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  1. #1
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    Ortlieb questions...

    Im finalizing decisions on a bike (LHT) that Ill use mainly for transportation, running errands and getting groceries, as well as some camping & touring. Ive decided on Ortlieb bags, and have read many reviews, travel journals, etc. but still have some questions:

    1. Handlebar bag Ultimate Plus, but trying to decide between medium & large sizes:
    a. For an STI-equipped bike, does the size Large impinge on shift cable space/position more than the Medium-size bag does? (same width & height, but deeper front-to-back) Any shifting difficulties with either?
    b. For those who own the large size, do you really use the additional space, or is it overkill? Ever wish youd gotten the medium instead? Any Medium owners who wish theyd gotten Large?
    c. Do you need the extender bracket to clear 'Cross brake levers?


    2. Panniers trying to decide between Rollers & Packers.
    a. Rollers - I like how they can be used open for max space when grocery shopping (in good weather, obviously), and how they make it difficult for rodents & insects to get at your food when touring, but Im not crazy about the idea of sealing up moist clothes & camping gear into an airtight drybag.
    b. Packers - I like how they provide some ventilation for the contents through the not-completely-closed drawstring top opening. And the external pocket would be nice. Not sure of any downside besides the extra cost. Can these be used 'open topped' for max space or is the lid in the way?


    3. Color yellow/black or black/black combination?
    For touring & commuting, Id think visibility is king, so Id go with yellow/black combination. I also like how the yellow panels make it easier to see things inside the bag.

    But for errand-running / grocery shopping, Id think low-key is better, so Im inclined to go with black/black both to attract less unwanted attention and to have a lower profile when I have the panniers inside a store. Plus stealthier camping profile.

    Has anyone gotten the yellow/black combo that now wishes theyd gone with something less attention-grabbing? Anyone with black/black that wish theyd gone the other way?


    4. I will use use Surly racks front & rear. Photos show a lot of space left above the pannier on the side of a Surly front rack when using a conventional Ortlieb front pannier in the low-rider position. What about using a second of rear panniers on the front with this particular rack? Any down-side?



    Thanks in advance for your input! (and for reading all this )

  2. #2
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    While my experience is limited, I can share some insights that may help.
    1. I have no experience with the handlebar bags, but I also wonder how they would interact with STIs cuz that is what I have!

    2. I own the packers and love em. There are dual drawstrings on the top, one that closes tightly and is set a bit lower in the bag, and another that is higher up around the rim of the bag. This does allow you to close the bottom drawstring tightly while leaving the top one open more loosely. This creates a sort of additional storage area between the bottom drawstring and the lid if needed. A good place to stuff a jacket or the food you just picked up for lunch. I guess that is similar to being used 'open topped.' If need be, the lid can be rolled back and out of the way as well. I hope that makes sense...If need be, i could try and get some pictures for you..

    3. Obviously color is gonna be your preference, but I opted for black/black because it's more conducive to stealth/random camping. I'm not really crazy about yellow, so I try to limit that to my rain gear and a jersey or two.

    If you haven't already, I would give Wayne at thetouringstore.com a call. He is very knowledgeable about these bags and won't sell you short. I'm in no way connected to Wayne, just bought all my stuff there and thought his customer service was excellent!

    Hope that helps a bit.

  3. #3
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    I'm fairly certain you'll have to install wire noodles or what ever they're called (escapes me right now) to route the cables down. I have an Ultimate Compact, which is as big as you're probably gonna get to avoid any cable interference problems. Nice bag, holds a wallet, monocular, glasses case, camera, note pad, cell phone, maybe a few more small things. Get the larger ones and you're probably doing cable noodles. I hear the ones from the top of V brakes work fine.
    None.

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    Senior Member yourrealdad's Avatar
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    My buddy has the yellow rollers and loves them. He said its nice for when you have to set them on the ground in the rain. He got the yellows to help him be seen so if you want to be seen then yellow is good.

    That being said I have the red packers and I love those as well. I can fit a ton of crap in them and I havent had any problems with stuff getting wet. Mind you we both live is the dry part of AMerica, aka Colorado. I like red

    Talk to Wayne though, he can set you straight.

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foamy View Post
    I'm fairly certain you'll have to install wire noodles or what ever they're called (escapes me right now) to route the cables down. I have an Ultimate Compact, which is as big as you're probably gonna get to avoid any cable interference problems. Nice bag, holds a wallet, monocular, glasses case, camera, note pad, cell phone, maybe a few more small things. Get the larger ones and you're probably doing cable noodles. I hear the ones from the top of V brakes work fine.
    Although you can just smoosh the cables out of the way, noodles help make everything cleaner and simpler.




    The cross brakes might cause interference problems if you mount them like most people...straight out from the bar. But if you angle them down, there's lots of clearance behind the bag without extenders, Slice2

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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    I'd go for the smaller handlebar bag. I'd go for the Rollers in Yellow and I wouldn't get Surly racks.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Although you can just smoosh the cables out of the way, noodles help make everything cleaner and simpler.


    I noticed the funky cable cross in front of your headtube - looks more like electrical cord than shifter cable - is that problematic? And is that a Medium or Large bag?

    Thanks for the responses so far, everyone. Keep 'em coming

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    I wouldn't get Surly racks.
    Because of the weight, or other consideration? I'm all ears.

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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slice2 View Post
    Because of the weight, or other consideration? I'm all ears.
    Weight, hard to install, difficult to fit some bags.

    Depending on your budget, Tubus are unbeatable.
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  10. #10
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    I rode this summer on a bike with STI with a handlebar bag w/o noodles and it works. It would have been nice to have the noodles, though. I had an Arkel handlebar bag, not the Ortlieb.

    I love the packers. I've had a pair of rear packers for 5 years and I use them almost every day (commuting) and they still work great, the reflective triangle is still very bright. My rear panniers are all-black. I have seen other bicyclists riding with the all-black packers when I was driving at night in the rain, and, they were wonderfully-visible with that triangular patch, and thus I am comfortable others see me (but still use a blinkie in the rear and the side).

    I won't buy the rollers. In part, I prefer design of the hood of the packers, but also I am pretty sure that the rollers are still made with PVC---an environmental nightmare of the dioxin type--google it (PVC) for more information.

    Finally, as for space, my over-packing abilities should not be taken lightly; I can over-pack and still get the hood on.
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  11. #11
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    for me the large handlebar bag is too small. (You never can have to much space)+

    Rollers/Packers:
    I have the Packer (but the first version). The external pockets are very useful, but if the bag is fully packed the space of these pockets is limited. This will change if you buy the 2009 series.
    The PAckers are also waterproof and there is no ventilation. I won't cycle with open bags.

    You also can buy external pockets separately (or both system)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    Weight, hard to install, difficult to fit some bags.

    Depending on your budget, Tubus are unbeatable.
    I totally agree. the surly racks are pigs. get Tubus. I dont think they are much more money are they? the loss of a front platform is not a deal breaker in practice, especially if you use a handlebar bag.

    also, I would get the packers, because I continually stuff things under the 'lids' on mine. I have rollers for the back, packers for the front, and a set of carradice super c (with lids)- I would only reccommend panniers with lids like the packers or carradice, I rarely choose to use the rollers anymore, but keep them for friends' use

    as for your question about using rear panniers on the front... you could do this, but why would you need to carry so much stuff? maybe if you are planning very extended, remote tours in cold places, otherwise I would say you would probably be happier trying to carry less.

  13. #13
    mev
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    For what its worth:

    1) I have a set of packers, front and rear and have been happy with them. I have the red/black and wasn't too concerned about being "too visible", so that worked fine. In general, I agree with the "why would you need to carry so much stuff" comment, but the space came in quite handy for an extended tour of six months at a time and also allows me to fill one pannier mostly with sleeping bag, etc.
    2) My front rack is a Surly rack. For what it is worth, when cycling on gravel roads in Russia, I had the same failure twice of the plates that Herman Veldhuizen has a photo of on this page: http://www.hermanveldhuizen.com/wp/?p=140 (My back blackburn rack also had a failure of one of the support straps that attach below the seat post.)

  14. #14
    Senior Member KoYak's Avatar
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    I purchased the rollers (front and back) in black a month ago and now I am having second thoughts about color. Look great but thinking that black may soak in the sunlight and make the contents hot. Should I be worried about this or am I over thinking (I tend to over think everything)?

    Also...If you are looking for a good deal on Ortlieb panniers, check out http://www.wiggle.co.uk. For the price of the U.S. retail price for Backroller classic, I was able to buy both the backroller classic and the frontroller classic. Of course, now that I'm re-considering a different color, I'm stuck with these if I want a difference color. BTW - Free shipping for purhases a certain price ($162 today, I think it fluctuates with currency exchange rates). Just passing on, what I think, to be a good deal.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    Depending on your budget, Tubus are unbeatable.
    And cheaper than the surlys.

    I do use the volume in my large ortlieb bar bag. Maybe just because I have it but... I couldn't see myself wanting an XL but I'm glad I don't have a M.

  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slice2 View Post
    I noticed the funky cable cross in front of your headtube - looks more like electrical cord than shifter cable - is that problematic? And is that a Medium or Large bag?

    Thanks for the responses so far, everyone. Keep 'em coming
    The cable housing is Avid Flack Jacket cable. Wrapping it around itself was easier than a zip tie but as long as the cable is smooth, there isn't any problem with shifting.

    The bag is a Medium...I think. Holds a digital SLR and lenses nicely with a little room for small stuff.
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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    The cable housing is Avid Flack Jacket cable. Wrapping it around itself was easier than a zip tie but as long as the cable is smooth, there isn't any problem with shifting.

    The bag is a Medium...I think. Holds a digital SLR and lenses nicely with a little room for small stuff.
    FWIW: I have always just kind of shoved the cables out of the way (back toward the head tube). I have a larger bag and I have never had any problems with shifting or cable wear. I did a TransAmerica and lots of other riding with that setup.

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    Thanks so much for all the great responses.

    I'm leaning towards the Packers in black and a large bag (which only comes in black, of course). I'm assuming no issues with the QL2 mounting system? No less robust?

    With what I am planning for the bike, night visibility shouldn't be an issue (front: 2 Planet Bike Spoks strobing + something like a Trinewt for the main light. Rear: steady tail light and 2 PBSF's on the rear rack + Reflexite tape on fenders & moving parts, plus a vest). Daytime will be the Spoks in strobe mode + option of Trinewt in strobe, and a vest if I feel the need.

    Front rack - I hear you on weight of the Surly, and they definitely are not as pretty as Tubus up close. But I do like the storage options and also how you can attach extra bottle cages to it. I don't anticipate rough enough roads to destroy one, but you never know. Of course, Tubus has that "anywhere/anytime" replacement policy - very impressive.

    EDIT: I also am toying with idea of mounting the headlight on the rack instead of the bars so it's not obscured by the bag. I don't know if this would work on the Tubus Tara.

    mev - did Surly take care of you on both failures you had?

    Rear rack - I like the look of the Tubus Logo and LOCC with the low-rider pannier rail paired with a nice tail light. I figured it'd be easier to open the pannier lids in the low position when you've got something bulky strapped to the rack top, plus easier to remove them too.

    I guess Surlys racks are like their bikes - sort of clunky & overbuilt, with aesthetics coming second. The form-follows-function aspect appeals to me, which is part of why I like the LHT in the first place. I always figured their racks would be as bomb-proof as their bikes.
    Last edited by Slice2; 01-26-09 at 11:20 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    The Tubus LOCC is a great rack. It's easy to install; mine worked fine on my old mountain bike and my Randonee touring bike. I got the Tara to go with it. The Tara is a good rack, a little tricky to install but built like a tank like all the Tubus racks. My only regret is that it doesn't have a platform on it.

    I like the Ortlieb rollers. If I have any wet clothes, I'll either bungee them to the rack and let them flap in the breeze, or, in cold weather, seal them in a ziploc bag and toss them inside a pannier.
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    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    And cheaper than the surlys.

    I do use the volume in my large ortlieb bar bag. Maybe just because I have it but... I couldn't see myself wanting an XL but I'm glad I don't have a M.

    Depends where you buy, but yes they are comparable in price -- but not quality and function .... are you listening OP?

    Someone also mentioned going for 1 set of rollers and one set of packers. That's how I'd do it in future.

    On the handlebar bag: make sure your steering will accomodate a big bag. Unless you can get the weight down low and/or have low trail geometry like on a French-style randoneusse, a big handlebar bag can seriously compromise handling.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    FWIW: I have always just kind of shoved the cables out of the way (back toward the head tube). I have a larger bag and I have never had any problems with shifting or cable wear. I did a TransAmerica and lots of other riding with that setup.
    I think much depends upon the width of the bars. I'm having to replace a cable for someone at the moment because they have bent it to the point it cracked open the outer. For narrow width bars it's a real nightmare if the person wants a larger-type bag.

  22. #22
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939 View Post
    I think much depends upon the width of the bars. I'm having to replace a cable for someone at the moment because they have bent it to the point it cracked open the outer. For narrow width bars it's a real nightmare if the person wants a larger-type bag.
    Yes true. The length of the cable housings, the height of the bars, and the size of the frame come into play too. Still my bar bag is close enough to the inside of the bars that the cable has to make a pretty tight bend. It came on and off of the bike to go with me hundreds of time on the TA, but not so often at other times. I never had a moments problem with it. I wonder if folks who have problems with this are careless with how the handle the cables when taking the bag off and putting it back or if I have just been lucky.

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    I've got packers for the rear, and rollers for the front, and I gotta say both designs have pros & cons. The rollers are much quicker to get in and out of, but the packers are a bit more versatile. Another issue worth considering is the material - some have a PVC coating on the outside (the shiny models!), and some have PVC on the inside (mine). I bought the models with PVC on the inside, and if your bags are tightly packed that can be a bit inconvenient - plastic bags, bottles etc all seem to stick to the surface.

    I also bought the large handlebar bag, which still seemed too small to be very useful, but mounted so far forward of the bars that it affected steering a bit. AND the inside surface is stiffened plastic, and made for a noisy ride. In the end I decided not to take it on the tour, opting for a Lowe Alpine 'Mesa-runner' bumbag (fannypack?) instead. I'd recommend that option.

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    Senior Member NeezyDeezy's Avatar
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    Just use SRAM, problem solved. You'll save some money and weight to boot.

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    I have the Ultimate Compact. It holds the bare essentials (camera, glasses, lock, notepaper, wallet, energy bar) and removes the temptation to overload the handlebar bag (affecting handling). It's also easier to carry around. At some point, however, I will probably regret not having more space, and also may regret the lack of a place to put your map.

    I have the yellow. In addition to all the other reasons, my wife said that this would make it harder to steal. If someone is walking down the street with a giant yellow bag, people will notice.

    I've heard the complaint about moist clothes in an airtight bag many times. But I've always wondered why you would put moist clothes in an airtight bag in the first place. Strap them to your rack, in a mesh bag if you need more structure.

    QL1 and QL2 are functionally identical for most purposes.

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