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Ortlieb handlebar bag cable mounting system

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Ortlieb handlebar bag cable mounting system

Old 08-27-09, 11:26 PM
  #1  
NeilGunton
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Ortlieb handlebar bag cable mounting system

I'm wondering if many other people are as annoyed as I am about the way Ortlieb designed their cable-based mounting system for their handlebar bags. I posted a review thread about it over on crazyguyonabike:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/revie...read_id=134940

In a nutshell, the cable is single-use only, since it becomes mashed up by the locking nut, which makes it next to impossible to loosen it off or move it to another bike. Every time I've tried it, I've had to cut the cable and buy a new one. I can't imagine that Ortlieb thinks that revenue generated by people buying replacement cables will outweigh the negative vibes caused by the hassle. Does anybody actually like the way it works?

To be clear, I do like Ortlieb gear quite a lot. I'm not trying to be mean just for the sake of it. I just think their handlebar bag system could use quite a bit of improvement. For example:

o The lid snaps are very often way too tight to be useful (many people seem to just leave them unsnapped)
o The lid sometimes doesn't seem to fit the body properly, making it hard to close (perhaps just my bag?)
o The stupid lock on the mount - who uses this? I mean, everybody just takes the handlebar bag with them when they leave the bike, don't they? What's the use of a lock on the mount when you can simply unsnap and open the bag to get at the contents???
o The side pockets on the Plus model - I much prefer the older net pocket on the front of older models (pic on the crazyguyonabike thread). You could put a map in those. The side pockets are too small to be useful and just further complicate any width issues related to STI or narrow handlebars.
o The annoying pegs on the side of the bag, for the shoulder strap, just make it harder to close the lid properly
o The map holder has two snaps at the front of the bag, but nothing toward the rear, which means in a strong headwind it has a tendency to flap.

That said, it's about the only 100% waterproof handlebar bag out there, which is why I use it, and perhaps why Ortlieb hasn't felt any pressure to improve it over the years.

So what do you think? Opinions welcomed. I'm hoping that if enough people chime in with constructive criticism then maybe we can send a link to Ortlieb and maybe they will think about redesigning the bag and mounting system.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Neil
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Old 08-28-09, 03:14 AM
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No problem with mine, you may be over tightening.

You might try to roughen-up the surface with a little sandpaper, that way the cables will grip with less tension, I think that will help.

Now moving the mount is a pain, trying to get the cable to lie flat while you tighten the bolts. I just got a second mount for the other bike, so I could switch it back and forth.
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Old 08-28-09, 04:06 AM
  #3  
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I have an old Ortlieb bag, have they redesigned the cable system? I've never had a problem with mine.

In my bag, there are two cables, each having fixed "anchors" at both ends. I've never had to touch those. I just loop the cable around the handlebar a couple of times, fasten the anchored ends to the bag holder hardware and tighten the cable up with an allen key. Repeat for the other cable. I've changed the mount back and forth between bikes dozens of times.

The lid snaps are on the tight side, but I prefer that to having the lid (or worse, the map holder) unexptectedly open in mid-ride. This has happened to me with other handlebar bags.

Concerning the lid: the sleeves do make it difficult to close sometimes, if they get folded and squeezed against the strap pegs or bag walls. This has happened to me often enough that I now make sure the lid is properly seated before I start riding. I can open and close the snaps while riding. But getting the lid seated while riding is distracting and difficult at best, and on some occasions outright impossible. The design does make sure the bag is waterproof and whatever you have in the bag stays in there.

If they can improve it without sacrificing current features, great. But I can live with the model I have.

--J

[edit] Went to the Ortlieb web site and read the instructions for their current handlebar bags there. They have indeed "improved" the cable system from the model I have - in the wrong direction it seems. [/edit]
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Old 08-28-09, 04:17 AM
  #4  
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no problems with the cable here... ive swapped it many times.
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Old 08-28-09, 05:25 AM
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Neil, I agree with everything you said. I only put up with mine becasue it's big enough to get my 35mm and 60-300 in (with foam padding), and still have room for some goodies. I've gone thru two sets of cables. I do like the map holder on top. Have considered, but not followed up on velcro to hold the middle sides of the lid down. I suspect my cable problems stem from having to tighten it so much because of the camera weight.
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Old 08-28-09, 09:06 AM
  #6  
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Neil, I agree with everything you say, including that the positives outweigh the negatives...You just can't find a better waterproof handlebar bag.
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Old 08-28-09, 10:04 AM
  #7  
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I also agree with everything you've said, except that I cannot verify the cable problem you started with because I have not yet had to move it. Wayne at the Touring Store told me that the cable is reusable (i.e., you can take it off and put it back on), but not indefinitely so (it's only good for so many times). In addition to moving the bag to another bike, a perhaps more common reason to remove the mount is to box up the bike for travel. The handlebar cannot be removed for packing without also removing the bar bag mount (because the mount locks the handlebar to the stem).

Wayne tipped me off to the KlickFix (non-Ortlieb) mount that works with Ortlieb that solves this problem by not using a cable. I have not tried it.

But I have had issues with absolutely everything else you point out. I normally keep the strap detached most of the time to avoid the problem you mentioned. And the lid is hard to close and open. And the map does flap forward in a wind. And the lock on the mount is a useless feature. And I do leave the snaps unsnapped except when it's raining.

Nevertheless, I still like the bag.
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Old 08-28-09, 10:44 AM
  #8  
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I have successfully reused some cables, not others. Two uses seems to be about the limit. My medium bag, it can be filled enough to make me really want to tighten down on the cable, experience has shown it can become too flat even to pull out, never mind push back when remounting.

The lock is even more useless if you have mounts on multiple bikes and have any pretense of remembering which key goes to which bike.

I love the bag though. And I'm not concerned about the cables enough to demand change; they do work, hold up what can be a heavy bag. I'm kinda used to pretty much everything on the bike being consumable to some extent across time/weather/etc... Cables of any sort would not be excepted.
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Old 08-28-09, 11:28 AM
  #9  
NeilGunton
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Originally Posted by Juha View Post
I have an old Ortlieb bag, have they redesigned the cable system? I've never had a problem with mine.

In my bag, there are two cables, each having fixed "anchors" at both ends. I've never had to touch those. I just loop the cable around the handlebar a couple of times, fasten the anchored ends to the bag holder hardware and tighten the cable up with an allen key. Repeat for the other cable. I've changed the mount back and forth between bikes dozens of times.
Yes, Ortlieb changed the design of the cable system. My original one back in 1998 worked the way you describe, and I had no issues with it. The new one frankly sucks, though surprisingly a few people (including one back on Crazyguyonabike) seem to not be having issues re-using the cable. Maybe what's getting me is that the instructions say to tighten the little bolt "100%", which to me means tighten it as far as it will go. This would seem to automatically shred the cable, at least it does for me. Maybe there are sharper edges on the metal hole the cable goes through on some bags and not others, I dunno.

Neil
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Old 08-29-09, 03:47 AM
  #10  
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You're spot on with your criticisms and I'm really astonished that it's not more of an issue. Why they should abandon a perfectly good KlikFix-type system for such a bodge-up amazes me. It's really not worthy of a company with such a good reputation.
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Old 08-29-09, 09:16 AM
  #11  
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I agree with most of your criticisms. Especially the one about the cable mount. I like the mount because it is nice a solid. I hate the mount because it is so difficult to mount and unmount and yes I have smashed cables too.

I finally solved the problem by mounting the bag to a second stem. Now I just remove the stem and all when removing the bag. I can quickly move the bag between both of my bikes.

I agree about the lock, what a stupid waste of weight. I would never want to lock mine anyway for fear I would lose the key. What good does locking do anyway when someone could just open the lid??


I also HATE the plastic insert in the lid. I asked Wayne and he said it is to prevent pooling of water on top of the bag. Well it does not really work. A better option would be plastic ribs inserted in the fabric of the lid.


As far as the map case problem, just tie the other end down with a light weight line. One really should have come with the case.
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Old 08-29-09, 11:35 AM
  #12  
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Well, I've heard from a couple of people who say that they've had no problem removing the cable and reusing it. And when I spoke to Wayne at thetouringstore.com yesterday and outlined my issues (I was curious to hear what his take was), he said that most people love the new cable mount design over the old one - in fact, he said that the old design had caused more problems for him with people complaining that they couldn't get it to work with their setup than just about anything else he has ever sold.

I actually remember really quite liking the old design, it seemed to work well. I don't know what weird stem/handlebar combos people were using that wouldn't work with it. What I do remember is that the cable had two ends with copper colored stops, and the design didn't involve any mashing of the cable. The main thing I remember is wrapping it around the handlebar several times, which as I recall required a tiny bit of dexterity to get the cable overlapping itself in the right places. But it was very solid, and you could remove and remount it without any problems, as far as I recall, and I never had any issues.

Can anybody else here recall what the potential problems were with the older design?

Anyway, Wayne also told me that I'm probably tightening the bolt too much (the one that mashes the cable).

I think part of the problem here might be the cable mount instructions, which very clearly say "100%" next to a picture of the allen key tightening that bolt. To me, when I read that, I think Ok, that means tighten it all the way. 100% is 100%, that means tighten as much as it'll go (within reason, of course - I've never tightened it beyond what feels like normal hand tight; the fact that you're tightening down across a cable actually makes it quite difficult to gauge when enough is enough - it never "feels" tight, so what exactly is 100%?). When you tighten it even remotely all the way, you're bound to mash the cable. I mean, it's part of the design, the cable goes through a small hole, and then the allen key bolt goes down through the hole to hold the cable in place. I don't really see how you don't mash up at least the plastic sleeve when you tighten this thing, unless you are VERY CAREFUL, which the instructions don't say - they say to tighten 100%. Oh well.

I don't want to seem like I'm ragging on Ortlieb, I really do like their bags, mostly. These are just some niggling observations that have bugged me for a while and I wanted to see if they resonated with anybody else. It seems so, but also (as always) there are also people who somehow have no problems, and Wayne maintains that most people seem to have no problems, so maybe I'm in a minority here.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback! I'll probably end up just being a good little consumer and buying more Ortlieb handlebar bags, since they seem to be the only game in town with respect to 100% waterproofness. Unless, of course, anybody has alternatives I haven't heard about? Are there any?

Thanks again,

Neil
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Old 08-29-09, 11:56 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
Anyway, thanks for the feedback! I'll probably end up just being a good little consumer and buying more Ortlieb handlebar bags, since they seem to be the only game in town with respect to 100% waterproofness. Unless, of course, anybody has alternatives I haven't heard about? Are there any?
Neil
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Old 08-29-09, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by positron View Post
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Thanks! I've never looked at those bags in any depth. Is that cotton duck really 100% waterproof, or is it just "water resistant"? I.e. if you leave it outside the tent all night long in a drenching downpour and it ends up sitting in a puddle (as has happened with my Ortlieb bags on occasion, even under the vestibule this can happen), will stuff inside still be dry? That's the great thing about the Ortliebs - barring complete immersion, those things will not let in any water, period. So - what's the deal with cotton duck?

Edit: Found this thread, in which some people seem to say that the bag is effectively 100% waterproof (Scotland does get pretty wet), while another person says that stuff inside can get kind of damp:

http://www.cyclingforums.com/uk-rec-...on-please.html

Thanks again!

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 08-29-09 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 08-29-09, 12:28 PM
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I haven't had any problems reusing my cable, and my bag is only a few years old. A replacement cable is $9, could be better but we're not talking about an appalling cost either.

Otherwise, I don't use the lock, that's the only bit I agree on. No problems closing or carrying the bag.
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Old 08-29-09, 12:29 PM
  #16  
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ortlieb handlebar bag presents no "problems" for me, but some of the design features are curious.

the deluxe versions with side pockets is wierd, needs one big front pocket type of thing.

the lock is superfluous.

i like the map case

i recall the old bracket didn't work with 31.8 handlebars.
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Old 08-29-09, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
I'll probably end up just being a good little consumer and buying more Ortlieb handlebar bags, since they seem to be the only game in town with respect to 100% waterproofness. Unless, of course, anybody has alternatives I haven't heard about? Are there any?
I haven't read through to see what your complaints are but there are several manufacturers who use similar material and construction to Ortlieb now. Ortlieb seem to be considered the best quality but perhaps one of the others will suit you better. I got one by Mainstream-MSX at a bargain price. I think they are aimed at being a budget Ortlieb. The barbag is fully waterproof and is very solid but also has little side net pockets. Altura and Vaude also do similar bags using Rixen and Kaul fixings. I am sure there must be other brands in the US selling similar bags.
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Old 08-29-09, 11:58 PM
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I'm mixed on my Ortlieb handlebar bag. Yes - it keeps everything very dry, and I've had to adjust the bag a few times and noticed that the cable does get gnarled quite nicely. I don't plan on taking mine off in the near future, so I should be good. I have yet to hear of anyone who has had theirs fail other than due to improper installation.

I too had gripes about it being difficult to shut, because it was too tight. Eventually threads started to loosen and hang off the side of the top. I pulled some of them off and now it is much easier to get the top on, and still doesn't leak. We shall see how long it lasts.

I find the shoulder strap far too short for me to use properly - but is better than nothing.

THe included Seperator hasn't worked well for me whatsoever. I am in the process of building "shelves" for the bag to store specific things as after a few hours of riding, openning up the bag, and fishing things out, things just all end up in a jumble of bags.

I store a tire repair kit and levers in one of the pockets, and a small ziploc bag of coinsin the other, they are useless otherwise.

My girlfriend has a very nice Topeak Handlebar bag. I actually like it more than my Ortlieb,
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Old 08-30-09, 11:54 PM
  #19  
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I tried my Ortlieb on one of my bikes with a KLik-fix system tonight. Yes, it does work, but not very easily. I could not get it on with the top snapped. It is good to know though, because I can switch the ortlieb between bikes.

My wife fixed her flapping map case wth some self adhering velcro. She put a small piece on the map case and another on the bag. It seems to work. We will give it a three week test starting next week. The thing that really annoyed me was the rattling snaps when the map case was not snapped in ( and even when it was). They were about to drive me nuts. She also came up with a fix for that. A small piece of sil-nylon snapped in between the male and female parts of the snap.

I haven't tried them on a tour yet but have been suing it for misc. since Chrisstmas, and it seems to be OK.
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Old 08-31-09, 04:54 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
Thanks! I've never looked at those bags in any depth. Is that cotton duck really 100% waterproof, or is it just "water resistant"? I.e. if you leave it outside the tent all night long in a drenching downpour and it ends up sitting in a puddle (as has happened with my Ortlieb bags on occasion, even under the vestibule this can happen), will stuff inside still be dry? That's the great thing about the Ortliebs - barring complete immersion, those things will not let in any water, period. So - what's the deal with cotton duck?

Edit: Found this thread, in which some people seem to say that the bag is effectively 100% waterproof (Scotland does get pretty wet), while another person says that stuff inside can get kind of damp:

http://www.cyclingforums.com/uk-rec-...on-please.html

Thanks again!

Neil
It really is 100% waterproof and has been well tested over the years. It's a classic and extremely durable also.
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Old 08-31-09, 05:22 AM
  #21  
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Just speaking of the mounting system - I've purchased and seen many things BOLT to the handle bars with two sets bolts and a variety of shims/spacers. These meet anyone's definition of reusable. Ortliebs cable mounting system is ingenious from several perspectives - however, has always been a disappointment from my perspective. Pinching the cable repeatedly, to reuse it, may compromise it enough where it fails on a ride. I've purchased around $70.00 in mounting hardware over the years. New bike or bars = new cable = Uh!

What I like about my handlebar bag is it's reliable. It closes tight, retains its shape, keeps the driving rain out, and the bag itself is tough as nails. I toured without it this summer and I missed it.
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