While I bought a saddle-mounted Carradice bag off the internet, I still wanted a way to carry my waterproof, wind vest and high visibility vest on tomorrow’s Fleche Opperman 24 hour challenge. But I didn’t want to spend any more money. So I made myself a handlebar bag. And it cost me about fifty cents in cotton thread. It’s so simple that anyone can do it.
Take any old backpack that has a decent sized pocket in the lid. Don’t use your favourite hiking pack; just grab something that you never use anymore or go to your local thrift or opportunity shop to buy something super cheap (<$5). Here’s a hint: you’re going to be destroying the bag.
Cut the lid off the bag, retaining the buckle clips. Then remove the webbing and buckles that clip into the lid from the backpack (i.e. remove from backpack, not from lid).
Remove the webbing from the shoulder straps of the backpack. Not the foam but the webbing.
Sew the two webbing straps with buckles together. Then sew the straps with buckles horizontally across the outside of the lid. These will connect the bag to the handlebars by clipping into the buckle clips on the lid, which will be the lower part of the handlebar bag. My backpack lid has some D-rings on it so I used them to force the straps to stay in place. You could also sew them onto the edges of the lid instead.
If you had to cut the shoulder straps, sew each of them together. Then sew them onto the bag lid vertically. You will use these to cinch in the handlebar bag to hold it’s weight and keep it off the brake and gear cables. I sewed mine so that the webbing runs between the D-rings and sewn sections of the webbing with buckles. This will stop the webbing from slipping off the side of the handlebar bag.
This is how the lid of my old backpack looks after I have sewn the webbing on. I am holding the webbing with buckles. The other pieces of webbing are the shoulder straps.
The zip on the lid of the old backpack will become the zip on the handlebar bag opening. My old backpack lid was so old I had to do some sewing to reinforce the lid and zip.
The sewing is now complete and you are ready to mount your new handlebar bag. Place the lid buckle clips on the lower front section of the handlebar bag then wrap the buckle clips around behind the handlebars and clip them into the buckles that you have just sewn on. Cinch in the straps so it sits firmly.
Wrap the old shoulder straps around the handlebars and cinch them in to take up the weight of the bag. This will prevent the handlebar bag from placing weight on the brake cables. I crossed my webbing straps so that the one sewn on the left went on the right of the stem and v.v. This way the straps will provide more support through the middle of the bag.
The final bag doesn’t take up much real estate because the webbing is flexible. You can also still use your handlebar mounted headlights (this is where this simple design differs from a commercial handlebar bag).
The handlebar bag will sit narrow and low on the front handlebars. It’s large enough to hold a waterproof, wind vest, high visibility vest and space blanket. You have to stop to access it, so it’s not as convenient as a commercial bag. But it’s still easy to access everything because you just uncinch the tightening straps and unclip the buckles to gain access; you don’t have to totally remove the bag. To close, you just zip it back up and recinch the four straps.
My bike is ready for tomorrow’s 369km ride. I have my ankle straps wrapped around the frame, frame pump attached to my left side front fork (that’s the verge-side here in Australia), food and cell phone in the top-tube bag, and food and spares in my seat post bag.