DIY – Leather Grips

April 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Posted in bicycle | 2 Comments
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Not feeling so hot today. A headache seemed to linger with me most of the day leaving me a bit grumpy and unproductive. Kinda felt like the majority of my time down at the studio was spent daydreaming and putting off “real” work. I get that way sometimes. Maybe I’m that way all the time, with bursts of motivation in between. Regardless, I’m not going into that now. This post is about what I did get done today!

My brother Lucas and I have been planning on making a set of leather grips for the Kogswell for some time now. Today was the day for that project. Luke knows a lot more about working with leather than I do, which essentially meant he did most of the work. Lucky me. 🙂

We already had all the supplies we needed. A trip to the Oregon Leather Company a few weeks ago took care of that. If you are into that sort of thing (leather works and related hardware) and have not been down there before, I definitely recommend it. Aside from a wide variety of high quality pelts and large swaths of leather they have a few pretty big bins full of scrap leather that is sold by the pound. Perfect for a crafty little project like this one.

Once we decided on the size we needed for the grips and got them cut out it was time to punch some holes. Each hole is approx. 1/2″ from the next with the final hole coming to about 1/4″ of the end. After all the holes were punched we soaked the leather in water for 20 minutes or so to soften it up and aid in stretching it around the handlebar. We walked over to City Liquidators to get some hairspray in hopes that it would help the grips stay put on the bars when riding. Oh, if you haven’t been to City Liquidators you have to go. It’s crazy. Anyways, we found some hairspray and continued on with our project back at the shop.

Luke tried a couple different lacing methods before deciding on this one (see picture below). The leather just seemed to come together the best with this technique, so we used it. After pulling the leather out of the water and drying it off we laced up the grips, loosely at first. When we finished applying a coat of hairspray we slid the grips on the the ends of the bars and commenced to tighten ’em up.

We most certainly were not going to go to all of this work and leave the ends bare I can assure you of that. For the finishing touch, we employed the use of a cap taken off the top of a Pendleton bottle. The top is actually made out of wood, pretty fancy! I like the cowboy printed on it. We had to shave the cork down some to accomadate the smallish opening these bar provided. When all was said and done I think this project came to a very satisfying end.

I didn’t stay down at the shop long after finishing the grips. Louis was giving me the “it’s time for dinner look” and that’s one that is just to hard to say no to. I was pretty hungry as well, so off we went! I noticed a bit of twist on my ride home. Seems like we will need to substitute the hairspray with a more heavy-duty adhesive product. Now we know. Other than that, no issues! The leather provided a firm yet forgiving grip, much nicer than the cold hard steel I had grown accustomed to over the past few weeks.

Thanks Luke! This project would not have become more than a daydream without your help.




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  1. I realize this post is going on two years old- I had this idea (about 30 minutes ago) and did more or less the same thing you guys did, only I criss-cross laced mine using two yarn needles. I’m just wondering- did the hairspray actually work?

    • Not for very long… The gorilla glue i added later sure worked though! 🙂

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