Introduction: A Traditional Tool Roll for a Traditional Bicycle

About: Undergoing treatment for old bicycle addiction. I am doing very well and have cut down to ten.

    Traditional tool roll for a traditional bicycle.    



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Plain English? Fine for Bicycles not for writing! I will always use three words where one will do. And use words like “bucolic” for this I make no apology. Every so often I have to write down a word like epicycloid to try to make me look like an erudite sophisticated fellow, rather than an opinionated ignorant buffoon, hiding behind a well-thumbed thesaurus.

If you use a three speed roadster read on; if not go and buy one and then come back.

It is only by experiencing the upright cycling on an older (pre-space age machine) that you will find the transportative utopia which has thus far eluded you.


A tool kit? Surely unnecessary as mudguards on a dustbin?

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Back in the days where to be awheel was a great adventure, and when sweet shops were on every corner and the only yellow lines one saw were describing the movement of the custard jug as it traced its path between one treacle pudding and the next, one needed a toolkit as assurance and safeguard against the little misadventures that could befall the bicyclist when they were afar from civilisation (or cake shops)


Toolkits – modern ones are rubbish

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I could lecture at length about how toolkits today are useless; tinfoil stamped out spanners, plastic tyre levers guaranteed to shatter, why do they include allen keys? Do I look like I need one?? Bah! I decided in the end I needed a toolkit that I could use more than once. What to put in your tool kit? When you have a heavy bicycle weight is not a key consideration – in fact extra kentledge is a boon on a windy day. What you include in your kit is up to you; the most basic is a bicycle spanner stamped made in England and a Dunlop Long cycle puncture repair kit but I suggest adding spoons as ersatz tyre levers – (also rather handy if you come across a cake shop or other road side comestibles) You may wish to pack a spoke key a spare chain link, molegrips, adjustable spanners, link extractor moustache strengtheners etc etc. etc.


The Advantages of a tool roll

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Tool rolls are an ideal way of carrying tools in a backpack or strapped to a carrier. They have the following advantages;

  • Traditional (acceptable for tweed-ists)
  • Can expand or reduce in size dependant on the number of tools carried – a longer trip may warrant a bigger tool kit.
  • No rattles such as those associated with keeping spanners in a box.
  • A tool roll unrolled gives you full access to everything you have packed; no digging beneath or having to overturn a box of trappings to get at the tool you want
  • You can see if a tool has been left by the roadside by the empty space
  • Don’t hurt so much when dropped on your foot.
  • Made to measure to your own personal design by you
  • Will improve your standing with fellow cyclists



So how do we make our tool roll accommodate aforesaid items; we make our tool roll to the dimensions which adequately suit the selected array of implements.


At last how to make it


What you need;

  • A sewing machine in working order. One with a Zigzag setting is better still
  • Calico cloth or other salvaged material (denim, a blanket, old curtains etc)
  • Webbing tape
  • An iron (and an ironing board)
  • Money for a beer (optional)


A medium weight calico is ideal, I used an old calico apron that was tie-dyed by a very groovy person. My original cloth size was about 23” x 12 ½” (570 x 320mm) which reduces to about 21” x 10 ½” (530 x 270mm) once hemmed.


Hemming (the Way Ernest would approve. Ernest Hemmingway? Oh forget it)

Please refer to fig one (the picture not the dried fruit)


You need to iron the cloth and form a hem of about 1 cm (1/2 an inch) by folding over twice. Cutting the corners as per the plan up to the first fold makes it a little easier to stitch. Once you have a good clean hem all round and a reasonably rectangular shape, its time then to machine stitch all round.


Once stitched, Fold the cloth to form the tool pockets, leaving enough material to flap over; I used proportions of 1/3rd, 1/3rd, 1/3rd.


Stitch the pockets varying the size so you can fit all your tools in snugly.

Stitch the last pocket to secure the two ties which will hold the roll together.

Roll the tool roll up and use the ties to secure it in a reasonably tidy bundle.


Take the beer money and head down to the pub with the tool roll and your velocipede; you will only need money for one drink as amazed fellows pronounce you a thoroughly good chap and buy you pints and women swoon with awe at your sewing machine prowess and indicate a hitherto undemonstrated willingness to bear you many children as you demonstrate your rather nattily hand made tool roll.


Congratulations, that’s it. You could use a diminutive version of the pattern to hold your lock picks if you are a housebreaker – but don’t show people down at the pub; it will only turn nasty in the end.

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