Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Remember Saddlebags?

Once upon a time, all bikes had saddlebags.

Either little ones, just for puncture outfits with tyre levers, patches, rubber solution, chalk, glass-paper and tiny little rubber tubes for the olden-days tyre valves.
And the bronze, dumbbell, 10-way spanner.
Or big ones for capes, leggings, sou'wester, thermos, ham sandwiches, ferrets or whatever.

When I recently bought my first new bike for decades, it didn't have a saddlebag.
It was only then that I noticed that no bikes have saddlebags now.
Apart from anything else, it is much more difficult to lean your bike against a wall without a big saddlebag.

So I decided to put my perfectly good 40-year-old, canvas-leather-&-wood, H.W. Carradice saddlebag on.
But it's impossible – saddles don't have saddle-bag fixing-loops any more.

I found a rigid plastic box with lid which can fit on a carrier, but it is the wrong shape for the space available under the saddle, so will only fit perched on the back of the carrier where it is unstable & insecure.

I notice most people seem to use rucksacks, so I tried that, but didn't like it at all.
It feels unstable.
Your back & the rucksack get terribly sweaty.
Every time you want anything out of the rucksack, you need to stop, take the rucksack off, hold it with one hand while holding the bike between your knees, take out the, say, camera, put the rucksack back on, take a ,say, photograph, then go through the whole procedure again to put the camera back.

So I tried wearing the rucksack on the front…
Strange looks guaranteed.
It feels more stable though.
Your back stays cool & dry.
Your front does not get sweaty as the rucksack hangs clear, allowing air circulation.
In fact it acts as a welcome windbreak so back & front stay about the same temperature.
Taking a photograph is a simple, quick, one-handed job, as is getting out a map or Mars bar, without stopping if need be.
You can see whether you have left any zips open.

On bumpy going, the straps can tend to slip forwards off your shoulders, so this is one still-open development item.
Any obvious solutions like cross-straps would make fitting & removal a pain, so I don't want that.
I think high-friction rubber pads, like ping-pong-bat rubbers, might be enough.
Bright idea required…

Or a saddle with loops!

Parting thot: "A new idea is often the result of two old ideas meeting for the first time." - AEP advert

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