Minimalism Bike Fender Progress Report

The upcycle project I am working on is a rear bike fender made from an aluminum can. The first constraint I am working within is the size of an aluminum can. I would like to use just one can so I needed the dimensions to find the maximum amount of material I could use. The height of a can is about 4.8″, so I will use this length as the width of the fender. Since I am only after the flat material coming out of the can, and the top and bottom are tapered, I will make the width of the fender about 4″. The circumference of a can is about 8″ so I will make this the overall length of the fender. The plan is to cut the top and bottom of the can off and then I can unroll the material until it is flat.

Dimensions of a standard soda can. [1]

Once I had my flat material, I could start developing a flat pattern to cut out of it. I did a few sketches on paper until I was happy with the flat pattern design. Below is the final sketch. The pattern consists of a few cut lines and three fold lines. The fold lines will give the flat aluminum structure. I am aware that the first design of the pattern will not translate into my desired result, so I will have to make a few prototypes to iterate through the design.

Final flat pattern for the bike fender.


To follow my selected aesthetic of minimalism, I will sand the flat aluminum until it is bare aluminum with a semi polished semi satin finish.




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2 Comments. Leave new

  • I like your sketch and concept. I wonder what design opportunities would be revealed with a paper prototype.

  • Hi Reed, I love this idea. It’s so practical and should add a nice aesthetic look to an aluminum bike. I ride my bike to campus every day and find the melting snow days to be very sloppy. This design is perfect. It will look great and fill a need. This is a smart idea. I have been trying to think of how to solve this issue myself, and a can is a perfect upcycle solution. Do you have any plans to reinforce it or maybe attach it at the far end for support?


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