New-Old Xtracycle Bag

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just finished a four-year-old project.

I started on a pair of leather bags for my bike back in 2009, but somehow only ended up finishing one of them. The basic panel for this one sat in a milk crate under a spare industrial sewing machine motor and some other hemp Xtracycle panels that we cut in 2011(?)

I think that reason that I only made one back in 2009 was that these bags are deceptively complicated, and the first one took so long. I forget about this until somebody finds a picture of one of our bags online and sends me a custom order like this one. Then I say that I can do it for $200 and it takes me 20 hours. Man, they are a lot of work.

I was feeling it yesterday, though, and had a little time in the shop with Penny Lee and KZFR. I wanted to make a new one that incorporated the tweed and leather style that we have been toying with for our new handlebar bags. The tweed is backed with heavy-duty cordura packcloth.

One reason that the bags take so long is that we build a separate suspension/harness out of seatbelt webbing that distributes the load across the whole panel – I was worried that if we just used leather, that the loops that go over the top of the Xtracycle frame would stretch or sag – you can see the harness as 2 lines of horizontal stitching about 3 inches down from the top.

Another reason I quit on the last one was that our walking foot machine wasn’t working very well, and it kept choking right in the middle of each line of decorative stitching. Unlike nylon or other textiles, if you blow a line of stitching in leather, when you pull the thread, you are stuck with a bunch of holes in the fabric that don’t rub out – you have to start over. The main panels for these bags use 9 square feet of leather each, so mistakes are expensive, or you just have to live with them. Leather is fairly heavy but so are Xtracycles! These bags probably weigh more than some road bikes, but we aren’t weight Nazis around here – we’d rather look cool. Also, Chico is flat.

I sure like rivets.

The straps are military-surplus cam buckles. One day a guy showed up at our house with a shoebox full of them (about 80). He said ‘Some of your friends from Westwood go you our church and they told us about you, do you have a use for these?’ They are great. Thanks Larry and Seren! I have been liking having tie-downs for ratchet straps and bungees, so we added extra loops to the webbing that holds the buckles, and ask some sewn loops between each buckles.

Inside pocket with snaps.
We can make you a pair, but it might take us a few years to finish them.

  1. emilia says:

    Crafty workmanship. I like rivets too. And SCORE on the buckles!

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