How to: DIY Bike Tool Roll for Your Next Adventure

Tool Roll on Specialized Saddle
Tool Roll on Specialized Saddle

I’ve always loved the simplicity of a tool roll. Just put your tools inside a piece of fabric and roll it up. I took on a new project to make my own tool roll for my bike. Here’s how you can make one for yourself.

The Bike Saddle Tool Roll

My saddle bag serves me well, but it has two things that I don’t like: 1) I need a tool to move it between bikes 2) The contents I usually carry will only fit in a certain way, meaning that I have to take everything out of the bag even if I only need to take one item out of the bag. The tool roll has the potential to address both gripes I have with my saddle bag: The velcro attachment makes it easy to move it between bikes and each tool has its own dedicated spot in the tool roll.

This tool roll can fit a couple of CO2 cartridges, large multitool, tire levers, spare tube, and other bits like zip ties. You can also roll it around a smaller pump like the Lezyne Drive Mini pump. This is way more than I can fit in my saddle bag.

I like how the attachment to the saddle rails turned out. It couldn’t be any simpler. The flap keeps everything in place and the velcro attachment prevents the tool roll from unraveling mid-ride. I had so much fun making these that I made some extra ones and listed them for sale.

Materials

A tool roll is only as good as the material it is made of. In this case, I chose to use 1000D Cordura, which is waterproof to some degree and very resistant to abrasion. The Ripstop lining fabric prevents the tools from rubbing the waterproofing coating on the Cordura.

Of course, you will also need some thread, fabric cutting tools of your choice, side release buckle, webbing,  small pieces of velcro, grosgrain tape, and a sewing machine that can handle thick materials.

Here are all the pieces above organized in a convenient list:

  • 1000D Cordura fabric (shell)
  • Ripstop nylon (lining)
  • 1 inch side-release buckle
  • 1 inch webbing
  • Thread (at least Tex 50)
  • 1 inch grosgrain
  • 1 inch velcro (loop and hook)

Unfortunately, it’s hard to buy small quantities of the materials listed above. which makes this project not very cost-effective.  This is a good project to make use of some leftover materials from previous projects though.

Stich it All Up

This is a simple sewing project. There are only two main pieces of fabric: The shell and the lining fabric. If you are using Cordura, remember that the shiny side is the wrong side of the fabric and the non-shiny side is the right side.

Fabric Dimension

A 16″ x1 3″ square of Cordura and a 10.5″ x 13″ piece of ripstop fabric. Rounding the upper corners is useful so you don’t have overhanging material when you fold over the flap to close the tool roll. It also makes it a lot easier to sew the grosgrain tape (last step).

Steps

The first step is to cut the fabric. I created these templates out of cardboard so I could make more of these if I wanted to. I wrote down the measurements for the strap and the velcro pieces on the cardboard pattern to keep everything together. I used a rotary cutter but scissors are just fine. Just use what you have at home. There’s no science as to how to cut the corners round. I just picked a radius that looked aesthetic pleasing to me and went for it. Keep in mind that smaller-radius corners are harder to sew.

Next, I sewed the 11″ piece of loop velcro onto the outside of the Cordura shell (right side). The 2″ gap is intentional and it will make more sense after the strap is attached to the main piece of fabric.

Velcro loop on shell

Velcro loop on shell

Time to make the strap that will hold the tool roll closed and also serve as an attachment to secure the roll to your bike’s saddle rails. The strap starts out as a 27.5″ piece of 1″ nylon webbing. Cut one of the ends at a 45-degree angle. This makes it easier to insert the strap through the buckle. Both hook velcro pieces go on the same side of the strap.

With all of that done, time to sew the fabric pieces together and create the pockets. You want to sew the wrong sides together. I lined up the corners and sewed away around the perimeter of the ripstop fabric. Once that was out of the way, I hemmed the bottom part of the Cordura shell. This will add the finishing touches to the main pocket.

Fold over the bottom part of the Cordura shell using the ripstop nylon as a guide. Basically, the bottom of the main pocket will line up with the bottom of the ripstop fabric. The pictures below will help illustrate this step.

I laid the items I wanted to carry on top on the finished pocket so I could figure out how wide each pocket should be. I went with 2″ , 2″, 4.5″, and 4″ pockets.

Outlining the pocket dividers

Outlining the pocket dividers

Final step. Sewing the grosgrain tape around the rough edges gives this DIY tool roll a professional look. This will also prevent the rough edges from fraying.

A nifty tool roll

A nifty tool roll

The Pudding

Like some say, the proof is in the pudding. I’ve ridden quite a few miles with the tool roll attached to my saddle rails and it has not failed once. Luckily, I have not had to use it yet, but it gives me great piece of mind to know that I have the tools I need in case I need to fix a flat or take care of a technical issue. These pictures were taken after using my tool roll for a couple of months. The Wisconsin winter can be hard on any bike accessory, but the tool roll is still looking like new.

It’s For Sale

Ever since I published this how-to, I got all serious about sewing bike bags. Head out to troutmoose.com to check out the neat stuff I’ve been making and selling all over the world.

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1 Response

  1. Tonie Koonce says:

    Andre, that is amazing!!! It looks really well-made and efficient. I can’t wait to think of some people to buy them for that do a lot of biking. Good JOB!!!! Tonie

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