Making things.

8 03 2019

A few weeks ago, we had amazing February weather. I rode day after day – not far afield, though F.B.R.O.T.Y happened. But, it is now back to the maritime rainy/windy pattern that is typical of West Scotland, so I have been making things.

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With davechopoptions, a trail was born, then another and then another. This is likely in response to the foresting of my local riding woods. It is a real shame to see some of the trails I like riding the most over the last few years, disappearing. However, in fairness to the team who are harvesting, they are doing a stellar job of preserving what they can.

Goodbye, old friend. I have spent countless hours enjoying riding and sometimes just sitting with you.

I started sewing again – this time a special project – a top tube bag (gas tank bag) for my friend Mark Bentley. Admittedly, the first version was not up to scratch, but I was very pleased with version 2. Gas tank bags need a lot of extra work as the trick is to be able to use them one handed. As such, they need to have stiffening panels in the sides and to protect items stowed of a more delicate nature, padding on the bottom. trying to sew these in is a beast, but I settled on a process that allows me to get nice straight seams and the padding is in a separate sleeve that is held in by velcro and the cross velcro side to side reinforcement. Next up will be a very lightweight bar harness that I have been thinking about for a long time. It will have a carbon fibre cross member to gain stiffness and utilise 4 point mounting for either Jones Loop bars, or the Bar Yak system. Stay tuned.

The bag is a Liteskin LS 42 laminate outer with plastic shim stock sides and a x-Pac VX21 inner in white to aid finding things, like jam sammies.

One detail that is essential is the range of the velcro attachment to the top tube. The front is to marry up with a DeWidget, so that needs a simple webbing cross strap. but you need to have an idea of how big a top tube you will be attaching the bag to. You can of course use a long section of velcro, but I prefer polyamide webbing. Anyhoo, it turns out Mark’s Cotic has a 41mm top tube – exactly the same as the ultra rare Vertigo Cycles cowbell and bottle opener to make sure fit is perfect.

The other thing I want to make soon is a bag for the Strap Deck. I’ve been playing around with ideas – from a dry bag with integrated velcro straps, to a simple bag held by Voile Straps.

In some ways, Revelate have already made the perfect bag for the Strap Deck – the Polecat. But I’m going to keep thinking on it.

I’m looking forward to Singletrack world’s and the Bikepacking.com reviews – I love them for attaching anything a bit bulky, but not too heavy to the bike.

(click here to see a video – Vimeo being a bit strange…)

Lastly, I learned to cut threads on the lathe and made an aluminium version of the port DeWidget Mark made initially from Delrin, which can mount above the steerer, and act as a top cap. Highly versatile, it can run the ‘double dangler’ feed bag plate and of course, holds the gas tank absolutely rock solid while you go shredpacking.

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Forming.

30 07 2013

There’s been a load of stuff happening but not much riding. Things should turn around soon enough, hopefully as the good weather gets reinstated. In the meantime, I have been using the sewing machine a bit more. The first project was a saddle bag. Why? aren’t saddle bags easily available? Yep. Indeed, I admit to owning several Jandd ones that are all pretty good. Define pretty good? well, they are all made of durable cordura, have good quality, strong zips that throw off mud, are a reasonable size and don’t flap around too much.

So why would I want to reinvent the wheel (so to speak)?. Well, they are not quite big enough, they are not light, (I know this is a relative thing, but lots of heavy webbing and cordura might be overkill), the openings are relatively small, meaning you often have to completely unpack to get at the contents and they are not water resistant. Probably most importantly, they are not made by me and I am becoming quite interested in bike bags. I mentioned previously my general ideas for making bags. The summary would be I want to have the option of lots of well placed, small-ish bags (so they can be made light, and due to not stowing much, are durable enough whilst being less likely to flap around), securely fastened on the bike in non-awkward places, allowing me to carry enough stuff (kit, fuel and water) for longer rides and allowing me to leave the back packs at home.

Under the saddle is a great place to stow some kit. The trick is to use the space in such a way that I am unimpeded when I need to get behind the saddle on steep stuff, but allow reasonable volume for stuff and have said stuff easily accessible.

The bag was mocked up in cardboard, I tried to think through the placement of straps to keep it solid and I used materials in such a way to minimise weight, keep shape, resist rubbing and make it light. I did forget to sew in the seat post loop of velcro when I had planned to and that forced me into some X-Pac yoga, trying to get it attached. I used 500d cordura for the top panel of the front wedge, VX07 elsewhere with strong polyamid webbing and velcro to attach it to the saddle and post. The closure is a roll top with side release buckle and a small run of plastic under grosgrain on the non-buckle side to aid rolling.

I think overall, I succeeded in concept. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding – it needs to get some use! This bag will also act as a first step in making a 3-5 ish litre under saddle bag, that will require much more thought and effort to make it stable and maintain it’s shape in such a way that it does not rub my legs. This one fits my post to saddle angle very well and is a great fit with no leg rub or interference getting off the back of the bike.

So, more as it happens.

Next was another feedbag effort, putting into practice what I learned from the first one, but improved construction, less materials, better mounting and a ‘right hand’ shape to complement the first, ‘left’, one.

In this case, I used 160d cordura for the ‘bellows’ closure, with heat sealed and folded seams, instead of grosgrain on the edges to combat fraying and the VX07 for the main bag. I used a mixture of 50mm and 25mm velcro for attachment, but will update the placement of this next time. My stitching was much improved on the oval bottom seam, but I still have a lot to learn!

I have continued to learn a lot with each step, although I am sure the rate of acquisition will slow down! I have also gained from some new bits and bobs to make my tasks easier, including this wee pair of snips Trina got me…they are ace! even for fat fingers like mine.

I built a wheel for the upcoming cross bike project. Basically, I hardly ever use my singlespeed cross bike. So, it is going to get some gears, courtesy of a messed-around-with Saint M800 rear derailleur mounted to a 10mm thru axle, with a Zee hub which I just built into a No Tubes Ironcross rim. It built nicely, as do all the No Tubes rims I have used, though they do persist in under estimating the ERD. The idea here is a 48 tooth front ring, with an 11-34 rear and a Dura Ace bar end shifter. We’ll see. If it doesn’t work out, it will also fit on to the pink IF.

Ok for now.