I decided to delve into leather working after a 30 year hiatus. I wanted to make my own saddle bag out of leather. I had some of the tools still laying around, but even back then I was strictly an amateur. I will say up front, I’ve never done anything quite like this before. This project was all seat-of-the-pants stuff. I made it up as I went along, with only a general idea of what I was after.
The goals were these:
1) I wanted something a little different. A more rigid bag than the canvas or nylon ones commonly available.
2) I wanted the bag shaped so that the bulk of the bag rode parallel to the axis of the bike frame rather than perpendicular to it, as with many saddle bags. This was done to avoid thigh rub, a problem I’ve experienced with wide bags which stick out to the sides of the saddle. And also to give the bag a more sleek look when mounted.
This created a problem, however, as much of the bulk of the bag sits well aft of the saddle, a design that wouldn’t work with softer materials.
I wanted the bag to hold a spare tubular tire, a few tools and a couple of granola bars, etc.
I wanted something unique and one-of-a-kind.
The challenges were:
I’ve never built anything like this before. I wasn’t even sure it was going to work. However, if one is unaware of the limitations, one isn’t restricted by acquired knowledge and pre-conceived notions of what will work and what will not. This is risky, with failure always possible, but it also allows for a lot of freedom. I kind of like working like this.
With the leather I bought, heavy, 7 1/2 - 8 ounce chrome tanned, the edges where the leather was hand-stitched together would be bulky and unsightly. I decided to bevel the edges the best I could to 45 degrees, a technique more commonly used in case work with vegetable tanned saddle leather. It doesn’t work as well with softer chrome tanned leather, but worked well enough to make for better looking corners and edges.
The finished bag could be HEAVY. But, the bag turned out to be lighter than I thought it would be, weighing in at 1.03 pounds. A pleasant surprise.
For those interested only in the finished product, scroll down to the pics of the bag mounted to my bike. For those who might be interested in the process, I’ll add a bunch of pics with descriptions. Thanks for looking.