Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag


It’s Rivendell Week here on Bike Snob NYC! Not only did our household net a new Clem Smith, Jr., but I also installed a new Sackville BagBoy on my own bicycle yesterday:

Which until now was woefully naked and lacking in cargo space:

I mean everybody knows a Rivendell is supposed to have lots of baskets as well as all sorts of accessories and reflective swatches lashed to it. And while I’ve been trying to keep the Homer pared down because I enjoy its simple nature, it became clear to me during my summer vacation that I needed some sort of vessel for carrying extra layers and foodstuffs without having to keep them on my actual person.

Wait, “installed?” Isn’t the BagBoy just a giant saddlebag that goes on in this fashion?

Well, yes…or at least that’s what I was anticipating when I ordered the bag awhile back. However, as it happens, in my case the bottom of this voluminous bag was hitting the rear tire, thus necessitating a rack for support. So I ordered this one from Rivendell, and it finally arrived the other day along with the Clem:

Since I come from a Fredly background, I have very little rack installation experience. In fact, the only racks I’ve ever owned are the cheap adjustable ones you bolt onto your beater bike, which take maybe 10 minutes to install. So this being my first fancy rack, I made sure to watch Rivendell’s instructional video:

Alas, my own experience was considerably less groovy, which I attribute mostly to my own ineptitude. In addition, I was installing the rack on the rear and not the front, which meant I had to work out myself the most efficacious way of mounting it on the Homer as opposed to just copying the video. To that end, Rivendell were kind enough to include an assortment of stays in different lengths so I could get the optimal fit. This presented something of a logic problem for my feeble brain. However, in the end I think I did okay:

And everything seems to line up pretty nicely:

I figure as long as that looping backstop thingy is roughly aligned with the seatpost then how bad could it be?

[I’m sure the Rack Freds out there will tell me everything I’ve done wrong.]

In mounting the rack, I had to make sure the stays cleared the brake caliper, while at the same time taking pains to position the rack so it would work well with the size of the bag. All of this took patience, and trial-and-error with the different-length stays, and the bending of said stays, and repeated mock-ups with the bag strapped to the bike so I could mark the stays for cutting. Then, after marking the stays, I realized I’d accounted for the brake caliper, but not for the brake caliper when it’s opened (imagine going to remove your rear wheel only to find out you can’t because your rack won’t let your brake caliper open), so I had to correct for that and mock it up all over again. Note the clearance between the stay and the cable adjuster when the brake is in the open position:

Here’s a better view:

It occurs to me now that if the adjuster were unscrewed a few more turns it might still hit the stay when the brake is open, but I’m going to choose not to think about that, and anyway screwing it back in a few turns if that does happen is no big deal.

As for cutting the stays, I should point out that I live in an apartment building, and as such I do not have ready access to a vise. Furthermore, it is virtually impossible to cut a small piece of metal with a hacksaw if you don’t have some sort of vice. Therefore, I did something highly inadvisable, which was to take a Dremel to them. It took two or three of those delicate little cutting wheels, and it was about as elegant as dismembering a body, but in the end I got it done, and I think the bag sits on the rack quite nicely:

Here’s a look from the rear:

Note that if you get close enough to me you can grab the strap and skitch:

I’m looking at you, Lucas Brunelle:

Brunelle should totally do a video about skitching off retrogrouches on Rivendells. Maybe he could do it while riding a Rivendell himself. He’s getting up there in years, and it’s high time he makes the switch from adrenaline to beeswax.

Anyway, once I’d snugged up the bolts on the rack and strapped on the bag I headed out for a ride:

After about an hour I started getting a little warm, and so I stopped in a suitably photogenic location:

Then came the moment of truth: I opened the bag and put my flannel shirt in it!

I’m pleased to report that not only did the flannel fit inside the bag, but the rack also supported its considerable weight for the remainder of the ride. While this is clearly a testament to my mechanical skills, I must also credit the equipment, and given the sartorial tendencies of Rivendell riders it’s hardly surprising that their accessories are so compatible with flannel garments. Furthermore, the only fabric Rivendell riders like more than flannel is wool, and did you know that the BagBoy is lined with cedar for exactly this reason?

Just kidding, everyone knows Rivendell sell MUSA mothballs for that. Never go bikepacking without them.

But yes, now that my Rivendell finally has both a bag and a rack I feel that much closer to my self-actualization as a recovering Fred and trying-too-hard-to-be-laid-back laid back rider:

And I look forward to a fall riding season full of impromptu wardrobe changes before scenic autumnal backdrops:

I wonder how many changes of shoes I can fit in there…

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