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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 10-08-17, 08:16 AM   #1
twodownzero
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Help with handlebar bag and rack selection

My friend and I have been doing regular longer rides and hope to complete a super randonneur series in 2018. In September, we completed our first brevet, a 215k ride. It was both of our first times riding over 100 miles but we have been trying to do at least a metric century on every weekend we ride together. I am riding my Surly Disc Trucker and she rides a Specialized Sequoia Elite. While these bikes are probably heavier/tougher than what is needed for the riding we are doing, both of us are very happy with our bikes overall; they are comfortable for us and as we put down more and more miles, we are very much looking forward to these longer rides as our speed is building up to put "time in the bank." During our longer rides now, we are using a top tube bag to carry our food/electrolyte tablets, and other items we need to do these rides self-supported. The plan is usually to carry everything we need and rely on the controls only for water and for an actual meal that we eat while on the brevet.

Since we live in a place where it is warm enough to ride year-round, we also desire to be able to carry additional layers and our reflective gear that is required for the longer brevets that involve riding in the dark.

Can anyone recommend a handlebar bag for our goals? Either of us are okay with using a front rack if needed. The bags and rack do not need to be classic looking and can be made from modern, synthetic materials if need-be. We do want to be able to see our cue sheets on the top of the bags and of course keep the bag away from our hands, the bike's controls, and if we need to move our headlights (currently in fork mounts) to accommodate, that is fine.

Thanks in advance for any advice you may give.
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Old 10-08-17, 09:57 AM   #2
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Look at the bags at Compass Cycles. https://www.compasscycle.com/product...mponents/bags/
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Old 10-08-17, 10:33 AM   #3
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As expensive as it is to install such a setup, I'm inclined to install a rack like this one with an integrated decaleur:
https://store.velo-orange.com/index....-decaleur.html

But it seems that only old school looking bags use this setup. More modern looking bags attach to the handlebar directly, like this one:
https://www.topeak.com/global/en/pro...ndlebar-bag-dx

I'm on the fence. I can install the latter style bag for something like $100. It'd be attached to the handlebar, so I'd have to use an extended mount to get it way from my cross levers and Garmin. The extended mount would allow for some height adjustment. Without a front rack, I'd have to figure out how to mount it without interfering with my headlight, which is currently mounted on the "brake boss" on the front of the fork. This gets me about 8-9 inches of potential room below the handlebar before I block my headlight.

Or I spend 3x that or more, install rack, move headlight to rack, and then I can probably use whatever handlebar bag I want since the rack/decaleur will keep the bag away from my cross levers and Garmin on its own and I wouldn't have to mess with my already crowded handlebar, which currently has the switch for my headlights and Garmin out front mount taking up a lot of real estate.

I wish someone would make a modern, synthetic bag that uses a rack/decaleur setup. $200-300 for an old school looking handlebar bag is hard to swallow, even with as great as it would be to have the room that the boxy old school bags have, it might be overkill on size and it's definitely expensive.

But these handlebar mount bags all use plastic mounting, which I do not like at all. Riding hundreds of miles relying on a piece of plastic to hold my gear does not sit well with me at all.
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Old 10-08-17, 11:16 AM   #4
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Swift and a few others make your bag out of modern materials:

https://builtbyswift.com/shop/custom...handlebar-bag/

Here are a few other rackless front bags:

Ostrich Biwa-Ichi Bar Bag

https://www.ornotbike.com/collection...itron-and-blue

I currently use a front rack + frame bag combo. Front rack is for clothes and things I find on the side of the road. Initially I started with a $30 Soma front rack and a $10 lunch box from walmart, added some rubberized wire ties to secure the bag and was pretty happy for several thousand miles. It's not sexy but it's cheap and it worked great. Held my tights, extra wool sweater, couple pounds of muscadines, etc.

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Old 10-08-17, 11:19 AM   #5
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Yeah, I have the same issues with lights and space. What works for me is to use a bar extender, but mount that straight down from the handlebar. I mount my bag to that extender, which leaves my lights clear above the bag. This pic shows what it looks like with a Dill Pickle bag.
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Old 10-08-17, 11:51 AM   #6
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I use a ortlieb ultimate 6.

https://www.ortlieb.com/en/lenkertaschen/
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Old 10-08-17, 11:58 AM   #7
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Yeah, I have the same issues with lights and space. What works for me is to use a bar extender, but mount that straight down from the handlebar. I mount my bag to that extender, which leaves my lights clear above the bag. This pic shows what it looks like with a Dill Pickle bag.
I love everything about your bike! I couldn't mount my bag that low because it'd block my headlight, and if I move it, I might as well just put it on a rack.

To the poster above who linked to the Swift website, that is exactly what I'm looking for! The VO rack with the integrated decaleur should work perfectly for both of us, because our forks have eyelets to mount the supports and since we have disc brakes, we're not using our brake bosses for anything besides mounting our headlights right now.

Unfortunately, that means moving my headlight, and all the mounts I've found means that if I were to drop my bike, my headlight would be the first point of contact. I'm not sure how I feel about that, nor why there doesn't seem to be a way to mount my headlight centered in the front, above the tire, and below and in front of the rack! That would provide the best beam for the headlight and the most protection.

I may have to live without a handlebar bag until I figure this out.

Last edited by twodownzero; 10-08-17 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 10-08-17, 07:17 PM   #8
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Here's the front end of my bike, with cross-levers, fork-boss-mounted light, and Dill Pickle handlebar bag.



Unless your bike is smaller/you have your handlebars set up much more aggressively than I do, you could probably do the same. The Dill Pickle bags don't have the kind of capacity the old-style boxy bags do, but they're enough for a bunch of stuff. I put everything I might want *during* the ride in the handlebar bag, and my tools/emergency gear in my saddlebag and have enough room.
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Old 10-08-17, 11:05 PM   #9
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Here's the front end of my bike, with cross-levers, fork-boss-mounted light, and Dill Pickle handlebar bag.



Unless your bike is smaller/you have your handlebars set up much more aggressively than I do, you could probably do the same. The Dill Pickle bags don't have the kind of capacity the old-style boxy bags do, but they're enough for a bunch of stuff. I put everything I might want *during* the ride in the handlebar bag, and my tools/emergency gear in my saddlebag and have enough room.
My bike is tiny but that still could work. I'd have to move my Garmin to the stem but I don't look at it that much anyway. I'll look into the dill pickle bag.
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Old 10-09-17, 07:59 AM   #10
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I used this topeak setup on a few brevets. The handlebar bag is solid, but I ended up taking it off because it made it hard to ride no-handed. I use a barmap for my cue sheet now.

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Old 10-09-17, 06:31 PM   #11
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I wouldn't agree that a randonneuring front bag is "old school" in any significant way. If you want a lighter bag, you can get them made out of Xpac, which is very lightweight. I have ridden with people with handlebar-mounted bags and it can be a real problem. It's unlikely a rack supported bag is going to cause the kinds of problem that one mounted to the handlebars can cause.
Specifically, rotating downwards and interfering with steering/wheel/lights.

A randonneuring bag is one of the most significant upgrades to my distance riding since I bought a dyno light. I used to put off things like eating, electrolyte pills or applying extra chamois cream because it was too inconvenient to fish supplies out of my rear bag. Now it's all there in front of me.
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Old 10-09-17, 09:28 PM   #12
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I used this topeak setup on a few brevets. The handlebar bag is solid, but I ended up taking it off because it made it hard to ride no-handed. I use a barmap for my cue sheet now.

I may order one and give it a try. That looks great and I wouldn't have to move my headlight. My frame is smaller so the spacing is going to be tighter, but without seeing the bag in person I won't know what to expect.
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Old 10-09-17, 09:38 PM   #13
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I wouldn't agree that a randonneuring front bag is "old school" in any significant way. If you want a lighter bag, you can get them made out of Xpac, which is very lightweight. I have ridden with people with handlebar-mounted bags and it can be a real problem. It's unlikely a rack supported bag is going to cause the kinds of problem that one mounted to the handlebars can cause.
Specifically, rotating downwards and interfering with steering/wheel/lights.

A randonneuring bag is one of the most significant upgrades to my distance riding since I bought a dyno light. I used to put off things like eating, electrolyte pills or applying extra chamois cream because it was too inconvenient to fish supplies out of my rear bag. Now it's all there in front of me.
I'm not worried about the weight as much as the money and work. It's going to cost me at least $350 to buy a handlebar bag, rack, and headlight mount. It's clearly the ideal way to do it though. It's also going to require me to move my headlight to the rack and rewire both headlight and tail.

I also really would prefer not to have my headlight on the side of the rack where it is most prone to hitting the ground if my bike falls over. Unfortunately all the rack headlight mounts I see don't offer much protection. But if that's where it fits, that is what I'll do.

I'm on the fence as to how to do this, but I agree totally that I need a place to put extra clothes and more food. It's just a little annoying that I may have to move so much stuff to get it to work. It will be so nice to have it though. My little fuel tank is great for gels and my phone, but there is no room for a jacket and a pair of tights.
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Old 10-09-17, 10:24 PM   #14
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The VO rack with the integrated decaleur should work perfectly for both of us, because our forks have eyelets to mount the supports...
Not quite.

Neither the Surly Disc Trucker nor the Specialized Sequoia Elite have the eyelets on their forks in the location needed to mount this particular rack's supports.
What your forks have is bosses for lowrider front pannier rack, which are located much lower.
There are no serial production disc forks with the eyelets in the right location for the VO rack you liked. This type of racks could be fitted onto your forks only by utilizing P-clamps, which I personally find ugly and the load-bearing capability is a bit compromised.

One can get a Nitto M18 front rack with longer struts and attach these to the lowrider eyelets as the struts are adjustable both in angle and in length. I have done so on one of my distance bikes with a front disc brake.

As to the cost - you'd only cry once, but you'll get a great trouble-free setup, while a handlebar-attached bag would cause you all sorts of grief.

Cheers!
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Old 10-09-17, 11:49 PM   #15
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Not quite.

Neither the Surly Disc Trucker nor the Specialized Sequoia Elite have the eyelets on their forks in the location needed to mount this particular rack's supports.
What your forks have is bosses for lowrider front pannier rack, which are located much lower.
There are no serial production disc forks with the eyelets in the right location for the VO rack you liked. This type of racks could be fitted onto your forks only by utilizing P-clamps, which I personally find ugly and the load-bearing capability is a bit compromised.

One can get a Nitto M18 front rack with longer struts and attach these to the lowrider eyelets as the struts are adjustable both in angle and in length. I have done so on one of my distance bikes with a front disc brake.

As to the cost - you'd only cry once, but you'll get a great trouble-free setup, while a handlebar-attached bag would cause you all sorts of grief.

Cheers!
Oh no! How do I support the top of the bag?

Last edited by twodownzero; 10-10-17 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 10-10-17, 05:52 AM   #16
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Oh no! How do I support the top of the bag?
Two options.

The first one is to get a separate decalleur (VO sells these, as do several other outfits), which you get pinched in between your stem and the spacers underneath it. This is the classic setup for threadless forks and works very well.

The second one is to get a bag which do not need upper support. I'm a short guy, ride small frames, and set my handlebars up lower than the saddle, so I went this way - got an Acorn "medium" rando bag (it was called something else when I bought it), which at 8" tall comes about flush with my handlebars, and its internal stiffener makes upper support unnecessary as the bag get hooked up on the "tombstone" feature of the front rack. I find its 9 L capacity adequate for my needs.

If you go with Nitto M18, don't forget to also buy the longer (35 cm) struts, as the rack comes standard with 23 cm ones, too short to reach your forks' eyelets. You would also need to add a light mount, although it is possible to fabricate your own (I did).

Of course, you could avoid all this hassle by getting a custom rack made, with all features in, and the total cost would probably be a wash...
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Old 10-10-17, 07:32 AM   #17
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Thank you so much for this info!

It would be nice to do a custom rack and I can fabricate and even have tools for it, but I get the suspicion that the light and thin tune from which this stuff is made is a real bear to weld! But the option to put mints where needed and to cheat and use sae fasteners would be great, but that isn't an adventure I'm looking for right now.
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Old 10-10-17, 08:38 AM   #18
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Another option is to use a frame bag.
Here I have a top tube bag for my phone and clif bars, frame bag for tools, pump, spare tube and odds and ends and seat bag for rain gear (I expected rain). I could easily do without the seat bag if I pack efficiently though.

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Old 10-10-17, 09:14 AM   #19
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How much weight can you put in the front before handleing starts to suffer?

Would a sandwich, some power bars, two cans of V8, and a small tool kit be okay?
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Old 10-10-17, 10:08 AM   #20
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How much weight can you put in the front before handleing starts to suffer?

Would a sandwich, some power bars, two cans of V8, and a small tool kit be okay?
Depends on the bike and it depends on what you mean by "suffer". On my bike a little weight up front stabilizes steering except when very slow. At slow speeds, with no hands, the weight over the front wheel tends to turn the handlebars (too much) when the bike leans. At 10+mph it gets easier to ride in a straight line no handed. At any speed you must initiate the turn a split second earlier and exaggerate the counter steering.

You adapt real fast to change in stability. The tricky part is when you ride for bit, then add or remove 5 pounds, then start up again. I do a little weave (3 or 4 little turns) whenever I add/remove much weight from up front, then my body re-learns how to steer with that increase or decrease in stability.
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Old 10-10-17, 07:24 PM   #21
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Another option is to use a frame bag.
Here I have a top tube bag for my phone and clif bars, frame bag for tools, pump, spare tube and odds and ends and seat bag for rain gear (I expected rain). I could easily do without the seat bag if I pack efficiently though.

That would be great if it were an option, but I'm lucky to be able to use a normally-sized water bottle. There is absolutely no room above my seat tube bottle/frame pump for anything. It's the curse of being small.
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Old 10-10-17, 09:19 PM   #22
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This is my distance bike, a 81 Centurion Pro Tour
It has an Acorn medium-rando-bag
IMG_20161101_165535347 by Bwilli88, on Flickr
with a Nitto Mark's rack and some 32cm long supports from Rivendell
DSC02645 by Bwilli88, on Flickr

DSC02402 by Bwilli88, on Flickr
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Old 10-11-17, 06:25 PM   #23
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This is my distance bike, a 81 Centurion Pro Tour
It has an Acorn medium-rando-bag
IMG_20161101_165535347 by Bwilli88, on Flickr
with a Nitto Mark's rack and some 32cm long supports from Rivendell
DSC02645 by Bwilli88, on Flickr

DSC02402 by Bwilli88, on Flickr

This is an option for me. I could put my headlight on the front and a second set of stays to the fork crown.
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Old 10-11-17, 07:59 PM   #24
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How about a large seatbag (~7L capacity) and a small handlebar bag(2L)? There shouldn't be any impact on handling. Since both are rackless, it's pretty light too. Tools and clothes go in the seat bag. Food and camera/phone go in the bar bag. Ortleib and Baileyworks make nice small modern handlebar bags. I've mostly used a Jandd Mountain Wedge 3 seat bag since bikepacking bags weren't around when I bought it.
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Old 10-11-17, 10:14 PM   #25
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This is an option for me. I could put my headlight on the front and a second set of stays to the fork crown.
I am also thinking of putting an extra set of supports to the brake mounts. I just need to get the double head bolts
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