Who are the people behind Wayward Riders?
I (Andy) design and sell the Wayward Riders Louise dropper post harness. Two friends and tremendous humans, Vic and Perrine, do the sewing parts and a nice fella called Gary laser cuts them. Vic and I go way back and used to flat together in the mid 2000s. My partner, Eileen, hassles me about doing marketing and together we do the final bits of putting them together and boxing them up to post out. Eileen is also the inspiration, general awesome person, and driving force behind all of our bikepacking trips.
We’re all based in or near Wellington, New Zealand / Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa.
How did the brand get started?
I was lucky enough to take a few years off work and bikepack through many big mountain ranges around the world with Eileen. Over that time I tinkered with our gear a lot, refining things a few times on the journey. I eventually made our saddle bag harnesses out of a mix of various parts from racks, some webbing and a flexible Ikea chopping board. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and that actually became the basis of the design for the Louise harness. I had several people ask about that rack, so I ended up writing instructions on how to make it and shared them with anyone who asked.
I guess it’s fair to say I like making things, thinking about making things, and when you’re cycle touring you have a lot of time to think about everything. Long term bikepacking is also really hard on gear, so I got to learn about wear and tear and different stresses on materials. When we returned to Aotearoa I got back into mountain biking and wanted a way to carry gear on a dropper post for multi day missions. I had this idea kicking around from cycle touring so I spent a few months designing and prototyping to refine it.
Tell us a bit more about the Louise dropper post harness:
It’s a minimal dropper post harness called Louise that works with all sorts of drybags. I didn’t really set out to create a business, but I thought if I could offer something unique that solved my own problems, it might be interesting to other people too. With the Louise I decided it’d be worth putting it out there if I could make it twice as stable, half the weight and half the price of most other things on the market. The investment in gear can be a huge barrier for people getting started, especially if you’re just hoping to get out on the odd weekend mission, so I wanted something simple, accessible and long lasting.
I am a big fan of harnesses and drybags, as opposed to all in one bags. I like being able to replace or change bags if need be, remove them from the bike quickly, and pack all your stuff in the tent in the morning if it is pissing with rain, as opposed to packing all your goods on the bike.
Louise Sutherland is the inspiration for the product name, a badass Kiwi woman who travelled around the world from the 1950’s. She has a few books which show what an amazing spirit and openness to the world she had, and also how much harder bike touring was back then! It’s a good reminder while we roll around on our plush steeds with our super light gear.
What excites you about the Australian & New Zealand bikepacking scene?
It’s awesome seeing more and more people adventuring on bikes and experiencing the freedom and magic of it. The investment in new cycle trails and mountain biking tracks is enticing more people onto bikes. There are also more events on the calendar, creating opportunities and inspiration for ordinary people to take on some pretty epic adventures. These are all great things in my view.
Where’s your favourite place your gear has taken you? Or that someone has taken your gear?
The thing I like most about working on Wayward Riders is getting messages from people about what they have planned or the missions they’ve been on. I love seeing a Louise harness flying down some single track with reckless abandon.
Whenever anyone asks me where the greatest place to go riding is I usually respond with the Indian Himalaya. In that beautiful neck of the woods there is amazing and very rewarding riding, incredibly good food, lovely people, several religions, and every village has its own feel.
What’s next for Wayward Riders?
We’re selling more and more harnesses, and receiving some positive feedback and reviews from people which is really nice. So at this stage, it’s continuing to expand the number of Louise harnesses we make. Eileen and I both ride front harnesses I have made, which work really well. However, I feel there are good front harness options on the market already, so I’m not in any great hurry to commercialise them!
Any other Aussie/NZ makers, creators and scene builders you want to shout out:
The Kennett brothers have been building the cycling scene, infrastructure and community in Aotearoa since way back, have an impressive legacy, and are really nice guys. There are small companies doing amazing things from all over the world. Harry from Wizard Works and Scott from Porcelain Rocket in particular gave me great advice and encouragement when I first put a couple of prototype photos on Instagram, which I’m really grateful for. I don’t know the Southern Lite Packs fella, but I dig his open approach to sharing ideas, fabric orders, and knowledge and how that fosters the community.