Monday, April 6, 2009

Feel Free To Try This At Home

What do these three photos have in common?


Come on, this is not that hard to figure out.

OK, here it is: These are good examples of a little known but disturbing phenomena: Saggy Giles Berthoud Front Bag Syndrome, or SGBFBS for short (did I get that right?)

SGBFBS is a little known but devastating manifestation which results in horrible disfigurement of one of the finer accoutrements of fine cycling aficionados, (generally bike geeks with too much time and money). This sad development most commonly occurs in wet, humid climates. Rates of occurrence typically go up when the wet seasons are wetter and longer than normal. Like our old friends, El Nino, and La Nina (and Lance Armstrong and Operation Puerto) SGBFBS is always there at some background level but it appears that conditions this winter and spring of 2009 have conspired to produce the perfect storm for an explosion of SGBFBS.

Of course the most obvious effect of this terrible malady is disfigurement of the bag. The beautiful bag is not only horribly disfigured but it's function is impaired as the 'saggy bag' can surely not be expected to hold nearly as much French pastry, endurolites, hammer gel, or rechargeable niobium plutonium unobtanium batteries as it otherwise might (not to mention the odd stale pizza pocket for those late night cravings on the back roads and byways of rando routes).

Fortunately there is a fairly easy and cheap correction that can be effected by anyone with even modest crafty abilities and access to appropriate materials. What follows is Codfish Indistries International's exploratory tutorial on how to effect this repair, offered in the hopes that GBFB owners everywhere will make a small effort to improve the beauty and functionality of GBFB's across the land. If this offering has traction (We here at Codfish Towers expect it will) expansion into the Coroplast sector may be appropriate, but more on that later.
Here's how it's done. Start with a piece of Coroplast:

No actually, start by measuring the inner dimensions of your GBFB, then requisition the appropriately sized piece of coroplast.

Here, we must mention the 'requisition' process. I realize that it is most commonly thought that 'liberating' an election campaign yard sign is the best approach. A few little known facts to guide you in your course of action: If you use an election sign (or a home-for–sale sign, or perhaps the increasingly more common home-foreclosure-sale-sign) just realize that the colored ink on the sign will rub off if it is in contact with any other surface. This means that your attempt to restore the beauty and dignity of your GBFB may be spoiled by the transfer of ink, and it might further disappoint if you find this ink transfer occurring inside your GBFB. Forewarned is forenotified … er, something like that.
At any rate, I work in the State Capitol, a hot bed of liberal and conservative issues and political campaigns of every stripe, so 'free range' coroplast is easily 'harvested' from the plain of politics. Still, out of respect for the GBFB I chose to purchase ‘virgin’ coroplast.

It does come in colors, however the white is not only elegant but adds light to the inside of the bag, always an added benefit on dark nights.
The Measurement:
I'm generally a lumper as opposed to a splitter. I know that calculators do read out to the 6th decimal place but I find that 'close enough' usually is close enough. In this case however, I think as close as possible, (or within a 16th of an inch, whichever you can accomplish) is the more appropriate standard. Get this thing too small and it's about as effective as putting a condom on a pencil, too big and you'll have the "Cinderella’s ugly sister condition": too big to fit inside. But just right is great, your bag will stand tall, you won’t have to struggle to get the stiffener in (or out every two years or so for 'housecleaning'), and you will also bask in the glow of that old world coroplast craftsmanship. That measurement by the way needs to be "inside" dimensions.
So take the measurements, and then transfer them to the coroplast:

Note I've marked the 'cut lines' with a sharpie. If you are not thinking all the time, you can easily find that you’ve cut your big piece of virgin coroplast into several smaller, generally useless pieces of coroplast. Forewarned is foreclosed, … er, something like that.
Now, CAREFULLY cut out the single piece. A nice sharp box cutter is the ideal tool for the job here. If you’re into tools and don't have a fancy one, this is the perfect opportunity to head out to the Big Orange Hardware Store (BOHS) and make a purchase: These are not very expensive so might as well get two, you know, one to use and one to lose.

Now you'll have something that will confound the neighbor kids (or the cat) and amaze them in just a few moments:

(doesn't look much like a box does it?)

(As you can see, the supervisor of quality control chooses in this operation to remain behind the shatter proof techno-polimer-see-through work shield). Actually the new cat door is a point of contention between us. Chairman Meow has shown a certain curiosity in this new development and even has deigned to use it, .... so long as I hold the flap open for him. (who's training who?)

The next technically demanding part is the folding. Get this right and the universe will be in harmony, get it wrong and your GBFB can take on a strange, trapezoidal shape which obviously defeats the very purpose of this exercise. I suppose you could christen your creation the Picasso, or Dali edition, but that would be a fairly transparent attempt to cover up an error. Here you can do yourself a world of good with a straight edge of some sort to make the folds:

No level or straightedge around the ranch? Don't forget to check out the offerings at the BOHS.

Once folded you ought to give it a ‘dry fit’ to see how close you have come to that six decimal place measurement that the slipstick jockeys so love.

If you like the fit, you are nearly ready to install. If not, might as well start scouting campaign signs as 'adjustments' can be problematic. I add a piece of packing tape to each outside corner, not so much for structural integrity but to aid in insertion and removal. Absent this little highlight you risk accidentally bending or collapsing the coroplast.
Ok, ready to insert:

I don't know about all sizes and versions of the GBFB, but mine is a large dude and came with a strip of hook and loop material (and a pretty flimsy attempt at a bag stiffener) sewn into the sides of the bag.

To take advantage of this feature, I went to the craft store and got a package of sticky backed velcro and added two strips to my bag stiffener, which matched up with the pieces sewn into the bag. (the black strips you see inside the completed stiffener)
Et Voila! A GBFB reinforced to face the elements and make us all proud!

By the way, there are uses for that left over piece of coroplast:

I also often use a Caradice Barley on the back of the big horse. With that I have the bagman support and was frusturbed to see the bag sag down into the support. What to do? I originally thought to build a stiffener for the inside of this bag too, but the shape was a little more complicated than my calculator could handle. So I elected to build an external support. I was originally concerned that this would catch and hold water to the bottom of the Barley, but in three years of use that has not been a problem. You will note that my cut and measure for this piece looks much less pro, and clearly asymmetrical. It is not entirely due to my lack of skill but an accommodation of the lack of precision at the Carradice factory. As you can see from this photo:

the bag loops are not centered correctly. I noticed this fairly quickly after I bought the bag, but rather than return it with a whine I elected to keep it as a 'one off'. It has never been a problem other than the cosmetic imbalance. Not a problem for me, I think of my universe as out of balance anyway, but I don’t think of that as a cosmetic blemish.
And here we see the finished product(s): note the straight tall standing GBFB, and in the backgroud the out of kilter Caradice Barley.

While this primer is GBFB specific, there may be other bags out there in need:

This initial foray into the world of custom coroplast fabrication is an attempt to determine the feasibility of expanding our lineup of products and services here at Codfish Industries International (CII). In addition to our long standing and highly respected media conglomerate, Codfish Reporting And Publishing News (CRAP News) and our recently launched Financial Services arm: Codfish Refinance International Mortgage Enterprise Financial Services (CRIME Financial, soon to be eligible for TARP funds!) we are intrigued by the world of possibilities that custom coroplast fabrication offers in the currently challenging business climate.

We are working on a companion primer, Introduction to Coroplast Fabrication: 101 Projects For The Self Suffiicient Randonneur. Possibly a 3-CD boxed set of instructions for establishing a Codfish Custom Coroplast Franchise: The Coroplast Adventurer, perhaps a daytime talk radio venue; Coroplast Chat, and of course to keep savvy entrepreneurs abreast of up to the minute developments in the fast paced world of coroplast, a Twitter page: CoroTwit.
A world in crisis is a world of opportunity for those bold enough to follow their vision. Here at CII, we see only limitless opportunities for growth. Coroplast is sure to be one of the fast track venues for that growth. We anticipate great reception with the new administration and look forward to leading the way out of the morass of financial excess. Coroplast is clearly a bridge to the future, and you won’t want to miss your opportunity to cross that bridge with us.
Prospectus now being developed and investment opportunities will be available shortly. Please let us know your thoughts on this new venture. CII is a reactive, nimble, cutting edge multinational conglomerate bemoth, poised to lead and yet able to incorporate the thoughts of savvy investors.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice solution to an all too common problem, not only with GBFB, but Ostrich and other fabric/leather (classy lookin') front platform bags as well.
    To a small extent, a decaleur can resolve the issue by holding the rear edge of the bag up, but it still allows the leading edge to sag. While this ramped effect may add some aerodynamic advantage, it defeats one of the main purposes of the GBFB: Looking good.

    I was having a similar issue with my MCANFB (modified cheap ass Nashbar front bag) so I too made a visit to the BOHS. I picked up some stiff yet light 3/4" metal strips and #6 machine screws, washers and nylock nuts. I fashioned a reinforcement strip along the back edge of the bag, similar to a rack-mounted decaleur (but at 1/10 the cost and 1/100th the class). The first real test was last weekend's 300k, where it performed admirably.

    I love seeing everyone's homebrew solutions to the picky little issues we're apt to encounter with out gear.

    - Jason (Sasquatch)