Papa's got a brand-new bag

Fresh off a yearlong sabbatical — and a noncompete clause of equal length — former Timbuk2 chief executive Mark Dwight is partnering with Timbuk2’s original founder, Rob Honeycutt, to launch a new messenger-bag company.

Called Rickshaw Bagworks, the San Francisco company plans to show its line of messenger bags, backpacks, waist packs and tote bags for the first time at the Interbike 2007 tradeshow in Las Vegas in September, Dwight said.

It marks yet another addition to San Francisco’s burgeoning bike-bag scene, the cradle of Timbuk2, Zo Bags, Freight Baggage and other small manufacturers.

Dwight is widely credited with making Timbuk2 the success it now is by transforming it from a consensus-based, bags-made-to-order company to a firm with stock supplies and a management hierarchy. He is funding his new venture himself, and acts as the CEO.

Honeycutt, who founded Timbuk2 after working as a bike messenger and sewing bags himself, is Rickshaw’s director of operations. He has spent the past several years running his small firm Zuluworks, which makes accessories for pilots.

Macy Allatt, another Timbuk2 alumni, is director of marketing, and former bike messenger and bag designer John McComb is the first “bagsmith,” sewing the product.

Initial designs and prototypes call for them to be different from the solid-color bags that dominate the boutique messenger-bag market, or from the three-panel bags Timbuk2 made famous.

The company, while hewing to a focus on the “urban” cyclist such as messengers and bike commuters, is trying out sturdy upholstery fabrics, including brocades, plaids and green glittery pieces, and planning small runs so customer choices change frequently.

Dwight also said the bags will have multiple customization possibilities, such as embroidery on the top flap.

“It’s a market that thrives on new,” Dwight said. “New markets, new brands. People have a weird passion for their bags. It’s like pets. I’m very much a brand-oriented business person.”

The embroidery takes a nod from recent adornment and do-it-yourself trends in which customers take simple, clean-lined modern items and add images or patterns.

It’s not the only company seeking to do this in messenger bags. R.E. Load Baggage Inc. of Philadelphia does custom-embroidered bags, and Timbuk2 has recently been featuring artist design series bags and other bags with images on a panel.

Timbuk2 and other competitors did not return calls by press time.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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