Why use a handlebar bag?
There are many of reasons why handlebar bags are so popular. Ease of use, easy access to maps, snacks or even a camera for that quick shot are just a few of the reasons that come to mind. They don’t require the use of a pannier rack and they will fit on most bikes. The only exceptions would be bikes equipped with carbon fiber handlebars or some funky shaped mustache handlebars. Aside from those few examples, a handlebar bag will likely fit your bike. Our handlebar bags are easy to remove to keep your valuables close at hand when stopping for coffee or a bite to eat. Just unclip the bag from the bike and use either the integrated carry handle or a shoulder strap to carry the bag with you. Simple and super practical.
The different types of handlebar bags.
Cycle touring handlebar bags the likes of our Small Handlebar Bag and our Large Handlebar Bag offer a nice structured rectangular shape main compartment that keeps its shape. Access to items that you wish to keep close at hand is always quick and easy. Perfect to store a windbreaker, phone, camera, important papers such as passport, wallet, snacks and maps.
Bikepacking handlebar bags or front rolls (Rollapcker front 15 and Rollpacker front 25) are design to carry clothing and camping gear such as your sleeping bag or tent and smaller items that need to stay close and easily accessible. Access to the smaller pockets is fast and easy but access to the main compartment is a bit more difficult and less convenient especially if you need to reach its content many times a day.
Finally, utilitarian handlebar bags such as our Signature BB that quickly strap on and off the bike are very practical to carry smaller items such as camera, phone, wallet, snacks, windbreaker, etc. Easy to remove, these handlebar bags can be carried off the bike with a shoulder strap. Great way to keep your valuables safely with you, on or off the bike.
Are Arkel handlebar bags waterproof?
Yes, all our handlebar bags are waterproof! Our Small handlebar bag and our Large Handlebar Bag are designed with a watertight zippered closure system. The waterproof hood overlaps the waterproof main compartment creating a completely watertight closure. This system allows you to leave the bag unzipped for fast access to your gel, maps or camera and still keep your gear dry. This is a great feature for taking pictures along the route. The Signature BB, Rollpacker 15 and Rollpacker 25 are made of tough and durable 1000 deniers Cordura® or X-Pac fabric lined with a 100% waterproof fabric of which all the seams have been perfectly sealed.
Is it safe to carry a camera?
Handlebar bags are also a great way to carry camera equipment while riding. A DSLR will easily fit inside the main compartment of our Small or Large Handlebar Bag. Although these bags are not specifically designed with padded compartments for cameras and lens it is very easy to add foam protection inside and customize the interior to safely store and protect your camera. You can use a closed-cell foam commonly used in sleeping pads to do this. For more details on this, you can read this article: How to transform an Arkel Handlebar bag into a deluxe camera bag. Our Rollpacker 15 and Rollpacker 25 handlebar bags both have a smaller front pocket easily accessible and a perfect place to stash a smaller compact or mirrorless camera. And finally, our smaller Signature BB handlebar bag will accept compact or mirrorless cameras perfectly. In all these cases, your camera will be close at hand, easily accessible and dry!
Still not convinced, watch how adventure filmmaker Erik Douds uses his Arkel large handlebar bag
The importance of a solid mounting system.
The mounting system is critical. Our aluminum mounting brackets of our classic handlebar bags (Small handlebar bag and Large Handlebar Bag) provide the utmost in rigidity. There are no plastic parts to fail or cause the bag to rotate around the handlebar. They look pretty cool too! For our bikepacking handlebar bags (Rollpacker 15 and Rollpacker 25) we use a light aluminum hanger. This hanger provides clearance for the cables and brake levers and makes the bag much more stable than similar front rolls attached to the handlebar with straps only. As an added bonus, once the aluminum hanger is installed, the bag can slide on and off making the installation and removal of the bag simpler and faster then strapped bags.
Waterproof map case.
The Arkel cycle touring handlebar bags (Small Handlebar Bag and Large Handlebar Bag) all come with a clear plastic waterproof map case. The map cases are welded so water cannot seep through any of the seams. A cell phone can slide inside the map case for navigation and you will still be able to use the touchscreen.
Why use a rain cover?
The main compartment and map cases of our Small and Large Handlebar Bags are completely waterproof, but the front zippered pocket and side mesh pockets are not. If you need to keep the items stored in these pockets dry, then the rain cover is a must. The rain cover has a clear plastic window at the top so you will still be able to clearly read your map. The rain covers also protect the bag against road grime which helps to keep the handlebar bag clean.
The Arkel MapCase;
Another smaller and lighter solution in this category is our Map Case. The Arkel Map case is held on the handlebar with Velcro straps and provides a large clear waterproof map pouch. It also provides a small zippered pocket to store your loose change, credit cards, keys, etc…. No mounting brackets are needed here, just attach the map case to the handlebar with the Velcro straps and on you go.
In the end
Handlebar bags are probably the most convenient bike bags you can use. You don’t need to buy a pannier rack, it’s always in front of you, so you can’t beat it for easy access. You can use these bags for touring or as your do-it-all bag. No other bag will provide this much versatility!