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Thread Lightly: Seven Things I Learned While Making My Own Bicycle Framebags

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Thread Lightly: Seven Things I Learned While Making My Own Bicycle Framebags

After the apocalypse, I’m pretty sure society could learn to rebuild if we just get the Youtube servers back online. When I needed to install a new starter in my Tacoma, Youtube was there. When I needed to safely remove some stitches after knee surgery, Youtube was there. And when I couldn’t wait the six weeks or spend the $200 to have a custom frame bag made, Youtube was there.

Custom With a Conscience: A Shop Visit with Terra Rossa Gear

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Custom With a Conscience: A Shop Visit with Terra Rossa Gear

It’s 8am and we’re out in the not-so-salubrious outer suburb of Campbellfield, a 45-minute drive north of Melbourne CBD. A bruised-up Subaru sits parked outside an industrial workshop with all its doors flung open, and the sound of Don Williams’s country classic “Tulsa Time” fills the air. With some trepidation, we draw closer. A pair of skis erupt from the passenger side window. Anoraks and half-finished sleeping bags lay strewn across the backseat, while a huge roll of fabric pierces through the car, like that motorway scene in Final Destination 2. Did we take a wrong turn somewhere off the highway?

Singing with Don as he walks down the stairs, Evan spots us loitering by his car. “Hey guys!” he shouts. “Welcome to the Terra Rosa playground! Apologies for the car, it’s not stolen. There’s been an unreal dump these last few days and I’m getting ready for some snow adventures in the high-country.” Of course we were in the right place: we were standing at the palace gates of Terra Rosa Gear.

Among the Eucalyptus Trees: A Shop Visit with Framework Designs

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Among the Eucalyptus Trees: A Shop Visit with Framework Designs

I’d only started dating my partner Sam for a matter of weeks before we left to cycle around the world together. Red flag? Romantic? Stupidly spontaneous? – I’ll let you decide. I’ll concede that a multi-year bike tour isn’t exactly a traditional way to start a relationship. But with precisely zero bike touring experience under my belt, cycling around the world with a stranger was ironically the least of my worries. I had to find a bike, learn how to ride it (yes, I’m serious) and figure out how the hell I was going to pack my life into two panniers and a basket bag.

To say I made some mistakes would be an understatement. I mean, who knew hair straighteners and a hardback copy of The Power of Now wouldn’t be suitable for a bike tour? That said, I also made some damn good decisions, not least my choice of basketbag: The Sight Seeker from Framework Designs. That bag has travelled halfway across the world with me, weathering everything from tropical monsoons in South East Asia to numbing snowstorms in Nepal. So when Sam and I returned to Melbourne three years later, I couldn’t wait to check in with Framework Designs Founder, Tia Evans on how the business was going, visit her home studio and, of course, share it all with you.

Analog Artisanship in the East Bay: A Shop Visit with Vernacular Sewn Storage

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Analog Artisanship in the East Bay: A Shop Visit with Vernacular Sewn Storage

You might recall seeing the half-frame bag from Vernacular Sewn Storage (VRNCLR) on the prototype Super Something gravel bike Adam Sklar had at Ruta del Jefe. VRNCLR is the Oakland, CA – based bag company of maker Tom Gilpatrick. Tom has been working in sew business for some time now, currently focusing on bags for bikes and also Go Fast Campers (GFC). Earlier this summer I was in the Bay Area with filmmaker Justin Balog and we had a slice of time before heading to the airport to catch flights home, so stopped in to visit with Tom and check out his space in the eclectic O2 Artisans Aggregate.

Punk Rock Stitchworks: A Shop Visit with Alpine Luddites Custom Bag Makers

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Punk Rock Stitchworks: A Shop Visit with Alpine Luddites Custom Bag Makers

“Our driveway is rough.” Those are the words John Campbell of Alpine Luddites used to describe the windy, undulating, treelined drive, freshly blanketed in seven inches of snow, tucked away in the quiet town of Westmore, Vermont. It’s an understatement — a theme that emerges as you pick Campbell’s brain about his work making ultralight and durable bikepacking bags and backpacks for outdoor endeavors.

His shop is located on a picturesque fourth-generation Vermont family farm of 1,100 acres, a place secluded enough that your cellphone welcomes you to Canada as you crest the hill of his aforementioned driveway. Around the back, past the woodshed and out toward the fields, you’ll find Campbell’s workshop. It’s an idyllic setting that easily could have been the setting for a Hudson River School painting in the mid-19th century.

Bags X Bird: Better Half Frame Bag

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Bags X Bird: Better Half Frame Bag

Sometimes you want a framebag and a water bottle cage and that’s ok. The Better Half Frame Bag solves this problem with a new Fidlock magnetic closure system. These bags are designed to fit gravel bikes with about 10º or less of top tube slope. If you’re not sure what your top tube slope is, go to our friends at BIKE INSIGHTS and search for your bike, your top tube slope will be in the geometry info.

The Better Half Frame Bag comes in two sizes, designed to fit various headtube lengths.

Small: likely in the 46cm-58cm frame size range with head tube lengths around 75-170 millimeters. 2.5″ or less of the head tube between the top tube and down tube.
Large: frames in the 58cm-63cm range, with 180-230-ish millimeter head tubes. 3-4.5″ of head tube between the top tube and down tube.

These bags are made in Atlanta, come in a variety of colors, and are shipping today from BagsxBird.