Bike Makeover

S on SnowdoniaThe Architect’s bike Nevermore got a makeover this weekend.

It was originally a black bike with brown leather handlebar grips and seat. While he loves his bike and thinks it’s beautiful, he really didn’t care for the brown and black combo. So he was shopping for some black leather grips and a saddle to purchase, when I realized–why purchase something when you can make do by refashioning? Duh. It’s my favorite.

Here’s a picture of his bike before this weekend’s shenanigans:


I got the idea to just fix it instead of buying new stuff when I was cleaning out the house. We’ve started a new thing where K, The Architect, and I get rid of one thing every day (which is actually 7 every week because it’s easier to find more than one thing at a time). I was going to get rid of an old black leather wallet I had:

wallet before

Since the Architect likes recycled and upcycled stuff, I thought that instead of throwing away all that good leather, I could cover his handlebars with it. It would look cool and unique. And it would be free. So I took all the pieces apart and then figured out how to make them fit. Then I sewed a piece of the leather to the end of the handlebar:

short handlebar end

I used plain black thread and sewed back and forth a few times. After I’d sewed all the way around and cut off the excess, I wrapped the zippered portion of the wallet around the handlebar and stitched underneath. Gave me a bit of a crick in my neck, though.

short handlebar length

After that, I did the other side. On that side, I decided to use the same orange thread I used for the decorative topstitching above to embroider this symbol on it. The Architect made it in college and had a wood brand he would use to mark some of this projects. We have a cane he made with this symbol burned into the top. He also has it on his portfolio. Since it’s round, I thought it would be a nice tough for him to have it on his bike as well. I’m not the world’s best embroiderer, though, but I think it’s good enough.

long edge to tip

Then I wrapped the part of the wallet with the snap around that handlebar and sewed it down. It was very glamorous:

refashions are glamorousSo the handlebars were black. The bike was looking super slick. But there was still the problem of the brown seat. But that’s not a problem at all! We went to a local upholstery shop’s remnant bin, where we spent about $5 buying a small piece of this fabric¬†and another, safer choice in case it turned out to be too much. Remnant bins are the best. This one was priced by the pound. Can’t get much better than that.

First thing we did was take the saddle off the bike and pin the upholstery fabric to it how we wanted it placed, taking care to make sure it was symmetrical.

pinning upholstery in place

Then we flipped it over and stapled it on, taking care to staple first the top, then the bottom, then a side, then the other side, and then working our way around stapling the gaps and making sure the fabric was pulled taut.

seat upholstering staple

Then we put it back on, and Nevermore was the hottest bike on the block.

makeover side view after

Wow. So much better than that mismatched brown and black situation. Plus, there are some fun little details. First is, of course, the Architect’s brand:

embroidered handlebar end

Secondly, we added a little piece of blue that matches the seat under the zipper:

hidden blue

It’s a little secret, since normally the zipper is closed and you can’t see it at all:

short handlebar after

The saddle looks pretty sweet, too. We actually picked out the print because the Architect liked the bright color and because we knew it would fit the saddle so well.

bike seat top finished

So it’s a pretty bike.

nevermore after

And the Architect is excited it ride it all over the place. Which of course he also was before, but what could be cooler than a customized bike?

colorful architect



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