04 May, 2009

VO Handlebar Bags are Here

One of the first products that I wanted VO to have made were handlebar bags. Trying to find a factory that could make them to our satisfaction proved very difficult. In fact it took over two years. So I'm really happy to say that the first production run has just arrived.


They are made from stiff dry waxed canvas. This fabric is thick and waterproof. The leather trim is actually all real leather. The only plastic on this bag is the three stiffener panels, the map pocket, and the snap link on the included shoulder strap.


The bag opens toward the rider. The size is about 20cm high x 16cm deep x 28cm wide. There are handlebar straps included, but this bag is really designed to be used with a decaleur. There is also a strap on the bottom. This means that it can be strapped to a front rack, but I might use an old toe clip strap rather than the short buckle strap that's included. With the bag strapped to the rack platform and the back loop slid over the rack's upright, the bag is quite secure even without a decaleur.



There are two pockets on the back sized for a small camera and a cell phone. There is also a pocket on the front and a flat pocket on each side (I use these for snacks). The map pocket is opened via a Velcro strip under the rear leather band.

In keeping with our "breads of France" theme, we call it the Campagne bag, that's a large rustic loaf. I like it thickly sliced with slabs of tomato, coarse black pepper, sea salt, and a drizzle of Provencal olive oil. A slice of jambon is also nice, and shredded basil, goat cheese... The price is $95 (for the bag, not the sandwich) and they are now available .

63 comments:

cleve said...

Very beautiful and well thought out - but what else would we expect from VO?

Are other colors being considered for future runs?

patates frites said...

Sweet!

patates frites said...

Sweet!

david_nj said...

These are very very nice and look pretty much like a slightly simplified version of a Berthoud bag. Cool.

I was wondering, however, if there could be a plainer looking one. I feel that my Berthoud bag looks a little foppish -- like an old pheasant hunting bag. I'd much rather just have a plain black one -- probably without the leather edging. (I like the green Japanese ones that you sell, but the shape is slightly wrong for my bike. And while it's no big deal I do prefer a rear-opening flap.)

veloChine said...

Chris,
My reading comprehension is nil this morning. By "opens towards the rider," do you mean the bag access faces the rider rather than away from the rider like the Ostrich?

Chris Kulczycki said...

We're not planning additional colors right now, but this fabric is available in green.

The bag is actually based on my old TA bag. The main changes are thicker fabric and real leather trim (the TA used vinyl trim).

They open so the flap swings away from the rider, opposite the way Ostrich bags open.

bsk said...

Any clue how much it weighs? I like the leather, but I'm worried it'll make the bag a bit heavier than the berthoud.

Steve said...

Bravo, Chris!

As far as weight is concerned, the Berthoud bag has as much, if not more, leather trim. The easiest way to shed weight with a bag like this is to remove the internal stiffener.

16 cm is the height?

Anonymous said...

The bag looks great. I hope you'll make it in a taller model for folks who ride big bikes.

Anonymous said...

Very nice design, and an incredible price. Congratulations!

Even though these are really nice, there's no way I'd buy a black bag. Just not happening. Which is too bad because I definitely like this design better than my Ostrich.

Steve said...

Black bags probably won't look good with all bikes, but with some I think they look very nice. Here's a black Berthoud bag on my green Saluki:
http://www.freewebs.com/palincss/
The same bag fits my black Velo Orange Randonneur, and looks great on that bike, too. The black's gotten a bit dusty over the past 4 years, especially since I ride the Saluki often on dirt roads.

Brian said...

Wooo-hoo!

I'll see mine in seven to ten days... considering that it's less than half the price of a berthoud, zugster or even an acorn, I'm not gonna be picky about the color.

Nice work.

Steve said...

Having finally carefully read Chris' posting, I now understand that the bag is 200mm high, which makes it a little taller than the Berthoud GB 2286 and slightly deeper as well.

Chris Kulczycki said...

I'm not inclined to make a taller version, at least not soon. I ride bikes sized from 61cm to 63cm and this is the size bag I prefer.

We're working on matching small panniers.

Scott Loveless said...

How much for the sandwich?

Anonymous said...

what a nice bag and a great value! i think the black looks sharp, and the trim gives it a classic yet timeless look...

Anonymous said...

Looks nice, but I wish it had elastic loops instead of buckles.
I have a Berthoud "Luxe" bag with buckles and I'd trade it for the "basic" model in a second. The buckles are a hassle to open and close and are a real pain if I'm wearing gloves.
Regarding color choices,
maybe you could make white ones so we could dye them our favorite color!

Anonymous said...

Very nice bag! I wish I bought this instead of my Berthound for more than twice the price. I am a little confused about a few posts though, Too heavy?, Wrong dimensions?, No buckles?, Wrong color?, Flap goes the wrong way?..........A little picky.

Anonymous said...

"I like the leather, but I'm worried it'll make the bag a bit heavier .." ?? that just cracked me up. will you restrict the amount of tomato you put in your sandwich, to lighten the sandwich you put in the bag! my God...

Anonymous said...

I think the critiques of the bag are valid. Still, the bag looks nice. I have to admit though, using a bag that short on a frame that is 63cm tall probably defeats the purpose of having a HB bag. You want the top of the bag close to the top of the handlebars. On a larger frame that's not going to happen with this bag which is unfortunate. But if a bag this size works for you you're stoked, it looks nice and is a great deal. For me, I'm glad I didn't wait and just went with a Berthoud.

Chris Kulczycki said...

A bag should be sized by what you need to carry, not by the size of the frame. It's no problem at all to reach down into a bag that's a few inches below the bars. In fact it's preferable to keep weight as low as possible and to keep the bag out of the way. The main problem with tall bags is that folks tend to fill them up and carry a lot of weight up high.

In using bar bags since I was 18-years old I've never felt the need need for bag taller than this one on a 63cm frame. If I needed more room I used a boxier bag like the Ostrich or Alps. This idea of tall tombstone-shaped bags is fairly recent. Look at the bags on the old constructeur bikes, they were almost all about this size.

patates frites said...

CK, could you show us a picture of the bottom? I'd like to see the leather patch or whatever is down there to run the leather strap through for attachment to the top of the rack. Thanks

bsk said...

The bag might be quite light, but its hard to discern that from the pictures. All we know is that it uses a lot of leather, a potentially heavy material, and 'thicker' canvas. While the berthoud bag shows as much leather, they are still very lightweight (some are even 2/3 the weight of the acorn bags).

I won't spend the extra 100 dollars for the berthoud for a couple hundred grams, but I might think twice if it is approaching 500. It is cheaper than trying to save weight on my frame, dynohub, fenders, etc.

Gunnar Berg said...

I wasn't terrible impressed with the prototypes pics posted; then this shows up! It's really well done. I have four different bags right now, so I'm not in the market. but... Also, for those people who are talking about bag weight - huh? Incidently, my Berthoud is the heaviest bag I own.

Anonymous said...

Using a taller bag on a bigger bike makes it easier to read the cue sheet and get into the bag. This is based on experience not just something read in BQ and I put it out there for people to consider. I don't find myself overstuffing the bag just because I can. Again, the VO bag is nice and if it works for you it's probably the best deal going in spite of the buckles (my only other critique besides the dimensions). I'm sure I'll see a lot of these on the road.

mander said...

Looks great! Chris, thanks for getting this out. Aesthetically and functionally (and all else equal) I think I would prefer the Acorn's buckle-less system, but this is sure a lot cheaper and a terrific looking product any way you slice it.

guidon said...

My, Chris, you folks have been busy introducing more and more interesting products.
I cringed when I saw this bag. Why? Because I just spent considerably more for a G.B. bag.

Tom said...

We never expected weight to be a genuine concern. Most weight weenies would never put a canvas bag like this on their bike, let alone fenders, a rack or a dynohub.

I did a bit of research:

The ostrich bag weighs 880 grams.

The VO Campagne bag is ~713 grams, that includes the shoulder strap and all leather buckles. The plastic stiffeners are ~160 grams. The shoulder strap is ~60 grams. the lower buckle that secures the bag to the rack is ~15 grams. If you ditch the stiffners and shoulder strap you can save ~220g, bringing the 'raceday' weight down to ~493 grams.

I could not easily find published weights of the Berthoud bags. I'm assuming this is because gram weight for canvas bags is not a marketable data point. We ignored it too.

I guess we could spend thousands of dollars on carbon fiber stiffeners, Vectran straps, ABS buckles, and kevlar reinforced sail cloth for lighter weight, and much higher cost. That is a far cry from a traditional canvas bag though, which is what the initial excitement is all about.

Ian Dickson said...

Maybe you could punch a bunch of holes in it.

Tom said...

update- The Medium Berthoud bag Chris has/had on his bike for the longest time weighs 910g. Berthouds removable stiffeners weigh 220g. the straps weight ~15g each
About the same as the Ostrich.

You can ditch the stiffeners and straps for a floppy raceday weight of 645g. If you want to go crazy you can unstitch the leather piping and extraneous leather patches for further weight reductions and aerodynamics. But I wouldn't recommend it.

NatMc said...

Perhaps my favorite magical power of bikes is the "memory eraser": no matter what you're worried about while standing next to the bike -- work, girlfriend, the weight of those new, more comfortable pedals or all that heavy leather trim on your handlebar bag -- it is absolutely impossible to even remember it while riding. Try it some time. Cruise down a hill really fast, tuck into a tight, smooth curve and try your damndest to remember how much your headset weighs. Can't be done.

bsk said...

Thanks for weighing it. My worries were false; it looks like it weighs the same amount as the Acorn bag.

I buy canvas & leather items for their unique combination of performance and durability, not for their traditional look. For example, my best pair of winter cycling mitts are canvas with leather palms, and work better (warm + waterproof + breathing) than any synthetic gloves I've tried or heard about.

I realize weight is overemphasized by the greater cycling world. Reaching the hill-climb finish on my tandem during this weekends race, several people congratulated us on our success despite those heavy brooks saddles, 'chrome' fenders (honjos), and rack (a lightweight tubus vega). I just ignore it; if they want to kick themselves for getting dropped by a heavy bike, so be it.

That said, nobody makes fun of the "ancient" ~4 lb powertap on my road bike. Perhaps this is one situation where mainstream cyclists have accepted the trade-off between function and weight....

Burton said...

I've always been told black is a slimming color. So then doesn't the color make up for all that heavy leather?

Anonymous said...

very nice! looks like there are d-rings on the sides for a shoulder strap. will VO be selling a nice padded shoulder strap to go with the bag anytime soon?

Allan

The Flying Dutchman said...

hooray for panniers! i'm excited to see the matching small ones mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Chris and Tom, good job specing out sourcing this one , great price point too !!

very pretty, classic look.

size wize Your just a hair bigger than the acorn (main box) 8.6 liter vs your 8.9 .

My only concern (as with several posters)is that the NO BUCKLE elastic closures(such as acorns) are more convinient when actualy riding, the main box is elastic???

I know that you mentioned buckles were an upgrade by your fabricator and yes they look great But the elastic is more practical /makes more sence for most applications.


IE: (small pockets) if cell phone rings while riding elastic is a cinch to open vs messing with the buckle one handed !esp the front pocket if in motion.

if I can deal with the buckles Ill buy one as im in the market.
again great looking product just those buckles???

"John"

Kilroy said...

Greetings,
The handlebar bag is very attractive. Function and keeping with past proven style trumps weight and color with me.
Keeping the color choices to an astheticly pleasing minimum makes the choice simple and works will all bicycle colors....that goes for the bag size, too. At least, that's my humble, yet accurate opinion.

Steve said...

"John" said:
IE: (small pockets) if cell phone rings while riding elastic is a cinch to open vs messing with the buckle one handed !esp the front pocket if in motion.
You can hear a cell phone ringing while you are riding? I find that I usually cannot. And if I could, I certainly wouldn't try to remove the phone from the bag and answer it while in motion.

Dave said...

Generally do you mount this with just the decaleur or is it recommended to have a rack under it?

C said...

Another vote for switching to elastic closures for the two rear pockets. Buckles are great for people more concerned with looks but lousy if you're actually trying to remove something while riding. This is especially true while riding in the winter with full finger gloves. Elastic is simpler, lighter, and easier to use. Hopefully the next run will have elastic closures.

Anonymous said...

this bag is perfect for rides from one hour to 24 hours...from winter to summer...this is a prefect handlebar bag and it looks beautiful, too! thanks chris!

MTBMaven said...

Where are these bag manufactured?

Great looking bag!

Andrew said...

I have a Berthoud of the same dimensions, but am sorely tempted to get one of these, just so I can put it on another bike. I'd buy one right now, but then you said that you're making matching panniers. Oh the pain, what will I do?

Steve said...

Andrew said:
I have a Berthoud of the same dimensions, but am sorely tempted to get one of these, just so I can put it on another bike. I'd buy one right now, but then you said that you're making matching panniers. Oh the pain, what will I do?
I'm confident when Chris says matching panniers, he means just that. So, why wait? Buy the bag now, and the panniers when they come out.

And those panniers ought to match the black Berthoud bags, too, I'd think. Certainly the handlebar bag is a good match.

Anonymous said...

Before you go switching from buckles to elastic remember that in another semi-pseudo-scientifical sort of BQ "test" they clearly found that buckles allowed the frame to "plane" - while elastic did not. The elastic also tended to make the bike "shimmy" at speed going downhill, probably because it reduces the pneumatic trail by 3/10 of a millimeter.

Disclaimer - BQ imports and sells buckles. They do not sell elastic.

Anonymous said...

STEVE SAID

"You can hear a cell phone ringing while you are riding? I find that I usually cannot. And if I could, I certainly wouldn't try to remove the phone from the bag and answer it while in motion."

1) yes I can hear the phone ring while riding, (most times), (CROW RING) when at commute speed , mass event speed, or just cruisin the MUP I can hear my phone and do answer it /talk while riding.

I talked to the wife twice while riding the 5 borrough tour in NYC last sunday.

elastic or the metal twist closures as acorn uses would be better than old fashion yet pretty /secure Buckles!!

again the VO bag is very nice and I may get one. im using an ortlieb right now (not enough room but I dont know if the VO bag would gain me much ,

the ostrich bag is plenty big enough but kind of fugly and Im not sure I like the main flap opening from the front also the front pocket requires the main flap to be opened to access (seems a pain??).

"John"

david_nj said...

One really wicked product might be a really large one of these bags to fit on the VO Porteur Rack. I realize it would be expensive. But you could carry tons and tons of gear in there. Maybe the leather trim could be simplified a little, so as to keep costs down.

(Separately, I should mention, I didn't think the VO porteur racks sounded all that amazing but I bought one a while back and finally installed it this past weekend. Basically a Perfect Product. The thinking behind it as well as the aesthetics are spot-on in every way.)

Anonymous said...

I just ordered a Bag. same size as the acorn and 2 liters bigger than My ortlieb,

looks great ,

Ill deal with the buckles I can always retrofit, Id rather not but if need be it can be done.

"John"

Anonymous said...

I dont have a decaleur system as this bag will go on my road/touring bike.

Will it be stable enough if I mount it on my handlebars?

Anonymous said...

Great bag, great price...but I'll never buy one because I ride a 64-65cm frame. I love the way the tall Berthoud fits--they really have the sizing nailed. I cannot agree that a shorter bag would be as wonderful to use. The tall bag is not any heavier but it is perfect to use while riding and I like having the extra volume when I need it. If you do decide to make this bag in a tall version I will buy one for sure.

Thom said...

just mounted the VO bag on our 1980 jack taylor tandem and I think you all find way too many reasons to object. this is a great bag. get over the buckle issue, the size,color,leather and what ever other objections you conjure up and go for a ride!! it's a great stress reliever.
the leather loop on the back of the bag and the bottom strap should allow the use without a decaleur.

NatMc said...

Man, if i had a 1980 jack taylor, i too would be stress free...

fmackay said...

@david_nj:

A big handlebar bag for a porteur rack, you say?

Weight weenies need not apply, obviously - you can get a complete gruppo that weighs less than this bag (2.3kg) but I love it.

I notice that the guy I bought it from has another one just like it available at the moment...

rinjin said...

Mine arrived today. Beautiful bag, Chris. Glad I waited for VO to get it right.

Brian said...

Got mine on Monday and I love it. I purchased it to use on a bike I have with a front rack, but it works perfectly strapped to the bars on my Bianchi with some small adjustments. Pics are here:

http://www.brian-payne.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=2982

Origamikid said...

So I got caught in a downpour on Sunday with the bag on my bike. 3.5 mile ride home in some very substantial rain. Everything inside was reasonably dry. BUT, the front buckle has started to show signs of rust. I know from working with stainless steel in the past, if it comes in contact with regular steel while working with it it will rust. any thoughts? Anyone else have this issue?

bikelady said...

This is a beautiful bag that holds a lot of stuff.

The bike is very similar to the Berthoud bags only without the price. It is a very classy looking bag that doubles as a purse when it is removed.

Kudos.

sjwillis said...

I've had the bag for a couple of months now. It is really handy.

Two notes:

1.) Even with the plastic supports on the inside of the bag, without a decaleur the bag collapses and gets caught up in the drops of my bars a bit. (this is with a nitto front rack for support on the back and bottom of the bag). If the plastic support on the bottom of the bag could be affixed to the bottom of the bag vs. free-floating, this would likely solve the collapsing problem. I intend to do this with rivets or snaps.

2.) i've had the bag in the rain for a brief ride once over the past couple of months and all of the buckles are rusted.

bikelady said...

I too have a VO bag. It is very useful and very waterproof.

My problem with it, is that it is a little too wide. My wires and cables must go around the bag. I also don't find the two small pockets of any use.

My suggestions:
Make the buckles, which are rusting out of marine brass

Get rid of the two smaller pockets but have an inside zippered pocket.

Make it slightly narrower.

Ben said...

Here is my vote:
QR buckles
they are plastic, but they are secure, reliable, fast, and very easy

Tim said...

I just got and mounted my Campagne bag, and it's lovely. The one thing I would change is that I wish the leather patch on the bottom for the strap were bigger and that the spacing between the two slots for a strap to pass through were spaced further apart, say about as far apart as the side rails of a Nitto M12 rack. I think that would make the bag a lot more stable for those of us who don't use decaleurs, and I don't see how it would interfere with any other mounting options. I may take the bag to the shoe/luggage repair shop around the corner and see what he can do.

Otherwise, a very nice bag, and a good size.

systemBuilder said...

One thing you might want to add to the product listing page is the volume (typically quoted in cu inches), which I calculate is about 550 cu inches.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I like the bag too but have a few comments. My main issue is the strap on the bottom that loops around the m12 rack. It is pretty useless and the bag slips from side to side. What would have been ideal is a similar 'sleeve' to the one on the back that slips over the rear upright. I am thinking of sewing a strip of elastic on the bottom to address the slipping problem. In the description you suggest toestrap? I might give this a go too.

The pockets are a bit small for today's smart phones and pretty much anything else 'cept my house keys...

Regards