Adding a front rando bag

The Shogun with the newly installed Ozette Randonneuring Bag, by Swift Industries.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a custom front bag for my 1984 Shogun 2000. The search for a front bag that meets my needs has been somewhat prolonged, due in part to the long cheap streak that runs the entire length of my spine  (such bags are decidedly not cheap!), and further complicated by my inability to source the ones I wanted. Berthoud bags are de rigueur for the classic randonneur “look.” They have an excellent reputation and are frequently out of stock; trying to poach one on eBay was a lesson in frustration. Acorn and others either had a long waiting list – or in the instance of one bag maker, there was no waiting list at all. They would send out an announcement when bags became available and took the orders on first come, first served basis. I waited patiently until the very second the bags were available, clicked on the order button and … shit! They were already sold out!

I have a Carradice Super C handlebar bag with a very sturdy and functional quick release system, but it fits the look of my 1984 Puegeot P8 “rando” much better. And besides, I wanted something special for the Shogun: a classic “box” design, but maybe with a bit of color. In my searching, I came across Swift Industries and was impressed with the attention to customer detail evidenced on their website. Swift has a small product line dedicated to handmade bicycle panniers and accessories and I quickly decided upon their Ozette Rando bag.

Side view of the Ozette Rando Bag, showing some of the many pockets and the brown waxed canvas.

However, a custom handmade bag means a wait of, at this writing, about nine weeks. So I was happy to find a package from Swift awaiting me upon my return from Scotland and wasted no time installing the Ozette. It was immediately apparent that I’d need to add a decaleur to stabilize the rather sizable bag, but in the mean time it seemed to be stable enough for a ride, and to test things out to see if the addition of the bag would affect steering and handling in any way, this being a matter of no small anxiety for me.

The Ozette Randoneurring Bag is inspired by the timeless front box design. Each bag is waterproof and custom made to the specifications of each customer; consequently, it took about two months for mine to arrive after ordering, but I think it's worth it. I still need to install a decaleur but decided to ride with the velcro straps holding it in place on the front VO Hunter Pass rack to see if there were any changes in the steering and handling. I'm happy to say: nope.

A ride gone awry.

I rode off yesterday morning, happy to be on the Shogun again. After riding the Giant POS hybrid in Scotland, I can categorically state that the ride quality of my bike is far, far superior! Encouragingly, with the Ozette Rando Bag installed and loaded, there seemed to be no change in handling either – I could, for instance, still ride hands free.

In addition to simply getting out on the road for a few hours of enjoyable riding, my secondary motive was to find some nice country location to photograph the Shogun with the bag installed. I’ve been documenting every phase of the build and it seemed appropriate to continue to do so for the final tweaking. I tossed some food and tools and camera gear into the bag and took off. My first indication that the ride was going south came only twelve miles into the journey.

My favorite country roads along the Missouri River are under water and closed to traffic.

I am perfectly aware that the Missouri River is currently at flood levels throughout its length and breadth, including my own favorite routes. It never occurred to me though, until I zoomed down a hill, came around the bend and – zowie! No road! I discovered I could go no further. As the evening news will attest, the Missouri River has flooded rural areas and created lakes where formerly stood farmland, parks – and yes, even my regular stretch of nice, flat river bottom highway. The water stretched as far as the eye could see and I had to double back for about eight miles to get around the mess.

Sadly, about twenty minutes after these photographs were made, I badly miscalculated a shift between chainrings as I came out of a hill too slowly and encountered a very steep incline. Attempting to mash and shift to the granny at the same time was stupid: I bent the middle 44t ring and now I need to replace it.

Just stupid.

 

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7 thoughts on “Adding a front rando bag

  1. Jerad says:

    Great post! I’ve been struggling with the same things trying to buy a rando bag myself. I tried to get an Acorn bag yesterday, but someone distracted me for 5 seconds and I missed my chance to add it to my cart as soon as it was available. Based on the options I’ve found, I think that the Swift Ozette is going to be my bag. I love that I can get it customized to be exactly what I want, even if I’ll have to wait a couple of months to get it. Is yours the large version?

    • Yes, mine is the larger of the two sizes. I have a Carradice Super C on my P8 – which I really like a lot by the way – and while that bag is very well designed, it is also quite a bit smaller than the Ozette. I want to carry things with me and the Ozette seems to better meet my personal needs for that purpose. I’ve just ordered the VO decaleur kit and I’m excited to get the luggage stabilized for longer rides.

      I’ll add one more thing: the folks at Swift were great to deal with. They answered my emailed questions promptly and when I screwed up on the order, they were in touch to clarify what I was actually asking for. This is one of the things I love about small so-called “boutique” operations: personal, hands-on-ness. A lot of bicycle-related boutique operations are like this, making it a joy to communicate!

    • No, it is firmly supported by a VO Hunter Pass front rack. Shortly after these photos were taken I also added a decaleur for further stability. You can see the rack (but not the decaleur) in my photograph at http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3012/5755056197_0639e039a3_z.jpg

      In the shots above, the fender line was badly out of kilter at the time. The fenders, by the way, are also from Velo-Orange and their clearance with the Continental Gatorskin tires is almost too snug for comfort. I toured with those mudguards for several hundred miles in early June. The trail was gravel and every time my front tire picked up a rock and sent it careening around the inside of the fender my heart jumped just a little bit. I REALLY didn’t want to do a face plant due to a stuck rock!

      I’ve since swapped those out for different aluminum mudguards that provide me with a bit more space between rubber and metal.

      • Ron says:

        Thanks. What size mudguards and tyres did you have / did you change to? I’m presently using Kwest 28s, VO call for a 45mm mudguard.
        Ron

      • Ron, I’ll have to check to see what the size those VO’s were. Overall, I’ve been less than impressed with their fenders – the finish tarnished rather quickly and, as I mentioned earlier, the snug fit had me very concerned. To be fair, those tires are 27 x 1 1/4 – and I find that Gatorskins mic out every single bit of those dimensions, and maybe even then some. On the other hand, I did order the fenders to pair up with those specific tires on the advice of the folks at VO. As for the replacement fenders, I purchased about ten pairs of unknown maker/origin/size unfluted fenders at a swap meet a year or two back. They were priced to move, so I could hardly go wrong; I just “eye balled” them for size. And fortunately my original assessment was correct and they have very comfortably fit everything I’ve used them with. Most recently I built up a set of 700 x 35’s and have experienced nary a problem. I gave the VO’s away though.

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