I’m always looking for ways to improve the comfort and efficiency of my bicycle and made a few changes.
I found an REI Bartop handlebar bag in a thrift store for $3. It has a clear front panel to view my phone, GPS or a small map, with a compartment behind that has a couple mesh pockets and a key fob. It is just enough room for phone, glasses, gloves and a snack and I can get a lightweight windbreaker in there too. It is the older version with the zipper opening to the bottom and I can see why they changed it to orient the zipper to the top, with the lid swinging down rather than up. It is handy and provides s bit of storage without hampering cables and other handlebar mounted items.
While visiting the Bike Works community bike shop in the Columbia City area of Seattle, I found a new handlebar mounted water bottle cage for $5. I had to add a bit of recycled inner tube to get a good grip on the bar, but other than that, it works well for me. I like having the bottle mounted where I can get it out while riding and I can see what I am doing without taking my eyes off the road. I added one of the new Specialized Purist water bottles with a non-leaching inner coating. I found a yellow and white one that matches my bike.
I’ve been looking for an oversize water bottle cage that would work with the small frame triangle on my bike and allow the use of one liter Nalgenes and other larger bottles. I found the Monkii Cage line of water bottles that are hard to find in the United States, but more available in the UK and Australia. I bought one from an eBay seller in Australia and it arrived a few days ago. Monkii Cage makes several versions with the ability to remove the water bottle parallel from the frame or at 90°and 45° angles. The angled options allow using large bottles than a parallel exit would, which is a real gain with a small frame triangle. The cage mounts on plastic bosses that bolt into the standard braze-ons. My only concern is the strength of the plastic parts and whether they will hold up to bouncing on rough trails; otherwise, I like the Monkii Cage design.
The goal for using oversize bottles is to have a good stable way to haul more water. I would like to see panniers with water bottle mounts. Ortlieb makes accessory pockets, but water is such a universal need that including water bottle storage on touring panniers is a no-brainer to me. The other option that comes to mind is use Platypus or MSR Dromedary bladders strapped onto my top rack. Many bikepackers use fork-mounted cages like the Salsa Anything cage, but I don’t like the idea of weight and bulk on the sides of the front forks.