Prototype.

11 06 2019

Well, the first prototype was ok, but by the time I was nearly finished, I was pretty sure I could make a better version. So it goes with prototypes.

Rewind. The need. Bikepacking with a bar harness, over the years, has been made much better by efforts to make the harness have 4 points of mounting. The potential problem: some handlebars don’t like having clamps beside the stem clamp, either because of the material (carbon bars occasionally need metal reinforcement at the stem clamp and the manufacturers won’t allow clamping to non reinforced areas). or because of the shape (alt bars, I’m looking at you). The solution: make a steerer mounted clamp that will deliver an auxiliary bar, ideally below, the handlebar. Boom, 4 points of mounting.

If the mounting points are fairly spread and wide and the load is not too heavy you could get away with a very light clamp as the secondary, non weight bearing part.

Fast forward to prototype 1: aluminium steerer spacer, 20mm high, 2 acetal rods and a carbon fibre tube. Can mount below or potentially above the stem. Issue? fugliness. Other issue? amount of steerer real estate.

Prototype 2 will be considerably more svelte. This is achieved because a lightbulb went on and I realised I could make a strap system between the handlebar and the auxiliary bar that means it doesn’t actually have to have any inherent rigidity, other than a slight offset to clear the head tube.

Some initial sketches gave way to lots of beard stroking about how I was going to make the offsets. Initially i’d thought to mount a carbon fibre tube ahead of the steerer and make some straps that would have a carbon fibre strip sewn into them, then around a second carbon tube.

In making the initial aluminium steerer spacer, I decided to change tack and instead of bolting a carrier to the front of the steerer spacer, bolt to the side, slightly offset with spacers and have 2 metal struts (in this case I will be using a downhill, direct mount ‘riser’ kit). these will then have the auxiliary bar attached, though again, I’m not absolutely 100% sure how so far.

Getting there…

 

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dRj0nbagworks.

11 03 2019

Well, I’ve been sewing again. a few days off and bad weather and this is what happens. Idle hands and all that,

First up was an ultra light bar harness, with 4 point mounting for either Jones Loop bar, or a Bar Yak Ultra. The benefit here is reduced weight and amazing stability for your Shredpacking adventures. This has a small carbon fibre tube integrated to give it rigidity on a lateral plane, whilst retaining light weight construction throughout. VX33 on top, in Camo and Gridstop dyneema for the underside.

To go with that I made a DCF Hybrid double ended roll top bag. this is light, waterproof and the perfect size for my shoulder season kit. I might make one with the lighter hybrid fabric as this at 170gsqm feels ├╝ber robust.

I taped the seam, so this is waterproof – which makes packing it super easy. it is around 16cm diameter and 46cm long.

Lastly I made a bag for the Strap Deck. This is the latest ‘bagworks product and it is being a wee bit sluggish to catch on. I reckon because I have been ordering in low numbers, they are relatively expensive for what they seem to be. However, add a bag such as my custom version, or a Revelate Polecat, or even just a dry bag if you use Voile Straps and you can secure a heck of a lot of stuff even with the medium sized Strap Deck. I’m confident in time they will become a ‘go to’ item for ultralight bike packing. The bonus is that they are subtle when no bags are mounted, and they do not require straps around the frame to stabilise things unless significant weight is carried.

I am a huge proponent of splitting kit up and placing it around the bike in such a way that there isn’t too much mass on the front, or under the saddle specifically – keeping handling more ‘normal’. This helps if you bikepack Singletrack.

The bag is made from VX33 Camo, the same as the Harness and then it has a Liteskin LS 42 roll top closure on the portion that will see less abrasion. Its light and 11cm diameter 26cm long with 4 rolls and fits a medium Strap Deck beautifully.

It’s fun pushing things on a wee bit. Next is to actually get a weather and time window to go use the stuff!





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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MYOG: a DCF double ended dry bag.

15 02 2018

With a Revelate Harness on the front of the bike, I have the choice of using an existing dry bag or random items packed in a roughly cylindrical fashion. The Sweetroll uses an integrated double ended dry bag joined to the bar mount, which I always like using. It is easy to load, adjust and get at your kit. Revelate offers a separate dry bag, called the Saltyroll which I thought about getting and Porcelain Rocket have the Nugget, which is a similar size as well.

However, I have had a hankering to make somethign from DCF (formerly cuben fiber) for some time and so I decided to bite the bullet and make a double ended dry bag. The downside is that if you screw up, the material cost per sqm is high. The upside is that it is really easy to work with. You need double sided tape, a good plan and a sharp blade, as it is surprisingly difficult to cut.

I used 34g sqm DCF, in black (more like see-through-dark) which is on the light side, compared to a Mountain Laurel Designs DCF dry bag for example, but should have enough abrasion resistance to last for a while.

The designs is a simple cylinder (rectangle with shorter seam joined by 25mm double sided tape) then the ends are folded and bonded around something that will provide some stiffness so the roll top will work. I used some 0.004″ shim stock plastic. Finally, you make strips (I used 5 layers of DCF, folded over) which were then bonded to the edges and simple plastic buckles. For these sections, I used 13mm double sided tape. I reinforced these with a ‘patch’ of DCF on a strip of wider, 25mm double sided tape.

Care should be taken so no join will be pressured in ‘peel’ – they should all be in ‘shear’. With this design, it is no great difficulty to avoid this.

Leave it to cure for 24hrs and then you’re good to go. Capacity is around 10L and it weighs quarter of a sparrows fart.

Questions? fire away!





How to fit a DeWidget.

23 08 2017

Ok, how *I* fit a DeWidget – I am sure there are a number of ways!

First, you need some double sided velcro. This has a multitude of uses for the bikepacker. I usually keep a few wraps around bars and whatnot for use when out and about: temporary attachments; to insulate the frame or components from abrasion; tying down flyaway straps etc.

Anyhoo. You will need about 6-7cm 1cm wide and 7-8cm of 2cm wide. If you are struggling to find some, you can get it here. Search around for different widths and trim with scissors or a craft knife. In my experience it does not need ‘heat sealed’ on the edges.

Then, mount your top-tube bag to your frame, loosely, near it’s final desired position. Mount your DeWidget to the steerer.

1. thread the thin portion of velcro through the daisy chain on the front of the top-tube bag.

I then remount the foam spacer – I would recommend this if you have one.

2. mount the 2cm section of velcro to one side of your 1cm velcro.

3. fold the 1cm section back on itself, on top of the 2cm section.

4. thread the 2cm velcro through the slot on the DeWidget.

It doesn’t matter if the bottom section or top is longer…

5. attach the 2cm velcro to itself in a loop as tight as desired.

The velcro has inherent stiffness that helps keep the mounting absolutely solid, even if there is a fair distance between the bag and the stem – which may be desirable given stem hardware.

The other thought I had was to use a sternum strap split bar buckle and attach it to the daisy chain, thus presenting a ‘bar’ in ‘phase’ with the slot on the DeWidget, but velcro has worked so well I have never tried…

You can get them here, not very handy, but I have used this shop for many parts and materials for MYOG projects and can recommend them. I have not found the same buckles in the UK yet.





Salvage.

5 08 2013

Indecision paralysed me on Sunday evening. I had an opportunity to head off and camp somewhere, maybe get a bit of trail before a sleep then an early start to allow a good, full days riding on monday.

But I couldn’t decide what to do.

I had sort of mis-planned already: I was supposed to be going to Haugh Cross, but that was Saturday, not Sunday (Duhrrrrr!).

Anyway, after becoming increasingly frustrated, I failed to commit and as time marched on I grabbed my road bike in an effort to salvage some pedal time.

Off out to the Crow Road over the Campsies, where a favourable tail wind helped me to a ‘P.B’ of 14.30 mins for the climb, followed by a few more miles. I generally see road biking in good weather as a ‘fail’ I am afraid. When the weather is good, I like to be in the hills, but I could grudgingly appreciate the 2.30 hr of smooth road as a tonic against peering aimlessly at OS maps.

Monday was to be a different matter, though. I needed a taste of some hills. Some friends had hit a sweet route on Beinn a’Ghlo, which whetted the appetite, so I broke out the maps again and forced myself to decide on a route the evening prior, so I could get away sharp. After making my way up the A9 again, I turned into the car park at Lagganlia, quickly got ready and without fuss pedaled down the road past the gliding club to Auchlean. From there, I kept to the east side of the river and enjoyed some of the trail in the trees before turning up the Landy track to climb towards Carn Ban Mor. Despite this being a Scottish mtb ‘classic’ I had never tried it. I felt that as it was pretty rideable and relatively compact, it would allow me to get home in time for Daisy’s bedtime and I was also curious how the Coire Dhondail stalker’s path looked from the west side of Loch Eanaich: I have a vague notion it might come in handy some day…

The climb sucks. However, you just need to buckle down and get it done. Some good views open up as you clear the edge of Coire Garbhlach and from there it is not far to the top. I made good time, so decided to add Mullach Clach a’Bhlair (1019m) before taking the excellent quality Landy trail accross the Moine Mhor, before climbing to the start of the fabled Carn Ban Mor decent. As time was still on my side and the views over to Braeriach were so fine, I decided the dark cloud was no reason not to make a quick detour to the Carn Ban Mor summit proper (1052m), from there onto Sgor Gaoith (1118m). I had some fine views down to Loch Eanaich and the Dhondail path, as well as the plateau proper, before turning back as a squall hit.

The decent was fine. It has been improved, featuring many large rock water bars, that are at times fun, at other times annoying. The drop is welcome though and it was a good test of my saddle bag’s staying power – more on that soon.

Back to base with 3.20 hr on the clock. All good. Now if only the A9 hadn’t been standing between me and the cold beer in the fridge…





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.