DIY Mountain Bike Pogies

This is some old stuff I’ve been dragging my feet on posting. This past winter, I made myself a pair of pogies. They’re awesome, but I do need to tweak them a little for next winter. After going through the process of making them, I’ll discuss what I need to change.

Step 1:
Figure out what shape you need. This is a pretty obvious step, but for me it turned out to be the trickiest. I WAS going to post printable patterns, but I’m not 100% pleased with how mine turned out, so I’m not going to share imperfect patterns. Use cardboard to make a mock-up. You need to fit your grips, brake and shifter controls, and have a little bit of extra space. I feel like I could use a little more interior space. At times, it’s a little tight reaching my controls.

DIY MTB Pogies

DIY MTB Pogies

Once you get the pieces together, assemble the cardboard and do a dry fit. This was an early version which was CLEARLY too small. I went back to the drawing board and made it bigger. On my final version, I also eliminated the fourth small panel on the inside curve to reduce seam count. In hindsight, I should have kept the panel, but possibly made it smaller than is shown here.

DIY MTB Pogies

While you’re doing this step, you should work out the materials you’re going to need. I used a combination of scrap material from my quilt project and new materials.

Material List:
Momentum90 DWR fabric (liner)
1000D Cordura (shell)
Thinsulate 150
3/4″ grosgrain webbing
3/4″ No-snag Velcro
3/4″ triglides
Polyester thread, both thinner lightweight for the liner, as well as heavy duty for the Cordura
Rare Earth magnets
Sharpies (I used silver for visibility on black fabric, and black for marking on the thinsulate).
Pins, clips, and/or masking tape
Sewing machine with a walking foot
Sharp scissors

Once you have your supplies, go ahead and start using your cardboard guides to trace onto the fabric. Be aware of the inner and outer surfaces of your fabrics, and only draw on the inner surfaces so you don’t have sharpie marks all over the visible parts of your pogies.

DIY mtb pogies

Also draw your seam allowances. You’ll cut on one line, and use the other as a sewing guide. In both the previous and the following pictures, you’ll see that I traced one out, and then modified the pattern, which required a bit of attention to make sure I cut in the correct spot. I used a 1/2″ seam allowance.

DIY mtb pogies

Once I made one panel, I would use the fabric as my guide to ensure that all subsequent panels matched. Make sure that for each pogie, the top and bottom panels are mirror images of each other (this matters when the fabric has an inner and an outer surface).

DIY mtb pogies

Once I had the liner fabric all measured and cut (you can see my seam allowances, too), I used it to trace onto the Thinsulate. Do your marking on the thin backing of the Thinsulate.

DIY Pogies

Cut out your Thinsulate panels.

DIY Pogies

Make sure you draw your seam allowances on the Thinsulate.

DIY Pogies

Trace out the shell fabric and cut it. Important note: Make your shell panels just a tad bigger than the liner panels. Remember, the liner has to fit comfortably INSIDE the shell, so the shell needs to make more room. For this, I drew my seam allowances OUTSIDE the traced pattern, rather than inside (like I did with the liner).

DIY Pogies

Run some tests with your sewing machine on some scrap fabric to make sure you have the machine’s settings (stitch size, thread tension, etc) correct before starting. The first bit of sewing will be to sew the Thinsulate to the liner fabric. Make sure that the thin backing of the Thinsulate sandwiches the insulation between the backing and your liner fabric. And make sure that the shiny inner side of the liner faces your insulation.

DIY Pogies

Once it’s sewn together, cut the seam allowance off of the Thinsulate only, like so.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

Once you have all that finished, go ahead and sew your panels together along your seam allowances. The “outer” surface of your liner fabric will be what touches your skin, and the insulation will be outside. Go ahead and dry fit everything to your bike to be absolutely sure that things will fit together.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

So long as everything fits well, go ahead and start assembling your shell fabric. Sew everything together with the shiny “inner” surface towards the outside. This will assemble the shell inside out, and will make sure that the shiny “inner” surface is on the “inside” of the pogie, as it will be touching the insulation. You will just invert them once you get the shell pieces fully assembled. I chose a pretty stiff fabric here for abrasion resistance. 1000D is probably more rugged than is minimally necessary, but in this case that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I used the Velcro, grosgrain webbing, and triglides to cinch the pogies around my handlebars to hold them on the bike. As you’re assembling the shell pieces, you need to keep in mind the placement of these items and make sure you sew them in where you need them.

Here you see where I placed them well after the fact. I got into a groove with the sewing and forgot to take the progress pics. You’ll see the end finishing seam, also, so add about 1/2″ beyond the visible edge for the seam allowance.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

I added reinforcing bar tacks where multiple seams intersected because I wanted to make sure these held together crashing through dry brush on slippery winter trails.

DIY Pogies

DIY Pogies

Slide the liner/insulation inside the shell, and sew them together at the ends. Go ahead and fold the seams and give them a nice finishing stitch.

Once you’re finished, you’ll get something like this:

DIY Pogies

Go ahead and fit them to your bike.

DIY Pogies

Now you might wonder what the rare earth magnets are for because I haven’t talked about them yet. Ok, so these I added after a ride on the pogies. I added them inside the pogie, so it was impossible to take a picture of that process. I epoxied a corresponding magnet inside the end caps on my ODI grips. I made little pockets out of 1000D fabric for magnets, and bar tacked them into each pogie. Placement was a bit of a trial-and-error process, and I still don’t have it exactly right on all of the pogies. Throughout this process, I had to make sure the magnet polarities lined up so they’d hold. I had to get some pretty strong ones in order to hold through the plastic and the fabric, in order to keep the pogies from flopping around and sagging on my bars.

Most other companies use a bit of cord or bungee that wraps around a special handlebar end cap. That would certainly be easier, but I wanted to be a little creative. Some folks who do the DIY bit have used stiffeners in their pogies to get them to hold their shape. I found that the 1000D fabric has plenty of stiffness, especially with the liner and insulation fabrics as well, that stiffeners are unnecessary.

Coldest Ride to Date. 1F at start

Now onto a couple of things I would do differently. I rode a couple hundred miles with these over the winter, so I feel I got a good impression of them. They’re VERY warm. In fact, they were warm enough that they were excessively warm unless it was below about 20F. If it was much warmer than that, my hands would be sopping wet from sweat. And that was with a thin, well-ventilated full-fingered glove. This goes to something I’d do differently. Primarily to use fabrics that ventilate better. The Momentum90 fabric has a pretty good DWR coating on it. I’m sure this inhibits ventilation somewhat. DWR is kinda unnecessary in a liner fabric for this application. I’m glad I used it for my down quilts, but it’s excessive for a synthetic insulation used in the snow and well below freezing at that.

My pattern could use tweaking. You might notice something in the following picture:

DIY Pogies

The inside curve puckers a bit. That happened when turning the shell inside-out. That heavy fabric doesn’t pucker gracefully. This is where I’d do well to have an additional panel along that seam to allow the fabric to curve better. It would have the additional benefit of providing a bit more interior volume. Depending on the size of that extra panel, it may not even be necessary to do the liner and insulation the exact same.

Also – the magnets. Nice idea, but didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. Even though the ones I used were the strongest I could find in a size that would fit on my handlebar end caps, it’s still rather easy for them to slip off if they’re even just slightly tugged. I’d skip the magnets and either go without entirely, or use cord or bungee.

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