One of the things about travelling for a long while, especially the way I do on the bicycle or on foot is that some of the gear I use and depend on become critically necessary. In the past few years on the road, I have made some minor adjustments to my pack, add-ons, little knick knacks, carabiners, attachments, packing strategies, organization etc. Generally, equipment I carry and use are all absolutely essential.
There are some things I do not use regularly, for instance my tools and medical kit are packed in one bag and that rarely sees the light of day. I prefer it that way, keep the health of me and my bike fit enough so as not to use it. On the other hand, I have some things I use pretty much every few minutes and throughout the day. For instance, my camera and a little bit of cash which I carry in my handlebar bag.
The handlebar bag I use is from Ortlieb, and I should say from a functional design point of view, on my bike it’s near perfect. I open it hundreds of times and pop out my camera or a snack and close it back again. Sometimes while still riding a bike. So small quirks on this bag can become a bit of a major annoyance, pretty quickly.
One of the things I had a problem with was the fact that the Handlebar bag (like the rest of Ortleib’s products, has very little organization capability. I have in the months past devised some quick solutions with velcro and pouches inside the bag to keep things in place. It had been working out great except that in a pinch I would always get the camera that’s easiest to take out for a picture. My ‘good’ camera is inside a bigger pouch and whenever I have any loose stuff in the bag (a couple of candy bars, a banana, etc), It would be a task to pull things out to reach my camera. SO I wanted to fix that and make life a bit simpler on the road. That’s where this project comes in.
The idea was that if I had a pouch that would fit on the top flap of the handlebar bag, I could throw my knick knacks in it and I could easily reach my camera for a picture. There were a few challenges though. First up I do not know how to Sew nor did I have an access to a sewing machine. I did not know how to design a bag. And then I had the technical challenges, The bag would be hung upside down while the lid is closed and I needed it to fit snug inside the space I had.
I took up the challenge and tried to make one with some leftover plastic bits form a plastic detergent can and some fabric I had, I tried glueing things together to get the basic shape but the initial design and execution failed miserably. The glue would not work on Polyvinyl and would also rip the fabric apart. So I decided a more traditional approach to sew the bits together instead of using glue. I looked up form some advice on the internet and after getting some inspiration, walked about and bought some tough fabric (looks like nylon), some tough twine and some edge runners (essentially plastic strips to keep the shape.
I didn’t have any good tools at hand, I used a kids rules (Thank you David), a pair of scissors (Thank you Daya) and a needle I had been carrying to make repairs on my shorts. I spent a better part of 2 days ( I think I worked till 3 in the morning on day 1) hand sewing the bag together.
I’ve learnt that Sewing is an exercise in patience, It’s important to design and visualize the product first before using the scissors. And the actual bit of pushing thread thro fabric with needle is a repetitive and tough job. After 2 days, my fingers are sore (I would sat bloody, but really though I poked myself a number of times, I never drew blood) and my wrist feels like I have carpel tunnel.
But after all the hard work, I managed to pull out my product successfully. The dimensions are a bit off, I wish I had more fabric for multiple tries and may be a machine to practice with, but hand sewing (first time work) is inherently approximate and I am ok with the rough finish. I had used good strong materials and I reckon the bag would last a while. In case you are interested in looking at the making-of, here goes the pictures.
Hecho a Mano en Honduras!