Odon Human is civil engineer by profession, but wow can he make bike bags! Timeless, unique and versatile, his range of NODO Packs bags have become a favourite on South Africa’s cycling scene. I recently caught up with Odon and asked him to share some insights into what he does and the inspiration behind his passion project…
To begin, can you share a little bit about yourself?
I’ve always loved geeking out on designing and making things. Figuring out how stuff works by taking them apart and thinking of ways to improve on the design. Hence, Lego was a pretty much an addiction as a child and that just evolved into engineering I guess. I now work as a consulting civil engineer, specifically in bulk water – designing and building dams, canals, hydropower projects etc. And making bike bags is my side hustle and passion!
What inspired you to start NODO Packs?
NODO Packs started with a search for clean, simple and well-made bike bags during my preparations for my first Tour of Ara ultra race. At the time, I just couldn’t find anything in South Africa, so I stalked (and have been ever since) makers from around the world for ideas, inspiration and trends on what I could try to make myself. After making the first bags for my bike, things grew bit by bit and now I have a couple of staple designs and also make custom bags to order.
Can you share a bit more about the design / manufacturing process?
I design, make and test everything myself. Figuring out ways of solving problems I didn’t know I, or others had, is the crux of it, so the design development-testing iteration process is why I do this (be it my own or other’s projects!). But its not just about making and selling stuff. We don’t need more stuff in the world. So I aim to make things that are well-made and that will be used for a long long time, and perhaps be passed on to your kids one day.
What’s the most popular bag that you’ve made? Do you have a personal favourite?
The Boerie (round) handlebar bag, is probably the most popular item that I make. It functionally sits in the middle of a range of bags and is thus super useful across a wide range of situations. However, I prefer the bags that straddle uses and are multi-functional like the Loafer (handlebar + sling bag) or Converter (backpack-handlebar bag-pannier). I love the challenge of finding the balance between functionality, features, beauty and efficiency and the process is super rewarding.
How did you get into cycling?
I’ve been riding a bike, probably like most people, since I was a small boy. I used to spend all day on my bike riding around the town we went to during holidays. I got pretty obsessed with rock climbing for most of my life during which I didn’t really cycle, except for a rather short foray into mountain biking at university. However, after I had three bikes stolen during my studies I was over it. Then, the combination of a recurring climbing injury and a bargain find on a classic Vitus got me into cycling for commuting and it just snowballed from there.
Do you have a favorite bike that you ride?
I’m sure no rider with more than one bike can answer that! They all have their special place (so I tell myself). I’d say that if I were to only have one, it would be my Cotic escapade 650b do it all bike.
What has been your greatest cycling experience or adventure?
Riding the Tour of Ara and Karoobaix are definitely embossed into my memory for ever as amazing experiences riding a bike and being part of that astoundingly beautiful landscape with other like-minded crazies. The simplicity of body, machine, landscape, eat and sleep is quite cathartic.
What are your dreams for the future of NODO Packs? Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
I dream of making NODO Packs a platform to share what I’ve learnt along the way (and of course learn more!) and to be able to employ people. Dreaming big: I wish for everyone to convert to using the bicycle as a mode of transport by making their bikes more useful through adding storage space!
Last thing, maybe as a fine print note, I’m not a shop, this is not a business, it’s a passion, so enjoy the process for what it is.
This story was originally published on WRTT (We Ride The Thunder). A blog dedicated to sharing inspiring stories of people in South Africa’s cycling scene.
Cover photograph © Tour Ara
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