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  1. #1
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    arkel handlebag bag bracket installation tip needed

    This might sound like rant. You've been warned.

    I spent over an HOUR trying to get the threads of the bolt to catch the threads of the barrel washer. That teeny, tiny, barrel washer. It's still not together.

    Any Arkel handlebar bag owners have any helpful hints? (or am I the only one who has had this problem?)

    The problem seems to be the angle of entry...seems as though I can't tighten the bracket enough before trying to bolt it together...the bracket is too "open". Visualize something along the lines of the jaws of an animal...too open...I need it to be more closed for the bolt to align properly (or seems like this is the case, anyway). However, I can't bend metal this thick, which is what needs to be done to get these parts closer together.

    The reason is something along these lines. Whatever the explanation, IT SHOULDN'T BE THIS DIFFICULT.

    BTW, I also tried putting the bracket together w/o the spacers. I got the bolt into the washer just fine, however, even at the most-open but bolt-still-in-the-washer setting, I couldn't get both spacers between the handlebar and bracket. The bolt, when just barely in the washer, is tightening the space just enough to make it impossible to slip the second spacer in. Grrrrrr.

    Would longer bolts work? In theory, a longer bolt would catch the washer threads sooner, thus maintaining the spacing between the handlebars and the bracket enough to slip in both spacers. (???? )
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  2. #2
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Do you have an oversize handlebar? Wouldn't Arkel include brackets to compensate for this? I'd email them up. They're really helpful with any issues with their products.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

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  3. #3
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    I strongly recommend you contact Arkel directly -- they'll take very good care of you. The last thing they want is a frustrated customer.

    That said, it took me a long time to get my brackets right on the big bar bag (even now they aren't 'perfect' but they're good enough).

  4. #4
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    I have the road-style handlebars, 26.0. Is this considered "oversized"?

    I emailed them before I sent my email here. If they have an 800# I'll give them a call.
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  5. #5
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    One hour! I think I took longer than that. What I ended up doing was throwing away the spacers and using a piece of split one inch Tygon tubing instead. This allowed me to compress the tubing to get the bolt to engage. The problem though is that after an extended period on gravel the tubing allows some slippage so I am forced to pull the bag back into position from time to time. You are absolutely right. You'd think that Arkel would have gotten this figured out so that the installation instructions are more effective. Call Arkel. Let us know what ended up working for you...

  6. #6
    mdj
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    Junior Member mdj's Avatar
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    I had some problems installing the brackets for my small handlebar bag on my new CoMo tandem. The handlebars were wide enough diameter so that I didn't need the included spacer rings at all. One bracket went on easily but the other was a bit troublesome when trying to start the bolt into the thread. Finally got it though after about ten minutes. One thing I found a little problematic though was that I had to route my gearing cables through the bracket in order for the bag to fit properly without fouling my cables. That meant I had to unwrap both sets of bar tape, route the cable properly, and retape. Not a huge undertaking and I am glad I did it. Was trying to think of a new configuration for the brackets that wouldn't require untaping, etc but I'll leave that to Arkel. We just got back from our first 5 day, fully loaded, tandem trip (front and rear panniers plus a Burley Nomad trailer). Handlebar bag performed flawlessly. In fact on our first night camping we had nowhere to keep our carton of milk cold, so I emptied the handlebar bag, removed it from the bike, put the carton in the bag and used the bag as an ice bucket. Worked like a charm.

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    I had a problem similar to the OP and gave Arkel a call on their 1-800-592-7535 number and the person answering the phone listen to my rambling recitation about my problem and said no problem he would have the correct part in the mail that day.Four business days later the part was in my hands at no cost to me!

  8. #8
    Senior Member FROryder's Avatar
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    Arrgh

    Experienced the same problem when installing my Arkel bag last summer, hugh pain in the butt! No advice. Wasted several hours on what I now know is a poor design On my first ride bag kept slipping, could never get it tight enough to keep it in place I feel your pain.
    “Shoot low; they’re riding Shetlands!”
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    What about freezing the bracket before trying to install it? It would have to be really really close to fitting already for that to work. What about barely installing the screw and spacers and then trying to get the "Z" joint thing to lock up? Desperate sounding? It is. I give them a 1.5% chance of success.

    I think I actually tapped my spacers into the gap from the side because my brackets are installed onto the transitional area between the thicker "clamp zone" in the middle and the thinner "regular bar" everywhere else. I finally got it worked out after an hour or so and during my 8000km tour, the rig did not budge one degree. Despite a DSLR and two lenses in the large bag, the mounts did not slip... not even during an acccidental 2-foot drop which actually ended up bending my front rack (Tubus Tara). Strong like bull, it can be. Good luck, hope Arkel helps.

    For everyone else, here is what the bracket looks like:
    http://www.pbase.com/sebastian82/ima...73994/original

  10. #10
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    I must say I cheated.

    Since I'm an old-school guy, I wanted my bag lower than the handlebars. I therefore installed a second stem (like this) for the bag. The clamps are then attached on a handlebar stub (made of a 1970 narrow handlebar).

    Warning: The photos show the old clamps witch worked only on 25.4 - 26 mm handlebars. However, the bolts were gripping only in aluminium, so I stripped the brackets before I could get a tight fit. When I complained to Arkel, they sent me the new bracket, which I can install much tighter.

    The old brackets were OK for a tour on the highway, but I couldn't ride more than 2-3 km in Montréal before the bag slipped onto my front fender. The new brackets keep the bag in place, even when riding down Côte-des-Neiges and Atwater streets (two bad-looking Montréal streets).

    Because I installed the clamps onto a handlebar stub, I had no installation problem. However, I felt like I needed 3 or 4 hands to hold the two parts of the clamp and the two inserts in place. I didn't try to install them on a real cluttered handlebar but would suggest the following tricks:

    – Enlist a friend.
    – Put a droplet of white glue on the small barrel. It would keep it in place long enough that you will be able to properly insert the bolt.


    I just went to my "backstore" to check the bike and the clamps are currently clamped on what used to be 25.6 mm bars (the old standard). From what I see:
    – you need both inserts for either 25.4 (mountain), 25.8 or 26.0 mm (road) handlebars;
    - you need to remove both of them of 31.8 mm "oversize" bars (untested).

    As I see them, the supplied bolts are long enough to fit even on 26.0 mm handlebars. If you didn't succeed to attach the bolt, it's either because all the parts weren't properly in place (very easy to do unless you have 4 hands) or because the barrel was turned a bit off center. You might also visit your LBS to get longer bolts; they would not make the clamps more solid, but would help a bit in the installation.



    Short of an entirely different clamp design, I see a few possible improvements that could be done either immediately or with minor re-design.

    1. Provide longer bolts with a pointed tip. The pointed tip would help drive the bolt through the barrel, even if the barrel is slightly off axis.

    2. Provide two sets of clamps, one for 25-26 mm handlebars and one for 31.8 mm handlebars.

    3. In the various parts of the clamps, machine a few grooves so the parts stay in place without the need of 3 hands. (I really don't know how they could do that!)
    Last edited by Michel Gagnon; 09-09-06 at 12:02 AM.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  11. #11
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I tried posting the result of my phone conversation with Arkel earlier, but it was at the time when the BF gods were working on the database. My message didn't post...

    I called the 888# I found on the website. A very nice person explained to me that with the advent of over-sized handlebars, they had to re-tool the brackets. With all the different sized handlebars out there, they needed the shims (what I called spacers in my OP) to take up the slack. I was told that after 3-retoolings, they have all the problems fixed. However, the bracket I have is a first or second generation bracket.

    For future reference, the key is to first screw the bolt into barrel washer, and use your hands, not a tool, so that you can feel when you first catch thread. I used a tool to get the process started, and then used my hands to unscrew until the bolt was at the very last thread and still attached to the barrel washer.

    Next, (try to) slip the shims into place. What they prescribe and I what I needed differ from hereforth.

    He explained to me with my size handlebars, I would need TWO sets of shims (=4 total) for EACH bracket (a total of 8 shims were sent along with the bag). I however, in the end, I only needed two, and, used the thicker of the two.

    The trick is getting that second shim into place. You have to get just a bit of the second shim under the bracket and use something, a needlenose plier was recommended, to squeeze the rest of it in. Keep the needle nose handy when you do this, so that the shim doesn't pop out of place while you are reaching for the needlenose. Straddle the bracket on one side and the shim on the other side and squeeze that shim under the bracket.

    It wasn't that simple for me. I had to do a lot of wiggling and moving the bracket and shims around before it finally got into place. FINALLY. I think this attempt was only 40 minutes this time.

    Back to the second set of shims; their curves are tighter than my handlebars, so, although they fit into the curve of the first set of shims, the inside curve of the second set are too tight to fit my bars. I'm very lucky I could tighten the brackets with just one set.

    But, now, the brackets are rock hard. I was assured by Arkel that once in place, they won't move, and I won't lose any of the teeny bits that comprise this system. We'll see! I hope they are right, because I very much like the design of the bag. It's smart.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    If for some reason you do lose some of the tiny parts, Arkel should send you some for free. They're excellent that way.

  13. #13
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    I had a hard time putting the brackets on too. But I did the same procedure as you outlined. First put the bracket on loose and then wedge the shim in place. It took about an hour to get them installed. But once in place, they don't move. I haven't had any shifting after 2000 miles of riding. Nice thing about the Arkel bags is that you can easily remove the bag and leave the brackets in place.

    Michael

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