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Old 05-13-10, 06:10 PM   #1
burtsbees
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Weight distribution: Saddlebag vs Handlebar bag

I've been commuting to work for the last year with a backpack weighing about 7 lbs. I recently bought a Carradice saddlebag to take the load off my back. I don't know if it's psychological or what, but I feel "weighed down" by the change in weight distribution. The saddlebag actually doesn't weigh anymore than my backpack, but the bike all of a sudden feels a bit sluggish and I'm required to use a lower gear.

My question is, if I were to get a handlebar bag instead, would the weight (being more evenly distributed across the bike) make it easier to pedal? Or, again, is it simply psychological? How does having a handlebar bag affect steering? I weigh 137 lbs and ride a steel bike, if any of that matters.
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Old 05-13-10, 06:20 PM   #2
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Psychological. The handlebar bag would probably feel worse. 7lbs will likely screw with the handling of your bike... Under your saddle is a pretty ideal place to carry some weight.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:26 PM   #3
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Extra weight on your bicycle takes a little bit of time to get used to. Eventually your pedaling pattern will change slightly and everything will be fine.

I actually like the feeling of a loaded bike. You coast longer and go down hills faster!
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Old 05-13-10, 09:41 PM   #4
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My preference for weight on the front is to have it as low as possible. I have two front panniers on low-riders and keep the weight down as much as possible. The handlebar bag would drive me nuts as far as handling goes. One thing the saddlebag does add is some wind resistance, btw, b/c it isn't shielded from the wind by your body like the backpack was. This difference is very noticeable no matter what kind of luggage you strap to the bike. You do get used to it.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:01 AM   #5
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well, yes and no. one of the plusses of a saddlebag is that it sits behind your thighs, which are already cutting into the wind. it doesnt really stick out any more like panniers do... this is true even of the really big saddlebags.
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Old 05-14-10, 06:57 AM   #6
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I'm kind of curious to know which Carradice it is and whether or not you are using any kind of a rack with it. When I started using my Carradice Pendle for commuting without a rack on the bike it always felt a bit awkward. The bike never felt quite right, a little unbalanced I guess I'd say. Once I put a rack on the bike for the bag to rest on it was more stable and I ddn't even notice it was there. With only 7 pounds you are probably using a Barley and I doubt if a rack would be necessary but I thought I'd mention it.
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Old 05-14-10, 08:21 AM   #7
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A front load usually gets a bike/rider closer to the vaunted 55% rear 45% ideal, especially if you have short chainstays or lots of saddle setback.
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Old 05-14-10, 05:33 PM   #8
burtsbees
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockdog View Post
I'm kind of curious to know which Carradice it is and whether or not you are using any kind of a rack with it. When I started using my Carradice Pendle for commuting without a rack on the bike it always felt a bit awkward. The bike never felt quite right, a little unbalanced I guess I'd say. Once I put a rack on the bike for the bag to rest on it was more stable and I ddn't even notice it was there. With only 7 pounds you are probably using a Barley and I doubt if a rack would be necessary but I thought I'd mention it.
I'm using the Nelson Long Flap saddlebag. I believe it's rated at 15 liters. I use Carradice's saddlebag support, the one that clamps to the Brooks saddle rails. Everything fits fine, and I don't experience any rubbing on the back thigh.

I believe what the others have said about the weight being psychological is indeed true. I'm getting more used to this new setup, and I don't feel as "weighed down" as I did at the beginning. I've also changed tires from 28mm to 32mm, and the bike seems more stable and comfortable.
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