Handlebar Bags

My first handlebar bag was made by Serratus, a captive manufacturer owned by MEC. It was pure simplicity with a low-tech quick release bracket. It’s totally waterproof, it matches my panniers, and it doesn’t require a rack or metal frame and the mount is really secure. Here are a couple of images of the mounting system Serratus used.

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I bought a handlebar bag for Odette from REI that matched her panniers – with lots of pockets and zippers and expandable mesh holder thingies. The quick release mount on hers was a “KlickFix” which was based on a spring loaded clip. Within a week one of the rivets holding the plate to the bag popped out. I replaced it with a small bolt but it didn’t give me a lot of confidence in her system. Here are some images of the KlickFix mounts.

Here’s what the plates on the respective bags look like:

As you can see, on the KlickFix the plate hangs on the mounting bracket and is secured by a spring-loaded hook that clips behind the plate. On the “TwistFix” the plate has a wide prong that slips down into a slot on the mounting bracket. The prong is secured by a lever which twists to one side or the other to permit entry and when centered locks the prong in place. I like the TwistFix better than the KlickFix mounts because:

  1. they look better on the bike without a bag.
  2. they’re simpler with no springs to wear out or break.
  3. they’re more secure with no clip to pop out on bumps (the neoprene collar effectively locks the twist lever in place.)
  4. At least the way MEC built them, the TwistFix plate attaches to the top of the two sides of the bag thus spreading the weight of the bag better and not torquing the attachment to the bag the way the flat KlickFix plate does.
  5. The TwistFix as used by MEC (attaching to a sort of fork instead of to a flat plate) leaves a little more room for your hands between the bars and the bag.

I do like the wire on the KlickFix which seems obviously stronger than the cord used on the TwistFix to prevent rotation on the handlebars.  Either way these bags rely on a scoop-shaped plastic liner to keep the bag from drooping into the front wheel and that liner acts as a spring to make the bag bounce when you ride over bumps – I’ve seen the KlickFix mount pop loose while my TwistFix has never budged.
Here are a couple of pictures of bags on the bikes:

I bought Will a bag like mine for his touring bike. We went without handlebar bags (using backpacks or trunk bags) on the mountain bikes. When we got the tandem I wanted to be able to mount my bag on it. I checked the MEC website and couldn’t find any place where they sold the mount. I emailed them and then spent some time searching the internet for a mount like the one on the Serratus bag. I didn’t find anything but I did find a lot of references to the KlickFix system. Eventually MEC replied that Serratus had been closed down and that they didn’t know who made the mounts. They no longer list any handlebar bags on their website, either.

When we took the tandem in to get it tuned I saw that R+E was selling KlickFix the mounts separately – so I bought a couple of them and put one on the tandem. I despaired of ever getting a mount to use my Serratus bag on the tandem (and since I couldn’t get one from MEC I bought another REI bag after considering Giles Berthoud and Carradice and other options.) We did a couple of rides with the REI bag but I didn’t really like all the bells and whistles on it so before the first real tour on the tandem I stole the mount from Will’s touring bike and used it to mount my own bag on the tandem.

Here are images of Will’s bag on the tandem (it doesn’t tilt up as much when it is loaded):

As I was moving the mount I realized that the locking mechanism on it had an RK logo that looked like the one on Odette’s KlickFix mount. I knew from my internet reading that KlickFix mounts were made by a company in Germany called Rixen & Kaul. I took photos of the MEC mounts and emailed them to the Rixen & Kaul distributors listed for Germany and the UK asking if they knew where I could buy that kind of mount. After emailing the distributors I looked a little harder and found contact information for R&K itself and sent them a copy of the photos with the same request. The UK distributor emailed me back saying that they couldn’t help and suggesting that I contact R&K in Germany. R&K replied that they recognized the part and how many did I want.

They quoted me a price in Euros for three units, Odette purchased and mailed a money order denominated in euros – payable to the clerk who authored the quote. The bank charged a lot for that service and the mounts ended up costing about $30 each. (The KlickFix ones sell about $25 each.) While waiting for Rixen & Kaul to ship the brackets I found a couple on eBay for $22.  (Here’s the image of the mount that the guy posed on eBay. He says that they normally list for $26 but his “buy it now” price is about 15% less. It looks like Lone Peak bags also use the “TwistFix” quick release system.  (MEC must have gotten more than one request because they eventually began listing them, too)

I replaced the mount on Will’s touring bike and I put one on my mountain bike and I have one extra. I have the KlickFix mounts on both of Odette’s bikes and on Will’s mountain bike and I have one extra. Now if I want the other style bag on any of the bikes I can do it without stealing a mount from another bike. Of course, I also have about $200 tied up in handlebar mounts!




As I moved to carbon bars on my new bikes I had to figure out how to adapt the handlebar brackets that were designed for skinnier bars.  I figured out that the clasp encircling the bar was really only a rotational restraint and that the weight was born by the cord/cable that looped under the stem.  I replaced the clasps with cable ties and found that it worked fine.  After the old cords started fraying I went looking for a more attractive support solution and hit on the idea of brake cable inside of cable housing.  After some trial and error I figured that I could loop a short length of shifter cable and swage it with a terminal eye.  the trick was cutting it to the right length, but by the time I’d made half a dozen of them I got pretty good at it.  I also found out that in 2017 you could still buy the “TwistFix” style bracket (with clasps for oversize bars) from Lone Peak.  I probably ought to stock up.