homemade bike frame bags

In one week (eek, so soon!!) I will go on a long bike ride with Muffin. The plan is to post details of our adventure on amybikessomewhere.wordpress.com

This weekend I worked on some bike frame bags to help free up some space in my rear panniers. Here is the result:

more storage space!

The small top tube bag behind the stem is big enough to hold my gloves, sunglasses, and other small things. The frame triangle holds our first aid kit and all my bike repair stuff besides my spare tire. Plus they add a touch more visibility to my otherwise grey bike.

The cloth I used is the cheapest PU coated ripstop nylon on ebay. I also had some velcro and webbing loops left over from previous projects. Finally, I extracted the zippers from an old pencil bag that I lovingly used throughout middle school. So, like most of my projects, time ended up being by far the most expensive component.

I started by making cardboard templates. I also put marks where I wanted the zipper and velcro straps to attach.


Below are all the cut out pieces of the triangle bag before sewing together. The left triangle with the zipper is formed with four pieces of cloth, each one sewn to a different edge of the zipper. The right triangle is solid, but has a mesh pocket on the outside. The are connected by a thin strip (shown folded over in the center of the photo). The rectangle in the top right will velcro around the top tube and hold most of the weight.

before sewing

Here’s a closeup of the zipper panel in progress. Notice that the top flap covers the zipper entirely. Hopefully this helps keep things dryer if I am rained on, since the zipper is far from waterproof.

partial zipper panel assembly

I lined the top edge of the mesh pocket with some nylon fabric. Both of the edges of the orange fabric are folded in, so you can imagine 4 layers total of fabric, 2 on each side of the mesh. The sewing machine has a really hard time gripping the mesh, so it works out really well to have fabric on both sides.

it helps to pin together before sewing
I then pre-sewed the mesh pocket to the fabric panel, just to make it easier to handle when putting this panel together with the rest.
yay tape!
Here you can see the two halves, about to be joined together!
starting to look real!

Here’s what it looks like with the strip. Now it is an actual bag, capable of containing a volume! Probably best practice is to double stitch or something, but I am lazy, so you are looking at the final product (minus some velcro straps)

inside out, still need to add straps
The picture below shows the bag with the rectangular velcro piece that will help it hang from the top tube. I didn’t make it too tight, since my rear brake cable runs on the outside of my top tube, and I prefer that cable to not be rubbing too hard against this bag or my frame.
velcro is great!

Here’s a quick inside-out view of my top tube bag (which I documented much more poorly). I added two little internal pockets (see where my thumb and index finger are), which will hopefully help keep the small bits more organized.

I <3 pockets”

Hopefully they hold up for the entire trip!





7 responses to “homemade bike frame bags”

  1. tomkabat Avatar

    One week eek! Time is flying I look forward to following your posts as a member of the vicarious touring club. I really liked our little adventure down the coast. Especially the village it took ( and the bonding more of the group, than the boot) to nurse a tire down the road. I’m glad you were there. Have a great adventure. And I’m still thinking of that water heater stack heat cap idea. For when you return. Also a buddy is trying to get me interested in redesigning the bike seat to attract and retain more riders. I told him we would need a good M.E. if we are going to make an adjustable cushioned seat for the masses. I hope you find that challenge interesting.

    You should keep and bring that little lock with you on your trip. I have too many.

    Happy Trails, -Tom

  2. […] homemade bike frame bags. Amy writes – […]

  3. Jeanette Avatar

    Nice job. I like it.

  4. BoonesDaddy Avatar

    Rad!! I want to do this exact same setup for my commute, plus a pair of pogies so I don’t have to do gloves in the winter. Blaze orange is the only way to go for a commuter. Nice job. I’m about to learn how to sew, so hopefully it’s not too hard!! Thanks for the post.

  5. […] on making my new every day carry backpack, I used the left over ripstop nylon from my homemade bike frame bags to make a little ultra-light backpack, loosely modeled after the REI Flash 18 […]

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