Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Dahon Boardwalk DIY Custom Handlebar Bag

One of the main reasons I created a custom handlebar bag for my Dahon is because my particular model, a Boardwalk from 2003-4, lacks an integrated front truss block. I would prefer a Brompton- or Tern-style type of luggage option secured to the frame, but it is not possible without a built-in frame connection. But I had an idea. Much like the current snack bag/water bottle solution and rear panniers, which both are easily removeable, I knew I could also construct a front bag that would take advantage of the elongated handlepost, distribute more weight up front, plus have similar properties for portability (train travel, stowing inside a vehicle, etc.). I purposely avoided adding a front rack to keep the bike as lightweight as possible.

I used a purple Jansport laptop case for basic structure, but because of small carrying capacity, it was necessary to add additional pockets - thus the "rucksack" idea to include top zipper flap, lower easy to reach pockets plus one rear pocket to hold tent poles or whatever I could stuff in there. I used one buckle (gleaned from an old helmet) that's easy to clip, and with a long enough cinch strap who knows what else could be tucked onto the exterior?
I also required further prerequisites - enough to make my head spin - but I view those challenges as an opportunity to further customize the bag: a space to carry tent poles, plus include easy-to-open pockets and fasteners (I have weakened, arthritic thumbs). In the back of my mind I'd like enough cargo space to tour on the Dahon and to maximize it's potential, the items I needed was more upfront capacity. 

Thus, this was my first project that required multiple drawings and revisions. I eventually settled on a rucksack style in the front, and daisy chain webbing (for maximum attachment points) plus one pocket in the rear to hold tent poles. 

The purple colors are slightly mismatched (and do not photograph accurately) but I suspect all will fade in time. Once removed, the bag also doubles as a hand bag by simply attaching a shoulder strap to D-rings (as shown in upper right image) .
Over the course of a month, I finished, pausing in between steps to make sure I sewed each step in the correct order. As with other projects, I place the bike near my sewing space for continual adjustments and measurements. 

I experimented with stuffing items inside main pocket to understand volume.

I also checked out how including tent poles will work. They fill the curvature of handlebar nicely, one of the funny little aspects of the Dahon's bar. without compressing space in main pocket. and do not stick up dangerously high, approximately 4".

A side view for overall impression. Not too big visually, but extends capacity on a folding bike.

I tested the capacity on a recent Coffeeneuring outing, happy there's little sway without additional hook and loop fasteners - but the option is available should I need to add more attachment points in the future. Because most of the weight is suspended from the handlebars, I probably wouldn't lug more than 5 pounds, but that's 5 pounds less on the rear wheel!


  1. Very nice, I like the colour, and it looks as if its got good carrying capacity. On my Dahon I've got a Caradice handle bar bag with a Klikfix mount which lets me get the bag off quickly and doesn't get in the way when I fold it up. But I rarely fold the bike up nowadays.

    1. Thanks Dave. I often refer to the website below for baggage options on folding bikes. Interesting how many take advantage of the two bolts style. Again, wish I had those frame mounts.

    2. Thanks Annie an interesting site.

  2. Excellent idea and very well executed.

  3. That is an excellent bag! I love a bit of daisy chain webbing!


Due to increased Spam, I am moderating comments. Thank you for your patience.