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How-To Make a Spoke Card | Personalising your bike on a budget

Spoke cards originated with bike messengers. They are laminated cards almost always handmade and are wedged between the spokes on the back wheel of your bike. The cards first appeared in the 1980's with Alley Cats – a race for bike couriers, which was held in cities all over the world.

The cards served as a number or an identifier as in the past these races were run out of the radar of authorities. Nowadays, they still serve the same purpose in mostly single-speed bicycle races around the world. You can make your own spoke card easily at home, plus, it's the cheapest way to personalise your bike.

Make lots of them and share them with your mates. Start trading them with other likeminded cycling legends.

It's a great way to show your personality on your pushy on a budget.

Things you'll need:
  • Scissors

  • Ruler or straight edge

  • Glue Stick

  • Paper

  • Access to printer

  • Access to a laminator and sheets of laminate (or clear packing tape)

  • Artwork - this can be as DIY as you like. Think comics, magazines, album covers etc

  • Your bike!

The Steps:

One: Create your artwork. You can use this Canva template

I recommend a 7.5cm x 7.5cm square but it really doesn't matter. Use your own judgment for the size you want. Too big, it'll be awkward on the wheel and too small it won't stay in the spokes. You can use a digital tool like Canva to create the artwork or you could paint or draw or use exiting magazines, posters etc. It's your own design, don't overthink it.

Note, in this template I have made a rectangle because I wanted to simply fold the design in half to have two sides to the card. You could create two unique squares and glue them together also.

Two: Print it out. I don't own a printer so a quick trip and less than 50 cents later at Officeworks (or similar) I had a handful of designs on the page.

Three: Cut around the edges of your design and either fold them to make a square (back to back, like the template example) or glue each square together back-to-back)

Four: If laminating (again, I got mine done at Officeworks) assemble your finished designed spaced out in the A4 laminate sheet. Allow enough space in between cards so they aren't touching each other, giving you enough space to cut around them.

If you use packing tape, I'd suggest using thicker stock paper for the artwork then putting a few layers of tape around the card.

Five: Cut out the laminate. This bit is important. Allow space around the card so the plastic stays pressed. If you cut too close to the design you'll see what I mean. Allow 0.75-1.5cm around the outside of your artwork.

Six: Put your spoke card between the spokes of your bike. Now, repeat this 100x and share them with your mates.

Send me your designs and finished products, I'd love to seem 'em.

Ride often folks

Spoke cards on an old Mambo Dragster bicycle
Spoke cards on an old Mambo Dragster bicycle

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