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Bug-In/Bug-Out Bicycle

By John D. McCann


Opening ShotI wanted to set up a bicycle for various emergency situations. It could be used during a electrical failure whereby getting gas from a gas station was not an option. During a longer term situation where I decided to Bug-In instead of Bug-Out, it could be used for travel, and have the ability to carry things on it. In the worst case scenario, whereby Bug-Out was necessary, it could be mounted to a vehicle and used as an alternate form of transportation. This bicycle would be a multi-purpose mode of transportation. It would have a rack on the front and back. It would have easily removable panniers for the rear, which could be used for something as simple as going shopping or carrying required gear for a Bug-Out. The panniers could be lifted off the rear rack with a carry handle and taken into camp, or wherever, for safe keeping.

I started with my Giant Yukon Se Mountain Bike. It is a 24 speed and has a “Roch Shok” front suspension system. The rear rack and panniers were no problem. It was the front that gave me a problem. When I was a kid, if you wanted a basket on the front, you mounted it to the handlebars and two support rods dropped down to the front wheel and where bolted over the wheel nuts. Simple and easy.

With my mountain bike, there aren’t any nuts on the wheels. They have a quick disconnect system in order to easily remove the wheels. The main problem was the front suspension system. You can’t mount anything to the front wheel and the handlebars, because as you ride the bike, the front suspension goes up and down. The rack would have to be hinged and this would cause it to go up and down as you hit bumps. I wanted the rack stationary.

So, as usual I spent days thinking about the problem, looking at the bike, and rejecting possible ideas. I knew the rack would have to be attached to the handlebars, but also had to be attached further down. However, the mount would have to be above the suspension system, and that didn’t give me much room for a support system. The front forks where designed in a way that all parts where below the suspension, except of course, the mounting for the shocks. I realized that I would need to design and build a bracket that could be attached using the same mounting hardware for the front shocks. The bracket would need to be held in place with the original mounting hardware, but it would need to lean against the front of the shock tubes for additional strength.

I decided to design a mounting bracket that would have an aluminum frame attached, which would protrude out forward of the bike. I would then need to mount something onto the frame that provided an “L” type platform onto which a small pack or other items could be held in place with bungee cords. It would have to be light and I felt that some type of a grill, bent 90 degrees would work. The grill would then have to be attached to the aluminum frame and supported from above with some form of mounting mechanism attached to the handlebars.

The search was on for a grill that would fit my needs. This search went on for some time until I happened upon a replacement grill for a Char-Broil portable gas grill at Home Depot. It was just the right size and had a rim around the entire grill with no sharp edges sticking out. Mission one was accomplished.

The next mission was to design a mounting bracket that could exactly fit under the mounting hardware for the “Roch Shok” suspension system. I started out with a file folder to make a template and when it finally worked, I transferred that to a piece of aluminum. I then designed an aluminum frame that would be the bottom support for the wire frame, and attached it to the mounting bracket. Mounting hardware was then designed for the handlebars to support the wire frame from the top. Let’s look at some photos that will show the front rack and probably give you more understanding than my words. I will then show the bike setup for a Bug-Out situation.

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A replacement grill for a Char-Broil portable gas grill would become the "L" shaped platform for the front of the bike.Top view of the mounting bracket attached to the custom aluminum frame.

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Top view of the mounting bracket attached to the custom aluminum frame.

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A closeup of the bottom of the aluminum frame with mounting bracket that would be attached using the existing hardware for the suspension system.

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A view of the aluminum frame attached to the top of the suspension system.

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Closeup view of the frame attachment to suspension system using the original mounting hardware.

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A side view of the "L" shaped grill attached to the aluminum frame and supported from above.

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A front view of the grill attached to the aluminum frame and handlebars.

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A closeup of the grill attachment to the aluminum frame.

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Closeup from front of mounting hardware attaching grill to handlebars.

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Drivers view of mounting hardware to attach grill to handlebars.

Once the front rack was completed, the bike was set-up for a bug-out scenario. The Panniers were strapped on and two packs were added. I chose a Maxpedition Sabercat Versipack for the front as it was the perfect fit. It could easily be taken off the bike and worn as a fanny pack. For the rear I specifically chose a Maxpedition Typhoon backpack for two reasons. The first, it was a perfect fit over the panniers. The second reason was that it is a very short pack, therefore it could be worn over and in conjunction with the Sabercat fanny pack. I could wear one or both, and I felt this provided the best option.

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This is a view of the bike set up for a bug-out scenario.

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A closeup of the front of the bike with the Sabercat Versipack on the front rack.

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This shows the center of the bike with an extra water bottle and just below that a small hand pump.

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A side view of the rear of the bike with the panniers in place and the Maxpedition Typhoon riding over them.

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A view from the rear of the bike.

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A view of the author wearing both the Sabercat fanny pack and the Typhoon backpack.

It should be noted that after these photos were taken I added both front and rear fenders. They do make a difference.

Well, that’s the short story of my multi-purpose Bug-In/Bug-Out bicycle. It is available for various situations, and best of all it doesn’t use any gas.

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