14 August 2008

The Inspiration for the Bag Question

As y'all know, my kid sister is going to college (university, higher edjumacation) at the end of the month. She's got the campus bike, now she needs to carry her books and whatever else she'll need. I personally hate heavy things on my back when trying to ride any distance. Trips across campus are no more than a mile but getting back home will be quite a bit further.

In thinking about what she needs in a bag I decided to modify an ordinary backpack from the thrift store into a rack-mounted book backpack. To do this I mounted two heavy-duty clips to the back of the bag, but up above the shoulder area. They're stoutly sewn on with lengths of climbing harness nylon. I've worn the backpack around my apartment and the hooks don't rub. I then modified the shoulder straps so that their tails are wound up in velcro, like Camelbak does. This leaves the straps adjustable but keeps the tails from getting caught in the wheels. I added one subtle strip of 3M Scotchlite reflective tape that will reflect behind her as she keeps the bag on the non-drive left-hand side of the bike. (S, are you catching these instructions?)

DIY book backpack bike bag rack mounted
To get it off the bike with weight in it she'll want to hold the handle against the rack and with the other hand un-clip each clip. She can then use the backpack portion of it.

backpack mounted to bike rack
You can see here how hers is wider and lower than the wearpoints that my bag has made on my rack. My bag clips to the stay on the rack which keeps it from sliding back. I think this backpack may need that but I haven't added it because her rack is different from mine and I'm not quite sure where to put the lower attachment. Mom, I think this is going to fall to you, since you have access to the actual bike.

OK, so this backpack is olive drab, pretty masculine. I think we need to pretty it up a bit. I think a girly motif might be just the dichotomous element to give the bag some interest, besides also being a possible opening to conversations with the boys in class. Our mother has an embroidery company so I was thinking of asking her to embroider a design on that flap that covers the front. I wish someone would digitize a nice design for a good townie with fenders and baskets. What about a road bike embroidered in pink or butter yellow where this one is red? There's a mountain bike too. Yes, I am hoping she meets someone who likes bikes.

Internet world - what would be something cute on the backpack that would invite opportunities to chat?


Tom said...

the backpack is "pretty masculine"?

Charlotte said...

Compared to a Basil bag it is!

bikegirl said...

Love the Basil. In fact, I was going to suggest that she install one of their steel baskets to the rear rack.

One of my co-workers, a college student, uses one. He just dumps his backpack into the basket & goes. No sweaty back. A bungee will keep it secure.

As for the decorations, a little rick-rack from a fabric store can liven things up... don't forget zipper pulls.


rb said...

great idea. I have an old day pack or two around the house, that need the conversion.

Could you post some more detail around how you added the clips to the bag?


Charlotte said...

I hadn't seen the Basil baskets before - those are cute!

At $73 that's got to be due to the dollar/euro situation, she might be better off for the time being just using a US-made Wald basket.

bikegirl said...

He uses the Cento. It probably costs less because it's mounted onto the rack w/no quick-release (less prone to theft). Check your LBS - they might have them in stock. If they don't, they should.


Charlotte said...

Well, she's in Colorado, so I can't check her LBS and shipping one from mine, well... Good advice for everyone else though.

kareninprogress said...

I use panniers and a saddlebag from nashbar.com and they work well, are cheap and waterproof. Nonetheless, not too chic. I am considering the detachable woven basket on a front mounted rack. Very style and I think will look nice on my u-frame Specialized Expedition.

Patrick said...

Nothing beats a purpose built bag for a bike. On my messenger bag, just under the flap, there is a nice center pocket large enough for a full-size u-lock. On days when it rains (which has been a lot lately in Boston) or ice builds up on my lock, I don't have to worry about getting the contents of my bad wet/dirty. A standard backpack won't have this convenience. Heck, even Bailey Works doesn't have this feature on their bags.

When I was a student, and first started commuting by bike, getting my u-lock in and out of my bag (one which was not designed for bike commuting) was a real pain because I was constantly rearranging my stuff so the lock can fit. What a pain.

erwan said...

nice work, i should try, thank you for sharing this idea.
Just, i was wondering what i could add to it or change so that it is not dirty in the back when the streets are dirty, after rain for example.

Charlotte said...

That is a very good question erwan. I'm not sure. My rack bag doesn't seem to get too dirty, even in inclement weather, but it isn't a backpack so I don't wear it that close to me.

I'll ponder on something convenient. Anyone else have ideas?