When I planned my bike to Montreal, I was going to ride my sporty bike. It seemed like the best bike for the job (it probably still is in many ways). However, my sporty bike has no racks to attach a bag (nor mounts to add one), so a front handlebar mounted bag seemed like a good solution for carrying snacks, maps, money and my camera.
(Yes, I know, seat post bags are good too. But small. I have one for things like tools that I don’t need to access frequently.)
I read the reviews. I looked at different bags in the shops. I solicited advice from Twitter. And I rewatched the Path Less Pedaled review of the Arkel handlebar bag about a dozen times. So, I went ahead and ordered the small handlebar bag from McCranks. (You get a discount on accessories for a couple of months after you buy a bike. Which is nice, because Arkel isn’t the cheapest.)
I also considered the rear mounted Arkel ‘radonneur seat post rack’ and TailRider bag, but the cost was almost twice that of the the handlebar bag. I did flip flop about this for a solid two weeks. Being a person who likes to stop and reach for a camera often along a ride, the front mounted bag won me over.
The styling of the 2013 bags are a bit more modern and doesn’t look quite so Tour de 1980. The clamps that attach to your handlebars are made of metal (lightweight aluminum) and are rock solid. In fact, everything about the bag is solid. It really will last me a lifetime.
The interior is roomy and the bright yellow fabric makes it easy to see all your belongings.
Despite how much I like this bag, my sporty bike isn’t the best candidate for having things tacked onto the front and it gets a bit twitchy. The bike is designed to be light and free of baggage, so I have come to accept the carbon ceiling of this ride. Someday, when I have my dream camping / touring bike, this bag is going to look great on it. (FYI: I currently have Marioni fever.)