Last Friday wound down a reasonably hectic week. It was the first week back from a vacation, which tends to lump up all kinds of things that would never have been so important if I hadn’t been unreachable for 6 days. But, things returned to a relatively even keel by Thursday, so I was able to scoot away early and head to the east bay.
Ulterior motives abounded, of course. First and foremost, Beth H was heading through town with her sweetie and had planned to drop by Rivendell for a bit. She’s an avid blogger, was one of the first people to share images of their bikes via the Cyclofiend.com Current Classics Gallery (her Rivendell Longlow being bicycle #11), and someone I’ve nattered on with via email about singlespeeds (y’know, her newest one is still in the queue and that’s entirely my fault!) and cyclocross. So, I finally got a chance to hang out and meet in person someone I’d only known through the interwebs. It was cool to meet in person, grab some food and get to know each other better. Guess I gotta head up to Portland now. I hear they race cross bikes up there in the winter…
Of course, the secondary benefit was bopping around the RBWHQ&L, seeing what prototypes could be spied and enjoyed. Alas, the newest version of the Hunqapiller was wheel-less, but Keven took the time to talk about the special mid-tube lugs they’d had made for the “splayed” (my phrase, not theirs) tube arrangement.
As noted in the flickr image, there will be bottle braze-ons with the final version, but I think the geometry and most of the hard-wiring is mostly in place now. The Hunqapillar is truly a versatile and sturdy beast. The fork braze-ons alone are, shall we say, extensive. I’m pretty sure that this bicycle could handle anything most folks could throw at it. I think it will also balance better once they set up the left side drive.
The stuff behind the Hunqa-proto (Proto-Hunq?) got me focused a bit on luggage and bags.
Now, in case I’ve never mentioned it before, I’m kind of a bag junkie. Well, maybe “junkie” is a bit strong. I have some pretty firm tastes and requirements, actually, formed through a few years of working as a buyer of such things. For me, a bag has to be well sewn, useful in design without being overly specific, and should work quietly for a long time. If it turns out to do one or two things not originally envisioned, even better.
The work that has gone into the Brand V bags (Vegan, “Holier Than Cow” as the logo says) is pretty considerable. The Brand V BoxyBarBag is a pretty simple, bar-mounted squarish handlebar bag, which mounts without hardware to the bars. With the strap support system, it locks down pretty danged well. I didn’t have the opportunity to bounce it around on the trails, but it certainly survived the bounce ‘n wiggle test on the showroom floor. For the amount and quality of the sewing (in the US!), it could easily cost more than the $75 they charge for it.
Here, you’re looking at it from the front, without it being on a bike. Nice big flecto-patch, too.
There was also a set of the new BrandV Panniers set up on a Sam Hillborne. I played around with these for quite a while, trying to figure out how I could justify buying them. Simple, sturdy construction. Everything you need and nothing you don’t, as the saying goes. They also seemed to invite further modification, with a set of D-rings on the top mounting area.
But, one real beauty of the design is the dust/water flap, which seems to lend itself well to separating the load, or handling over-stuffing.
It’s hard to tell from this image, but that darker olive bit is a goodly sized flap, which can be pulled up and out, like this:
Again, excellent sewing work throughout. I really liked the shape (formway?) of the panniers as well. Heel-strike be damned!
Just to complete the broken record* motif, the sewing was pretty much Filson quality. The folks who are constructing these know how to line up material and throw a line of stitching through it. It’s heavy cotton duck, and it feels like it break in sometime in the distant future. Unlike the old Timbuk2 that it will replace, I won’t lose the clip-on flecto-tabs, as they’ve sewn in a strip to reflect stuff. The wooden buttons (reminded me of an old Navy coat) can be one-handedly thrown through the big D-Rings, but they don’t seem to come out unintentionally. There’s a nice amount of overlap to the top and a good size to hold a book, journal a bit o’ gear and some odds and ends. There’s a single divider against the inside, which can organize things a bit. (Modeled below with my not-new RBW cap.)
The slick trick which Grant shared was to convert it from a shoulder strap to a waist pack setup. The strap can be shortened from both ends, so with a quick slide down and a two-handed cinch, it nestles easily into the small of your back or off one hip if you prefer. I’m not going to make a movie of that move. It’s something you can figure out pretty quickly if you mess around with it.
Anyway, US-constructed. Under $50. It’s kind of a ridiculously good deal.
Especially if you like bags. Which, as I mentioned, I do.
*For you youngsters out there: Broken Record = Repeating CD = Recursive MP3, i.e. something that says the same thing over and over.