Friday Rando Gear: Berthoud and Rickshaw Bar Bags

Randonneurs are showing renewed interest in front/handlebar bags as folks realize it can be easier to have a few things right there rather than stuffed in pockets or in a rear saddlebag.

MG and I have yet to embrace the full-size bar bag, but we are big fans of mini-bar bags. These are the kind that strap to the bars and are small enough not to require a front rack or integrated support system.

For our long rides we always use the Gilles Berthoud saddle bag up front. See it at Peter White Cycles. With its simple toe strap mount system it can be lashed up and over the stem and underneath to the steerer column. I can easily reach the front and unhitch the elastic closure to get the top fully open while riding, or tuck my hand into the side without lifting the top.

Our other favorite these days, for shorter rides, is the $25 Pipsqueak from Rickshaw Bagworks. This little guy attaches via two straps over the handlebars, and the top flap secures with velcro in the front.

It is just big enough for a wallet, pocket camera and a couple of energy bars or an apple. Rickshaw, primarily a messenger bag outfit, will make them to order at no extra charge in a wide variety of colors and piping.

The nice thing is that both bags can move from bike to bike in an instant, and we think they look great.

One of the fun parts of our sport is customizing the bikes to fit our unique needs and styles. What do you do to keep the necessities close at hand?

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4 thoughts on “Friday Rando Gear: Berthoud and Rickshaw Bar Bags

  1. Custom front bag & custom front rack — neither of which are very small. It took me two brevets with rear bags to convince me to fire up the sewing machine and correct that horrible mistake, and as a bonus having a huge bag means I can use it for to pick up sewing supplies, plus do (light) grocery, bagel, and donut shopping without having to drag out my xtracycle.

  2. Now that I have the low-trail 650B bike I want, I realize there is no bag for it. I have the tallest Berthoud, which is probably sized for 700C rather than 650B. I ride a 61cm frame and the top of tallest Berthoud bag ends just above the bottom of my drops. I ride it, but the cue sheet holder is too far away to read. :( So many of these micro-scale bag makers have hopelessly long waiting lists (e.g. Zugster) or don’t do custom/tall. I would be willing to part with a considerable sum…

    Any ideas where one could find a similar sort of rando bag in a taller (or custom) size?

    • This is also an issue that has kept me from using large bar or front bags — I prefer to simply attach a cue sheet to my stem with a binder clip, zip-tied to the stem over rubber shim.

      It’s no good with wide-formatted cue sheets and maps, of course, but it’s a trade-off I can live with because it lets me flip a cue sheet on the fly.

      One of the taller bags might be the Ostritch sold by Velo Orange.

    • It’s not really that hard to make a boxy rando bag if you have any sewing skills (if not, I could certainly make you one, if you didn’t mind a month’s delay.)

      Really tall headtubes make it /interesting/ to do bags for; the typical shallow rando bag would end up being something like a deep mailbox if stretched up to meet the top of the bars. My rando bag is only about 220mm deep, but I still occasionally lose things in it during brevets; I’d hate to see just what I’d lose if I had a long headtube and bars set high :-)

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