Living on the second floor of an apartment with only a narrow stairwell for access, I spend a great deal of time carrying my bike up and down stairs. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and I’m amazed I haven’t injured myself – or fallen down the stairs thanks to an off-balanced load. The 550 cord braided handle helped, but was neither elegant nor comfortable.
I was therefore very excited to receive my Walnut Studiolo “Little Lifter” bicycle frame handle for Christmas this year. The Little Lifter is the Walnut Studiolo signature product, launched by a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Design Store. Heavy credentials for a bike accessory! But the praise seems well warranted. The black leather handle I received is made of luxurious leather and buckles easily in place. It looks much more elegant than the cord handle my husband rigged up, and completes the sartorial look of my bike.
But this stylish handle is more than a thing of beauty – the width of the handle actually seems to somehow balance my bike better when I carry it, thus easing the strain of carrying a heavy bike loaded down with filled front basket and an overstuffed pannier (or two). On the company’s website, they explain the ergonomics of where most cyclists carry their bikes (the top tube), and the awkward strain they then put on their arm, shoulder and back. I can promise that this handle eases much of the physical stress, even compared to the rope handle I had before. Many of us look to our bicycles for health reasons too, so shouldn’t a more ergonomic way to lift your bike, when needed, be a serious purchase?
Made from tanned leather from US-raised steer, the handle is available in black, natural, honey and dark brown, giving everyone a color that fits their bike style. Walnut Studiolo sells leather conditioner that they claim is not only weather-proofing, but has antifungal and antimicrobial properties as well. I wasn’t really concerned about that, but it’s good to know, right?
In addition to the Little Lifter, Walnut offers beautiful leather braided bar wraps, leather panniers, leather beer can holders, mud flaps, and more. Owner Geoffrey Franklin, a Hugh Jackman-lookalike, manages the Portland, OR-based company along with his wife and a very small team, designing and creating all the products by hand in their workshop. Despite being such an American-made company, they do ship internationally, so you can make sure your bike is stylishly accessorized no matter where you live.
Read more from Elizabeth on her blog, tinlizzieridesagain.