In my last post I spoke about wanting to make a bikepacking handlebar bag for my final project. As a reminder, bikepacking is riding a bicycle, usually on trail, for at least one overnight/camp. I have been interested in the sport for some time, but it is quite expensive to get into. To save some money, I decided that I could make at least one of my own bags. I specifically thought about the handlebar roll. I explored several aesthetics and bounced ideas off of friends, but I realized that I was missing one key factor, the bike.
Photo of my bicycle
After all, bikepacking is only possible because of the bike. Once I realized this I took a long look at my bike to try to get inspiration. At first I noticed the handlebars; wide, swept out and down, perched. I had thoughts of birds of prey. Then I started thinking about the name of the bike, the Redwood. That made me think a lot about the greed color of the bike. Could I create a nature aesthetic to make it look like a tree? No, it looks too manmade. Acknowledging that I wouldn’t be able to hide the engineering behind the bike, I decided to go in another direction. The Indian Model 741 motorcycle used in WW2!
 WW2 Model 741 by Indian Motorcycles
With the idea of the 741 in mind, I started thinking about every way that I could possibly make my bicycle look like a motorcycle (and yes, I did consider putting a motor on it). There are a lot of overlaps between the bags and accessories that people put on bicycles and motorcycles. On top of that, many of the necessary components are the same.
Cardboard mockup of bags used to imitate a 741
In the image above, we can see 4 main cardboard pieces. On the back end there is a tent roll and panniers. On the front end I created a “Gas Can” top tube bag and an ammo can. I plan on adding these 4 custom components to the bicycle, as well as some off the shelf elements, to achieve my 741 aesthetic. I will be making the tent roll and top tube bag out of green army canvas and the panniers out of leather or canvas. If I can find some, I will be repurposing actual ammo cans for the front storage.
Since I am just as concerned with function as I am with form, I need to consider a few things with my bags/containers. The most important consideration is waterproofness. In order to be useful for carrying my warm clothes and sleeping bag, the bags will need to be able to handle any weather that I will be riding through. Since the mid-19th century people have been waxing canvas to make it waterproof. I plan to explore this technique. For the ammo cans, I received the advice in my pod to add rubber gaskets to seal their holes. If I use the original lids, they should then be waterproof too. The leather bags might just need to be taken off for bad weather trips…
Over the next few weeks, I will breakdown the materials that I currently have, go to the army surplus store to get any more that I can, then sew everything together. I plan to let the sewing process develop as needed while I am learning. I will also need to spend time drilling holes into the ammo cans and waxing the canvas. Berk, Joe. MotorcycleClassics.com https://www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-american-motorcycles/classic-indian-motorcycles/1942-indian-model-741-zmkz19sozhur