You might see the owner of this bag pedal past you on the open road and never suspect how many fine and specific details were worked into this otherwise standard looking handlebar bag.
Production offerings attempt to meet the needs of most people most of the time, but as we all know, dialing in the details of the bicycle can make a huge difference in comfort, efficiency, and satisfaction; all riders have specific preferences typically evolved through experimentation over hours of riding in all conditions. That experience is also fundamental in the planning for a new bag.
This recent project demonstrates how a customized Waxwing bag can be tailored to the unique needs of a rider. With every project I note the specifications generated in discussion with the customer, often aided with the help of various sketches.
For this project, friend and returning customer Gary wanted to incorporate a GPS mounting location unit into the design of the bag, freeing up the handlebars for his hands. He also wanted to have the bag cover closure located at the sides of the bag, rather than the typical closure to a centered hook.
Requests like these keep things interesting. The specification for Gary’s project included:
These days it's not unusual for the traditional bag-top map case to go unused, while a Garmin, Wahoo or phone is mounted within easy view of the rider for navigation. There will always be a solid argument for paper maps, but not everyone needs or wants this feature. As often as not there is a generator hub keeping this tech powered, with wiring reaching up to the devices.
As the construction process began, I soon realized there was overlap between the side closure, the GPS mount bracket and the shoulder strap D-rings. The location of the hooks for the side closure directly intersected with the normal placement of the side sleeve. Momentarily stumped, I soon saw the opportunity embedded in the conflict. How nice to be able to reshape the curve of the sleeve pocket to gracefully coexist with the hooks! After multiple sketches I soon landed on a line that pleased my eye. I like how the sweep carries the line from the top of the back pockets close to the top of the front pocket.
Next I focused on routing the GPS mount bracket. Using folding manila stock to make a bending template I bent the alloy stock to shape and then placed it together with the interior U-bracket to determine the positioning within the bag.
Next I created a reinforced slot into the right-side interior closure flap which again presented an overlapping issue. Normally a D-ring is placed in this same general location--another conflict! In this case I decided that there were opportunities to add D-rings later if the customer wanted them, and for now I would simply leave them off.
The grommeting route for the elastic closure works neatly with this side-closure arrangement with the benefit that it could later be reconfigured as a center-closure if so desired by only using the two grommets at the center of the top. For this reason I added a hook in the normal location--just in case.
Routing ports are a satisfying way to keep electrical wires neat and out of the way. If wiring is an aspect of your bike set-up, keeping it organized and safe makes for a neater and uncluttered ride. This bag has a covered port in the base of the right-hand rear pocket to run a wire from the rack-mounted light to a charger stored in the pocket.
With everything in place the bracket and the extension and the bag all fit together just as planned. There is enough lift over the bag cover that opening and closing the bag is easy, as is accessing the side hooks to close the cover.
The bag specs noted a matching reflector--no problem!
Every Waxwing bag is fully customizable. Sometimes the requests are small; say, a wire port for a charging wire in the bottom of the back pocket. Other times the scope is more comprehensive and requires a whole new bag design. Over the years I have incorporated countless requests and new ideas; pockets shaped around a headlight, a strap system for retrieving a laptop from an interior sleeve, connection points for custom racks, hidden openings containing shoulder straps, unusual pocket arrangements, straps to hold a pump within the bag, etc..
Are there customizations you’ve thought of that would make your bag more functional or able to meet your needs? Have you seen details that ought to be shared more widely? I’m always interested in expanding the possibilities that make our experience on the bike more efficient and better functioning to our needs.
Reach out if you need a bag that’s configured to your specific needs.
Cyclist and craftsman.