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  1. #1
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    I have joined the handlebar bag club

    And it's awesome. It seems like more people need these things. This is the (cheap) one I got:



    The front pockets big enough for my multitool, allen keys, wallet, phone, keys, spoke wrench, and patch kit. There's a big middle pocket, two side mesh pockets and ANOTHER top pocket. There's two straps for a pump but mines a bit too big so it's staying on the top tube.


    This things awesome. I can't wait til this cold breaks and I can pack it full of food and go for like a bazillion miles worry free.


    Also got my first cyclo computer.


    AMAZING!
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  2. #2
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Welcome to the club. I've always had a bar bag. My touring ride has a big one, my regular road bike has a small one. I use it for snacks, powdered sports drink mix, money, glasses, etc. I don't know how people carry all that crap in their jerseys. I like to have as little as possible on my person, I'd rather have it all on the bike somewhere, and a bar bag makes everything easily accessible without even having to stop.

    Of course, all the "racer" crowd will sneer at you for it........

  3. #3
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
    Of course, all the "racer" crowd will sneer at you for it........

    Thanks!

    I'll just tell them I draft my 'bar bag.
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  4. #4
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    It's nice having somewhere to stash things, but I think I'd rather keep all the weight off the handlebars & steering, although I admit that I've ridden many miles with a handlebar-bag.

    What eventually turned me off the practise was that I was descending a fairly smooth section, had got up to about 35 mph and suddenly hit some bumps; the bike shook, rattled and bounced so violently that the bag flew off its bracket, fell down and got jammed on the wheel but behind the fork, in front of the down-tube. To this day I still don't understand why the bag didn't fall into the wheel; I was able to stop without crashing, but if the bag had fallen into the wheel and jammed it, the story would have had a far worse ending, so be warned, make sure the bag is very firmly attached!

    Congrats on the cyclo-computer also!

    - Wil
    "" - Marcel Marceau

  5. #5
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    I just picked up that same bag this week. Sunlite Bartender 4 or something. The thing is huge! The mount is kind of big and I had to move my light and reflector to make room. Since my computer didn't work, I just yanked it off.

    The other handy thing about it is that you can you use it a pannier. I hitched it up to my rear rack using the velcro strips around the rack and then then then the shoulder strap weaved through the rack as a backpup should the velcro fail. Works wonders for getting a fully loaded bag and weight off the handle bars. My only other complaint is that because it's a touring type bag, water resistent design led to no easy access compartments while riding other than the mesh pockets on the sides. But for me that's not big deal since most of my easy access stuff goes into a pocket or into the hydro pack easy access areas.

    This bag is comparable to the topeak bags and about 1/2 the price. I also have a sunlite trunk bag with drop panniers for when I commute a little heavier. I'm very impressed with the quality of the Sunlite stuff and you can't beat their price.

  6. #6
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    There's two straps for a pump but mines a bit too big so it's staying on the top tube.
    Those straps are actually handlebar mounts should you not want to use the quick relase mount. However, I did try putting my pump in there, too. As mentioned in my above post, I use those velcro loops to hook the bag to my rear rack and use the bag as a pannier.

  7. #7
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    Those straps are actually handlebar mounts should you not want to use the quick relase mount. However, I did try putting my pump in there, too. As mentioned in my above post, I use those velcro loops to hook the bag to my rear rack and use the bag as a pannier.
    Oooo I didn't realize that. I'm gonna try that when I get home, the mounting system makes putting a light on kind of impossible.

    Also, the bag got a nice thorough drenching in 2 hours of heavy rain last sunday and this is not a waterproof bag! Fortunately I had my cell in a plastic bag, but the wallet and everything else in the smaller compartments got pretty drenched.
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  8. #8
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    Also, the bag got a nice thorough drenching in 2 hours of heavy rain last sunday and this is not a waterproof bag! Fortunately I had my cell in a plastic bag, but the wallet and everything else in the smaller compartments got pretty drenched.
    Dang, that sucks. I'm thinking of getting the topeak rain cover. I think they have one of approximate size. Either that or attempt to make one from an old tent rain fly or rain jacket. Glad to see you're still using yours.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wil Davis
    It's nice having somewhere to stash things, but I think I'd rather keep all the weight off the handlebars & steering, although I admit that I've ridden many miles with a handlebar-bag.

    What eventually turned me off the practise was that I was descending a fairly smooth section, had got up to about 35 mph and suddenly hit some bumps; the bike shook, rattled and bounced so violently that the bag flew off its bracket, fell down and got jammed on the wheel but behind the fork, in front of the down-tube. To this day I still don't understand why the bag didn't fall into the wheel; I was able to stop without crashing, but if the bag had fallen into the wheel and jammed it, the story would have had a far worse ending, so be warned, make sure the bag is very firmly attached!

    Congrats on the cyclo-computer also!

    - Wil
    This is the reason why I got the one from Topeak. It has a safety cable that goes around the stem that protects against what you mentioned.
    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

  10. #10
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster
    This is the reason why I got the one from Topeak. It has a safety cable that goes around the stem that protects against what you mentioned.
    On my Topeak handlebar bag, the cable you mention only helps keep the weight of the bag from rotating the mount on the bars. It does nothing to prevent the bag from separating from the quick release mount.

    A violent shimmy going down hill might have been caused by using a front bag on a bike that is not designed for one, but it may also be a problem with the bike without one. In any event, a well designed touring or randonneuring bike should be quite stable with a front bag. Most road bikes are less stable with a front bag.

  11. #11
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster
    This is the reason why I got the one from Topeak. It has a safety cable that goes around the stem that protects against what you mentioned.
    Sunlite does too, it goes around the mounting bracket.
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  12. #12
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR97
    Dang, that sucks. I'm thinking of getting the topeak rain cover. I think they have one of approximate size. Either that or attempt to make one from an old tent rain fly or rain jacket. Glad to see you're still using yours.
    I don't think it's that big of an issue. Most of the stuff I carry can get wet aside from the cell phone, map and maybe a pair of extra socks. As far as food goes it's gonna get wet eventually right? Clothing can go in a plastic bag.
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    On my Topeak handlebar bag, the cable you mention only helps keep the weight of the bag from rotating the mount on the bars. It does nothing to prevent the bag from separating from the quick release mount.
    True. It does however keep the bag from completely falling off into your front tire and causing you some nasty road rash though.
    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    In any event, a well designed touring or randonneuring bike should be quite stable with a front bag. Most road bikes are less stable with a front bag.
    The conventional wisdom is actually that, for a randonneuring bike, a front bag should not be mounted on the handlebars, but on a front rack mounted to the crown fork. Keeping the weight lower will prevent the weight in the bag from affecting the stability of your ride.

    Personally, I did my brevet series last year with an Arkel handlebar bag that was alright, but the bag would make the bike tip over relatively frequently when stopped or slowed. Now, I use a combination of bento on the top tube and a map case/pouch mounted right on handlebar and stem. Nothing cantilevered off the front of the bars, and the weight is centered on the stem. The bento and map pouch hold enough (wallet, brevet card, phone, map, food for the next 50 miles) and I keep a reserve of stuff in a rack trunk that can be switched into the pouch when I need to.

  15. #15
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    The conventional wisdom is actually that, for a randonneuring bike, a front bag should not be mounted on the handlebars, but on a front rack mounted to the crown fork. Keeping the weight lower will prevent the weight in the bag from affecting the stability of your ride.

    Personally, I did my brevet series last year with an Arkel handlebar bag that was alright, but the bag would make the bike tip over relatively frequently when stopped or slowed. Now, I use a combination of bento on the top tube and a map case/pouch mounted right on handlebar and stem. Nothing cantilevered off the front of the bars, and the weight is centered on the stem. The bento and map pouch hold enough (wallet, brevet card, phone, map, food for the next 50 miles) and I keep a reserve of stuff in a rack trunk that can be switched into the pouch when I need to.
    I have noticed the added instability with the bar bag, but have just been dealing with it. That map case looks really good, how well does it keep out water?
    Race-o-meter:
    Broken until next season

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    I have noticed the added instability with the bar bag, but have just been dealing with it. That map case looks really good, how well does it keep out water?
    In light rain it's fine. In stormy weather, it puts up a valiant effort that is ultimately compromised by the fact that it has a zipper.

    One nice thing about the case vs. a rigid handlebar bag, though, is that since you don't need a rigid base, water tends to flow out of it a little faster. One thing I found with the Arkel handlebar bag last year during a 400k that had 20+ hours of rain was that there was basically a small lake at the bottom of the bag because it wasn't draining away.

    Regardless, everything that I have that is remotely vulnerable to moisture goes into a ziploc bag.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hocam
    I have noticed the added instability with the bar bag, but have just been dealing with it. That map case looks really good, how well does it keep out water?
    In light rain it's fine. In stormy weather, it puts up a heroic defense that is ultimately compromised by the fact that it has a zipper.

    One nice thing about the case vs. a rigid handlebar bag, though, is that since you don't need a rigid base, water tends to flow out of it a little faster. One thing I found with the Arkel handlebar bag last year during a 400k that had 20+ hours of rain was that there was basically a small lake at the bottom of the bag because it wasn't draining away.

    Regardless, everything that I have that is remotely vulnerable to moisture goes into a ziploc bag.

  18. #18
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    I haven't decided on bags yet. My understanding (through reading Jan Heinie's stuff, among other things) is that a low mounted front rack on a bicycle with appropriate geometry is a wonderful place for a front bag. Some of the tests I've read indicate that some bikes handle better with such a set-up, and I can see some advantages to a front bag.

    One of the major problems with all of it, though, seems to be that few bikes are set up for low mount frant racks. My Heron Randonneur, though designed for a front rack -- they even come with a "custom" Nitto rack -- still doesn't carry it in the right place. The original bikes had racks so low that they were used as an attachment point for the front fenders. Mine -- and most of the other modern bikes I've seen -- includes several inches of space between the rack and the fender. This results in increased instability with a front bag, from what I understand. Hopefully folks with first-hand experience will chime in.

    I'm bypassing the whole mess by ordering a Carradice Barley saddlebag. It won't suit as a map holder, and I'll have to dismount when I want something from it, and hopefully I won't be bumping it with my legs too much, but... few modern bikes are properly designed for front bags, as far as I can tell. I think that's a shame, but I'm not going to fight that uphill battle unless I end up really having to.

  19. #19
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    One of the major problems with all of it, though, seems to be that few bikes are set up for low mount frant racks. My Heron Randonneur, though designed for a front rack -- they even come with a "custom" Nitto rack -- still doesn't carry it in the right place. The original bikes had racks so low that they were used as an attachment point for the front fenders. Mine -- and most of the other modern bikes I've seen -- includes several inches of space between the rack and the fender. This results in increased instability with a front bag, from what I understand. Hopefully folks with first-hand experience will chime in.
    I really don't think those 2 inches are going to make much of a differences. I started out with my handlebar bag on the mount it came with, placing it about 3" infront of the centerline of the bars, and a little below centered with them. Loaded with a park toolkit, light jacket, leg warmers, half dozen cliff bars, spare tube and banana or two it really wasn't that bad, even at grindingly slow 20% grade and on 40 mph descents. As long as both your hands are on the bars at slow speeds it's alright.

    Moving the bag off the plastic mount and onto the bars by the straps seemed to make a pretty good positive difference, now the top is about level with the bars and there's no space between handlebar and bags. I haven't tried it with the same amount of weight yet but will on a century tomorrow.

    I'm also considering the barely. I think that and the 'bar bag will be plenty to carry anything I need on up to a 600k. It's just so damn expensive, maybe later in the summer I'll pick one up from saint john streets cycles (cheapest place I found).
    Race-o-meter:
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  20. #20
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    In light rain it's fine. In stormy weather, it puts up a heroic defense that is ultimately compromised by the fact that it has a zipper.

    One nice thing about the case vs. a rigid handlebar bag, though, is that since you don't need a rigid base, water tends to flow out of it a little faster. One thing I found with the Arkel handlebar bag last year during a 400k that had 20+ hours of rain was that there was basically a small lake at the bottom of the bag because it wasn't draining away.

    Regardless, everything that I have that is remotely vulnerable to moisture goes into a ziploc bag.
    I used one of the cycoactive? ones last year. Kept hitting my knees on it when I would stand to climb. I finally mounted it to my aerobars and all was well. (although I've ditched those this year...)

    That Arkel one is huge... a nice mount for sure. Does it flop around?

  21. #21
    Ho-Jahm Hocam's Avatar
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    Bar bag did great yesterday. I think I may have been a mile or two short of a century, but close enough. Maximum load was 5 cliff bars, a muffin, 2 bananas, a bag of chocolate covered brazil nuts, cell phone, keys, park multi tool, spare tube and patch kit, little tiny pair of pliers and a map and cue sheet. I think it was close to 5 lbs and I really didn't notice much in the way of handling problems.
    Race-o-meter:
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  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    I used one of the cycoactive? ones last year. Kept hitting my knees on it when I would stand to climb. I finally mounted it to my aerobars and all was well. (although I've ditched those this year...)

    That Arkel one is huge... a nice mount for sure. Does it flop around?
    The bag has two straps that loop around the handlebar, and another that loops around the stem. If you cinch them in properly, it stays pretty tight and doesn't flop around. I also occasionally hit the bag with my knees while climbing, but I don't climb out of the saddle too much. The pouch has enough capacity for a couple of bags of food (granola, mostly), wallet, keys, phone and two maps.

  23. #23
    Golden Member JR97's Avatar
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    I've loaded my sunlite pretty heavy the last 3-4 days. Heavy enough that the mounting bracket tilted down. (I don't have the retainer wire because it was way too short. Need to make me a longer one) Anywho, I tightened the bracket nuts down pretty tight and it ain't goin' nowhere. However, in doing so, the bolts now stick out a tad further than the bracket and are scraping against the crap out of the bag when I mount it. There's some nice tears in there now. It looks I'm going to have to use some shims. I don't think the retaining wire will do much in keeping the thing from tilting down a bit.

    I haven't any handling issues at high speeds... which for me on the full suspension fatty tired mountain bike is 24-25 mph. It does make the handling a little more sensative though. Weighted down, I've had to be careful when I look over my shoulder. The first time I did that, I shot out into the lane and scared the bejesuz out of myself.

  24. #24
    Elemental Child Elderberry's Avatar
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    Sorry to dig up such a ridiculously old thread, but I just picked up a bar bag and must sing its praises. Just a standard Trek offering with nothin' fancy, but it's so nice. Don't particularly have to access anything on the five mile commute to work, but it holds my camera and lunch with ease. I look forward to actually using it on some long rides this spring and summer.

    Here 'tis on my trusty Schwinn.

  25. #25
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    I eventually got around to building a frame expressly designed to carry a front bag on a rack. The short version is that those old French dudes were right: a bike with the proper geometry handles better with a bag than without. And of course the front bag is much more convenient than a rear one, and also doubles as a map case. I can't imagine going back to a rear bag on a long-distance bike.

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