Friday, August 11, 2017

Retrofit a Tech Wallet into a Handlebar Bag

A thin pouch lashed horizontally, clears frame and snugs against the stem.
I'm smitten with Clementine's bosco bars. However, because of their unique proportions, a typical handlebar bag meant either I would need to install a bracket or another alternative was to attach a barrel-shaped front bag with Velcro. With the latter, which I had on hand, the material rubbed on the frame. Both systems would be more cumbersome than what I really wanted, which was a slim-shaped bag, one that was easily detached and could double as a purse, and hold a few necessities while on tour.  This idea would also allow me to grip the handlebars on either side to take advantage of the extra forward hand positions that make the bosco bars special. In other words, my ideal bag was so specialized, I wouldn't find it online or my local shop. I had to create my own solution.

Locating a bag turned out to be the easy part. I walked into a Staples store with a 5.00 coupon, found what I wanted immediately, and walked out with what's called a tech wallet. It was deeply discounted, so much so, that with the coupon, it was free. The "wallet" is padded and decorated on the exterior with a rose pattern, but the interior is grey with pink trim. The beauty of this little beast is the exterior has one zip pocket and the interior has multiple stash areas, including a zip pocket for cash, plus a fuzzy-lined slot for a phone. The zipper completely surrounds the wallet so when unzipped, the pouch lays flat.

A central strap with buckle secures pouch in place while the longer strap attached around the handlebar, loops back through hole in strap, then clips into other end. I tuck the loose end wherever, so it doesn't dangle or flap needlessly.
I have a collection of straps and buckles just for this purpose, either to fix a purse or pannier, or to create or re-purpose an item to suit my needs. In most respects, I enjoy this type of problem. Sure, I'd love to find exactly what I want, plop down money, and have the product delivered, but if I don't find what I'm looking for, I look at the solution as a creative challenge. I can usually come up with something that will work.

Storage that's up front, easy to access. 
I thought about how to secure the wallet to Miss Clementine, then ended up hefting the bicycle into our basement near my sewing corner so I could try out straps and buckles, until an idea began to form. The bag had to be versatile, a purse and handlebar bag all rolled into one system, yet not take over valuable handlebar real estate.

Exterior pocket is handy for lots of things. My passport is a tight fit, but on a recent trip, it worked well to tuck it away, and feel secure that it wasn't going to slip out every time I opened the bag.

While attached to the bicycle, I can unzip the purse half way and extract lip balm, money, or my camera that I tucked inside.

The waist belt was an actual belt that came with pants. The first round I used the provided rubber buckle, but it kept coming apart when wrapped around metal bar. I replaced it with a black plastic Fastex-type clip.
Because the pouch opened completely flat, I placed the bag in my sewing machine and was careful not to sew through corresponding slots on the reverse side. I tacked the waist belt in place first, decided to only sew 4 vertical lines to secure wide "belt", which allowed multiple slots for strap to wind around bar and weave back through. I knew this would allow more versatility with how I might end up attaching bag to bar.

One of my requirements was to hold a camera, which fits "loose" stored, once pouch is zipped, or without it's case, can tuck inside the phone slot if I don't require a handy phone. The mesh slots hold lip balm, credit cards, whatever, while money is secured inside zipped interior pocket and passport zipped tightly in exterior pocket. The wallet is a trim 3" wide, which means plenty of clearance to grasp the handlebars in the stretched out position.

In the end, the bag is a handbag, purse, and converts into a perfect fanny pack. Because the wide strap was once a belt, it's even long enough to loop crosswise around my body for more security. I'm happy with the final product; it's a perfect accompaniment to Miss Clementine's tour-ready status.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Riding with the Boys, er, Young Men

Riding with our teenage sons is always an impromptu affair: a ride to get creemees, a cruise along the waterfront to capture the sunset, and recently, a 6-mile urban ride on sidewalks and sunny asphalt to greet a far flung family member at Burlington's airport. What strikes me the most is how well we all get along - the rambunctious 15 year old pairs off with his father, detouring through parking lots, while our cautious, college-bound son is content, hanging with his mom, pedaling the direct route. Summertime pleasure rides make me smile. 😊