Concours de Machines Ultralight Handlebar Bag


The bikes for the French Concours de Machines were weighed with their luggage. One key part to the success of the J.P. Weigle – the lightest bike complete the event – was the superlight Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag.

Dispensing with all outside pockets and reducing the leather reinforcements to an absolute minimum, the full-size GB28 bag weighs just 266 g. The bag is made from the same cotton fabric as standard Berthoud bags to offer the same waterproof performance and durability, and it even has a map/cue sheet holder and full inside flaps to offer the same functionality. The photos show the Ultralight Bag with a standard Gilles Berthoud bag for comparison.

Rene Herse Cycles offers an exclusive, limited edition of these bags in three sizes. To make up for the reduced stiffness of the bag, it includes the Rene Herse bag stiffener, which is designed to connect to a decaleur. The ultralight bag does not have an adjustable rear strap. The leather sleeve on the back is designed to fit over a rack backstop no wider than 48 mm. It’s a perfect fit on Rene Herse racks.

Made in France.

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Handlebar bags are a convenient place to carry a load. On a bike with a suitable front-end geometry, they affect the handling less than a rear load. You balance by moving the front wheel from side to side, so a front load is easy to balance, whereas the rear wheel only follows the input from the front wheel with a lag.

The contents of a handlebar bag are easily accessible, either while riding or during a stop, without dismounting the bike. The bag also shields the rider’s legs from rain and provides a convenient place for a map or cue sheet.

Handlebar bags should sit as low as possible on top of the front wheel. They are designed to be supported by a small front rack and attached to the handlebars with the provided straps or, better, with a decaleur.

Gilles Berthoud continues to make the classic Sologne handlebar bags. With more than 50 years of experience, their bags are sewn in France by hand from waterproof cotton, and edged with leather. These traditional materials work well, keeping our editor’s bag dry during a 50-hour ride in the rain in Paris-Brest-Paris, and are lighter than most “modern” bags.