Berthoud Bags in Black-on-Black

Our entire line of Berthoud bags is now available in black-on-black, for a contemporary aesthetic that matches modern bikes. Unchanged is the outstanding performance, light weight and durability of these bags.

Leather and canvas may seem like unlikely materials for a high-performance bag, but Berthoud bags aren’t just lighter than most ‘modern’ bags, they also retain their waterproofness in the long run. There is no coating that wears off, nor a liner that adds weight and may leak in the future: The cotton fabric itself swells when it gets moist, making it inherently waterproof.

The black-on-black bags have one difference to the traditional models: The edging of the black-on-black bags is made from Nylon, not leather like the other colors. The edging tends to get some abuse, and if it was made from leather that had been dyed black, the natural tan color would show through after a while. The Nylon is strong and doesn’t change color as it wears.

The design of these bags has been refined over more than half a century, which shows in small details like the elastic closures that are easy to operate with one hand, even while riding.

Berthoud bags are made by hand in France from the best materials, so they aren’t cheap, but they last far longer than other bags we’ve tried. How long? As long as you occasionally treat the leather, they’ll continue to look great after a decade or more of daily use. In fact, I still use the very first Berthoud bag I bought in 1999, twenty years ago.

The Berthoud program includes more than just the iconic handlebar bags:

The small universal bag attaches to the saddle, to a rack, or even to your handlebars – it’s a great way to add carrying capacity and style to your bike.

For more space, the banana-shaped saddle bags are hard to beat. They attach to the saddle rails with a strap…

… or if you have a Berthoud saddle (except the superlight Galibier), you can bolt a small KlickFix attachment to the saddle and mount the bag that way.

I love the small roll-closure bag. Carry it under your saddle or in a bottle cage to carry tools, a tube, and perhaps a lightweight rain jacket. It’s so much nicer and more secure than a cut-off water bottle!

 

The best-kept secret in Berthoud’s range are their panniers. With the ingenious laces, the volume of the panniers is easy to adjust – expand them when you need to carry extra food for a stretch of empty country, or contract them when you wear all your clothes on a cool day. The leather straps compress the bag when you close it – nothing wiggles or rattles.

Our Berthoud panniers attach with simple leather straps and a metal spring that hooks onto the rack. This tensions the bag and prevents it from rattling on rough roads. After touring with these, I miss the features when touring with other bags!

If there is one small drawback to Berthoud bags, it’s that the leather requires a little upkeep. When new, I treat my bags with Obenauf’s Leather Preservative, and if the leather appears to get dry, I repeat – maybe once a year if the bags are used in the rain a lot.

Berthoud also offers their Leather Cleaner & Conditioner (above). It’s less strong and doesn’t penetrate the leather’s surface as much. Mostly, it’s useful for leather saddles that are have softened with age – it doesn’t soften the saddle leather further. We have it in stock, too.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we don’t just offer proven products, but also the spares you need to keep them on the road. The metal springs of the Berthoud panniers don’t wear out, but if you fall or hook a pannier on an obstacle, they can get overstretched. It’s not serious – you can always continue your ride, whereas plastic hooks that snap may well end your trip. We now offer the springs – as well as the leather straps – as spares. Usually, you don’t need the rivets that come with them: Just bend open the hook on the bag and insert the new spring.

With our recent Berthoud shipment also came a restock of the popular saddled: All models and colors are in stock again…

… and so are Berthoud’s popular bar-end mirrors.

Click on the links below for the full program:

About Jan Heine

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Rene Herse Cycles, that turns our research into the high-performance components we need for our adventures.
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14 Responses to Berthoud Bags in Black-on-Black

  1. Frederic says:

    Black is the new blue

  2. Chris Andress says:

    The bags look nice, but I am curious which model of Masi that is? Thanks! Chris

  3. Douglas K says:

    Hi Jan, bit of a tenuous link to this post, but speaking of bags…
    Where would you start to put luggage on a bike after just a handlebar bag is not enough? Would you go straight for panniers (even lightly loaded), or use a saddle bag like a Carradice?

    My Hetchins (1938, when even some British bikes had low-ish trail!) can’t take front panniers and I don’t need enough stuff to fill rear ones anyway so I go for a Carradice if extra room is needed, but I’d be interested to hear what you would go for given all the choices.

    I notice in old photos that Rene Herse et al seem to use simple (roughly)cylindrical bags strapped to the fork legs and a more sturdy-looking than normal mudguard stay which looks like a good idea but doesn’t seem to be a thing any more 😦

    • Jan Heine says:

      I prefer loading the front, so once a handlebar bag is not enough capacity for a multi-day trip, I add panniers. In fact, panniers on front low-riders have even less impact on the bike’s handling than a handlebar bag, but they lack the convenience of easy access.

    • marmotte27 says:

      There was a very nice diagram on the Berthoud site showing the sequence of loading up your bike. Can’t seem to find it any longer on their revamped site.

  4. aztris says:

    Curious, what do you use to soften the saddles up? I’ve only ever used the Berthoud saddle wax. I have some Obenauf’s sitting around, but never tried it.

    • Jan Heine says:

      We don’t usually soften the leather – that would break it down. Just ride the saddle, and it’ll soften on its own without excessive degradation of the leather. The leather of the Berthoud saddles is of very high quality and pre-softened, so it doesn’t usually take long.

      We tread our saddle about once a year with a tiny amount of Obenauf’s – just use a rag, put some Obenauf’s on it and wipe across the saddle. In the future, we’ll use the Berthoud Conditioner for that. We also use Obenauf’s when the saddles are starting to be visibly dry, for example, after drying out following a very wet ride. For that, Obenauf’s may still be best.

      The Berthoud saddle wax appears to be very similar to Obenauf’s, so we see no need to import it from France what is available here. The leather conditioner is different and specially formulated for the saddles.

      • aztris says:

        Thanks. My Aspin saddle is definitely the most comfortable I’ve ridden, but still fairly firm after 2,500 miles. I’ve consistently used the Berthoud wax (several times a year), but starts to look a bit “dry” pretty quickly. I’ll give Obenauf’s a try next.

        Oh and I wanted to add, the Berthoud leather bar tape is the real unsung hero. Super soft, comfortable and durable. I’ve probably re-wrapped the same tape at least 4 times now and it’s still going strong.

    • John C. Wilson says:

      Careful with the Obenauf’s. If enough of it soaks in your saddle will get harder. I prefer my saddles quite hard, Obenauf’s does it every time. Newer saddles that are very smooth won’t absorb much. In that case I use quite a lot on the underside. Most do not want the results I want. Jan’s advice to use just a tiny amount will be best for most.

      • Jan Heine says:

        We recommend not to use any product on the underside. The leather should be able to breathe. Sealing it on both sides does not appear to be a good idea.

      • John C. Wilson says:

        Reasonable concern but decades of experience says beeswax will not seal a saddle. Rain still gets them wet and then they dry out normally. The wax does succeed in reducing the amount of sweat and salt the saddle absorbs. All at price of making the saddle hard.

  5. Dana Shifflett says:

    What low rider rack are you using on the Masi SR?

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