Carsick Designs sew for bike community
Cars make people fat, lazy and sick according to auto mechanic Brian Laplander, so when he launched a bike-centered business making detachable bicycle bags and accessories, the name “Carsick Designs” came easily to mind.
Laplander, 42, said he enjoys making items that reflect his own taste and style. After purchasing a commuter bike and spending two years on development, he decided to share his bags with the world.
“I started off just solving the challenges of buying my own bags,” Laplander said. “After that, I saw it as an opportunity to make bags for people that might want the same kind of thing, but couldn’t do it on their own.”
He sews all of Carsick Design’s merchandise himself, which is not a surprise since he comes from a line of crafters. His mother was an artist and his grandfather owned a carpentry shop. His biggest influence was his father, who made everything from yard furniture to bookshelves.
“He pretty much made whatever he needed, so I think I learned a lot of that from him,” Laplander said.
One of Laplander’s former loves was buying and repairing cars. With time, he grew tired and overwhelmed with the mounting costs associated with his hobby and longed for something new. He said he is not anti-car, but saw bikes as an economical alternative.
In 2007, he purchased an Xtracycle commuter bike and turned it into his next craft escapade, and the challenge to create a bicycle bag from scratch led to Carsick Designs.
He started off making an extra-large bag called a pannier for his Xtracycle, which attached to the sides of his bike from a bicycle rack. He makes a smaller version of those panniers for Carsick Designs.
The combination of Xtracycle and pannier encouraged the Laplanders to bike more often. Instead of biking for fun occasionally, they rode their bikes to work, the grocery store, coffee shops and participated in bike tours.
“We started using it in a utility sense, instead of a way to exercise,” Monica Laplander said. “It became more a part of our life.”
The couple said they turned their new active lifestyle into a business in 2009. Brian Laplander invents while Monica Laplander, 41, manages most of the business operation.
In addition to panniers, he developed ankle straps, which prevent pant legs from tripping on the bike chain, and a 10-inch-by 4-and-a-half-inch cylindrical bag that attaches to the bike seat or handlebars. However, panniers are their most successful product with around 25 sold.
“They’ll easily customize for you,” she said. “In fact, when I originally saw them, they didn’t have the color I wanted, something bright…. John (Boyer) at Edible Pedal had mentioned it to them, and they had made some orange ones and brought them in, so I ended up buying them.”
With Sacramento ranked the 25th most bike-friendly city in the nation by Bicycle Magazine, Carsick Designs complements a community of bicyclists who ride for work or leisure.
“I think that a lot of people view bikes as taking their bike to the bike trail,” Monica Laplander said, “and once they go home, they have to drive to the grocery store, but with the panniers it gives people the opportunity to be able to carry things and stop at different places on their bikes.”
Monica Laplander said she would like for their business to transition into more outdoor gear. The Laplanders hope to eventually turn their part-time business into a full-time endeavor.
For Brian Laplander, Carsick Designs is more about expressing creativity and less about business. Monica Laplander recommends that people just ride.
“I think a lot of people look at bike riding as a sport and that they need to go out and buy spandex shorts and expensive bikes,” she said. “You don’t need anything special to get on the bike and ride it.”