The idea for the Framepack was initially just a passing thought at Parallel, our small engineering company based in the Boston area. We were designing a storage system for a different project that needed to hold a few items and store out of the way when not in use. After sketching a handful of different ideas, we came up with the concept behind the Framepack, but quickly set it aside because it wasn’t the right solution for that particular problem. However, we live in Cambridge, Massachusetts and one of the fastest ways to get around the city is on a bicycle. After spending too many days either sweating through our shirts from riding with a backpack, or forgetting a pack altogether and dangling shopping bags from the handlebars, we decided that our initial concept might work for bicycles.
So, we bought a 50 year old Singer sewing machine from Craigslist and started playing with fabric at Parallel’s engineering shop. We finally managed to make the first prototype after a couple days of struggle. It didn’t really fit the bike, the straps were too weak, the buckles broke, and it ripped quickly. But, despite the failures and our terrible sewing technique, the concept itself seemed to work.
Many (many) iterations later, we solved the problems that plagued the initial prototypes and finally built something that felt like a solid product. The next issue quickly became the challenge of scaling up production. Typically, you would go to a big cut and sew manufacturer, give them a sample, and then receive a small production run of prototypes a few months later. But the Framepack has some unique manufacturing challenges, and every group we met gave us an incredibly long lead time and wanted to charge us so much that the business just wasn’t viable. After all of the meetings, we headed back to Cambridge feeling dejected.
We thought long and hard about the project before we had a somewhat crazy idea. We learned a lot about sewing when developing the prototypes, and our expertise at Parallel is mechanical engineering, so we began to wonder if we could automate some of the process and build the Framepacks at our workshop in Stoneham. We started browsing Craigslist and Ebay for sewing equipment and eventually found a few machines that fit our needs. A couple of sketchy transactions later, we became the owners of some very old, very used, but equally badass industrial sewing machines.
It took a few of months to fix up the equipment and nail down our process, but we are proud to say that all of our packs are now designed, engineered, and sewn right here at Link in Massachusetts. Bringing the production process in-house has allowed us to iterate on the design and build custom Framepacks for almost any frame. With just a few measurements, we can turn around a Custom Framepack for your bike in three weeks or less.
Link isn’t a business that will change the world overnight, but we hope to make biking a bit easier for everyday life. If we can get more people on bikes and out of cars, we can make our environment a little cleaner, our cities a little less congested, and our people a little healthier. We hope these small changes can eventually lead to a real impact.