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  1. #1
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    Handlebar bag for Randonneuring

    I may be wrong, but it seems like the handlebar bags are popular for Randonneuring. Why is that? I have a rack and bag on the back of my bike. Holds my stuff for commuting. Figure it should work fine for longer rides when I may want extra clothes. Any advantage with going to the bar bag?
    Thanks, MikeB

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    just pokin' along desertdork's Avatar
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    Ease of access while riding would be a big advantage.

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    You can access the handlebar bag to some extent while riding. Even if you have to stop to hunt through it, it's lots handier. With the trunk bag, you either have to get off the bike or twist around (and twisting around is not good if you're anywhere near cramping.)
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't know that they are that popular. I think it may be a regional thing. I just use a seatpost mounted rack/bag like what you have. The main advantage of having a handlebar bag is ease of reach. You can have stuff (as long as it's lite) that you use a lot right in front of you and you can reach it without stopping.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Handlebar bags are very handy for holding and providing easy access to a number of things... such as nibbles and gels, alternative gloves, and stashing items like leg warmers.

    All of these things can be accessed while riding (yes, I've even taken off a pair of leg warmers while riding and stashed them), and this is made much easier if the bar bag is "organised" with variious pockets and pouches.

    For that reason I like the Topeak Tour Guide bag which I had until my home was destroyed. Another is on order from Chain Reaction Cycles for Machka's new bike. I have opted for the Topeak Bar Pack that is somewhat smaller.

    I am not particularly enamoured with jersey pockets because I never quite seem to be able to manipulate the openings that well,thanks to some shoulder injuries. Plus the weight resting on my lower back tends to play havoc with the surrounding muscles.

    Some bar bags, such as the Tour Guide, have acetate map cases included along with the attaching Velcro sewn into the top..

    One of the main functions of my bar bag is to store my brevet card and it becomes an easy habit to double check it is there when back on the bike after leaving a checkpoint.

    And finally, depending on your lighting source, a bar bag can shield your eyes from annoying back or radial glare when that light is mounted on the fork crown. A negative, however, is that the bags tend to limit the mounting options on the handlebar, but this is far from insurmountable.

    I also run rack bags because many of the rides I do have variable weather and there is a need to carry clothing to covers most contingencies. Plus it is a home for my tubes and tools and other sundry items.
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    Poseur Extraordinaire duffymcpatzer's Avatar
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    Most of the stuff in a handlebar bag sounds like it woulf fit in your jeresy. I carry all sorts of stuff in my jersey. I would think a handlebar bag would act as a giant sail. Is there a noticeable difference in performance?

    OTOH I can certainly appreciate the need if you have some injuries that don't allow easy access to a jersey pocket.

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    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffymcpatzer View Post
    Most of the stuff in a handlebar bag sounds like it woulf fit in your jeresy. I carry all sorts of stuff in my jersey.
    It depends on the distance you're riding and the weather conditions, as to how much I'm carrying. For a 200k in nice weather, I could fit the few items I carry in my front bag into my jersey pockets. Sometimes I just opt for a seat-wedge bag instead.
    For a 300k in rainy/variable weather, I wouldn't try to stash a rain shell, shoe covers, spare gloves, leg warmers, a wool cap, and repair gear and food in my jersey pockets when things go from upper-30s in the morning to mid-60s in the afternoon. But I can easily fit it all in my 12L frontbag.

    Quote Originally Posted by duffymcpatzer View Post
    I would think a handlebar bag would act as a giant sail. Is there a noticeable difference in performance?
    I don't notice a difference, even when riding into a strong headwind.
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    A front bag does not add to your total frontal area, so a full-on headwind is not a problem. A "quartering" wind, one that comes from an angle, will have some effect.

    Handlebar bags come from the French tradition, bikes were often designed for low fork trail, this makes the bike handle better with a front bag. It also helps if the bag is mounted low on a rack just above the wheel rather than high up on the handlebars.

    Putting the load up front also balances the weight distribution better between front and back and you don't have a swaying load like you can get with a large saddlebag.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Handlebar bags are very handy for holding and providing easy access to a number of things... such as nibbles and gels, alternative gloves, and stashing items like leg warmers.

    ...
    +1 on Rowan's answer, which covers it pretty comprehensively.

    One other nice thing about a handlebar bag is that on a cold day where it is just warm enough most of the time to go without gloves, you can shelter your hands behind the handlebar bag on a fast descent where otherwise your fingers would freeze off.

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    thanks for the info!
    I don't care for much more than a power bar in my jersey pocket/s. I really don't care for the jerseys either. Don't like fanny-pack or backpack. We get many days that start out cool or cold, nice to have room to shed clothes. I like the map pocket idea as well as shifting weight from the back to the front. The ease of access sounds good as well. thanks again, MikeB

  11. #11
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffymcpatzer View Post
    Most of the stuff in a handlebar bag sounds like it woulf fit in your jeresy. I carry all sorts of stuff in my jersey. I would think a handlebar bag would act as a giant sail. Is there a noticeable difference in performance?

    OTOH I can certainly appreciate the need if you have some injuries that don't allow easy access to a jersey pocket.
    How about potato chips?

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercator View Post
    How about potato chips?
    Yes ...

    I've had a fairly large bag of Cheezies in my handlebar bag situated in such a way so I could eat the Cheezies while I rode. I've done that on at least a couple 400Ks.

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    A further thought, not related directly to the OP, but nevertheless, bar bags do play a role.

    As distances get longer, your intensity increases, or the weather deteriorates, tiredness can play some wicked tricks on riders and their memories. Being well organised is a key.
    In other words, having a stash for a group of items, such as tools and tubes, small clothing, energy food, car keys, spare lighting, and knowing where those stashes are on your bike will become vital when tiredness sets in and the hallucinations start.

    I am always paranoid about losing my brevet card (even more so now that it has happened on a populaire recently), and knowing where that is at all times is paramount. Of course, it could be a jersey pocket, but sweat and rain can play havoc with the card, and a zipseal bag can become clammy.

    You have to ride with the same sort of stashes as often as you can, even in training or on short randonnees. Coming back to riding in recent times with a new bike and equipment has meant I have had to relearn some of these things, but by the time a 1000 or PBP comes around, I should know exactly where everything is...
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    I also find the handlebar bag is the best place for the route sheet, at least if you've got the kind of bag with the clear plastic top. Keeps it flat, dry, and not flapping around in the breeze like a "cue clip", etc.

    As to aerodynamics, Bicycle Quarterly did some wind tunnel testing a few years back and determined, as noted above, that a handlebar bag does not add significant drag in a straight headwind as it does not add to frontal area. This compares positively with saddlebags: except for the very smallest ones, a saddlebag sticks out into the wind and adds drag. Both handlebar and saddlebags add drag in quartering and sidewind situations.

    Frankly, though, I think the kind of person who's really concerned about aerodynamics isn't going to be interested in any bag at all. He's going to ride his carbon bike with aero wheels and stuff everything into his jersey. Considering the prize list offered in a brevet this makes no sense at all to me, but whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Yes ...

    I've had a fairly large bag of Cheezies in my handlebar bag situated in such a way so I could eat the Cheezies while I rode. I've done that on at least a couple 400Ks.
    Finally, I am getting some useful information!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Yes ...

    I've had a fairly large bag of Cheezies in my handlebar bag situated in such a way so I could eat the Cheezies while I rode. I've done that on at least a couple 400Ks.
    You're an inspiration to hungry cyclists everywhere!

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    Don 't forget the the wife of the late Sheldon Brown, Harriett, rode a long way on a PBP with a roast chicken in her handlebar bag. Now try explaining that to the hi-tech nutrition cyclists!!
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  18. #18
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    You should contact Cheetos with this. You might get a sponsorship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Yes ...

    I've had a fairly large bag of Cheezies in my handlebar bag situated in such a way so I could eat the Cheezies while I rode. I've done that on at least a couple 400Ks.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  19. #19
    Kid A TurbineBlade's Avatar
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    I've had a fairly large bag of Cheezies in my handlebar bag situated in such a way so I could eat the Cheezies while I rode. I've done that on at least a couple 400Ks.
    What are cheezies? I assume those are like Cheese-It crackers over here?

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurbineBlade View Post
    What are cheezies? I assume those are like Cheese-It crackers over here?
    No, they aren't crackers.

    Cheezies:
    http://www.cheezies.com/static.htm
    ... extruded cornmeal coated in cheese.

    Cheetos are another brand.

    They are my favourite "junk food" snack.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Don 't forget the the wife of the late Sheldon Brown, Harriett, rode a long way on a PBP with a roast chicken in her handlebar bag. Now try explaining that to the hi-tech nutrition cyclists!!
    Now that chicken alone puts the lie to the "light handlebar bag" proponents. Consider now silverware, a Bordeaux, corkscrew, ... protein, fats, and carbs - perfect!

  22. #22
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    No, they aren't crackers.

    Cheezies:
    http://www.cheezies.com/static.htm
    ... extruded cornmeal coated in cheese.

    Cheetos are another brand.

    They are my favourite "junk food" snack.
    Cheetos are a sad approximation of actual Cheezies, though. Whenever I'm up in Surrey, I always pick up a few sacks of Cheezies to bring back home. (and Old Dutch All-Dressed crisps. Can't get All-Dressed crisps in the States for some reason.)
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  23. #23
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    I use a fanny pack for a bar bar bag. I run the straps across the bar. I keep a camera, co2, reading glasses, paper napkins(in case of emergency), Power Bars(so they don't melt in my jersey pocket) and phone in it's own little pocket on the fanny pack. It also frees up space on the bars for a light and computer. It works for me, and I got it cheep at a garage sale. Not that's hard to beat.
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    Junior Member CalienteDoug's Avatar
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    I was eating Pizza out of my bar bag at 1:00AM last Sunday morning during a 400k in Ohio. The Pizza was too hot to eat right after ordering at the control point so I wrapped individual pieces in napkins and munched while covering distance.

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