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BIKE TOURING
CHOOSING THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF BAGS


Handlebar bag
Handlebar bag

Large Pannier
Rear Pannier

Small Pannier
Front Pannier




It is best to develop a system of bike bags if you plan to enjoy different types of bicycle tours. This system of bags can be combined in a different number of ways so that they can handle different equipment loads. Start out slowly by purchasing just one or two bags and then add more as your plans get more adventurous. Here are some basic things to consider.

Capacity

Start out with small bike bags (like handlebar bags and either small to medium-sized panniers). These would be great for day trips and light loads. If you buy large bags right off, these bags will not be able to hold small loads securely. They will also be cumbersome on the road. Remember that your small bags will still come in handy on long trips.

Balance

To maintain good balance with a full gear load you should keep your gear low and as centered as possible on the bicycle. Buy bike bags that make this easy to so. Focus most of your storage space down low and balance it.

Control

Too much weight on your front tire can make steering sluggish or difficult. Placing a heavy load in back can also make your front wheel skittish. For tours with light loads, focus putting most of the weight in back. For tours with heavy loads, the best advice is two thirds of the weight in back and one third of the weight up front.

Types of bags

a) An under seat bag. To hold a small toolkit, credit card, and maybe a light wind-breaker for day trips and short cruises.
b) A set of medium-sized panniers. Mount on your rear rack to hold basic supplies and clothing layers for longer day trips and occasional overnight journeys (with indoor accommodations).
c) A handlebar bag. To provide easy access to items frequently used such as gloves, snacks, or clothing layers. Also, it will provide more storage space for longer trips. A great place for map storage while riding.
d) A larger set of panniers. To handle overnight camping equipment and other equipment needs. These panniers could be placed in the rear and the first set could be shifted to a front rack when needed.

Things to look for in a bicycle bag.

a) Accessibility. Look for the number of openings that the bag has, the size of the openings, and how it is to get things in and out of. Look for internal features that keep gear organized inside.
b) Adjustability. Look for bags that can adjust to different gear loads. Features like expandable pockets, extending collars, and compression straps will allow you to use the same bags to handle different types of trips.
c) Water resistance. Check all openings to make sure that they can be closed securely, and that all zippered pockets are protected by rain flaps. Keep in mind that the fewer openings there are in the bag, the less the risk of leaks.
d) Secure attachment. Bike bags need to fit securely onto the racks and bike and they do not interfere with your cycling. Make sure that they are easy to attach and tighten down and that they do not get in the way.
e) Special features. Look for extras such as water bottle pockets, removable fanny packs, mesh pockets for holding wet gear, clear plastic map pockets, etc.




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