05 May, 2006

Sewn-on Handlebar Covers

Finding the right leather for our Velo-Orange handlebar covers has been a challenge. It has to be thick with good cushioning propertries and stretchy enough to form around the bar's curves without wrinkling. I've tied numerous cowhides tanned in various ways, but either they were too stiff or too thin. Deerskin seemed promising, but it is simply not thick enough to provide the level of cushioning I wanted. Finally my leather supplier suggested elk hide; it's absoulutly perfect. The cushioning seems as good or better than cork tape.

Actually elk hide is so soft that it is very hard to cut by hand. I tried a razor knife and even special scissors made for cutting fiberglass and kevlar cloth, thus the slightly ragged appearance of the prototype (click on the photos to enlarge).

The production handlebar covers will be cut using a special die on our brand new die cutting press and so the edges and fit will be much better than that shown in the photos. We'll also ship it with a thicker thread.

The other problem with this grade of elkhide is that I've only been able to find it in honey and white so far, but we're searching for a source of black and brown.

As for installation, figure about 2 hours if it's your first time. Put a good movie in the DVD player and stitch as you watch. The stitch used is not a baseball stitch, but a cross stitch that, I think, looks nicer. Comprehensive illustrated instructions will be included.

We should have the first production covers ready in about two weeks. The price will be $28 per set.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

How will the Elk Hide hold up when riding in the rain? Your web site is going to end up costing me much money over time. I still need to get my leather toe clips sewn up. Keep up the good work.

Alan said...

One more thing, how do you deal with the problem of getting around the brakes? Do you cut a slit in the leather and work around them?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Well, elk hold up pretty well in the rain ;<) I think with a good application of leather oil or Proofhide it should be very durable. I suggest using exterior-grade double sided tape under the leather to keep the covers from sliding around if they loosen when wet. I'll include the tape with the covers.

The brake levers come through a hole in the covers. You tape the band into place and when you've stitched up to that point you cut a little hole for the bolt with small pointy scissors.

Chris

Anonymous said...

would you consider doing leathers for brake hoods? you could offer pre-made ones for common levers, such as Ergo or the STI family, and maybe custom-cover less common levers?
Michael Burdge

Chris Kulczycki said...

Actually, we are working on leather hoods. I hope to have something up on the blog about them in the next few weeks. I do need old worn out hoods of various types to use as patterns.

Chris

Andrew said...

Nice work Chris. I have a Bleriot on the way, and I'll certainly be outfitting it with a few of your products! How are the racks coming along?

Chris Kulczycki said...

The racks are coming along. The plans are done. The metal should arrive today and we'll start welding on Monday. If there are no problems, we'll have the first production run ready in a few weeks. I'll post a photo of the prototype as soon as it's finished and mounted on my bike.

Dave Thompson said...

I use Hockey tape underneath my bar wrap to keep non-glue strip tape from shifting around.

Hockey tape is used to wrap Hockey sticks and has a slightly stickey surface. It may work well as an underwrap for the (much anticipated) Elk hide handlebar covers.