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BFS2017: Made to order bags from Tim Tas & Rek, before bikepacking was cool; plus custom Lester Cycles

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Tim Tas & Rek makes custom randonneur and porteur bags in the Netherlands. If you haven’t seen those French names for bike touring styles in a while, it is probably because the explosion of rack-less bikepacking bags have somewhat eclipsed the original all-road tourists. That was in part, due both to an attempt to shed weight, as much as it was just to fit bags on bikes without proper rack braze-ons. In any case, bikepacking wouldn’t be where it is today without randonneur, and there is still a lot to be said for a completely custom, made-to-order set of touring bags tailored not just to your bike, but to what kind of adventures you have in mind. To mount their bags on your bike Tim Tas crafts their own reasonably priced tubular stainless steel racks and worked with friend & frame builder Lester Cycles for this customer’s touring bike to showcase the complete bag setup…

So in a real quick departure from the bags for a second, this bike is a modern steel number from custom framebuilder Lester Janssen of Lester Cycles. Each of his bikes is handmade in Amsterdam, where he apprenticed under some of the best of historic Dutch framebuilders, and refined a clean, simple aesthetic with an attention to detail. Now just since last summer he’s gone out on his own, but has amassed a solid catalog of mostly 700c oriented bikes.

This one is the Adventure, built with Columbus Life tubing, a nice set of pointed lugs, a matching steel fork, an open set of machined dropouts, and enough braze-ons from front to back to bolt up whatever the adventure requires. The bike gets a three color paint scheme with the colors inspired by the dutch Royal Navy tugboat De Noordzee, and gets blue accents to top it off.

That’s where Tim Tas & Rek took over…

Tim Tas custom-made a full set of travel bags for the Lester Adventure, highlighting the blue and gray of the bike. Out back the bike gets a set of waxed canvas roll-top expedition panniers that were custom sized for the bike for a slim shape following the seatstays that would cost the buyer about 150€ for the pair. Up front the bags carry over the slim look with another set of compact custom panniers with the same fabrics for about the same price for the pair. This time the front panniers get an even more narrow profile and zippered access on their rear edge to make them easy to get into when the top bag is loaded.

That leaves the narrow frame bag under the toptube that Tim Tas didn’t mention an exact price on (likely a bit over 100€) and the classic 130€ Randonneur bad on top that offers all of the sorting capabilities of the traditionally styles French fast touring bag, with a clear waterproof map pocket on top. All of the bags feature a healthy dose of reflective striping, plus inner linings, reinforcement at stress points and all of the customization possibilities you can imagine.

Having a glance at Jean Michel of Tim Tas’ own bike was a fun inside look at what we don’t see a lot of in cycling these days. His touring rig has clearly seen a ton of use. And of course further evidence of Road Plus being around for a while. Much like the simple zipped closure on the front Lester panniers, Jean Michel uses the same layout on a custom vertical frame back he crafted for his own bike that leaves plenty of space for a full size water bottle in the front triangle of his large lugged frame – an older Orbit Gold Medal built in England, presumably in the 1980s or 90s.

Giant fat Compass 26 x 2.3″ Rat Trap Pass tires, the most modern 7 speed Suntour SVX derailleur the 80s could dish out, one of the original compact doubles in now obscure 86mm BCD, and big pinned platform pedals to put the power down.


Beyond the bags on the Lester, Tim Tas also has a nice looking snap-closure, wedge-shaped saddle bag for 90€ with pockets and a bungee inside to keep everything organized. Then there are the standard small panniers from 180€ which add a lot more features like lash point bungees, pockets inside, and even optional shoulder straps for off-the-bike use.

Like all of their bags, these too are made-to-order, so you can always customize as little or as much as you want.

Tim Tas & Rek make the tubular stainless racks to support all of their bags as well. Here you have the 80€ randonneur front rack, the 85€ rear rack, and a giant 125€ porteur front rack. The Lester at the top used a customized slimmer version of both the randonneur front and typical rear racks to keep the bag profile low and close to the wheels, but went without the 65€ stem-mounted decaluer hook that usually make it quick and easy to  remove a rando bag.

Tim Tas ships worldwide and is happy to work with you to customize bags and racks for any adventure.

TimTas.nl & LesterCycles.com

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7 years ago

You know that panniers just don’t work on mountain bikes, right? Bikepacking bags were developed for a reason.

7 years ago

Yeah, only roadies are cool

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