Thursday, January 5, 2012


What good is randonneuring if you don't have some awesome luggage?

Ten months into this bizarre little microcosm of the cycling world, I've tried a few different gear setups... First there was a dinky little handlebar sack tied onto the front of my track bike with shoelaces for the Birkie:

While the different greens clashed quite nicely, the bag was pretty useless, and has since been gathering dust in a back corner of my basement.

Sometime after that, I did a 300K with my old Trek 520 and a trunk bag, like so:

That definitely worked better, but required a full rear rack and was completely inaccessible while riding. Thus again, off to the basement with thee.

Next up was my first attempt at a 400K, so I (over)loaded two Ortlieb panniers and stuck 'em on the front of my Trek. The handling of a front-loaded touring bike is pretty damn awesome, but again... lots of weight, gotta pull over to use it, fairly bulky and heavy. Great for camping, not quite right for rando:

After a woeful DNF in that 400, quite a few things were purchased -- a new bike, and two new bags. See here:

(Thanks to Lesli L. for the last three photos)

Well, perhaps I should say two used bags... a pair of identical Carradice Nelsons. One with its side pockets removed, for use as a front bag. The rear is one of the most common things you'll see on a brevet, and for good reason -- excellent construction, great waterproofing, nice big size, and with a matching support, perfectly stable and no issues hitting your thighs or fender. The "front" one did a passable job for as long as I used it, but it functioned like a saddle bag hastily modified for use on the opposite side of the bike. No real way to get into it while riding, as the flap opened in the wrong direction. Fine for storing an extra set of clothes and food, but there are obviously better options out there.

However... I'm cheap. I don't wanna plop down close to (or more than) $200 for something from Sackville, Nigel Smythe, Acorn, or Berthoud. So I kept using the front Nelson for several more rides as I plotted something nefarious, handmade, and cheap...

And this is the final product of my machinations:

It's a camera bag, with about an hour of half-assed labor and sloppy stitching to get it into a passable imitation of a classic box-shaped handlebar bag.

First I added some under-bag loops like so, using old scraps of helmet strap:

Those loops were made to accept what was once the bag's shoulder strap, chopped in half with some scrap velcro added:

Cut and measured to fit onto this finely made Nashbar/Sunlite/el cheapo front rack:

Attached in a manner like so:

Add two extra elastic doohickey looped around the drops for some stabilization:

I really should cross out the "Profoto" and make it say "Prorando" or something... also, note the oodles of space for your hands on the flats, and the fact that the bag opens in the proper direction while in the saddle:

There's no top map compartment; instead, a useless handle. Maybe I'll work on that next. The inside is pretty bare-bones, with one zippered mesh compartment and, well, a big open space:

Side (non-drive, sorry) view, plus my dog, plus the awesome front end of my commuter bike ('83 Stumpjumper Sport with rad biplane fork, Rev-X-Roks wheel, Big Apple tire, humongous Wald basket with a backpack stuffed inside, bull moooooooses bars, et cetera):

And, that's all. No ride report or feedback yet, I wrapped up the sewing and decided it was time for beer and soup. Happy trails!

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