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Old 04-17-08, 11:19 AM   #1
psycho d
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Arkel bar bag- small or large

i am about ready to plop some cash down for a nice bar bag, but as always, second thoughts plague me. i ruled out Ortlieb cuz it sounds like a pain to mount. Lone peak sounds ok, but there is only limited info here about them. Arkels sound great, except that they are a bit weighty. That said, i still think the Arkel is my number one choice. i just cannot decide on the size. i am leaning on getting the small bar bag, but i am not yet totally committed. For touring, do most of ya'll think that its size is adequate??? Thanks.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:38 AM   #2
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That is the bag I decided to get for my tour this summer. I am using a trailer and so I'm not using the bar bag because I need more space, but just to put things close to my hands while I'm riding. You know, camera, snacks, wallet, etc. I should actually be getting mine in the mail today. Also, if you check out the Arkel website, they have past years models and used ones you can get for a little cheaper.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:11 PM   #3
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You don't want too much weight high up on the handlebars. You do want certain things right at hand and you need to be able to bring your valuables with you when you leave the bike. The small Arkel bag is perfectly adequate if you also have a set of panniers.
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Old 04-17-08, 08:33 PM   #4
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I tried the Arkel handlebar bags (small and large) and found the small too small to be useful, and pretty damn heavy, and the large big enough and ridiculously heavy. Who needs a bar bag that weighs half as much empty as the total load you'd like to be carrying? To me, big enough means big enough to carry wallet, cellphone, camera, a little bag of medicine, enough food for 100km, and have enough room left so that I can easily stuff into it the cold weather gear that I was wearing in the morning and that I don't want to stop to put it in my saddlebag or panniers.

LonePeak Altra H-100 has a bit more carrying capacity and weighs half as much. I've ridden with it for thousands of miles with nary a problem. It isn't supposed to be waterproof, but its never gotten wet inside, even in downpours. It mounts easily and securely, yet its easy to pop off the mount and carry it into a store. For another thread on this forum on the same topic, see Handlebar bag

Don't get me wrong, I love Arkel stuff and have their front and rear panniers plus tailrider. But the bar bags are just unnecessarily heavy.
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Old 04-17-08, 09:11 PM   #5
Michel Gagnon
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What size is your bike? I don't have any problems installing the large handlebar bag, even with a fork-crown-mounted headlight (see here, but then, I use a 23" tandem. If your bike is small, you may find it interferes with headlights and other stuff.

What do you want to carry? I find the large bag perfect as a camera bag, as I can carry the full-size reflex camera, plus an extra lens, plus a couple of other items like maps, pen, paper... Or alternately I could carry a spare sweater, rudimentary rain coat and some food. On the other hand, if you only want it to keep your maps and finger food, the small bag will be more than enough.

The small bag is also much lighter to carry around. That's a good argument in its favour if you think of day hikes on tour.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:20 PM   #6
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I prefer the large one because you can fit a cycling jacket in the front pouch. I agree with thebulls who finds the small one too small. The small one is OK to carry wallet, glasses, money and a small camera, but if you want to throw in some food or a SLR camera, it won't cut it.

If you're not sure, why not assemble what you want to carry in the handlebar bag and go try it out at the bike shop. You'll immediately see if it's too large or small.

As for weight, they're both heavy, but they are stiff and they don't wobble around. I guess it's a fair trade off.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:23 PM   #7
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Michel: I love your second stem hack - I always found the Arkel bags a wee bit high. Any way of fitting that with front cantilevers?

Small world, I'm in Montréal too.
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Old 04-18-08, 06:47 AM   #8
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I bought the small bag because the large bag was too heavy and expensive for my taste. I carry my wallet and some small items in the front pocket and a SLR in the main compartment, sometimes with an extra 50mm lens. My daily food is in the front-left panniers and jacket in a small backpack on top of the rear rack, all easily accessible. I carry lots of photo equipment sometimes and need a small photo backpack for dayhikes so I'm thinking of leaving the bar bag altogether and put the photo bag on a front rack with platform.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by psycho d View Post
i am about ready to plop some cash down for a nice bar bag, but as always, second thoughts plague me. i ruled out Ortlieb cuz it sounds like a pain to mount. Lone peak sounds ok, but there is only limited info here about them. Arkels sound great, except that they are a bit weighty. That said, i still think the Arkel is my number one choice. i just cannot decide on the size. i am leaning on getting the small bar bag, but i am not yet totally committed. For touring, do most of ya'll think that its size is adequate??? Thanks.
Ashe.
d
I have both the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Plus Medium Handlebar Bag and the Lone Peak H-100. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

First, I am surprised that you have found the Ortlieb hard to mount...I find the two are quite different but are equally easy to mount both the fixtures and the bag to the fixture. The quick release on both are quick. Both mounts are bomb proof. The shoulder strap comes with the Ortlieb but is optional on the Alpine.

The main compartment of each is very similar and very easy to access which is a primary requirement for a handlebar bag.

The Ortlieb is probably theoretically more water proof but I have had no problem with the Alpine. The Ortlieb has a flip top with domed fasteners. The Alpine has a two-way zipper. Both are equally easy to access.

The Ortlieb has a zippered internal compartment close to the handlebars; The Alpine has a larger, unzippered one away from the handlebars.

The Ortlieb has no external, non-mesh compartment. The Alpine has a generous, slim forward facing "map" pocket. These two latter points mean that the forward cargo of the Alpine may need to be "managed" to ensure that weight does not get distributed too far away from the steering axis. That is, maybe be careful not to put heavy objects in the forward pouch or compartment.

The Orlieb has ridiculously small, zippered mesh side pockets that are marginally useful. The Alpine has large, full sized, unzippered but elasticized mesh pockets that can each hold gloves, two Hammer nutrition squeeze bottles, snacks, small camera... (Not big enough for full-sized water bottles.) These mesh pockets are major differentiating strengths for the Alpine.

The Orlieb has a fully waterproof map pouch (optional) which separates from the bag and holds several full-size maps in different orientations. It can blow upside down in a following wind but I have been able to put up with this. This map pocket is a major differentiating strength for the Orlieb. The Alpine has a very restrictive map pocket integrated into the lid and which is not fully waterproof.

To summarize, these are two terrific bags. The Ortlieb has the better map pouch and the Alpine has better mesh side pouches.

As a final note, I have considered the Arkels in the past but find that they are just simply too heavy to compete with the above two bags.
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Old 04-18-08, 10:57 AM   #10
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"The Smokester"'s comparison of the Ortlieb and Lone Peak is right on the money. The only thing I'd comment on: in principle, I'm sure he's right that one should avoid putting heavy stuff in the front pocket of the Lone Peak. I think of that every time I ride with only the bar bag and I put all the heavy bike repair stuff (innertubes/tools) in that pocket. But as a practical matter, I've never noticed any difference in handling when I have that stuff in the front pocket versus in the main compartment.

To me, the Lone Peak's side mesh pockets are more useful than the map pocket on top, but I'm mainly using it for randonneuring so I have a cue sheet sitting on the stem and I'm not looking at a map. My friend who has the same Ortlieb puts his cue sheet in the map compartment, which is genuinely useful on the Ortlieb. But the Ortlieb mesh pockets are a joke. Just big enough for a single-serving pouch of Hammergel.
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Old 04-18-08, 08:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jpmartineau View Post
Michel: I love your second stem hack - I always found the Arkel bags a wee bit high. Any way of fitting that with front cantilevers?

Small world, I'm in Montréal too.

Three Montréalers in this discussion. Great!

No real experience with them, but I think you would need an angled cable hanger. Something like this one or this one.
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Old 04-18-08, 09:12 PM   #12
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Three Montréalers in this discussion. Great!

No real experience with them, but I think you would need an angled cable hanger. Something like this one or this one.
Héhéhé.

Thanks for the links. That'll come in handy in time. I believe a bike is like a house. You need to live in it for a while before you start renovating it. If you don't do that, you'll probably end up doing regrettable things. This said, I'll wait a bit, but your links are definitely bookmarked.
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Old 01-28-09, 04:04 PM   #13
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The large bag works well. Price issue: you get what you pay for. Weight issue: nothing is heavier than it needs to be to hold up under stress. If you're a tightwad or a weight weinie maybe you should get something else. Arkel will be making and selling handlebar bags long after we're all in the nursing home.
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Old 01-28-09, 04:26 PM   #14
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I did a decently long tour with the small bag to go with my ortlieb roll ups on the back.. I agree with most who say it is a bit small, whilst I think the big is too big. Goldilocks's factor here I suppose! But, rest assured, I was able to pack all I needed in term of ready eats, small digital camera, wallet, sm. notebook, pens, extra buff (bandanna), spare batteries, and other misc items. Also had other stuff in the net pockets and a complete set of paper maps to backup/complement my GPS in the map pocket. So while I agree to some extent that the small is a smidge too small - trust me you can put a lot in there - probably too much in terms of weight in my opinion.
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Old 01-28-09, 05:00 PM   #15
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I have the Arkel Big Bar Bag, and I really like it.

When my wife and I were doing day tours on a older borrowed tandem, where we couldn't easily add racks, we were able to carry everything we needed for the day for the both of us between a purse carried messenger bag style, and this bag. It has plenty of space for a small picnic lunch for two, or for restaurant left overs, along with a wallet, light jacket, point-and-shoot camera, etc.

I'm not a particularly weight conscious cyclist, so I don't particularly notice nor care about the unloaded weight of the bag, and even when fully loaded, it doesn't have much impact on my steering.

The Arkels have the best handle bar bag mounting system I've ever used: easy to put on and take off, and no wobbles.
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Old 01-28-09, 05:02 PM   #16
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Get this here for $49 even.
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Old 01-29-09, 05:40 AM   #17
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I have a large Arkel bag, my grilfriend has a small. I have a DSLR with two lenses, plus a lot of other stuff that goes in my bag. The large is huge and perfect for me, it isn't waterproof though (you may want to get the rain cover). The large has a few more features (more pockets) which is nice for me (I love to organize things). The small is nice as well, because it is small, my girlfriend usually carries the sunscreen, guide book, tp, wallet and a few other things, so there is enough room in the small as long as you don't have a massive camera. I would definitely recommend the Arkel bags, there was a lot of though put into the bags and when I am on a plane that bag is my carry on, carrying everything I need.
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Old 01-31-09, 11:45 AM   #18
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I bought the small arkel, its very well made however it will NOT work if your handlebars have rise. Arkel should put this info on there website.

Its for sale if anyone is interested
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Old 02-01-09, 05:37 PM   #19
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Get this here for $49 even.
That's the one I use. I kept a digital camera, mini DV camera, wallet, sunglasses, mp3 player, a couple Payday bars and keys inside. Also has a map window that you can flip up. I called Jandd direct and they made a rain cover for it too.
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