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Sunday, 18 October 2009


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'Twas a fine day for a bike ride in Colorado. About 82 degrees: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chopchopturtleboy/4023985782/

Nothing stopping you from riding a bicycle in winter. You just plow through loose snowfall, and ride on top of hard, packed snow. The extra work to go through the snow and keep in balance gives you good exercise and eliminates a need for heavy coats or snow gear. A tight-knit sweater, scarf and gloves is all you need.

Some of us don't stop biking when the weather changes. For example, here's a blog post from last Feb in the Northern Hemisphere: http://www.wireheadarts.com/blog/bike_yellow_and_snow/

I've had some durability problems with Topeak gear in the past... Personally, I wouldn't trust 'em with a good camera.

Of course, just as there is no perfect camera bag, there is no perfect handlebar bag, either.

So I'm going to mention one that I think is less imperfect than the general run, Arkel's "Big Bar Bag".

There's a small bar bag, too, but hey; with 10 litres, you can get a couple spare small Pentax prime lenses in there. :)

Looks nice Mike.The bag is a good idea and I'm hoping you will also provide youself with a pump and a couple of spare inner tubes in case of a flat.Ask Grant about what you need cause a puncture of some kind is in your future whether you like it or not.As a Canadian I'll thank you for buying a ride from a Quebec owned company.Cannon dale makes some great bikes and Dorel made a smart buy when they bought the business.

I carried a Mamiya C330 in a handlebar bag like this. It didn't have a shoulder strap but it would come off so you could carry it. I used to wish for an Arca-style quick release built onto the stem so I could use the bike as a tripod.

Here in Vancouver, we care all year 'round! One simple brand name: GoreTex.

You do not have to wait until spring.

You can put cyclo cross tires on (that bike will have *plenty* of clearence) and warm clothing, and ride until there is a lot of snow.

Then you can put studded tires on. Yes, there are studded tires for bicycles.

Do wear a helment, and gets lights on really early to combat winter darkness.

Don't forget Southern California. It was 90 degrees F last week!

The first photo was shot at ISO 640 with a shutter of 1/1300 sec. On the GF1, would it matter much if the ISO had been pushed down to perhaps 100 and the shutter opened longer?

I read your previous post about albatross bars on a bus ride to work. When I exited the bus I passed several bike parking rails. I noticed that most of the bicycles had albatross bars at one of the rails. There was at least 6 of them. I had a laugh at quirky people of Hoboken, NJ :)

What no mudguards/fenders?

So what happens when caught in the liquid sunshine eh?

Mind I do see you have a "proper" camera in the carrying bag,
not one of those new-fangled digital machines.

The world is ours once again!

Hey Mike, this is OT for those of us in California too, where the weather is quite mild all winter and the sun shines, except when it is raining...

"The first photo was shot at ISO 640 with a shutter of 1/1300 sec. On the GF1, would it matter much if the ISO had been pushed down to perhaps 100 and the shutter opened longer?"

In order to do that, you would have to remember, just before you shot the first picture, instead of just after, to reset the camera from when you were shooting Ebay pictures indoors the night before. If you can do that, then no, it wouldn't matter.


Gruesome has fenders!

I think it's a rule. If you have albatross handlebars, you have to have fenders.


Is that a Nikkormat FT3 snuggling down in the bag? Takes me right back to 1984. I had no cash, a Pentax MX, an FT3 and a decision to make. Chose to keep the MX and never regretted it, but for years afterwards I missed the bullet-proof build of the Nikon (and much preferred it to the wussy FM)

It is an awesome FT3 that looks all but new, with a matching 28mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/2. I would actually never carry it around on the bike. For that I would probably use the Spotmatic. But the Spottie is black, and I thought the FT3 would show up better in the picture.


I use Klik Fix fittings which look similar but I just do not like the weight of an SLR at the front. If it is not well packed it gets shaken about a lot whcih can be off putting if you are trying to concentrate on the bike track. So, normally I carry a G10 in a pocket or a lighter shoulder bag looped over my head and held aorudn my back and if it is an SLR I carry it in a pannier stuffed in with bike jacket and other paraphernalia. For years I commuted to London on my bike, usually with an Olympus in my back pack and often stopped to record teh river early in the morning. Now in Luxembourg teh winters are somewhat more harsh and I disagree with those who say you can navigate through ice and snow on a winter commute. Maybe but too dangerous for me.

Fine riding weather in Tokyo too, even though many folks here think that Japan is the only country with four clearly distinct seasons. Year-round riding is no problem.

I would never carry a camera in a bag clinged to a bicycle---not if I plan to use the camera for picture-taking (if I planned to use it as a paperweight then maybe).

-- Olaf

Have you tried strapping a tripod onto the rear rack yet, Mike? Bike rides are not conducive to steady hands. Personally, I find a tripod essential to doing the bike/photo thing.

Riding your bike in the snow, so long as it isn't too icy or deep, is a wonderful, cheap thrill. You've gotta try it at least once. Leave the camera and bag at home the first time, just in case you fall. Dress right. No cotton. Wool and synthetics make it easy on the body. Also, if you ever feel let down by that camera bag and it's fix to the bars try a waterproof Ortlieb. I've had one since 1996 and it's still goin' strong. Just needed to add some padding for the camera. Regards to you from the south of France where riding doesn't stop for winter and cold. One cold weather riding tip: thin synthetic first layer of gloves covered by a second heavier pair or something waterproof and windproof if needed. Also, stash a second pair of the thin first layer gloves somewhere. It's nice to change 'em after an hour or so if you sweat a lot.

Just be careful and make sure you have enough padding in a bag like that: the front element of one of my lenses came loose after only one day of biking with a handlebar bag.

I'm trying to imagine a way of holding those bars that wouldn't be excrutiatingly painful or bring on carpal-tunnel syndrome from pinching the wrist nerves. They don't match the orientation your hands naturally rest in. But hey, horses for courses. Enjoy the bike :)

I'm a big fan of the Topeak bag pictured - use mine with my Canon DSLRs & 2 lenses (17-55 f/2.8 70-300 DO, compact and a lot of reach). I use a simple divider and no further padding. I've used it on and off road all over the world. No ill effects on camera or lenses. Nicely balanced, too.

What I find is that there is just enough movement in the bag to take up most of the energy of bumping around which seems to minimise the impact on the camera. Plus the camera packs quite tight so it's not jumping around in there.

@ Peter "the front element of one of my lenses came loose after only one day of biking with a handlebar bag."

Er, wasn't I talking to you earlier?

It happened to me, too, but it was a bag in a fibreglass motorcycle pannier (saddlebag). The end of the lens was resting against the side of the pannier through the unpadded camera bag. I made sure the bag was padded all round after that.

On the handlebars, or is it on the albatross, seems to be the best place for the camera bag. You can keep an eye on it, and at least with these bars there is less weight on the front wheel. I think that means that vibration will be less.

Mike - you need a bell for the bike. As a pedestrian, I am frequently scared silly by people who blast past me at close range on their bike after a stealthy approach. Please get a bell, and ring it to warn the pedestrians you approach that you are coming.

PS - nice bike!

With regard to winter biking, yes, you can, but traction is better, and the ride safer, if you use studded tires. These will keep you upright even on black ice; they will not help much when dealing with deep frozen ruts. Nokian is one well regarded brand. Hiawatha Cyclery is up in your neck of the woods and they can likely order them. I don't think Grant has ever carried them.

Also check out the Ice Biker web site:

"They don't match the orientation your hands naturally rest in."

They do, actually, if we're talking about my hands. (You did say "your.") Much more so than flat bars, which are uncomfortable for me.


Mike, for a great many people all over the globe, cycling is year round transportation. To say you are put off by rain is to say you are unprepared for it. As one other poster said: Goretex and mudgaurds.

How many Photographers does it take to screw in a light bulb? I dunno but it takes at least that many Bicyclists! ;-)

Looking good Mike.

Ooooh, please take your camera out of the handlebar bag and put it in a pack on your back. Unless the roads around you are really really really smooth it is going to get shaken to bits, at least your shutter will fail. In a bag on your back it will be much happier. Even if you fall off, you're not likely to land on your back.
Dave (who has carried a camera on a bike for over 30 years (much to my surprise))
Disclaimer: San Francisco roads are probably alot worse then yours.

Mudguards/fenders; What's the difference?

According to my friend Sooty (named after the little bear puppet) about thirty quid. He builds custom motorcycles here in England. He points to the parts catalogues; 'Mudguard' £25, a very similar 'fender' £55.

mmmm to hell with the bag, I want the FT3 ...

Hey Guys,

I recently got one of those same clips to attach a bag/basket, and I have an odd question.

Does anyone know what the removable tube is on top of the clip? I could not for the life of me figure out what it was for...

Gruesome is a girl, she has fenders, Grip Shift, Quick release bags. Mike, you the man!

I gave up riding below about 40 degrees; it felt like deep sea diving, the "suiting" up, and even with ski goggles, my face froze. Though riding in a blizzard was fun.

Enjoy your ride!

My bike shop guy says it's for attaching a light that can still be mounted centrally yet "sees over" the bag. It's removable so you can take your light with you when you lock up.


I really enjoy winter cycling. When the cold weather really sets in, I pack up my Rivendell and head down to Florida.

Those bars look splendid Mike. I'd like to bodge some on my touring bike, if I could find a way of attaching Campag shifters too.

Carrying a camera on a bike is asking for trouble. The vibration (and outright banging around) WILL shake internal stuff loose. I agree that a backpack or beltpack is far safer for the camera.

I was a cyclist - I bought my first car at age 27. My wife has heard too many times the phrase "I've ridden my bike right through there" about many parts of the US. I learned the hard way about cameras and bikes.

The other problem is your spine being bashed. These bars and that tall stem force an upright position that compresses your spine with every bump. A more natural position leaning forward allows your spine to flex over bumps, as well as providing much more ergonomic and efficient use of your leg power.

Try this: sit upright in your chair and try to stand up. You can't! You must lean forward to allow your legs to lift you.

Another great handle bar bag for cameras is Ortlieb's Ultimate 5 Plus. The padded camera insert is sold separately. With the insert, the handle bar bag runs around $130 - $140--a little expensive, but worth it. It's completely waterproof and holds a DSLR with a zoom lens on it (D200 plus 12-24 or 70-300) with room for a cell phone or filters. The camera specific insert protects the camera from vibrations.

You can see it on the front of my bike here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanhansel/3803486461/in/set-72157621943050528/

Just came across your site and have bookmarked it. This entry reminds me of a couple advertisements from the early 1900's that I saw at the Eastman Museum. Apparently cycling and photography came into fashion together and rigs were made for the bicycles to accomodate camera equipment, much as you have done with your handlebar rack system. I took a couple of photos of the ads and they are quite something - let me know if you care to see them and I will send them along!

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