Beer & Biking: It’s a Cinch

Innovation by | May 2011 | Issue #52

The price of gas is soaring, and the warmer weather is encouraging you to get more exercise. Your bike is looking more and more like a great transportation solution. But although the bike does a good job of transporting you, getting you and the beer you promised to bring to the backyard barbecue isn’t quite as easy on two wheels and a small frame.

That’s where Geoffrey Franklin comes in. Franklin is a leather craftsman who produces functional yet beautiful leather pieces with his business, Walnut Architecture and Design Studio, in Portland, Ore.

An eighth-generation Oregonian who worked with leather tack and tools while growing up on his family’s eastern Oregon farm, Franklin was inspired by two of his favorite things—bikes and beers—to create three items that help the biking beer aficionado get from point A to point B … and never get thirsty.

“I love good design as an architecture student, and I loved learning how to work leather as a new medium,” Frankin says. “In these leather bicycle accessories, I’m expressing my love for good design, architectural concepts and natural materials in my favorite mode of transportation: bicycling.”

The first piece, what Franklin calls the “Can Cage,” is one of his earliest designs. The Can Cage ($45) is made of rigid leather that is hand-stitched to be structurally sound. Three clamps connect the cage to the bicycle; two on the handlebar and one around the stem spacers, keeping cans of beer snug in the cage even while riding off-road. Franklin says the Can Cage is designed to fit a standard-sized can, but could also be custom ordered to fit a favorite bottle size. A second piece, the Bicycle Mason Jar Cage ($57), is similar to the Can Cage, but holds a pint-sized mason jar (think smaller growler) full of beer.

But perhaps the most innovative—and simplest—was originally designed for a completely different purpose, one unrelated to beer. Franklin says it wasn’t until later that he discovered the device’s more liquid calling.

“The 6-Pack Frame Cinch was originally intended for bike polo mallets,” Franklin says. “I made a few of them as a custom project for Wade Atkinson, a Seattle resident and polo player. One day, I strapped some yard tools to my bike [using the cinches], and the floodgates of my imagination were opened. As soon as I strapped on the six-pack, I knew that this was too good to keep to myself.”

Apparently, so did others, as the 6-Pack Frame Cinch ($22) has gotten tens of thousands of views on Franklin’s online store. The concept is simple: A strap of walnut-dyed leather is secured around the bike’s top tube with metal hardware, with the strap threading through the handle of the six-pack for easy transport. One is great for six-packs, Franklin says, and two can be used to haul a number of longer items, like the aforementioned yard tools or polo mallets (… or maybe two six-packs). Franklin is also working on a cage that would hold a larger growler size.

“The process of design is a beautiful thing. Rarely do I start out with an idea without being pleasantly surprised to find other qualities or attributes I had not expected,” Franklin says. “I can’t say I designed any of my products with beer in mind. But when you really enjoy riding your bike and a fine glass of beer, the universe has a way of bringing those things together.”

Get more info on Franklin’s leather beer-transporting devices at his etsy shop, etsy.com/shop/WalnutStudiolo.