In 2014, Nick Hand a graphic designer and printer, and Robin Mather, a frame builder, built a bicycle to carry an Adana 8x5 printing press. The aim was to ride from Bristol, where Nick runs a letterpress print shop, to Mainz – the place where printing with moveable type originated.
At the beginning of this year, Nick mentioned that he was planning another trip on the bike, this time from Lands End to John O’Groats. The idea was to visit places along the way that are known for making one thing in particular, documenting the journey by printing en route. Nick asked if we would make a set of fabric covers and bags for the bike to replace the heavy plywood boxes that he had used to carry the paper, ink and type, as well as his own equipment, for the first trip.
Josh and I were really excited about the prospect of making a full set of bags for such a unique bike, but Adana Press covers aren’t something we had much previous experience of making! We sat down with Nick and discussed the functional requirements of the bags, which then informed the size, features and fabric choices. We then made templates from the press and the bike to ensure that the bags and cover would fit to the bike once we’d made them.
We chose to use a combination of 18oz and 14oz canvas, finished with an emulsified wax to give the fabric additional waterproofing and rigidity. This finish can be re-applied to the fabric to top-up the weather protection for future trips. We used black veg-tanned leather and copper rivets for handles and closures, and stainless steel marine fixings to attach the cover underneath the plywood platform that supported the press. We kept everything quite low-key and understated – because Nick would be riding 50+ miles every day before setting up the bike to print, the focus was on practicalities.
Nick’s returned from the Lands End to John O’Groats journey, and the printing bike and bags have been to several festivals over the summer. Hopefully they serve him well over many rides, both big and small, in the future.