Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

Ostrich Handlebar Bag

Ostrich F-106 bag on Racktime Topit
Not precisely “handlebar” bags these Ostrich bags are supported on the platform of a front rack and secured at the top either to the handlebars or by a bracket known as a decaleur. In my opinion the advantages of this style of bag are several:
The center of gravity is lower than a bag attached to and supported by the handlebars
-The bag is more accessible from the cockpit than panniers.
-An assortment of small pockets make it easy to find the small things you need
-A plastic covered map case is indispensable to the touring cyclist.
-Relatively easy to remove and carry when off the bike. Some come with shoulder straps.

Ostrich bag label

As of this writing their are two sizes of front Ostrich bags (Ostrich also makes a traditional style saddle bag and, I believe, rear panniers); the F-104 and the new, slightly larger F-106.

front view

The Ostrich F-104 (left) and the F-106

 

side view

The F-104 is slightly shorter than the F-106. Both are roughly the same depth.

 

rear view

The overall height of the bag and the position of the leather patches will help determine which size will fit best on you bike.

Determining which size bag will work best on a particular machine starts with knowing the distance from the top platform of the rack to the handlebars. The type of stem on the bike -threadless (Aheadset) or threaded (quill)- and, in some cases, the steer tube diameter – 1″ or 1 1/8″- will tell what type of decaleur to use. Gilles Berthoud decaleurs are available in six different configurations, and Velo Orange decaleurs in two. We carry all of them in the Bike Touring News Store and,as always, are here to help demystify.

The map case on the F-106 snaps on and off. On the F-104 it is affixed.

 

side stiffener pocket

A stiffener is inserted into pockets on either side so the bag maintains its shape. Another stiffener lays in the bottom.

 

decaleur side view

This shows the Velo Orange decaleur for 1 1/8″ threadless stems.

 

from the driver's seat

View from the driver’s seat. The metal bar of the decaleur can be strapped, as shown, or bolted to the bag through the holes on the end and through holes drilled through the bag at the leather patches.

I’ve always liked these bags. I’m a sucker for canvas duck and for the army green color. I like the robust, utilitarian feel and look of these and I think the details are well thought out. The relative voluminous capacities are nice too. When touring it seems as though I’m always looking for the extra pocket or for someplace to lash the rain jacket. These have been unavailable in the US for some time but I’m excited about being able to get them again.

UPDATE 2/19/2013
We will also be carrying the Ostrich Panniers
…..

BIke Panniers from Ostrich- Made in Japan!

….and the traditional style Ostrich S-2 Saddlebag...

ostrich saddle bags

Ostrich Saddlebag

MORE UPDATES! 3/15/2013
We now have the Gilles Berthoud rain covers which work nicely with the Ostrich F-106 and F-104 bags.

berthoud rain cover

The Gilles Berthoud rain cover for the *25* rando bags. Also fits for the Ostrich F-104 and F-106.

12 comments… add one
  • Sean February 19, 2013, 3:42 pm

    When I purchased my Ostrich handlebar bag (the F-104 model) a few years ago I neglected to purchase a rain cover for the bag. Do you anticipate offering a rain cover for these bags?

    Reply
    • Bike Hermit February 19, 2013, 5:45 pm

      Sean,
      I will attempt to convince my supplier to bring some in. Meanwhile I may get some of the Gilles Berthoud covers in and see how those fit.

      Reply
  • Tim November 8, 2013, 8:07 pm

    where can I buy these osterich bike bags? I have looked every where on line no one seems to want to sell them!

    Reply
  • Laural H December 17, 2014, 6:38 am

    I love mine! Wish I could get a smaller version for my 48cm bicycle…

    Reply
  • Joe Elven February 24, 2015, 4:58 pm

    Does the ostrich f-106 work with the VO pass hunter rack with integrated decaleur? The VO website says that the pass hunter only works with medium sized bags, so I a, obviously curious.

    Reply
    • Bike Hermit™ February 24, 2015, 6:39 pm

      Joe, here is a link to a page with a picture of a friend of mine on our ride across Nevada. He has that rack and the F-106 bag. Yous can see that the attachment point on the bag is not ideal, but it works. He made a custom plate for the decaleur to get a little more purchase on the bag.

      Reply
  • Alexander Lopez December 19, 2016, 12:29 pm

    How do these Ostrich bags perform against the modern Ortlieb-style ones? Ortliebs are known for their water proofness, lightness and durability; but I’d like to have more options. Without having one of them in my hands, it seems to me that the Ostriches (and the similarly styled Gilles Berthoud ones) might be easier to repair by any luggage craftsman.

    Reply
    • Ryan King December 19, 2016, 2:03 pm

      Howdy, Alexander!
      Thanks for the question! Comparing Ostrich luggage to Ortlieb is somewhat apples-to-oranges. They’re so completely different. You’re certainly correct that Ostrich (or any sewn bags) will be more easily repaired should the need arise. The Ortliebs – being welded, bolted and molded together – are not very “repairable” in the way fabric bags are but have proven themselves to be exceptionally durable. Replacement parts are also available for most components that see a good deal of wear-and-tear or are under a lot of stress such as rack attachment hardware.

      When it comes to the “performance” of Ostrich vs Ortlieb you’ll be looking at some trade-offs.

      1: Waterproofness vs Breathability – When closed properly, Ortlieb’s gear is pretty much 100% waterproof. Ostrich’s coated canvas is highly water-resistant and will shrug off surprising amounts of precipitation or road spray but may soak through (especially at the seams/stitching) when exposed to extended periods of moisture. That’s why we offer rain covers. It is also prudent to pack items that must stay dry in a waterproof stuff sack or similar container. However, the downside to waterproofness is a lack of breathability. In warm climates, a waterproof bag can lead to buildup of heat and odors quite rapidly, causing food to spoil and clothing to get funky. Put some wet, smelly socks or a block of cheese in your waterproof pannier and ride all day in the hot sun and you’ll know what I mean! Fabric bags will breathe much better and keep the contents cooler.
      2: Modern vs Traditional – The appearance of these two sets of bags is also a stark contrast. Ortliebs are very modern and high-tech looking; the Ostriches very traditional. Depending on your bike and preferences, one brand may offer a better aesthetic match. Their attachment systems are also very different. Ostrich uses traditional nylon or leather straps with brass buckles to secure the bags. Ortlieb uses sturdy plastic hardware bolted to the bag’s frame. Both work, though most will prefer the look and feel of one system or the other.
      3: Carrying Capacity vs Easy Access – I’m talking specifically about the handlebar bags here. As the Bike Hermit stated in his above review, the weight of the Ostrich handlebar bag rests on a front rack rather than being supported by the handlebar. The lower center of gravity and support from the rack allows the rider to carry a heavier load with minimal impact on handling. Ortlieb specifies a max load of 3kg (6.6lb) for their handlebar bags. Most will never carry even that much, the impact on handling is too severe with the bag that high in the air. The entire bag tends to flex and sway under greater weight, exacerbating the sketchy steering. I’ve seen plenty of Ostrich bags stuffed to the point of overflowing with heavy items (ahem… lots of beer…) and riders feeling confident steering the load. The weight limit is determined by the strength of the rack rather than a plastic handlebar mount. However, Ortieb’s handlebar bag is exceptionally easy to open and close while riding so it is a perfect place to store snacks, camera, phone, wallet, spare layers and other lightweight essentials. The Ostrich has external pockets that are accessible but the rider will have to stop riding to safely access the main compartment.
      4: Compressibility vs Capacity – With the exception of their bikepacking gear, Ortlieb’s bags do not offer much compression for less-than-full loads and struggle to accept overflow. This may result in bouncing and rattling of the contents if the bags aren’t packed full and loss of waterproofness if overstuffed. The laces on the side of Ostrich’s panniers offer excellent volume reduction for smaller loads. The handlebar and seat bags can be similarly tightened up by their wraparound straps which also allow extra strapping capacity. However, Ortlieb’s larger panniers are truly massive. This extra space can be very useful for grocery runs or remote tours.

      I hope this all makes sense and help your thought process. Did I miss anything? Let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to help.

      Cheers and thanks for reading!

      Reply
      • Alexander Lopez January 22, 2017, 6:39 pm

        Thank you very much! Your reply was almost an article in itself.

        Breathability is very important for me because here in the Caribbean sunlight is harsh, weather is hot, and the air has lots of moisture.

        Just one more question: what style of bags offer better dust protection? We have only two seasons around here: dry and rainy. And in the dry season, there’s lots of dust on the roads, which can be a nuisance every time a breeze blows.

        Again, thank you very much!

        Reply
        • Ryan King January 24, 2017, 7:55 am

          Given the complete seal created by the rolltop closure, I’d say the Ortliebs will keep dust out more effectively.

          Reply

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