How to share this … it’s difficult

Melbourne – 0 km
March 2016

It all started with a good idea born from the necessity to take tools with me on this trip.

After percolating which tools to bring, I finally had established yet another list (my wife ought to be proud of me doing lists at all …- skating on thin ice).
Subsequently I complemented my tool collection a bit more, so each position on the list was ticked-off.

Now to the next: where and how to store it on ze bike??

The space under the pillion seat on the 1150Gs is the ‘normal’ space, however allows only the bare minimum of tools – I had a fair few more.
Alright, obvious solution: store it in one of the panniers, right at the bottom. The –full-size- pannier destined to hold all my clothing was the choice, as the clothes weighted relatively little compared to the tools. That also would even out the weight of both panniers.

After spending a few hours surfing – mainly US – websites for tool rolls, soon realised I could I came to the conclusion to create my own (that was the bright idea!).

Initially I thought canvass material would be best, but then considering this option a bit further I recognised that our sewing machine wouldn’t cope with such thick – when folded – material. Next choice was a denim fabric, reasonably strong, durable and flexible. Moreover my good friend Marcos not only had an industrial sewing machine and the enthusiasm, time and generosity to help me sewing it all together.

Thus, one weekend, equipped with my Spotlight fabric and German unbreakable Guetermann thread and my tools I rolled up at his shed. His sewing machine, while resembling somewhat an industrial appearance (perhaps a light-industrial area, very light), soon displayed its own temperament when trying to sew double-folded denim … it made a mess of it. Several re-adjustments of bobbins, thread-tension, swearing and throwing hands in the air enabled us to tame this little bugger of a thing….

Eventually, with great persistence and after many attempts we got it together. Marcos did all of the sewing and I stood over his shoulder holding the fabric and made ‘helpful’ comments.
The end result looked certainly ‘hand-crafted’ but fulfilled its purpose: holding the tools together in an organised fashion. However, the look of it … well, wasn’t quite to my Teutonic standard of form and function. I am trying to be diplomatic here…


Marcos and I just had spend most of a weekend on this task and I trotted off with my large, blue and perhaps a little cumbersome tool roll.

Don’t get me wrong, we did get a lot of things right: the length of the roll fitted exactly into the bottom space of the pannier, thus maximising every inch. It certainly had a space for each tool, had a large flap to rest tools and nuts&bolts and we even inserted two flat, strong earth-magnets into the flap, so nothing would roll off into the dust.

But, deep inside my sensibility I missed the ‘form’ part of our labour.

A few weekends later I walked across the Saturday market in Yea, Victoria. Always a great ride from the northern suburbs especially the road between Strath Creek and Flowerdale must be recommended. There was “Happy Jan” on her stand selling gaiters, underarm sleeves and even Kangaroo-Leather Finger gloves – all intended for gardening – good, handmade stuff. Check it out for yourself . We struck up a conversation, reminiscented over past hippie days and discovered we both had travelled in Africa. Eventually the topic moved onto my upcoming travel preps and the tool roll came up. So she offered to have a go at it.

After one more meeting selecting materials and showing her my tools (careful…!) which needed to be stowed, she came up a week later with this:



… even using some scrap Kangaroo Leather as a wrap-around and tie-down strap. A piece of home (Skippy?) to be taken along to my journey – how great is that??!

Well, dear Reader, how could I resist!? Would you have been able to…?

Still feeling guilty about it now, even when writing these line, I choose the Kangaroo roll. It is more elaborate, more small details and pouches for small bits than the blue one. It packs smaller, and still had the exact dimensions to fit into the bottom of the pannier.

I promised Marcos to use the blue roll on the re-born Triumph upon its return. and now I shall carry a piece of Happy Jan’s work around Asia.


2 thoughts on “How to share this … it’s difficult

  1. Tom will tell you it’s better to have the kangaroo tied around the tool kit than the tyres … Good move.

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