Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Randonneur Handlebar Bag Stiffener à la Dr. Codfish (and others)

I got the idea from The Dr Codfish Chronicles Blog by Paul Johnson, but others have been onto this coroplast idea too. Will de Rosset posted about building the handlebar bag itself from nylon with a coroplast top frame for stability while keeping it extremely light weight, and then my neighbor across the street, Dylan the blogger behind if i had a bike blog..., built up his very own coroplast handlebar bag together with his partner Grace. Beautifully constructed and finished! And of course, old reliable Kent Peterson has already posted on this subject with his artfully crafted coroplast handlebar bag.

No way I was going to go that far, but I did have a hankerin' for stiffening up my Gilles Berthoud bag for the same sag-prevention reasons that Dr Codfish outlines. I love my bag stiffener, and it was a fun little project.

See that little gap between the white coroplast liner and the canvass of the bag in the right side of the photo above (the front of the bag)? I discovered last weekend it is the perfect new pocket into which I can slip my little plastic bag containing my brevet card! With this arrangement, any time I get the obsession to look "one more time" to make certain I still have my brevet card I can scratch that niggling obsessive itch. Very satisfying!

I also really like the way it brightens up the interior of the bag for finding little lost items.

Here you can see that I bolted right through the coroplast with the decalear-mounting bolts.

This is a photo of a Gilles Berthoud decaleur from the Peter White website.

Thanks, Dr Codfish, Dylan & Grace, and Will! Also, all you other unknown-to-me coroplastic pioneers. I may not be an early adopter, but I do know a good idea when I see one. And all these stiffening benefits without the need of any prescription. Positively stimulating!

For other posts about handlebar bags and their racks, please see:

Keep it stiff,



  1. Dear CurioR.,

    Others (including Kent P.) have posted on building full coroplast bags. Mine was a nylon knockoff of a GB25. I use a partial coroplast top frame to stabilize the bag.

    Dylan's bag was a modified (and likely improved) instance of the bag pattern I posted. He and Grace sure did a better job sewing it than I did! They did use a full coroplast stiffener.



  2. Good catches, Will. I edited, hopefully making things a little more clear. And thanks for reminding me of Kent's contributions.

    In 1976, for our very first cyclotour and of a tender age (16?), my school chum sewed his own panniers. It was a trip down the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. When we arrived in D.C., the city was festooned with Soviet flags honoring Brezhnev's state visit. My friends panniers were certainly more suitable for cyclotouring than my early Cannondales. He was quite the handy seamster way back then!

  3. Damn, that is one fine looking bicycle! You are coming up on a year anniversary in the next few months are you not? Certaily you have anough miles under the saddle to produce an in depth review of your bike; how it performs compared to the fantasies you entertained befor. I for one would be happy to hear your take on 650b. Also, your thoughts on the geometry, and any other aspects that come to mind. You know, the 'If I had it to do over again' analysis.

    Yr Pal, Dr C

  4. I'd second the depth review request.

    I've had the good fortune to have both a 650B machine and a 700C machine (each built to similar specs and identical fit/handling target), and I'd be interested indeed in your experience. I know I've developed a strong preference for one or the other depending on the ride for the day....



    William M. deRosset
    Fort Collins, CO

  5. That saddle sure looks broken in!

  6. It is the absence of really good, well-lit photos that has prevented me from a review of the bike. That, and I did want to wait a while to get to know her. Thanks for the urging. I will get to it soon.

    As to the saddle, I think my butt would argue it is it that has been broken in!