Friday, May 27, 2016

Wing and feather handlebar wrap

This is a design that I have been thinking about for a while. It wouldn't have worked as well on a standard round bar so I bought these integrated carbon bars. They're perfect for the design and look elegant.   

I didn't get any pics of the tooling process. But I made a template by wrapping the bars in saran wrap and then wrapping over that with masking tape. Then I cut it off and pressed it flat to get the pattern. Then I cut the leather. Tooled it. Soaked it and sewed it on.   

While making my last bars I found that combining two pieces, with the seam at the shift/ brake levers, worked far better than trying to control a single long piece. The bend in the bars causes the seam to coil around the bars and you'll see in some of the next pics that I was able to control it a little better. So for the lower piece, that covers the drops, I decided to go with a feather to give it some texture.  

It all culminates at the end and I found with my fly rod cases that sewing a circle or cap onto the end of a tube is very tough to get right. This tiny little plug was more difficult than the entire bar. 20 stitches working with wet and soft leather and zero room to work with or for error. But gladly it turned out perfect. 

Internal cable routing and also the strap to attach the shifter/ brake lever was sort of a no brainer. I played with the idea of doing a split so I could remove them if needed but the strap doesn't really work like that. You have to slide it onto the bars. So I just sewed it under.   

Before the dye is applied the tooling looks washed out. You can also see the slack in the leather. That corrects itself somewhat as the leather dries and shrinks. If you get the dimensions correct the leather shrinks to the bars surprisingly tight.  

Dye is applied. Easily the most nerve wracking part. It's instantly permanent and initially looks like you're ruining it. Spread it fast and keep going over it until it evens out. You can see where spots take the dye more readily than others. 

You can see how small the end plug is. Delicate work. 

I won't be applying a finish or sealant. The whole reason I use leather is because I love the natural look and leather only gets better as it's used. So besides the dye this is raw veg tan and will only get better.    


Gene Villeneuve said...

These are beautiful! You are a true artist and craftsman. Amazing

Lucho said...

Thank you for the good word Gene!