A few years ago, 2007, I wrote about a luggage tag that REI made that I made into an incredibly useful key case. Since I liked it so well, REI eliminated it from their product line almost immediately. I’ve tried a collection of key cases, rings, and other crap that mostly sucked in the last six years. Nothing even got close to being useful, dependable, safe for my non-ignition keys under extreme off-road conditions, non-abrasive on my bike’s console and ignition switch housing, or even slightly cool looking.
When my wife made me stop at a leather shop to look for belts, I was impressed by the owner’s attitude and his work. She didn’t buy a custom belt, but I went back the next day with my current key case and we talked about what I wanted in a case. A couple of days later, he called me with the news that it was done and ready to pick up. It is a work of art. After seeing it, my wife forced me to take her back to the shop to have a custom belt designed.
The case has two pouches for insurance, registration, identification, roadside assistance membership cards, or pretty much any business card-sized information you like to carry. There are two ring loops; one for the ignition key and one for your other keys and a snap-secured pouch to keep those keys from getting lost or escaping the case and gouging up your motorcycle’s console or ignition switch. As delivered, it has two metal loop rings for the keys, but I’m going to change out those parts with a pair of flexible aircraft cable loops with knob-and-socket locks.
Even cooler, I negotiated a deal with the shop to make more cases for what I think is pretty reasonable price: $25 delivered. Considering that REI’s old nylon case cost about $10 shipped (if they weren’t stocking it in the store), this soft leather, custom case is a trip. If you want one, let me know and I’ll put together an order or two. I’d like to order them in, at least, lots of five, but I won’t hold anyone’s money for more than a week before placing the orders with the leather shop.
In my usual clever, dedicated, intense test engineering style, I crash tested the case a couple of times last week on the sand in Elephant Butte. No lost keys, no damaged ignition switch, a slightly bruised ego and right shoulder, and a bit of lost fuel while I wrestled the bike upright in foot deep sand. Turns out, I still can’t judge sand well enough to know when it’s deep and when it’s moderately hard-packed.