DIY Bike Stand from Harbor Freight Bike Rack

I recently got this Swagman XC Cross-Country hitch mount bike rack. It replaced a cheap $40 Harbor Freight bike rack that I used to use to transport my mountain bike to the trail. The Harbor Freight cheapo would allow the bike to swing dangerously far back on the highway, while the Swagman uses tire trays to hold the bike firmly in place. So the new addition has had zero problems so far.

This left me with the question of what to do with my old bike rack. The first stop was Craigslist, seeing if anyone wanted it. Since they’re $40 new, with coupons, nobody wanted to pay even $15 for it. After thinking it over, I decided to turn it into the bike stand I’d always needed. All it took was my Hobart 110 welder, some scrap angle iron from an old bed frame, and an hour or so.

The Old Bike Rack

You can buy these cheap bike racks at Harbor Freight for about $40

You can buy these cheap bike racks at Harbor Freight for about $40

Here’s the patient undergoing surgery. It’s a cheap bike rack that was destined for the garbage.

The bottom already has one "leg"

The bottom already has one “leg”

This style of bike rack has a piece of square tubing going into the car’s hitch receiver. It’s perfect for one “leg” of my stand. All it needs are two more legs. Note that the hitch portion unbolts from the rest of the rack. It was easier to do this job with the majority of the bike rack unbolted.

Preparing the Angle Iron

A piece of old bed frame in the vise

A piece of old bed frame in the vise

A stationary bike stand only has to support the weight of a bike, which is less than twenty pounds. Parts of an old steel bed frame make a perfect source of cheap angle iron for a project like this. Of course, you want better steel for something that really bears a load, but that’s not the goal here.

Pie cuts to fit into the rack

Pie cuts to fit into the rack

I threw the bed frame into the vise and used my angle grinder with a thin cutoff wheel. The V-shape isn’t perfect, but it allows the pieces to fit into the main rack and all line up.

Where the two new pieces meet were notched to fit

Where the two new pieces meet were notched to fit

I also cut a notch on each of the new pieces, so they would fit together without overlap.

Welding the Stand

How the stand will look, with the hitch mount unbolted from the rack

How the stand will look, with the hitch mount unbolted from the rack

Here is the progress at this point. With the hitch mount removed from the rest of the rack, I could stand everything up on the bench and confirm it would fit properly.

After using a flap disk to clean the surfaces to be welded

After using a flap disk to clean the surfaces to be welded

I’m using flux core because I haven’t bought MIG gas for my Hobart yet. This means the weld will be ugly but also that the surfaces need to be especially clean before welding to get a good joint. A flap disk in my angle grinder quickly cleaned up the surfaces to be welded together.

And here's my crappy welding

And here’s my crappy welding

And here's my crappy welding after cleaning it up

And here’s my crappy welding after “cleaning it up”

Here’s my crappy flux core weld before and after grinding. I actually set the entire assembly on the garage floor first to tack it together. Then, I set the whole thing in the vise and finished up. A real welding table or at least putting some sheet metal on top of this bench would help a lot, but that will have to be a future project. The welds are ugly, but for a non-critical application it’s good enough.

Paint

Some black spray paint fixes everything

Some black spray paint fixes everything

A small amount of grinder work and some black spray paint fixes all flaws. I hit it with some two in one rustoleum paint plus primer. Note that the most boogery welds aren’t even mine, they’re from Harbor Freight!

Wrap-up

Final product works great

Final product works great

And there you have it. The stand is good enough to do basic bike maintenance on. It also takes up less room in my garage than the hitch rack did, because it is free standing now rather than needing to lean on a wall. In all, this was a good way to make use of something that was otherwise destined to be thrown out.

Also, you may notice I glossed over how to weld. That’s because I am bad at it and don’t consider myself experienced enough to instruct anyone else.

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