Sewing Project #15: SF Fog Sweatshirt

To call this top a sweatshirt is slightly misleading. The fabric is a soft, cozy velour, updated from grandmother sweatsuits and collegiate sweats with words across the bum, plus a bit of reflective handmade bias trim. I’ll probably continue to call it a sweatshirt, but I like to think it’s a bit dressier.

I bought the fabric from Britex Fabrics, in San Francisco, while meeting Melissa of Bike Pretty for the first time. I grew up in Sacramento, and trips to The City always involved Britex – as a young stitcher/costume designer, Britex was like Mecca compared to the fabric stores in Sacramento. (Actually, it still is pretty amazing. New York City fabric stores are totally different, geared towards a different audience.) Since this fabric is from San Francisco and gray, and I love (and miss) the fog that rolls in over the city every evening, I’ve decided to name this project the SF Fog Sweatshirt. You will see why!

I used Very Easy Vogue pattern V9026, version A. Initially I wanted to find some cool digital print scuba fabric for the front panel, as shown on the pattern cover, but the prices were a bit more than I was prepared to pay. The helpful salesperson at Britex showed me this velour, and I was hooked. Better to show off the shape with reflective trim in a simple color, I decided.

Not only did I put this together in one day, it went together fairly smoothly, and I am very happy with how it turned out! I lengthened the torso, partially because I have a long waist, and also to cover more whilst biking, which I’m glad I did, although the sleeves are longer than I anticipated, which is a bit unusual. It is comfortable to wear, and am I happy with the overall fit.SF Fog 2 SF Fog 3I asked my friend ZigZagMags to take some pictures for me, and she did an awesome job, don’t you think?!

I ended up adding more reflective trim than I had originally planned. I added it to the shoulder seams mostly to stabilize the stitching, and since there isn’t much on the back that is reflective, I added tabs on each cuff. I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out, but, well, they turned out great!  SF Fog 5 SF Fog 10(Please note, I am wearing my grandmother’s rings while my wedding rings are in Hawaii getting smaller. I had to take them back to Hawaiian jeweler Na Hoku to get resized, and they were sent to Hawaii to do so. It’s hard to be parted with them; we haven’t been married long enough yet that I forget I’m wearing them!)

So the burning question is, of course, how does it reflect?! I tried a selfie, then The Mechanic took a few while I rode circles on a Capital Bikeshare bike. See for yourself – SF Fog 6 SF Fog 7 SF Fog 8 SF Fog 9I’m very pleased with how the reflective tabs on the cuffs worked out! I will probably try this on other projects too.

This was Sewing Project #15 – hard to believe I’ve done so much! You can see some of the others in my Reflective Wear-to-Work Challenge post. I do have some other projects in mind, one for next spring already, but both my sewing machine and my serger are in desperate need of some TLC. It’s probably been 20 years since they had any proper maintenance done, oops. I also need to get my scissors sharpened. Since it is practically the holidays, I might as well do all this now, so that as soon as January hits, I’m ready to jump back into things! If I can wait that long.SF Fog 11


Iladora, Head to Toe

It was a very exciting weekend, and not because of Halloween. The Mechanic and I went back to IKEA, my Bookman reflector clips arrived from Sweden, and I made my reflective sweatshirt (in one day!). Once I have proper photos of the sweatshirt and test out the Bookman reflectors, I’ll share more on them. But first, I want to share my Discerning Cyclist product reviews of the Iladora top and pants, now that the pants review is out. Bookman Clip on Reflectors_1I love that the Discerning Cyclist website titled my review, “Are These The Perfect Bike Pants for Ladies?” I wish they were! But is there really such a thing? Probably not. But these are pretty great – just not pants I’d wear to work. I’ve worn them a lot, on the weekends, to go out, to run errands, meeting friends, and, as I said in the review, I met The Mechanic for lunch one day wearing – but after doing yoga in them, just to see if I could (which I could). I confess, they are tight enough that I have realized how, shall we say, out of shape, I’ve gotten this year, since I haven’t been biking 30 miles or more every weekend, so I guess it’s time to ramp up the cardio and cut back a bit on the calories. But because the stretch holds me in, well, I do like how much skinnier I feel in them. The Mechanic likes them too!Iladora Pants 5I like the Iladora Lisa Top, but it is sort of a shame that I got it towards the end of the summer. The weather today was cold enough to make me dig out a hat and gloves, not wear my cute bike top. Very sad. I did get to wear it a few times when it was warm out, which was a great opportunity to test out the quick dry properties of the bamboo fabric. I was really impressed at how well it worked! I know that will be a go-to top next summer for that reason alone! It was extremely comfortable, and cute, and I love the color. Iladora Top 3So now I am outfitted head-to-toe in Iladora Apparel! You can read more about the pants and top on the two Discerning Cyclist website, and see more photos of me in the garments. Iladora also makes a skirt, but I guess two pieces from this line are enough. There are others out there that I want to try as well. I’m still hunting for the perfect bike pants, and there are many possibilities on my list. There are so many companies out there now, which I love. It’s nice to see women creatively solving our problems, and I wish I could support them all! I want to see these companies grow and thrive, and outfit more and more women who are looking for practical yet stylish clothing they can wear casually on their bikes. Eventually it will become as mainstream as going to the Gap or Ann Taylor Loft – at least, that is my dream. Head-to-toe bike fashion, everyday!

Bookman reflector on my jacket cuff - I couldn't wait until it was dark to try it out! Stay tuned for more info on this fun new product!

Bookman reflector on my jacket cuff – I couldn’t wait until it was dark to try it out! Stay tuned for more info on this fun new product!





Three Generations of Merrell Evera Bicycle Shoes

At last I acknowledged that the basic black Merrell Evera Pure Pumps I have are too small and hurt my feet. The decision makes me sad,  because my other Merrell Evera MJ pumps are my most favorite pair of summer heels. The fact that Merrell no longer makes this line of bicycle-specific heels also makes me sad. Thankfully, I just found last year’s version, the Evera Draft, on Amazon for $35.  Because these have the mary jane strap, I was able to order the shoes in my actual size, and they will stay on. This was the mistake I made with the Evera Pure pumps: I had ordered them a half-size too small, hoping that the size difference would keep them on my feet. Alas no, they have just been too uncomfortable to wear, so I will try to sell them to someone who might fit them.

It was interesting, however, to compare the three generations of these shoes. All three are essentially the same shoe, and yet they are not.

Left to right: Evera MJ, Evera Pure, Evera Draft

Left to right: Evera MJ, Evera Pure, Evera Draft


  • Same foot bed and sole, which Merrell originally claimed was stable for better “midfoot pedal power” as well as their special “sticky” rubber to better grip the pedals
  • Same toe box and style
  • Same name

    Side shot of the MJ, Pure, and Draft, showing the style differences

    Side shot of the MJ, Pure, and Draft, showing the style differences and similarities


  • Reflective trim on each pair is different, or in the case of the Draft, non-existent. The Evera MJ summer heels have reflective trim on the edge of the strap, while the Pure pumps have tiny squares on the back of the shoe. Granted, these small spots are not very useful, but it’s the point that Merrell was thinking about bike safety and visibility. I’m disappointed that the Draft doesn’t have any reflective detailing.
  • The cut outs on the side of the heel on the MJ sandals and the Pure pumps are gone from the Draft, which makes them pretty plain and almost boring.
  • The label on the insole is different – on the first two pairs, there is a cycle design, proudly showing these to be shoes for women to wear while biking. Not in the Drafts. Guess Merrell gave that up as a promotional piece.
    Reflective bits, or not

    Reflective bits, or not

    Top: no bike; bottom: bike

    Top: no bike; bottom: bike

I am happy to have the Drafts, and I don’t have a proper pair of brown heels, so they will be great to bike to work in. Nevertheless, I am disappointed that Merrell discontinued making a bicycle-specific shoe line for women. I had been very excited about their winter boots last fall, but perhaps those were a retail flop, which made them pull the plug on the concept. I have heard that women’s bike clothing (and shoes) are still a very small niche market. I guess it is still too small for shoes by a company even as large and popular as Merrell. Thanks for trying, though! Better luck in a few more years?

Busy Bike Fashion Week

It’s been a busy week, but bike fashion hasn’t been far from my mind. I continued my reflective wear-to-work challenge, reviewed some bike accessories for The Discerning Cyclist, tested my new Iladora bike top, and got up today at 6am to order the Altuzarra for Target blouse I wanted. Oh, and pre-ordered the new iPhone 6!

I was only able to get in three days of my reflective wear-to-work bike fashion challenge. One day I had to wear the work polo, and I was off the last day of the week, so that meant only three days. On the plus side, it means I can probably do all this coming week! The weather has cooled off enough that I’m not sure about my sleeveless tops, but I’ll risk it!

I got some fun bike accessories from Bike Belle, to review for The Discerning Cyclist. I am very fussy particular about what I put on my bike, but I ended up loving these! Now my bike has a front basket from Denmark, skirt guards from Sweden, and a bike bell from Poland. What next?! I’ll share the review when it’s on the website, but I’ll give you a sneak peek.

Notice anything different about my bike? Think small accessories....

Notice anything different about my bike? Think small accessories….

I broke down and ordered The Lisa Top from Iladora, in pink. I was so excited that they came out with some colors, and it was a dilemma to decide between the blue and the pink, but pink won out. It’s a bit more mauve-y than I was expecting, but I am very happy with it. If you aren’t familiar with Iladora, it is a San Francisco company that also makes pants and a skirt. The top is bamboo jersey, cut with dolman sleeves for comfort, and that all important dropped hem for coverage. It’s super-comfy; the cut of the sleeves means that nothing binds or constricts the arms while biking. (I will say, however, that it is snug over the part of my waist that I’m currently most self-conscious about, and I’m not happy about that – but I know it is my fault, and not the top’s problem.) But overall, I’m happy with it!

For those of you who don’t know, Target teams up with haute couture designers occasionally, and these collaborations turn into big shopping frenzies on the day of the launch. So far I’ve gotten stuff from Liberty of London, Missoni, Jason Wu, and Proenza Schouler, all high-end designers I couldn’t normally afford. The launch of the Missoni collection crashed Target’s system; luckily I’d gotten up super early to order what I wanted online. I did go stand in line at the store for the Jason Wu collection, but also ordered online while standing there! Today was the launch of Altuzarra for Target, and I had planned on getting up at 6am to bike to Target to get in line, but when I checked the website on my phone at 6:12am, and the blouse I wanted was available, I opted to order online and go back to bed. I was tempted to go to the store later in the day, but considering I just pre-ordered the iPhone 6, well, I couldn’t risk being lured into buying something else.

The Altuzarra for Target blouse I ordered

The Altuzarra for Target blouse I ordered. No idea what to wear them with – now I need new pants!

So this week I need to buckle down and alter the pants pattern and get them cut out. I started making the reflective bias, but I think I need more! I’ve created a monster.



European Bike Style

Inspired by my meet up this past week with Bike Pretty, I decided it was time to share some observations from our  honeymoon about the bike style we saw in Europe.

As we all know, European approaches to style differ significantly from us. Speaking from our experiences in Zurich, the Bodensee area, Brussels and Bruges, and Amsterdam, I was surprised to notice several differences in each area. Cyclists in Zurich and Konstanz, for example, primarily use rear baskets to chart stuff around. This surprised me – I initially had a rear basket and didn’t like not being able to keep an eye on  my stuff. Of course, it looks very elegant, and Germans and Swiss definitely have much more trust and security when it comes to their bikes and accessories anyway.

In Belgium, we noticed something else – people still just locked their wheels up, not necessarily to the bike racks, but everyone had matching panniers that they just left on their bikes. I’d be too paranoid to do that here, but I was in awe of all the fun, lovely, colorful panniers! And totally jealous.

Most of the fun panniers were in Bruges, and it seemed as if every woman I saw on a bike was wearing a cute dress or skirt. And no wonder – there was a store not far from the town center with fun bike accessories! No, it wasn’t a bike shop, just a women’s clothing and accessories store, full of great shoes, fun purses, funky jewelry and clothing, and yes, bike bags, bells, stickers, and so on. This is what we need in the US – cute bike stuff sold not always in bike shops!


Plenty of bike style in Amsterdam, too, of course.  I expected that.


Style aside, there were many practical accessories that we don’t have easily available to us. I think my favorite was the stroller attachment, so you could hook your baby’s collapsible stroller to your bike, then have it handy when you and your child reach your destination. How smart!


Once again, I am in awe of the cycling culture in Europe, or at least in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands (I’d say Denmark too, but I think I covered that when I blogged about our trip there in 2012). Practical, yes, highly functional, yes, highly stylish, yes. And I haven’t even yet written about the infrastructure, and how the bike lanes we saw and experienced have forever changed my opinion on bike lanes in America. Stay tuned for that blog post!

In Brussels

huh. (In Brussels)

Product Review: Novara Whittier Bike Dress

Despite my attempts to be on an “anything but wedding-related” shopping freeze, I used the excuse of my birthday, and a cash gift, to buy myself the REI Novara Whittier Bike Dress, in the bright blue option.

Novara Whittier Bike Dress

Novara Whittier Bike Dress

I’ve written before about the REI Novara line, and how the garments I saw were close but not quite, and I have to say, I think this dress is pretty spot on. Unlike the reflective fabric mountain biking shorts (again, who is going to see that?!), this dress is designed to be a cute comfy dress, with some bike-friendly detailing. I wore it yesterday to run some errands, and then last night to a DC party The Mechanic and I went to, and was very pleased with it.

Picking out chalkboard paint at Home Depot for a little wedding DIY, and looking quite normal.

Picking out chalkboard paint at Home Depot for a little wedding DIY, and looking quite normal.

The dress has a comfy elastic waist that was surprisingly flattering (my stomach looked so flat in this!), and the skin-cancer-phobic part of me really appreciated having my shoulders covered. One less body part to worry about reapplying sunscreen onto! You can’t see it unless you are up close, but there are some also flattering vertical tucks in the front bodice, which I like. There are two side seam pockets, which zip shut, and hide a drawstring that allows you to pull up the sides of the skirt, to make it shorter for biking.

Pulling up the dress from the pocket drawstring.

Pulling up the dress from the pocket drawstring.

I ultimately decided to bike un-ruched.

I ultimately decided to bike un-ruched.

I thought the dress was extremely comfy to bike in, even without the sides pulled up. Maybe on my bike I would gather it up, since I have a top tube that tends to interfere with skirts more than the CaBi step-thru frame. Or maybe not.

In action!

In action!

My favorite part of the dress, of course, is the reflective detailing. Reflective piping is stitched into the back yoke seam, exactly where it should be! I guess someone has been reading my blog and taking tips! ; )

Docking the bike at home, with the reflective trim on the back of the dress doing its job.

Docking the bike at home, with the reflective trim on the back of the dress doing its job.

I am quite pleased with this dress, and plan on taking it on the honeymoon to bike in. I do wish the color options had been a bit better – I sort of get making a solid black version, to have a bikey LBD (Little Black Dress, for those of you who don’t know, considered a sartorial staple by many women), but I disagree with anything all black for biking. Even with reflective trim, biking (or walking) in the dark in solid dark clothing is not the best idea. On the other hand, although I love the blue version, the print is not my first or second or even third go-to. A classic stripe with a solid yoke would be so perfectly nautical and summery, and be even more “normal.” But that’s really just being super picky about a dress I really love! Way to go REI!


Crafting a Bike Helmet Wedding Veil

The Mechanic and I are having a real wedding, with an outdoor ceremony, a real photographer, a real wedding dress, a reception, and so on, for about 30 guests. We are also doing the European-style civil, aka legal, wedding a few days before. The original idea was to just bike to Arlington County city hall, do a quick legal ceremony, and have my brother “officiate” at the real wedding. Although the original plans have changed a bit, we still aim to bike to city hall. Actually, in Arlington, there is no city hall – it will be an approved “civil celebrant” lawyer’s office. Much less romantic, although the officiant looks like a character, and I look forward to him conducting the ceremony.

Back to the bike part – I bought a new dress to wear that day, something I could bike in, wear at the rehearsal dinner, and take on the honeymoon in the bottom of that giant travel pack. Huzzah for Lands’ End! But I decided it would be fun to have a veil on my bike helmet. Why not?! If we want biking to be considered a complete transportation option, why can’t I bike to my wedding wearing a veil?! So guess what I made tonight?

I bought white tulle and glitter tulle at JoAnn Fabrics, and added my navy blue reflective grosgrain. The glitter from the tulle goes everywhere! But it matches my silver glitter Nutcase helmet, so that makes me happy. The glitter on everything in the apartment? Not so much.

I’m pretty happy with the results, but fully acknowledge that I threw this together in about an hour, and it is not fancy sewing at all. But for one use only, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s the effect I’m going for that matters!

Alas, now I have to wait until next month to put the whole outfit together! Don’t worry, I’ll share photos of the veil in action on the Big Day.

(My friend LilyLadyBlue made the earrings and necklace and they are so lovely! I can’t wait to wear them either. I might sneak in an early showing of those, instead of waiting until June… Check out her Etsy shop !)

Trying NOT to Shop

I haven’t exactly kept my pledge to not shop until the honeymoon, but it’s killing me that I can’t do more! Especially since it’s that time of the season change when I realize that I purged at the end of the last season (that is, last summer), and I have lots of great pieces, but few outfits. I know this is not something everyone understands, but it’s really frustrating! We’ve had a few warm enough days and I’ve reached for things that are just … not there. Apparently all of my summer shoes died last year, and I’ve never had a selection of pants I love, and some of those tops are just *old* and showing their age.

Well, I do have a lot of stuff...

Well, I do have a lot of stuff…

In my ever-present desire to wear bike-friendly office clothes (or is it office-friendly bike clothes?), I do have a list of things from designers who are catering to my whim. Hey, gotta support the people who are making it big, since I don’t have time at the moment to make it myself!

I’ve wanted the Iva Jean “Reveal” skirt for ages, even if it is only in black and I dislike wearing black. I’d sacrifice just to wear a designer’s bike fashion piece! It’s a great office-friendly pencil skirt, in a great length.

Iva Jean Reveal Skirt, image from her website

Iva Jean Reveal Skirt, image from her website

There is a new bike skirt on the market now that I also like, by Iladora. It’s gray (huzzah! I love gray), and a bit shorter, and slightly more casual-looking. I like the “shirttail” hem idea, although I’m not sure how short that would end up feeling. My bike, of course, has a men’s style top tube, which makes skirts that much trickier, but I’m sure I could work around this! I also love the top, and the shoes on the model! Perfect date night outfit.

Iladora skirt and top, image taken from her website

Iladora skirt and top, image taken from her website

Betabrand also has a new crowdfunded skirt, modeled by the famous Bike Pretty blogger, Melissa. It boasts clever zipper details as well, but in the front, not in the back as the Iva Jean skirt is. Not surprisingly, my favorite part is the reflective pocket triangle that can be pulled out when you want a touch of reflectivity.

Betabrand Bike to Work Skirt, modeled by Bike Pretty's Melissa. Image from Betabrand website.

Betabrand Bike to Work Skirt, modeled by Bike Pretty’s Melissa. Image from Betabrand website.

The reflective pocket on the Betabrand Bike to Work Skirt makes me so happy! Image from Betabrand website.

The reflective pocket on the Betabrand Bike to Work Skirt makes me so happy! Image from Betabrand website.

But wait, there’s more! Check out this cute dress I discovered recently – a striped dress by Quick Study. Adorable! I mean, I love stripes, and this is my favorite gray, and the bodice is lined in quick-dry material. Brilliant!  I also love the clever piecing on the back. This one I would totally wear to work, in several seasons. Add tights and boots, and it’s perfect for fall and winter. Sandals and bangles great for cool spring evenings. J’adore.

How adorable is the illustration of this Quick Study dress?! Image from her website

How adorable is the illustration of this Quick Study dress?! Image from her website

Love the way the stripes are pieced in the back of this dress. Image from Quick Study website.

Love the way the stripes are pieced in the back of this dress. It just needs some reflective trim! Image from Quick Study website.

Paired with these amazingly adorable (and amazingly expensive) bike-friendly shoes from Tracey Neuls, I would find myself wearing a lot of gray, and I tend to lean towards much brighter colors. It’s not very spring or summer-y, but these seem like good basics to always have on hand. Plus, I’d love to have all three skirts to compare the different design aspects, and well, those shoes would be *perfect* with that cute striped dress.

Just love them. That's all I can say. Image from her website.

Just love them. That’s all I can say. Image from her website.

If only I could register for office-friendly bike fashion – but I suppose the wedding registry should be things we both can use, right? Bummer!



Product Review: My Beloved Cleverhood

Let me first state that I really can’t say enough good things about my Cleverhood. I really, really love it. It makes me ride in the rain, which, until I had one, was something I was NOT keen on. But now it keeps me so dry that I don’t mind.

(Now that I’ve said that, I have to also say that I wore it today on my bike and on foot, and it works better on a bike! It has poured rain all day, with some strong winds, which meant lots of diagonal gusts. I was pretty dry when I got to work this morning, but doing to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon had me out in the aforementioned diagonal gusts, so everything the Cleverhood didn’t cover was soaked. And I mean inches of water inside my boots. Bleh.  But when I biked home again, still in the rain, I felt much  more comfortable. Moral of the story? Wearing a Cleverhood whilst biking in the rain is the better option.)

I got my Cleverhood last fall, as an engagement gift*, and it was pretty much love at first sight. I mean, it’s reflective! “Electric Houndstooth,” to be exact. And you know how I feel about that.

I love all the well-thought-out details, too. The elastic thumb loops to keep it on my handle bars, the magnetic closure on the arm slits, Velcro tabs at the sides to cinch it in a bit if desired, a chest pocket, and best of all, the hood is cut away so that when it’s under your helmet, you can still see out the sides! That’s always been my biggest objection to hoods, not being able to see around them. Susan, the founder and leader of Team Cleverhood, thought of all kinds of practical things! (Having met her, I have to say I think she’s pretty awesome, too!) The only thing I dislike about the ‘hood is that the hem has a tendency to curl up, and I’m not sure why. It’s not a huge deal, just mildly annoying to the sartorial neat-freak in me.

I’ve worn it on my bike, instead of carrying an umbrella on days I didn’t bike, and even in the snow, over my heaviest “blizzard” coat. The bonus to the Cleverhood is that it’s not hot and heavy, and I can throw it on over a coat, and not overheat, so it works great as the very top layer. And all the bags I carry under it are miraculously dry! Just like the rest of me.

Lovely packaging, with a reflective bow!

Lovely packaging, with a reflective bow!

Prepared for another massive snowstorm, complete in biking goggles ($4 safety goggles from Home Depot!) and my Cleverhood to top it all off.

Prepared for another massive snowstorm, complete in biking goggles ($4 safety goggles from Home Depot!) and my Cleverhood to top it all off.

Here I am on a Capital Bikeshare bike in my Cleverhood. (Not the best photo since we were hurrying in the rain...)

Here I am on a Capital Bikeshare bike in my Cleverhood. (Not the best photo since we were hurrying in the rain…)

The Mechanic even got in on the game when he was also gifted one, but he wanted a more subdued olive green color. His is not fully reflective like mine is, but it has reflective detail on the shoulders. I’d show you but I’ve somehow managed to lose the photos! I’ll add it once I find it again…

To sum up, I really just love this product. It keeps me so dry in all kinds of conditions, and since it’s lightweight, I know I can wear it throughout all the upcoming warm weather spring showers. I also plan on taking it to Europe with me when we go on our honeymoon. I’m sure that not only will it be handy if it rains during our bike tour, but any other time, and we can easily throw them over our backpacks. Although we both plan to do bike accessories shopping while overseas, it will be nice to show off a great American-made product as well!

So get yourself a Cleverhood and bike dry, bike happy!


 *Full disclosure – Susan gave it to me as an engagement present last fall, an extremely generous and well-loved, well-used gift! Probably better than the wine decanter we registered for. She did not ask me to write a review of any kind, or promote it in any way, but because I love it so much, I really wanted to. It’s taken me half a year to really test it out, and I am still impressed with it every time I wear it.

Product Review: NatrilGear Purse

I am supposed to be on a shopping freeze until I get to Europe, unless the purchase is somehow directly related to the wedding. So the reason why I bought a new bag at the Women’s Bicycling Forum is because I will need it on the honeymoon, of course!


Natril Gear had a stand set up showcasing their brightly colored and fun print panniers, purses and wallets. The panniers come in a range of colors, from “Pink Lemonade” to “Hero” to “Summit Sky“, while the purses come in matching fabrics, as well as the prints such as “Spring Rain” and “Sunny Bamboo.” Honestly, I didn’t look at the panniers as closely because I love mine and wanted something small enough for my wallet and lip balm, that I could just throw over my shoulder after we check into our hotels during the bike tour part of our trip. I picked the “Aquarius” purse.

This small handlebar bag has sturdy Velcro straps on the back that attach to the handlebars, plus a detachable shoulder strap. I naturally love the reflective strip on both the outside flat and inside pocket, which means that no matter what, there is a reflective strip on the front of your bike! The inside has a zip pocket as well as mesh sides so nothing falls out if it’s opened all the way. The double zipper pulls are brilliant to let you zip around any item that might stick out awkwardly out the top, or you want to grab something (treats!) from time to time.

What really sold me on the bag is the way the top flap opens up and can fold over the handlebars towards you, with a clear pocket for maps, a phone, notes, or whatever. I’m not sure what sort of cue sheets or maps we’ll get from the bike company, but hopefully they can go in this pocket.

This clear pocket has two Velcro closures as well, to keep things from falling out

This clear pocket has two Velcro closures as well, to keep things from falling out

Natril Gear founders Nathan and April were inspired by their own long trip (4146 miles!) to create durable yet fun colored bags, so when I mentioned that I was thinking about taking the bag on my honeymoon bike trip, April was very enthusiastic. That helped win me over – after thinking about it, I decided that I should get the bag, and help out the small company. If all I shove in that clear pocket are Swiss chocolate wrappers, it’s worth it!

Their panniers seem well thought out, with bright color linings, key chain clips, inside zip pocket, and a plastic backing. I have no doubt that they worked out all these details on their long journey, so they know from true experience what works best. I wish them all the luck with their company! I think they are already succeeding in the “improve and enliven the world” part of their mission!