My family and I are new to cycling and are planning to do a week cycle vacation in July in the San Luis Obispo, CA area. It will be light touring, hotel to hotel with minimal clothing and a credit card. Our bikes are standard road bikes so we do not have rack mounts for front Panniers bags. So my only option for a front bag is a handle bar bag and Iím hoping to get some feedback from others who have used them.
My local bike shops only carry the Topeak bag if any at all so it is hard to compare. Here are the handle bar bags Iíve found on the net that look to be good options:
Detour Cruizer handlebar bag
Topeak Tour Guide DX handlebar bag
Nashbar Elite handlebar bag
Ive used the carradice bar bag for years. The mounting is very secure and the bag (or box: its corrugated plastic covered in canvas) is very light.
You can also fit carradice saddlebags to the rear, they can carry much more weight and volume.
Thanks for the Old Man Mountain link, I had not seen those before, very cool racks system. But I don't think that option will work, I have carbon forks. I did see in the customer photo section someone had them mounted to carbon forks but it doesn't seem like a good idea.
You are using a rear rack, right? If you are looking for info on that, search here for posts from me keyword "Tubus Fly" - great rear rack that goes on any road bike.
Go small on the HB bag and only keep light stuff in it - it can mess with the handling if you have rear bags and front HB bag only.
I used an older version of the Topeak Delux, and have seen the newer - it's really big and heavy. If you have STI shifting watch out for the shifter cables colliding w/ the HB bag. A small bag is good for this reason too.
I use the Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Plus Medium Handlebar Bag. I took it on my trip last summer and kept my video camera, digital camera, wallet, etc in it. I got poured on quite a few times and not one drop of water got inside. It has a great attachment system as well that works on any handlebar system and keeps it secure.
I'm partial to Arkel handlebar bags, but the French had it figured out 70 odd years ago with front bags that sit on a rack and are stabilized by a "decaleur de sac." This keeps the weight lower over the front wheel.
Gilles Berthoud still hand-makes them, including models that attach via Klik-Fix mount.
Velo Orange makes a small cylindrical handlebar bag. Might be worth looking at. The guy who runs VO seems to be pretty careful about his sourcing, so I'd expect the fabric to hold up.
The Topeak bag has kind of crummy fabric. I would not expect it to wear well. I have panniers made of a similar fabric and they were showing signs of wear after one year of light use. After two years, I've started to get holes... and these are used for grocery trips 2-3 times a week, from March to October. Not what I'd consider heavy use at all.
All the Detours products I've handled had fabric that seemed at least moderately durable. It's a nice dense weave, and that tends to wear better. I can't speak to how well it wears in practice, but I'd expect more than 18 months of use out of it.
(by comparison, I've had LL Bean cordura book bags hold up to about 7 years of daily 30-45lb loads. *that* fabric wore well.)
I have the Nashbar bag that you mention and like it fairly well. It seems to be reasonably waterproof and nothing in it ever got wet, but I slip a plastic grocery bag over in in anything more than a drizzle just to be sure, since it carries my camera and other expensive water sensitive stuff. The zippers are fairly waterproof, but are stiff when new. It takes a while for them to break in.
The bag held up well to a 73 day tour and a bunch of shorter rides. It was generally overloaded and got a bit floppy by the ed of the TransAmerica. I replaced some of the stiffening material which was fairly easy, and it is better than new.
In all the time I have had it it did come off once when I ran into a huge pothole. Since then when overloaded with camera equipment I tie it to the bars with a little piece of cord "just in case".
I have no experience with that particular Topeak model, but a different (Topeak Compact Bike Handlebar Bag/Fanny Pack) model worked out well for my TA companions. It seemed durable and well made, but I would have missed having outside pockets and a map holder. They liked that it converted to a fanny pack.
I have an Arkel Big Bar Bag. It's a real masterpiece of design and construction workmanship. However I have a few issues with it:
1). The zippers rattle and make noise while I ride. Great big zippers. Very robust. Would be better if the zippers were nylon or if there were no zippers. May try wrapping them with tape or something.
2). Not waterproof. There is a very elegant cover but it's one more thing to carry.
3). Very large. It tends to affect steering to some extent. Wish it were a little smaller and lighter.
My wife tells me that my Ortlieb Ultimate Classic 5 arrived from PBK today, so I'll try that and see if it works better.
I really like the approach of mounting a front bag on a small rack vs. the handlebars since it has less effect on steering. That being said, if you have a typical road bike, there is nowhere to easily attach a front rack.
For my road bike, I have a Carradice SQR Trax seat bag that attaches securely to the seat post and holds 16L out of the way and very securely. It also attaches and detaches quickly and acts as a bit of a fender on the rear. It requires some seatpost to be showing and it is not safe to use with a carbon seatpost. Here is a link: http://www.carradice.co.uk/sqr-saddl...sqr-trax.shtml
You can also get racks from Tubus and Axiom that are designed for roadbikes with no eyelets. They piggyback on the brake bolt at the front and are held on by the wheel skewer on the bottom. That would be my first choice for your application.
I have the Arkel Big Bar Bag. A common complaint is that it's heavy (all Arkel bags are to be honest) but it has a good, solid mounting system, it's nice and large and it has plenty of pockets. Above all it just feels well made.
It has a waterproof liner and I've never had anything get wet when it's raining.
Obviously I have no idea if it's better than anything else, but I'd certainly at least consider it, if I were you.
I have a Louis Garneau EcoBox handlebar bag on my 2007 Jamis Aurora. It is roomy but narrow enough to fit neatly without interfering with the interrupter brake levers or the derailleur cables. I bought mine at REI last year but it does not show up in their current online catalog. This is what it looks like:
The nicest bags I have seen are the Acorn bags, and they make handlebar bags in 3 sizes. I've got the Med/Large seatbag and the quality of construction is incredible. You can only order once a month (get your order in early on May 1), and it takes about 4-6 weeks to receive, but it would be well worth your money and time.
I was out Sunday with a Lone Peak handlebar bag. It held: a mini digicam, rain cover, wrench (I was on a fixed gear without qr levers), minipump, phone, gloves, bike lock, keys, wallet. I had TONS of extra room, and the bag isn't very big. That said, I'd be disinclined ever to carry much more than a windbreaker or some arm/legwarmers in the bag, because it does affect handling.
What I'd do: put the frequently accessed items in the handlebar bag (see above) and a change of clothes, street shoes/sandals --that sort of thing -- in a large seat bag. Acorn, Carradice, Berthoud, all are (expensive) but high quality options. You might look into Rivendell, Acorn, Velo Orange or The Touring Store-- all online merchants -- for options. Best of luck and enjoy touring such a beautiful area.
By the way, I am completely in the thrall of Lone Peak: well-made products, fair prices, stitched by home workers in Utah. Just enough compartments, great zippers, intelligent mounting systems. Hands down favorites by me. If I could start from scratch on an extended tour: ortleib rollers in front (smaller, for stuff that MUST stay dry) and the lone peak big panniers in back, with a lone peak handlebar bag. Perfect!
Another good thing is a tri bag / bento box on the top tube, behind the steerer. Keeps snacks / phone / whatever handy. If you have rear panniers, you won't need anything larger.
If you don't have a rear rack, then I agree a big saddle bag and a handle bar bag are a good idea.
For the front your main options in terms of style are
- Klikfix attachment bags - Ortlieb, Lone Peak, Nashbar, Tioga, Topeak, Vaude, Deuter - there are lots.
- Small tubular bag like a Barley. Kind of like a pencil case that straps to the handle bars and hangs down.
- Traditional front bag that ideally rests on a rack. Velo-Orange have something called a "rackaleur" that might work.