Xtracycle Bags for a Michigan Winter Commuter – 90% Salvaged Materials

Posted: May 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Just finished some Xtracycle bags for a Michigan winter bike commuter. He wanted bags that could stand up to being coated with salty slush for months at a time. 


These bags are designed to stand up to grime, rain and snow in an urban environment.

This project started with a roll of truck tarp from the ReStore, and the fabric from Brian Keough’s trampoline. I have a pattern that I created for an earlier Xtracycle project, and it saved me some thinking this time.


Here was the original design that I made 3 years ago – actually the guy that ordered this new yellow pair saw this bag on Flickr and tracked us down – funny, because it is the only other Xtracycle bag that I have made. I got halfway thru the brother to this one before I got sick of the project – it is still in a milk crate in the garage, and I have been sporting a ratty original Xtracycle bag on the other side of my bike.  


So the lesson from the first session (that I forgot this time) is that these bags take A LOT OF TIME to do well. Another thing that I learned from the original project is that leather is amazing for this type of exposure. I have been using this bag a ton for 3 years, in rain, mud, and sun, and it still looks and works great!


Bob wanted to be able to use these bags with Xtracycle’s new-style ‘P-racks’ – which are set up with a crossbar on them to hang normal panniers from, so unlike the older-style racks, where you can just sew fixed loops in the hangers, we needed to be able to snap these ones on and off.
I created a harness out of 2″ webbing that spreads the weight of the load across all 6 of the hangers. This webbing is backed with the woven nylon mesh from the trampoline and covered with the waterproof truck tarp. After the harness was in there, I trimmed the tarp and trampoline panels to match, and ran the whole shebang thru a binding foot to wrap the edges in 1″ nylon webbing trim. That was a huge PITA, and there has got to be an easier way to do it.


Pockets are coated cordura packcloth remnants from another local bag business. 


Some friends of ours go to the Unitarian Church down the street. Someone there heard that we were into salvaged textiles and gave us a box with 85 of these camstrap buckles in it. 

I added the female snaps to the flaps, and then stretched the bag onto the rack to locate and mark the male snaps on the body of the bag. 


The side flaps have loops of fire hose across the top that wrap a piece of 1″ nylon webbing. The ladderlock buckle lets you crank down the top of the sides to support your load. 


More pockets.

These bags fit any bike that uses the Xtracycle Freeloader rack system. They can be used either with the older-style Xtracycle V-racks, or the newer-style P-racks. They feature coated truck-tarp backed with a heavy, UV-resistant nylon mesh. Recycled military-spec aluminum cam-buckles adjust the bag flap to carry anything from a yoga mat to an 80 pound sack of concrete. Nylon fire hose armors the bottom against curb-strikes and the back of the bag where it rubs on the lower frame of the Xtracycle. 

MAN, THESE THINGS TOOK FOREVER TO MAKE and I charged the guy about half of what I should have – made me grumpy. But now that it is done, I am stoked.

These ones are spoken for, but we can make more of these with about 4-6 week lead time. 
  1. Betsey says:

    Ha! I just got a yuba mundo and am considering sewing my own freeloaders, basically. I googled and ended up here, so funny. Your comment that these took for ever gives me pause…though I guess I wouldn’t need to make mine so crazy tough. I might regret it though.

  2. dandeangeli says:

    Hi Betsey and Brian:I really like your over size bags. I recently got a cargo bike that takes xtracycle gear and would like to make my own saddle bags from messenger bags. Removable is part of the design goal, stong of course. I can get straps, catches, but how to attach to the bag? Grommets?my email is dandeangel@gmail.comYou are great artists!

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