I’ve given a lot of thought to the bits and pieces that get added on to bicycles. I’m thinking, in particular, about the various items that go beyond that which is necessary for simple human-powered-transportation. Like the Velo-Orange front rack (above) or the Constructeur rear rack (below) – which are, by the way, totally unrequired components to make my Shogun 2000 go from one point to the next – such items empower the aesthetic appeal of a particular bicycle or make its use more convenient or comfortable. I sweated the details over these particular items because I wanted to give my touring bike frame the “look” of a French randonneuse.
Some add-ons are purely functional. The small saddle bag (below) is just large enough to hold my cell phone, a couple of emergency tools, a spare tube, a protein bar, and four one dollar bills. It installs in less than a minute and gets switched from one road bike to the next depending upon what I plan to ride that day. It has become a vital part of any ride and I seldom leave without it hanging from the back of the saddle.
The Flite, from which it hangs, is also totally unnecessary, but I got it used for a fantastic price – and red looks good with my Cannondale! Plus, it’s really lightweight and fits me nearly as well as the Regals that adorn my Italian racing bicycles.
For pure functionality, the seat post mount for a rear saddle bag is pretty tough to beat, and it looks good with the gloss black powder coating of my 1984 Peugeot P8. The trunk bag isn’t a high priced, high-end name brand model, by the way – I want to say it came from Wal-Mart or Target – but it does the job of carrying stuff well, and I like the fact that I can stuff a jacket and a lunch into the compartment, a camera into another, and even tie down a pair of sandals on top if I plan to stop along the way and hike.
I’ve also got a KlickFlix handlebar mount for my Super C Carradice bag installed on the P8. I had this idea I might want to try some randonneuring events this year. I stumbled across the Carradice bag at a swap meet and figured it might be a good fit for a brevet. Somewhere along the way it found itself attached to the Peugeot and I don’t think it’s leaving the bike anytime soon! The map holder is a handy feature, the KlickFlix system is super stable, and it’s terrific to be able to just reach in and grab a bite to eat without having to stop and unmount from the bike.
Military surplus stores are a never-ending source of incredibly retro looking and undeniably tough bags. I picked up a pair of these Swiss ammo bags (above) to use as rear panniers on one of my French bikes. I’m still trying to work out a good system for mounting them that doesn’t look jury-rigged. The leather closure is a very nice touch that blends well with the French bicycle aesthetic, and it appeals to my own personal sense of balance between form and function, beauty and usefulness – which, like the integrated lighting system (above), is a fair gauge by which to evaluate the bits and pieces we add on to the bikes we ride and love.