Surfing in San Francisco is tough. The water is cold, the currents are strong, and I’ve been told there are sharks. If you don’t own a car, or have a buddy who owns one, the actual act of surfing in San Francisco is tough. It’s more than three miles from my apartment to Ocean Beach. I don’t own a car. I own a bike.
Since I moved to San Francisco I’ve had a love hate relationship with surfboard racks for bicycles. On the one hand they got me to the beach for a surf, but on the other hand they all had design flaws. If one rack didn’t require you to bolt it on your bicycle forever, the other would force you to turn you bicycle into a horse trailer. My favorite of them all is the rack that turns your bicycle into an SUV!
If your only mode of transportation is a bicycle, and you want to surf, it turns out your best option is to build a rack out of PVC pipe, glue, hose clamps, and pipe insulation. This entire surfboard rack can be built for under $20 (considering you already own a hacksaw and screwdriver) and with a slight design change you won’t have to permanently fix the rack to your bicycle. Here’s how I did it:
Slice up some 1″ tee sections of PVC (larger if your frame size calls for it) with a hacksaw and affix them to your bicycle frame with hose clamps. For extra grip between the tee sections and my bicycle frame I lined the inside of the tee sections with strips of old tire tubes.
Here’s what your bicycle is going to look like on a daily basis with this type of surfboard rack. The PVC tee sections are the only visible part on the bicycle at all times, and they’re super lightweight so you’ll barely notice they’re attached.
With about nine feet of PVC pipe, six elbow sections, and some PVC cement, you’ll be able to construct the arms of the rack that actually hold the surfboard.
Each bicycle frame and rider is different, so the sizes for these sections of the rack will vary. For instance, the rear arm of my rack is longer due to the back tee section being slightly higher on the frame than the front tee section. It’s not an exact science, but you’ll want the bottoms of each arm to be fairly even.
To prevent the arms from disconnecting with the tee sections, holes were drilled through the top part of each arm and threaded with rope so they could be tied to the frame. Tying the arms to the tee section – opposed to cementing them together – allows me the option to easily remove and fasten the rack onto my frame without having to permanently attach it to my bicycle. As you can see, I’ve also added pipe insulation around the arm sections to protect my surfboard.
Due to the 45 degree angle of the front tee section attached to my bicycle frame, I drilled a hole towards the top of the front arm of the rack, which allows me to hook a bungie cord.
The bungie cord counter balances the weight of the surfboard pulling down on the arm, preventing the front tee section from rotating. With the bungie cord secured around my top tube the front arm of the rack remains level and the tee section doesn’t move.
That’s it! Now you just throw your wetsuit in a bag and pedal to some waves.