Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bicycle Saddlebag (well, sorta).

Dear readers,

I don't know if you know this - but I am an avid cyclist and challenged myself to make the following bag:

 So, I finally finished a small bike saddlebag - let me just say I need to improve the design.

This is what I was shooting for:

Both the above bags are manufactured for the fantastic Rivendell Bikes.

Well, I went a bit heavy on the reflective type and binding.

 Side picture (above)
From the back (above).

Yes, I did insert a zipper under the overly large flap - next time I will make the flap out of leather, I think.   Did I mention leather is difficult to sew with - I used a roller foot (bought for this project and other oilcloth projects) - and leather needed (except when I forgot and used a jeans needle, oops).

I ordered the straps (not yet received) from a business owned by a local couple bike-bag making team, called Acorn Bags.  They make marvelous bags if you need one, the below is an example of their large randonneuring front handlebar/rack bag:
Well, I imagined the pattern and thought it would only take an hour to sew up.  Nope.  Six hours later I finished.  The below is the pattern laid out before sewing:
I used duck canvas - next time I will use a heavier sailcloth rather than duck canvas - and perhaps wax it (for waterproofing) before I sew.

I really tried to recycle and re-use all the material:
Above, see the left-over gortex from Seattle Fabrics.  I would recommend a cheaper lining fabric - perhaps ripstock or even the canvas would have been fine.
I used the leather from an old purse I cut up - I would recommend a heavier gauge leather.  I wonder about the durability of this leather - although I will waterproof and condition it well.
I lined the canvas with Peltex, and heavyweight interfacing.  Although if I would doing it again I would use a heavier liner (not too stiff - such as recycled Postal containers), but stiffer than Peltex.
Well, not the best but it's a start, and it is usable.

I post a couple of pictures of two of my bikes posing:)  I am working on some adjustments to them as well.  The first is a bike from Royal H, I'm using it for light touring (10 - 60 miles).  I put my bag behind the Po Campo bag for reference.
Mixte Royal H frame.
Wait, is that a dynamo hub you ask?  Yes, it's a SON deluxe.
Brompton M-6R, foldable, with lowered gearing.  I occasionally take this on airplane trips because it can fit into luggage, I can avoid a rental car (and GHG), if possible, and get out and really see the places I visit/work ala David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries.
It has a raw frame - here you can see the brazing on the steel.

Any bag making or purse making experience out there?  I'm open to suggestions!

P.S.  I'm still finishing up the black pants pattern and took a beginning knitting class - more on that to follow!


  1. Sweet rides! I admire you for making your own saddlebag. I wish you hadn't linked to Acorn & Rivendell, however--so much pricy bike porn!

  2. Thanks KC! I'm dying to actually buy one of the bags! Especially since Acorn is made by a husband and wife team in LA!!

  3. Very cool project! I once built a complicated rando front rack that fit a customer's favorite bag - a plaid Lil' Loafer sold by Rivendell. It was fun to make, but it is funny that it never occurred to me that she could have a custom bag made for a rack rather than a custom rack for a standard (but nifty!) bag. I like that you've modeled bag with your bikes :)

  4. Thanks Natalie!! I am amazed you built a bike rack to fit a favorite bag - Wow! That is a challenge! Yes, I do like this bag - and waxed it today to make it waterproof (Martinex wax), and added straps.
    I do want to make more bike-related posts:) But, as I am a partial bike luddite, I have to exercise restraint.

  5. Holy moly, I didn't understand a word of that towards the end - you have quite a range of talents!