The project seemed simple enough: resurrect an old Kirtland Tour Pac handlebar bag and its hardware that has been languishing in my closet and put it on a bike I’ll be using in a few weeks for some biking and birding. I’ve stuffed small binoculars into my jersey pocket before, but where do you put a field guide? This Kirtland bag did it all in the past; it could do it all now. Opens from the top, has a built-in plastic map holder and two side pockets. And is sturdy enough to carry a lot of stuff without even sagging (or worse, falling off into the front wheel).
There’s a good reason why you don’t see this style bag around anymore — it’s just not compatible with threadless stems and STI shifters. Today’s stems are too “fat” to accept the mounting hardware, which was designed for yesterday’s forged “skinny” stems. And the derailleur cables on Shimano STI levers (yeah, I know — they buried them with the new Dura Ace) run smack into the space where the bag goes.
Well, heck, since I was putting this on an older Terry that looks a little retro itself, why not go all the way? Build the bike up around the Kirtland. Armed with a can of Lysol to ward off the mold, I buried myself in the basement and returned an hour later with just what I needed: bar end shift levers, standard brake levers and brakes to go with them, and a forged stem. Let the games begin.
In the photo you can see the bag, the still unwrapped bars, and a glimpse of the Shimano 600 short reach brake lever and Shimano bar end shifters. Works like a charm. My only concession to modern day goodies are GORE™ Ride-On® brake and derailleur cables, Schwalbe Stelvio tires and a Terry Firefly saddle. And, yeah, I set the shift levers to friction. In for a dime, in for a dollar.
Andrew Smith says
I have one of the handlebar bags but have lost the mounting instructions. I can’t remember how to put the holder on the handle bar. It is a great bag and wished I could use it again. Thanks
Andrew. If you want to sell your bag let me know. email@example.com
Ron Kline says
I have a set of Kirtland Tour Pak LT (light touring) and a handlebar bag that I bought new in 1976 or ’77, and they’re still in remarkably good shape. I have them on my rebuilt 1978 Campy Trek touring bike. I still use the bags daily, as the old Trek has been relegated to my grocery getter. What ever happened to Kirtland? It was an awesome product.
I also love my kirtland Tour Pak(s), including the front bag. It stays on my dedicated Kona Sutra touring bike. I had the same problem fitting it to the Sutra. But rather than retro the bike to fit the pak, I fabricated a new hardware attachment using a steel bar bought at home depot. After bending the bar using a hammer and pliers held in a stout bench vice, pounding it into the correct shape for the new-style stem, and painting it black it works great. I also covered the contact points with durable plastic tubing which beats the heck out of the ugly duct tape I used before. The bag is old with constant use since 1975, the red color is now kinda pink and I’ve sewn in new material on the bottom (never say die). Man, this bag has seen everything – if it could talk . . . Still, none of the newer bags I’ve seen come close to the utility of this old bag. Nothing holds up so well or is so functional.
I’ve a full matched-set of the blue “Early-Warning” 70s/80s touring/commuting bags (Century-600 H-bar bag, Elite Panniers [small fronts, large rears] rear top barrel Century-100 under-seat bag), plus an over-the-bar deep-set bag, and a silver rear-top mini-duffel. They have survived 4 different bicycles and rack sets (I also have all my Blackburn racks).
The only problem I have right now, is that I can’t use the H-bar bracket on my new bike… The stem is too wide… I guess I’ll have to build something.