So… Eh it’s been a while and I’m sorry for that. I certainly didn’t think that it would be this long, events conspired, as they say.. But I’m here and it’s time to write up some MYOG projects for all you lovely people out there. First up is my take on a handlebar bag.
Quickly after getting my racing bike I realised I’m very much the kinda person that likes to use my bike as an alternative form of transport, after all I am a dane and cycling as a means of transport in daily life is very much a thing here. And so while a ride across town, to or from work, or down to the grocery shop won’t necessarily leave you sweating profusely. A ride from the city and out to my parents in the suburbs certainly will. Also and don’t get me wrong I love me some lycra when I’m riding, it’s just that sitting down to dinner in sweaty and rapidly cooling bib shorts is much much less lovely. So not long after I got my bike I made a simple frame bag for it, so that I could bring a change of clothes for those occasions when wearing lycra is either not practical… or indeed socially acceptable.
Of course once I’d made that first bag… I soon started to think about how it would be nice if I could maybe bring a pair of shoes. And maybe a bit of other stuff… Well to be honest a lot of other stuff. Which brings us to the here and now and the handlebar bag or roll. Which I judged to be the easiest bike bag project right after the frame bag, which is both easier to make and impacts the handling of your bike less than the handlebar bag. And yes I do realise that with that in mind the logical thing to do would be to post about making a frame bag first. Unfortunately either I didn’t think to take any pictures or they might’ve perished along with my old phone.
Step 1 – Size does matter
And more so if you have the classic road bike drop bars because the bag sits in the space between your drops. On a mountain bike or any bike with straight bars you’ll have more freedom to choose a length. But if you want to keep using those drops without the bag getting in the way you will need to measure the space between your drops and factor in a bit of space for your hands to grip the drops.
Aside from length there’s also a question of girth or diameter. This too will depend on the geometry of your particular bike. Here you are limited by the distance from the top of your bars to the top of your wheel. You won’t get anywhere fast with your handlebar bag resting on your front wheel. Although it will of course add extra breaking power on long descents… But I wouldn’t recommend it.
So first up measure the space between your drops and the distance from the top of your front wheel to your handlebar. Or alternatively you can fill one or more dry bags of different sizes(volume) with clothes and experiment with what size will fit best and base your harness on that dry bag. Given that this style of handlebar bag is based on creating a harness for a dry bag it’s an easy option if you already have one or more dry bags lying around. If you have a long head tube and/or haven’t slammed your stem you might have more room in that case you can experiment with using a bigger size dry bag but only filling it half way to make a short fat handlebar bag.
Step 2 – Measure and cut your fabric
Remember to factor in a bit of seam allowance. I went for quite a wide one in order to stiffen up the edges a bit. No need to think too much about right and wrong sides of the fabric since the design is completely symmetrical.
I chose to round the corners because I like the look of it. But I don’t think that it affects the function of the harness in any way. So you can leave out this step in the process it’s entirely up to you.
Step 3 – Get out your sewing machine
Place the fabric right sides together, pin it and sew the pieces together along the marked line. Remember to leave an opening for later when you have to turn the fabric inside out. If you cut slits along the corners the rounded edge will come out looking better with no bunching or overlapping of the fabric. Turn the fabric inside out, pin it along the edges and sew along the edge taking a bit more care to make the seam straight and even since this is the seam that will show. I did two seams about a centimeter apart, again trying to stiffen up the edges a bit.
Step 4 – Webbing, buckles and spacers
I chose to have three straps but you could probably get away with having only two. If so I would however choose to place the two straps closer to the center of the “roll” so that there’s less risk of the straps sliding of the ends of the slippery silnylon dry bag. For me with where I wanted to attach the roll to my handlebars, it made more sense to add an extra strap in the center of the roll instead. If you have a dry bag made of a less slippery fabric there might be no need to worry about this. I know that they come in a more sturdy version made from what I would describe as a rubber coated fabric and these are much less slippery.
To make room for your fingers to grip the tops on your handlebar you will need some form of spacer between the handlebars and the bag. Here I’ve used some pieces of an old foam sleeping pad. It works fine but i don’t doubt that something less easily compressed would work even better. It’s actually something that I’m looking into for my own bag. Finally it’s worth thinking about the kind of webbing that you choose to use for attaching the harness to your bars. You want to be able to cinch it down tight and for it not to slip over time with the movement and bouncing of the bag. And that’s about it. Although I do have an update coming for this bag sometime soon.