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  1. #1
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    Testing for ride quality with a handle bar bag

    I have become interested in getting a handlebar bag. Before I shell out money for one, I would like to test how a bag might affect the stability/ride quality on my bike. I probably could try to figure out what the trail is on my bike, but even if I knew that, I would still want to test out the idea.

    Here is my idea: get an empty two liter, milk container, or other squarish plastic container and use zip ties to attach it to the handlebars and head tube. I could then fill it with enough weight of some type to simulate a reasonable load. By using zip ties, I could change the height of the container to bring it either closer to the handlebars or closer to the wheel. I am aware that this would look pretty dorky but I long ago accepted I'm a dork, so I am OK with that.

    First, is there an easier way to do this? Second, what is a reasonable load? I was thinking 2-5 lbs?

    I would appreciate any thoughts or comments.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Visit some thrift stores.
    You will find many bags of all different sizes that can be zipped to your bars.

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  3. #3
    Senior Guest Andrey's Avatar
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    I went through the same test several years ago. I actually had a rack mounted handlebar, but was not sure if I should keep it. I would actually put a gallon of milk in it(wife did not like it) and go riding around the neighborhood.
    At first it seems like it was not too bad, I could get used to it. I kept the bag for longer brevets. I even changed the fork for a smaller trail to improve handling.
    On one of the longer brevets I was suffering too much and had a chance to lighten the bike during the ride.I removed the bag during the ride . The handling changed slightly, but I was so much happier, that I never put it back on. Almost two years after I still ride with no handlebar bag.
    I do have a big top tube bag for camera and food though.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    2-5 lbs ... which is about what a person might carry in a handlebar bag ... isn't going to affect your stability/ride quality all that much. You probably won't even notice the difference. It's not like using a front rack or panniers.

    But a suggestion ... get a handlebar bag that sits fairly low. The top should be about even with your handlebars. Also get one that you're able to put things into or take things out while you're riding.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I rode a Trek 1600 with a Trek handlebar bag for eleven 200Ks, 16 centuries & other misc rides. The handling on descents was not good. When the speed reached about 30 mph, the bike would shimmy violently. This was directly caused by the bag.

    Now I ride a Waterford with a rack-mounted front bag, positioned very low. No handling issues.

  6. #6
    surfrider
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    For a real cheap-o test bag, try getting one at Wal-Mart. They sell a Schwinn branded bag that about the size of a six-pack for around $10. It attaches to your handlebars/stem with velcro, so its easy to reposition. I did this and found out the bag works great for light loads (jacket, map, a few other small items), but really screws up handling if you put too much weight in it. As stated above, if you need to carry a lot of stuff on your front-end, use a rack that'll keep the weight as low as possible. I still use the Schwinn bag, I just know its limits and keep its weight to a minimum.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeOCS View Post
    I have become interested in getting a handlebar bag. Before I shell out money for one, I would like to test how a bag might affect the stability/ride quality on my bike. I probably could try to figure out what the trail is on my bike, but even if I knew that, I would still want to test out the idea.

    Here is my idea: get an empty two liter, milk container, or other squarish plastic container and use zip ties to attach it to the handlebars and head tube. I could then fill it with enough weight of some type to simulate a reasonable load. By using zip ties, I could change the height of the container to bring it either closer to the handlebars or closer to the wheel. I am aware that this would look pretty dorky but I long ago accepted I'm a dork, so I am OK with that.

    First, is there an easier way to do this? Second, what is a reasonable load? I was thinking 2-5 lbs?

    I would appreciate any thoughts or comments.
    I like this idea. Since you can vary the amount of heavy cr*p in the jug, why not test all the way up to 10 or 12 lb? I think I see this if I load up spare water, a cable/lock, a tire, tools, food, et cetera.

  8. #8
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    I'm going to give my idea a try in the near future and experiment with loads. I'll probably start with 2 lbs and work my way up. I also like the idea of testing with a really cheap bag but I have a pretty long list of things I want and/or need and I would rather save the $10 for other items (new rear wheel, replacement chain/cassette, winter tights, etc.).

  9. #9
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    Years ago, I rode around with a cruiser with whitewall tires and a white basket in front of my bike. I remember doing my groceries looking at people literaly LAUGH OUT LOUD, REALLY LOUD at me while I was biking like that. In any case, I found it affected my steering too much (for me anyway). I much prefer panniers and backrack.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeOCS View Post
    I'm going to give my idea a try in the near future and experiment with loads. I'll probably start with 2 lbs and work my way up. I also like the idea of testing with a really cheap bag but I have a pretty long list of things I want and/or need and I would rather save the $10 for other items (new rear wheel, replacement chain/cassette, winter tights, etc.).
    Unless you test with a front rack, you won't be able to tell how it would be with a rack. Attaching a load to the handlebars, even if you have the load hang low, will still cause the bike to handle differently than if the load were on a rack.

    After tens of thousands of miles riding long-distance with a handlebar-mounted bag (with anything between 5 and 10 pounds, typically) I decided this spring to see if having the bag sit low on a front rack really makes all the difference that proponents claim.

    Yup. It's worth hauling around the extra half a pound of rack to get the handlebar bag mounted low. At the end of 125 miles, just possibly you can tell that you were pushing the extra half a pound, but most definitely you can tell that you weren't wrestling the steering.

    Having a handlebar bag is nice if you like to eat while riding or if you want a place to stick stuff that you take off as the day gets warmer. Much easier and quicker than either stopping or carrying stuff in your back pockets.

    Nick

  11. #11
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    The cheap approach to a front rack is to buy one off of Ebay (such as current item #300611762665) for anywhere from $8 to $18 or so, depending on shipping. Usually the total with shipping is around $20. Black anodized, welded aluminum, these are nothing special. But after I got it sorted out on my Woodrup (medium trail), it let me experience front bags and to see that I wanted lower trail. Improvised mounting hardware was about $10 at my local hardware store. The actual bag was a spare handlebar bag, modified to hold its shape when on the rack.
    Last edited by Road Fan; 10-22-11 at 04:07 PM.

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