While working on a custom build for Stevenson Cycles in Seattle, Laura and I started chatting about leather work. It turns out, Laura does amazing leather craft!
Although I spend many hours each day on leather work, there's never enough time to give it the attention and detail that I'd like to.
Colors, embossing, carving, edge treatement, the sky is the limit. One day, when the bag orders slow down, I'll spend more time on being creative with the leather work.
Please enjoy the images and visit Stevenson Custom Bicycles http://stevensoncustombikes.com/
You can reach Laura through their website/email.
In 2017 I messed up my fork and asked Eric to do some customization on it. While we were at it, we decided to do a rack as well. This is what we came up with.
For the past several years, Eric and I have been collaborating on integrated porteur and randonneur rack/bag combinations that yield a rock solid interface.
This rack/bag integrated collaboration is a result of years of successful projects.
There were to main design elements that were crucial for what I had in mind.
One was the platform would be 10" x 6". WHY? Because 99.9% of randonneur bags have a 10" x 6" footprint.
To the innocent bystander, the rack looks like a demi-porteur.
The asymmetrical platform horizontal supports were Eric's idea and they turned out great.
The second design element would be the wide and tall backstop. It's the full width of the rack.
This way it can support the full size of the bag.
There's a full width sleeve on the back of the rando bag.
This way, you can configure any style of rear pocket, never need a decaleur, and the overall product is rock solid.
Besides the two side release buckles for off-road extra security (these buckles aren't needed for most road riding), there are no straps connecting the bag to the rack.
Simple and effective.
I'm ready for the 2018 Randonneuring Season!
Thanks again to Eric at Winter Bicycles for making this all happen, I love my new rack!
Let's start with some images.
Panniers are one of my favorite bags to make and here's why.
Panniers last forever. I mean they will last for your life span. So to you, relative to your life span, that's forever.
Nowadays, when considering a purchase, two things come to mind: it will last or it's temporary. Both are fine.
I think panniers are the easiest way to carry large amounts of stuff on a "typical" bike.
Bicycle racks are typically made of the same diameter tubing, so the majority of panniers will fit the majority of racks in the world. This is a good thing!
Ready? Here we go.
First, I actually have no idea how many custom Randonneur handlebar bags I've done, but that number sounded fancy so I used it.
This one has just about every custom customization I can think of, including stuff that I don't do for anyone. Except me and Winter Bicycles.
I have to say, the best thing about this bag is the owner. He knew exactly what he wanted in a bag, how it would perform, what it's limitations were...
Working with him gave me confidence to go for it and make the elements all work together.
The tricky thing was the rack/bike/bag interface. Certain bag elements would have to be sacrificed in the build, due to his rack interface.
However, this is where the custom bag maker, aka me, comes in.
It so happens that I've been doing this little thing that makes everything happy. But I don't tell anyone because most people are like...uh...what?
Also, it's a pain in the ass to make on my end, but I like it, so I do it.
And, as they say in Hawaii, it makes it "mo bettuh"
PS- Isn't that a nice patch? Rob has those for sale on the SFR website. Walter made those for us, from Falls Creek Outfitters.
Oh, speaking of shout outs, shout out to Becker Gear in Alaska for sending the leather down. I need to send you some fabric or something cool. Thanks Tupps!
Back to the bag.
Waxed mustard, beautiful leather trim and panels and straps. Full buckle closures on all the flaps,except the main cavity. The buckles are solid brass. This will be the last bag I make with these beautiful buckles because my f$$$$cking supplier will no longer carry them. I'm not happy about that.
Full 3-D side pockets and rear too. Inside there's a bunch of sorting pockets.
Here comes the tricky part.....
See that thing at the bottom? No? Good.
It's a sleeve that goes across the entire bottom of the bag, to fit the Nitto touring rack and others that use a non-rando tombstone backstop.
The rear pockets and traditional tombstone sleeve are mounted on top of the full sleeve. Tricky eh?
This is why there's a secondary stitch below the leather panel to the bars. It terminates the full backstop sleeve and anchors everything down nice and tight.
And it's tight. Especially with a bit of polycarbonate on the inside back panel and a bit of 24oz waxed canvas in the stiffener sleeve.
As I like to say "lot of brain thinkin went into this one".
WAMXC Ultralight Bike TouringWhat is ultralight bike touring? Why bother? Heading ou for a day ride with bare essentials in jersey pockets is great fun. Adding a shuttle for luggage adds considerably to the organizing tasks and requires recruiting additional people. With the advent of lightweight bags, self-supported touring, motel to motel, has become practical on lightweight bicycles. Here is background and our experience for ultralight.
Road bike tourists have used panniers for many years. This requires attaching metal frames, "racks", to bicycles. In most cases, bicycles must be built with rack attachments.
Mountain bikers longed to enjoy remote terrain and scenery but few bikes had the required attachments for panniers. Besides, some terrain now being ridden is not suitable for panniers. A cottage industry of bag makers arose to meet this need along with new terminology, bikepacking.
Finding every possible space on a bike frame for storage, bag makers now offer lots of options. Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Randonneurs often use front bags attached to a frame or the bars. Bags are designed to allow easy access while riding or while standing over the bike. Placing weight to the front is thought by some to disadvantage bike handling, however, some find front loading, up to a point, makes bikes more stable. Below, is a rendonneur bag on a rack that is s attached to the fork.
We enjoy long distance self-supported touring carrying a minimal load. With a bike that is lightly loaded, we enjoy the ride and we're only a little slower than when out for a day ride. With a wide range of available bags, by not camping and by not cooking, we can carry minimal equipment. The below photos are from a 3-day WAMXC trip in 2017. We continue to learn.
Just wanted to say thank you to Toby, I really enjoyed reading this and seeing the evolution of his carry system.
Besides being a really nice guy, Toby's given me a lot of inspiration and advice about riding, equipment, business, and bag systems.
If you have a carry system "evolution", email it to me, I'd love to see it!
Eric emailed me a few days ago and asks for fancy mudflaps. It's rainy season in SF and everyone needs to get their fender/mud flap game together.
I call these fancy because they have one hole.
Which sounds simple, but I decided to reshape them a little bit so the one hole didn't look super weird. I think they look pretty cool.
I wouldn't use a single hole mud flap on my bike, but Eric usually has good ideas and is a seasoned rider, so he usually knows what he's talking about.
Therefore, I made them.
Which reminds me, Stevenson Custom Cycles emailed me about some waxed canvas/leather mudflaps.
It sounds like a fun idea and I think I can make some fancy ones that are strong and stiff. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, check out the fancy bikes from Stevenson.
I like the internal top tube routing and the gold outline on the reinforcement.
Great colors on this one.