A CONVERSATION WITH RESTRAP
We recently caught up with Jon at Restrap, a UK based family-run business that specialises in making hand-made outdoor accessories to find out more about the inspiration behind their cycling travel bags.
HI, IT’S GREAT TO CATCH UP WITH YOU. TELL US A BIT ABOUT RESTRAP AND HOW THE LAST YEAR HAS IMPACTED YOUR BUSINESS.
The last year has been a crazy one for us. To start with, we weren’t sure how the pandemic would affect the cycling industry. When the first lockdown happened we were preparing for a tough year, but as things moved on we found it was much the opposite. With flights and overseas travel essentially cancelled for the year, we’ve seen that a lot of people have caught the bikepacking bug and looking for adventures closer to home or trying something new, it’s great to see.
We’ve seen a huge amount of growth through our business to cope with the level of demand. After starting 2020 with 28 people, we now have over 50 people working for us and we’ve since moved to a new workshop.
TALK US THROUGH THE DESIGN PROCESS AND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND EACH PRODUCT.
The design process varies, but the main inspiration behind each new product we make is always the same. Most of us here at Restrap are into bikepacking ourselves, we all ride regularly and use the kit all the time. Some days we might have a chat in the office about a cool idea, or ask ourselves “what would be a really interesting way to solve this problem?”
For example, our founder Nathan, wanted to carry a drone on a tour to film with, but the food pouch on the front was a little too small. We originally made a larger one to fit the drone, and then finessed that prototype a little to shape the final product. So now we have the option of a larger food pouch for our Bar Bags. Because we make everything in-house we can experiment with new designs on the spot, test them out ourselves and tweak the design until we’re satisfied it’s the best it can be.
Restrap in Japan, watch the short film here.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PERFECT CYCLING ADVENTURE?
My perfect cycling adventure personally, is to ride somewhere that’s kind of uncharted, unexplored and unridden. I want to experience as much new stuff as possible. Food, roads, views.
Our tour from Osaka to Tokyo was exactly that - we found that bikepacking and cycling in the heart of Japan aren’t as big as it is in Europe, so we were riding on some roads that had barely been ridden. One day we cycled over a pretty big pass through Mount Kanmuri right in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t see a single car until 2pm that day and looking on Strava, only 7 other people had recorded a ride over that pass.
On the subject of our tour across Japan - I’ll plug the film we made of the tour. We’re all super proud of how it came out!
WHAT ARE YOUR BIKEPACKING OR TOURING ESSENTIALS? DO YOU KEEP THINGS MINIMALIST OR CARRY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE?
I keep things as minimal as I can. The perfect pack is a tour when you use every item at least once (hopefully not tools and spares though). I hate carrying stuff in my jersey pockets, so I tend to pack a little more on the bike.
In terms of essentials? Music is up there. Some days you’ll be having a bad time. Headwinds, rain, you might be bonking or you just want to be alone from your mates for a bit. It’s always good to have some music and podcasts to get you through it. The other main essential has to be a musette bag to carry beers to camp.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER BEFORE DECIDING WHAT TO PACK?
The main thing to consider is what level of comfort you’re prepared to put up with. That has a huge influence on what kit you bring. Personally, I’m quite happy wearing the same cycling kit for the whole trip and washing it where I can. It’s a bit grubby sure, but that’s just how it is.
If you’re happy bivvying in a bus stop in the middle of nowhere then you’ve got a lot of options, but some people might prefer to load up panniers up to the nines and have a super chilled time.
Want to find out more about the differences between bikepacking and bike touring? Follow the link below for more.
WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO BIKEPACKING AND ARE STILL LEARNING HOW TO PACK LIGHT?
It sounds weird, but choose the bags you want to run first. You’ll always fill the space you’ve got - so if you want to pack light the best way to do it is by restricting your capacity so you only carry the essentials.
Shakedown trips are essential before a big tour. Not only are they great fun, but it’s super important for tweaking your kit and refining your setup. That’ll give you the chance to chuck any kit that you don’t need so you’re not hauling it around for two weeks as dead weight.
An example of this is cooking kit. We’ve found on most tours we don’t really use it. Covid times are a little different of course, but normally you can get food in most places. And eating local food is part of the fun.
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING SET UP YOU'VE SEEN?
Anything on mountain bikes gets a big thumbs up from all of us here. There’s just something super cool about loading up a bike that is probably not meant for cycle touring and heading out into the wild. We started uploading our customers’ builds to our site on our Build Gallery and we’ve been getting some really cool stuff sent in.
Thanks Jon! You can shop our range of Restrap bags here.