Tom Matchak is a frame builder in New Hampshire who built Nancy's 650b all roads steel bike. His work is classic, understated and solid. Tom has been supportive of my bag work for a while and I was humbled when he recently recommended a client to me for custom bags. I was even more humbled when Tom himself ordered up a small handlebar bag. Tom said on the phone that while some folks are weight weenies, he considers himself something of a color weenie. Its always hard to choose colors from swatches on a computer screen, Tom picked a beautiful creamy yellowish color that fits very nicely with the honey brown trim.
Most folks go with a decaleur and internal stiffener for their bag and call it good. Tom had long been experimenting with methods of securing handlebar bags with a minimum of clutter and brackets. This bag come with a stout backstop sleeve and bottom Velcro straps to fix the bag to one of Tom's signature racks. The sleeve and the straps would be enough to keep the bag firmly in place for almost any situation, but it would have some sway if loaded up. Tom's solution is a clever internal stiffener. Made of coroplast, the stiffener is reinforced around the top rear perimeter with a thin band of aluminum strap, effectively creating a rigid box structure within the bag. The result is a secure bag, no sway, and a super clean appearance. In fact it might look a little "unattached" to the casual viewer expecting to see decaleurs and straps holding everything in place. (Bottom photo courtesy of Tom Matchak/Flickr)
I recently had the pleasure of visiting my friend Emily O'Brien at her bag making studio in Somerville, MA. I know Emily through New England Randonneurs, but we have bag making in common and I admire both her bags and the success she has had with her bag making efforts as Dill Pickle Gear. Mostly I just helped out and sewed buckles on straps and cut out parts from a pattern, but we had a good time talking about bikes, bags, music, and whatever else. I learned a lot simply seeing her work and how she organizes her process. Thanks Emily!