Aside from its miniature striped adorableness, what drew me to this Velo Bagworks tool roll was its maker Robert Anderson's claim to produce it "on a 1922 Singer sewing machine that doesn't even have a plug." Oh hello! Just minutes earlier I'd been sitting in front of my Singer Model 115 Sphynx of 1919 vintage, rocking the iron pedal in pursuit of finishing some curtains. Who needs electricity when you've got pedal power, eh? And how deliciously appropriate to make bicycle tool rolls for pedaling, by pedaling!
The minimalist, under-the-saddle tool-roll has become a popular offering from cottage industries and DIY enthusiasts. It is an item that is useful, fun and relatively easy to produce - allowing makers to offer a handcrafted product at a reasonable price. New to the market, Velo Bagworks tool rolls are made in Devon, England and sold via Robert's Etsy shop at around £15-20 apiece depending on fabric and pattern. Some are made from a PU-backed cordura and some out of waxed cotton canvas (pictured here), both reasonably waterproof.
There are several features of the Velo Bagworks tool roll that make it stand out from similar products of its kind. Firstly, it is among the smallest, most compact tool rolls I've ever seen.
While large enough to fit the basics - including a good sized multi-tool, spare tube, tire levers, even a small pump or CO2 cartridge - it makes use of space with impressive efficiency and folds up neatly into a wallet the size of a large adult fist. For those who prefer their tool bags as small as practicable, this one is a good candidate.
Additionally - and this is perhaps the more important feature to mention - the Velo Bagworks tool roll is designed to close and attach securely. The traditional "bike burrito" style tool roll is typically held together with a leather toe strap, which tightens around the roll but is not attached to it. As several cyclists I know who've used such bags have learned, this design carries a risk of losing the tool roll in action: It can simply slip out of the strap and you'll never know it! No such danger with the Velo Bagworks, as its lighweight nylon strap is sewn into the fabric of the roll itself.
Threading easily through the rails of any standard bicycle saddle, the Velo Bagworks tool roll uses a snap-closure buckle, making it simple and quick to fit and remove, as well as to tighten as necessary. The roll is narrow enough to sit snugly under the saddle and does not interfere with pedaling. Because of the small size of the bag, those who like to clip a tail light to their seat post still might be able to fit it in if enough seatpost is showing.
The Velo Bagworks tool rolls come in a variety of traditional colours, as well as these crazy "deck chair stripes" patterns. I love how the bright stripes look on my bare-metal bike, though they pretty much go with any bicycle colour.
If you like the look and sound of the Velo Bagworks tool roll, one of them could be yours at no cost. We would like to give away a similar roll to the one pictured here (the exact pattern of the stripes is a little different on each bag) to a Lovely Bicycle reader located in the UK or Ireland.
If you'd like to take part in the give-away, simply leave a comment to that effect, and don't forget to include your contact email. And if you're in the mood to entertain, tell us: What is the strangest thing you've ever carried in your tool roll or saddle bag? Any bag-related adventures or misadventures? I'll get things started by admitting I've put an uncapped 1L bottle of water into a saddlebag...
Entries accepted till Thursday, 26 June, 11:59pm GMT. Many thanks to Velo Bagworks for the give-away, and, as always, thank you for reading Lovely Bicycle!