Monday, October 5, 2009

Mama's got a brand new bag

Ok, actually it's an old bag,  one I bought in Florence about the same time I met Robert.  I carried it for a while after I came back, but somehow it found its way to the top shelf of my closet, out of normal rotation.  Too big for a purse, a bit small for an omnibus carryall.
For the last 3 years I have been using an Ortlieb Office bag that I found in the REI "garage sale" a couple of years ago.  Although I loved the hook attachment system and the waterproofness,  the bag itself was a problem.  It had lots of tiny pockets for pens, and some too big pockets for everything else.  There was this inner stiffener thing that created weird pockets along the edges.  Although it was voluminous,  I was always cursing and searching for my wallet, or keys which were inevitably hiding in the bottom folds of the bag.

So I test drove the old leather bag for a while.  It had two front outer pockets that were perfect for my phone, my wallet , my keys and a lipgloss.  It was just the right size for lunch, with a bit left over for a couple of tools and a book.
It was such a relief not to have the daily stress of trying to dig my keys out of the bottom of the bag, and although it wouldn't do so well for a big grocery shopping trip, it was much better for the day to day, so I turned it into a pannier.

I bought a set of special hooks from Ortlieb.  These fit my Steco rack's larger tubing dimension and I love the way they release as you pull up on the handle.  They wouldn't sell me a mounting bar,  but I used a brass bar from the hardware store,  and drilled mounting holes through it and the leather.
So far so good.  It won't replace the big pannier for grocery runs or rainy days,  but I think for day to day, I have a bag that looks good and works well.


  1. This is simply fabulous and solves the problem of there being no attractive panniers on the market right now. Does your bag fit a laptop, and if so, do you carry it on the bike? I am too afraid to do this, but I want reassurance!

  2. I don't think that my laptop would fit in this bag, but I'm sure if you had a bag that would carry your laptop, you could turn it into a pannier.
    I don't regularly have to carry my laptop, but when I do I carry it in a messenger bag over my shoulder. I worry about the jolts being transferred directly from the rack to the computer without some mediating force (like my body) to help soften the blow. I know that several companies make laptop specific bags, but they're mostly ugly.

  3. I love that bag. Classic and function. And black leather!

  4. I'm very impressed with your engineering of the hardware. Well done!

  5. btw - do you know the tubing diameter of your Steco rack?