for those adherents of velominati's rules, the following may come as a bit of a shock. in fact, if you live your cycling life by those particular commandments, maybe you'd better not read this at all. rule #31 clearly states that 'spare tubes, multi-tools and repair kits should be stored in jersey pockets', somewhat forcefully implying that appending any bags to the body of the kirk (so to speak) would be tantamount to excommunication. i'm going to keep this to myself, so i'd be really appreciative if you would too.
however, there are moments of extreme flandrianism applied to the non-racing milieu, when an array of rear pockets will simply be insufficient. moments of uncharacteristic adventure, for instance, when there could conceivably be seen to be a need to carry a garmin gps (which will no longer fit on the handlebars because there's a bag there now), a spare pair of gloves, some money for coffee and, perchance, a panini, along with a rather bulky digital camera because i broke my little blue one and a couple of peanut butter sandwiches.
as if that were insufficient to garner frowning disapproval from the keepers of the rules, in case of unexpected mechanical malfeasance, a couple of spare inner-tubes, a multi-tool, a pink and a yellow tyre lever and a mini-pump surely wouldn't go amiss? don't tell me all that's going to fit comfortably in three rear pockets along with a waterproof jacket? yes, i think i can exclusively reveal that the excellent chaps at velominati are not members of the cyclists' touring club, otherwise they would have seen the potential error of their ways (under certain circumstances).
thus, still with the potential of untrammeled adventure invited by current possession of specialized's awol elite, the very kind delivery of an ortlieb ultimate6 handlebar bag and a similarly coloured seatpost-bag promised that, during any inadvertant adventures, i could cycle with an impressively flat back, those three pockets unsullied by awkwardly shaped accoutrements.
the ultimate6 bar bag, manufactured from a polyurethane coated cordura fabric portends to be a waterproof container for all that i have described above, along with many others that i should probably have thought of, prior to going adventuring in the first place. and waterproofing it truly is; it will surprise you not at all to learn that scottish west coast weather has a propensity to dump large and frequently unexpected quantities of precipitation solely on cyclists on an adventure. during those mostly unwelcome moments, the contents of the bar bag and seatpost bag remained steadfastly dessicated.
the ultimate6 bar bag affixes to the bicycle's handlebars via an included bracket featuring an ingenius and convoluted wire clamping system. doing so does tend to squish those gear and brake cables just a tad, but they're big and tough and strong and can handle that sort of thing. the bag slots onto the bar bracket and can be locked in position. at this point, i thought well of this facility before thinking that, while the bag couldn't be pinched, it would be simplicity itself to open the top and wander off with the contents. that, of course, was before i realised that the rear facing tag on the lid could be slotted under the clamp, rendering the entire edifice as safe as is likely possible.
ortlieb do not recommend attaching to carbon handebars or stem.
the convex nature of the bag's magnetically closing lid allows a sizeable amount to be crammed inside, as long as it doesn't exceed 3kg. there's also a detachable shoulder strap and an internal zipped compartment for passport, papers etc, if your adventuring stretches to international borders. the only potential disadvantages i came across were the previously mentioned disbarment from fitting your garmin via the usual bar mount and with such a short stem fitted to the specialized, mounting it atop the stem wasn't really much of an option. however, it turns out that a garmin works every bit as well when sat inside the bag for the occasional peek, every now and again.
it also seemed a smidgeon odd that there was no clear map pocket applied to the top. though i would scarcely class myself as a seasoned cycle tourer, those i have met on the road less travelled all seemd to have maps front and foremost atop their bar bags. it would be possible to bungee cord a clear plastic envelope to the bag for the purpose, but that would ultimately interfere with regular opening and closing.
the ortlieb seatpost-bag, once again not carbon fibre friendly, clamps securely to a wide range of steel or aluminium seatposts by means of an easily adjustable ratcheted clamp/strap. it did take one or two moments to adjust the strap to the correct size, but once in place it scarcely moved (apart from the letting-the-bike-fall-on-the-moor manoeuvre, but i'd rather not talk about that, if you don't mind). the seatpost opens commendably wide at the rear and features an inner zipped compartment and a substantial amount of space for tools, tubes, pumps or other unspecified mechanical oddities. the opening flap bears two rubberised seals which are rolled over on each other before being attached by two elastic straps to small brackets, one each side of the bag. more than sufficient to exclude the elements.
it also sports a nifty little adjustable, elasticated doohicky on the top, neatly sized under which to stuff a spare jacket. or perhaps to dry one or two items in the fresh air if perchance one stood in an unseen boggy pool. (who me?)
for occasional ventures onto the wide open road or obscure portions of the hinterland, the combination of the ultimate6 bar bag and seatpost bag have proved ideal. though the specialized awol elite sports a front and rear rack, in recent cases, those have proved temporarily unnecessary. the combination of both bags is ideal if, like me, your touring/adventure requirements are somewhat minimal. or if you'd like to to dip a toe in the world of touring without spending a fortune or just to see if you'd like it. their construction implies they'll be around for a lot longer than you and i; and if you don't like red in natural surroundings, the bags are also available in green, black or blue.
the ortlieb ultimate6 handlebar bag and seatpost-bag both retail at around £80 each.
friday 6 may 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................