and use the funnel to pour play sand into the rack’s bottom section of pipe. Once you are happy with the weight of the bicycle rack, continue to glue the two halves together. Once the bicycle rack is all glued together, it is ready to be painted.

Step 4: Cleaning and Painting the Bicycle Rack

Remove any pencil marks from the PVC pipes and then spray paint the rack in the color of your choice. It is also perfectly acceptable to leave the rack white if that is your preference. Once the paint dries the bicycle rack is ready for use.