Bertin C 37 Berthoud Handlebar Bag

Back in November of 2009, I needed a handlebar bag for longer rides. I went through a process of selection and evaluation and finally chose the Velo Orange Campagne bag due to its specification and its stylistic resemblance to the classic Solange/Berthoud bags and luggage. Details are here:

The bag was a reasonable fit, smaller than I would have preferred and it was never able to be fully seated on the TA rack supporting it as you can see in the profile shot below.

Over a year ago, I decided to replace the VO bag with a Berthoud of larger capacity and intended to buy the Berthoud GB 25 without side pockets offered through Rene Herse Cycles in the US. However, after a year on the waiting list I seized upon an offering on the 650B Google forum site and arranged to buy a slightly shop worn Berthoud GB 2586 that was the right size but had additional side pockets and buckle rather than shock cord closures on the pockets. The NOS bag on the forum was quite keenly priced but a comparable Berthoud version will set you back 290.20 Euros plus shipping.

Photo Credit: Gilles Berthoud

Although I had not wanted the side pockets, I discovered that they are mounted low enough on the bag to not interfere with your hands, even when wearing full finger gloves. The bag was well packed and assembled easily. There is a large, thick, pre-folded and rigid cardboard stiffener that goes into the bag and attaches with Velcro to two interior flaps. This prevents heavy items drooping the bag over the rack edges or interfering with the bike’s headlight.

The bag, after a quick going over with a lint roller, presented beautifully. The sewn seams are flawless and the quality of the leather is excellent. For those who are interested in the bags, vegan versions are available at this link. Fit and finish is superb and the the bag is very spacious.

The bag is 270 mm wide (10.5 in), 220 mm tall (8.75 in) and 145 mm (5.75 in) from front to back. Pockets add about 30 mm (1 in) to the basic dimensions of the bag. In terms of features, there are the obvious ones in the photos but I should point out that the clear map case is Velcro sealed and that the lid has a clear pocket inside the flap as and a zippered pocket as well. The rated capacity of the bag is 10 Litres.

Both the outer main flap and the inner flaps use white, elastic shock cords for rapid closure or access. Other closures are by chrome plated buckles. The bottom of the bag has a large, thick leather rub strip sewn into place to prevent wear on the bag and to act as a stiffener if the cardboard liner is omitted to allow overloading of the main compartment.

Berthoud include straps for various purposes. The bag has loops on either side that attach to the provided adjustable nylon carry strap. If you use a decaleur (I do not) this permits you to easily clip on the strap and carry away the bag if on a break from the bike. Others, such as I, will use the 2 provided leather straps to anchor the bag to the tombstone and then attach the straps securely to the handlebar. The photo below shows two sets of straps. The shorter are as provided and the longer are Berthoud accessories purchased for use with the VO Campagne bag. The larger 28 mm (11 in) straps are what I use to permit a flat mount to the TA front rack.

Once installed, the bag appears as seen in the photos below and securely sits on the rack provided. Finger space between the bar and bag near the stem is slightly tight but doable. On the hoods, tops and the drops there is no conflict and the bike handles normally with the load of the bag and contents.

Finished and Installed

The results have been excellent and, although expensive, the bag must be considered an investment to be amortized over multiple day trips, credit card tours and randonnees.