Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pedal Straps for the 21st Century Bicycle

Okay, here's my third attempt at pedal straps. I just got word from my official strap tester and strap Two (aka Death Shackles (aka Leif Grabs)) did not hold up to the rigors of hardcourt bike polo. Mostly it was too hard to get in & out of the straps in the heat of play. So, that's pretty bad if you're playing bike polo. You know what it's like to crash playing polo...now imagine crashing when you can't jump off your bike. Yikes! Look at my other pedal straps >>> here.
I hope these hold up a bit better.

I'm also documenting the Great Fixie Pedal Strap Boom on this post. Look for it after the pictures.

I'm trying a diagonal strap this time. But a diagonal strap with a little leg to keep it sticking up. Both the main strap and leg are reinforced with plastic--to keep 'em stiff. In theory, since they're orientated diagonally, there should be a larger opening for your foot to get in and out of. And like Power Grips, you can twist your foot to tighten them. We'll see if that actually works with these.
And ten degrees to the right...
My foot.

And this is how you make a little adjustable loop.

Okay, on to the...
Great Fixie Pedal Strap Boom!

With the burgeoning popularity of fixed gear bikes in the past decade has come a veritable efflorescence of fixie pedal straps. In the past year alone it seems like I've come across about eighty people selling pedal straps. Though, I do spend a lot of time looking at bike stuff on the Internets...
Anyway, here's a list of pedal strap makers, and some other related stuff...you know, for posterity (or maybe I just like making lists):

I haven't come across a whole lot of extended reviews about these kinds of pedal straps. Most makers say something like this: "We sent 'em off to the four corners of the world to have our friends destroy them doing hot wheelie bar spins and they said they fucking rock!" Maybe they do. Though I do wonder how well they'll work after six months of being brutalized by feet, rain, grit, ice and road salts...especially ones made largely of Velcro.
I recently came across this review by Doug D from Hardcourt Bike Polo. Definitely worth checking out if you're going to be using straps for polo.

Archie's Grobags (via Pedal Consumption)

AURORA Collective (btw, they're not in the Chicago burbs)

Bisbane Outdoor Gear

Blaq Design


Chicago WIG

Crank (great bags, too)


Feetbelts (why use Power Grips when you can use the cuter-sounding Feetbelts!)

Handworks (If you go to the front page of the blog you can see photos of someone doing tricks not strapped in. Ha)

Hold Fast (or die)



Newcastle Fixed



Power Grips ("the original")


Resistant (Check out his bags too--they're great)




DIY proto pedal straps on Flickr. I like the added finger loop.

DIY leather straps (a la PG) on Flickr.

WIRED has a pedal strap how-to on their blog.

Okay, I'm tired of doing this...more will be added when I come across them. Ha.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Buck, Broncho, Buck!

This bag is being donated to the Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School benefit showing of Buster Keaton's Go West (1925) with live soundtrack by Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra (out of St. Louis). That's going on tomorrow at the Missouri Theatre. I saw Go West with Rats & People accompaniment some time last year at our local art house theater, Ragtag, and it was a lot of fun.
And, yes, we have an elementary school named after Robert E. Lee. But we also have one named after Ulysses S. Grant. Sometimes they have fits.Trying out another pattern for my 15" musette bag. This one is sans binding. Since both the outside & inside fabrics are pretty light (for bags) this works out okay. Otherwise, the bag would be too thick where the flap and body meet at the corner...making it hard to attach the shoulder strap the way I do. This is also ~10oz cotton, like the previous musette bag on this blog.
The shell is one piece, but the liner is two...a necessary concession for a bindingless bag.
Another Muppet-mouth front pocket. This is just like my zippered front pockets, but with no zipper.
No binding! Thank god. Ha. Binding is a real pain to attach on lighter fabrics.
Oh, this bag is dedicated to my sister. She has a real horse obsession. Ha. This is a pastel piece she made for me a couple years ago:
Sorry about the glare. I hope she took a picture before she framed it...

Catchin' a ride.
As you might expect, I was extremely tickled to see the Bruce McCall painting "Chimp Rides Goat" in Werner Herzog's Encounters at the End of the World (2007). Ha.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Musette/Tiny Messenger

Trying out a new pattern for my musette bag. 15x11.5", 11.5x3.5" bottom.
10oz cotton outside, nylon inside. With some paint.
This bag is now available at Maude Vintage, downtown Columbia, Mo.

Muppet-mouth front pocket. Inside boot-shaped pocket (includes pen pocket). Floating liner.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Flats Straps

Seems like everyone with a sewing machine and a pair of scissors is selling pedal straps these days. Hey! I've got a pair of scissors.... Plus one of the como polo players asked me to make him some. Here're my first two efforts:
If you're not familiar with this kind of pedal strap setup, it's pretty simple: it's like you'd find on an exercise bike. Ha. No...straps kinda like this have been used for a while by bmx riders (in the 90s, I think), but with the explosion of fixie "trick" riders and bike polo players looking for something other than your standard track cage (which can get broken pretty easily), the flat (bmx) pedal strap has experienced a renaissance of sorts.
I won't go into all the different kinds out there right now--there're about a million (you can see them on Prolly's blog, or Pedal Consumption)--but they either bolt onto the pedal or thread through the two side holes (sometimes you have to enlarge those), and then usually have some sort of adjuster...or you twist your foot to tighten 'em.
I like the adjustable ones...

This is my first try. It's a design you see a lot.
It has two 1" straps that thread through the pedal and are attached to a 2" piece of webbing that goes over your foot, which has a loop-loc on it that allows you to cinch it down and Velcro it in place. The 1" webbing is attached to the other side of the 2" webbing with tri-glides.
I found that the 2" webbing had some slop in it around the loop-loc and would stick out and hit the crank. This would make it difficult to flip onto your foot without having to use your hand (boo). I sewed some more Velcro on there to stiffen it up, which fixed the problem...but you can still adjust it fairly easily.

I've been using this right one for the last week and it feels pretty good. I forgot how much I like being strapped in. These should be compatible with a wider variety of shoe styles than regular clips.
How long till these buckles break?

And I just made this one today:
This is a lot simpler than the other one. It's just a piece of plastic-reinforced fabric that the two 1" straps feed through. I don't know if I need a ladder-loc buckle on there. I think two tri-glides might be good enough.
I've only used this a little bit today, but it seems to work okay. It's a little wider than the other one, so I can't feel the pressure of the strap on my foot when I pull up as much as on the first one...which I kinda like (feeling the pressure). Though, it's also a bit lighter than the first one, which makes it easier to flip onto your foot. And the straps'll be easy to replace when they wear out. Sounds good to me.
So simple...I hope this performs as well as the first one, or better. We'll see.
Now I just need a mildly lewd name for these things. "Strap-ons" is already taken. Curse you, Archie's! Maybe Death Shackles. I dunno...

T/F Bags For Sale!

I have a few of these bags left. If you're interested in buying one, throw me an email: coryleif@gmail.com. They're 60 bucks + shipping, if you're outside of Columbia.
This is a super simple and sturdy musette bag made of 18oz cotton and 1000d Cordura nylon.
It features one inside pocket (with integrated pen pocket) and one outside pocket, plus key loop. Super limited edition.
15x11", 12x3" bottom.

Monday, March 1, 2010

True/False a Go Go

Well, the True/False Film Fest is over and I don't think I've ever watched so many movies in three days (this was my first time with a pass), and it was a blast.
I initially planned on taking pictures of people wearing my bags...but in the end thought that was probably kinda weird, if not creepy (or maybe I just couldn't get my camera out fast enough), so I just took some random photos of the fest instead.

There were so many movies I had a hard time narrowing my selection.

One of the fest's many fine buskers (at the Blue Note). They make T/F really great.
Missouri Theatre.
Fishbowl dioramas from the Maude Vintage folks (at the box office).
The Mirror (which I didn't see, but wanted to).
A wall of tiny stories (also at the box office).
Chad, one of the many swell volunteers at the fest.
We've got Teletubbies!
Parade time!
Whew! the MU Drumline showed up. It's not a parade without a drumline.

COMO polo parading.
Birch trees at the Forrest Theater in the Tiger Hotel. Probably my favorite theater. This is before Cowboys in India...or Disorder.
Lisa, you forgot your Red Bull in this alley.
Busker in front of the Blue Note.
Waiting to get into the MoT. It was pretty cold and I didn't wear enough clothes on Friday. Nuts.

I'm pretty neurotic when it comes to watching movies, so I don't enjoy being distracted by bright little lights in front of me while I watch a film (or people crinkling plastic behind my head). That means the iPhone has pretty much ruined movies for me. Ha.
Though, I was glad to see that most people kept their phones in their pockets most of the time. I was in the MoT balcony last year for T/F watching Waltz with Bashir and below me looked like an effing will-o'-the-wisp party.
[Of course, this photo is before the film. Hey, Bill!]
Karinne Keithley (I believe) at the Blue Note before And Everything is Going Fine. She was probably my favorite busker.
Spalding Gray's wife, brother, & Peter Schneider (producer of Waking Sleeping Beauty) after And Everything is Going Fine.
The most intense drummer at the festival.
Tim Hetherington (co-director of Restrepo) on video conference, with soldiers from the film on stage.
Buskers before the MoT finale film, Last Train Home.
T/F's Core Volunteers. Over 600 people volunteered for T/F this year.
Green screen dance scene at the volunteer party.
Don't forget to wash yourself off before you go home.