Sewing - Miscellaneous Bike Items

Brake band

brake band

Cut 12" of 3/16" shock cord and tie into a loop with fisherman's knot. Holds front brake secured. Can also be used on rear brake, but brake band tends to fall off right side of handlebar, whereas left side has mirror, which prevents brake band from falling off. 5g.

Spare cable holder

spare cable holder

Holder for coiled spare cables, so they won't cut into other items in bike spares/maintenance kit. Cut 6x13" of 1000d cordura and 5" of 1/2" hook-and-loop. 1/4" hems on all sides of cordura. Attach hook to inside of one end of cordura, loop to outside of other end. Fold and top-stitch sides. 20g.

File holder

file holder

Semi-oval steel file measures 3.5" long. (Came as part of package of 10 miniature file and screwdriver bits at the discount store.) Curved and flat sides for smoothing rough edges. Pointed end for opening crushed brake and gear cable housing. To keep pointed end from causing damage to other gear, make holder as follows. Cut 1.5" nylon webbing 4" long. Fold in two and stitch sides and bottom. Fit should be snug enough that holder does not fall off easily. Sear ragged edges of folded and stitched webbing. Apply fray-check to all stitching. File weighs 7 grams, holder weighs 3 grams, combination weighs 10 grams.

Rack Mudguard

rack mudguard

Fabric mudguard for top of Thorn rear rack. Not as good protection as a true mudguard, but much easier to attach-remove. Only used in city, since rackbag provides protection while touring. Cut 21" x 4.75" 1000d cordura. 3/8" hems on long sides. Cut 2 x 3.75" strips of 2" hook-and-loop. For each short end, fold under 1/2", attach hook piece, then 1" gap, then attach loop piece. Final size 20" x 4".

Straps for dromedary bladders

closeup of square knot with quick-release
bladder tied to front of Novara's top tube with square knot, similar attachment to rear of top tube

Cut 3/4" nylon webbing 24" long, then sew 3-layer hems on the ends (fold, then fold again, then stitch with a bartack). Feed strap through top and side grommets of each bladder, then tie an overhand knot in the end to secure in place. 3/4" straps are easier to work with than the 1/2" straps that come with the bladders, in my opinion.

(Novara only) Cut 3/4" nylon webbing 32" long, rather than 24". Feed one straps through each end grommet and hang from top tube as follows. Position front strap forwards of frontmost top tube cable housing boss, rear strap behind rearmost boss. Square knot with quick-release holds well and is easy to untie, but other knots will also work. Straps for the remaining bladder can be cut 24", however cutting all straps 32" before hemming allows those on the other bladders to be spares for those used to hang the bladder from the tob tube, though the likelihood of a strap breaking is extremely remote.

Mud flap

mud flap

The SKS P65 fenders/mudguards I experimented with either did not come with a mudflap, or the mudflap was missing (I bought the fenders from a discount company), so I made my own from 1000d cordura fabric. Finished size is about 3" wide at the top, 8" long and 4.75" wide at the bottom. Cut two pieces of fabric sightly larger than this, sew together on sides and bottom, trim seam allowances, turn inside out. Then insert a 4.5" piece of steel rod (use trimmings from rear fender stays) into bottom of mud flap to keep it weighted down. Fold together top seam, topstitch on all four sides. Bore two holes with soldering iron, corresponding to holes drilled into bottom of front fender. Attach mud flap to fender with bolts. About 30g.

Webbing cassette removal clamp

webbing cassette clamp and soldering iron  webbing cassette clamp installed on wheel

Ultralight substitute for chain whip. Holds sprockets in place to allowing unscrewing cassette lockring, as is normally required for repairing broken rear-wheel drive-side spokes. Cut 40" length of 3/4" wide nylon webbing. Using soldering iron, melt holes about 5mm in diameter, spaced exactly 1" apart (same spacing as teeth on sprockets) along 16" of webbing (16 holes approximately). Weighs 15 grams.

First photo above shows webbing clamp and soldering iron used to bore holes. Second photo shows webbing clamp installed on wheel, lockring removal tool held in place by quick-release skewer, adjustable wrench used to turn lockring removal tool.

Usage as follows:

Stein mini-cassette lockring removal tool substitutes not merely for the chain whip, but also for the lockring tool and adjustable wrench. The Stein tool fits into the cassette lockring just like a normal cassette lockring tool, but is much thinner. The wheel is then reinstalled in the frame and the pedals are cranked forward. The Stein tool is prevented from turning by the chain stays, with the result is that the lockring is forced to move counter-clockwise relative to the sprockets, thereby unscrewing it. Reverse the process to reinstall the lockring. The Stein tool weighs only 35 grams, versus 15 grams for my webbing clamp, plus 50 grams for a Park FR-5 cassette lockring tool, plus 135 grams for a wide-mouth 6" adjustable wrench. However, the adjustable wrench has other uses, so I would be carrying it anyway, thus a more realistic comparison is 35 grams for the Stein tool versus 65 grams for webbing clamp plus lockring tool. The Stein tool requires removing and then reinstalling the wheel on the frame three times, whereas my system requires a single removal and reinstallation, same as when using a chain whip. On the other hand, my system requires removing and reinstalling the tire, whereas the Stein tool does not. However, because of limited clearance, I have to deflate my tire anyway to remove the wheel from the frame, and once the tire is deflated, removing from the wheel is not that difficult. Also, removing the tire from the wheel is normally done anyway when replacing spokes, either to ensure the rim tape isn't damaged by turning an existing nipple, or to replace the nipple. The Stein tool procedure for removing a cassette is different from the normal procedure using a chain whip, whereas my system is similar. This might be a consideration when making repairs on the road under stressful conditions, where the more deviations from normal procedures, the greater the likelihood of making mistakes. If not installed correctly, the Stein tool can easily damage the derailleur hanger. The Stein tool consists of some very small parts, which must be unscrewed then screwed back together several times. There is risk of losing one of these small parts under field conditions.

Another approach is to simply make a very lightweight chain whip. Standard chain whips weigh 300 grams and up, but I have seen homemade chain whips that weigh under 100 grams. Still, this is considerably more than the 15 grams for my webbing clamp.

Headset and seatpost seals

seal for lower bearing of headset

seal for lower bearing of headset

Some lower headset bearings, such as the FSA Orbit XLII headset on my Thorn Nomad 2012 bike, are left open at the bottom, so that spray thrown up by the front tire can get into the lower bearing and contaminate it. The bearing can be protected using a piece of old 26" x 1.75-2.25" inner tube. You'll have to remove the fork to install this headset seal. Use another piece of inner tube (fastened with duct tape at the top) to prevent water from running down the seatpost into the frame. [Update: these seals tore after about a month of touring. I replaced the seatpost seal with duct tape and discarded the lower headset seal, since I don't anticipate touring in wet conditions which might cause spray to be thrown up by the front tire. For those who do anticipate such conditions, a reader suggested this commercial product.]

The headset seal has a side benefit of making the front wheel somewhat resistant to turning, so it doesn't flip to the side so easily when parked or when you stop and take your hands off the handlebars to adjust something. (Another way of preventing the front wheel from easily flipping to the side is using a so-called wheel stabilizer, though this device would interfere with the crud catcher on my Thorn Nomad, and the Nomad also lacks the necessary bolt hole.)