Just before the holidays I bought a new set of bags for the bike I built from scratch, the bike I call the Goshawk, as Goshawk Cycles is the working title of my future framebuilding venture. Previously I had the bike set up with a British Carradice Nelson Longflap saddlebag, as you can see to the left.
I really like this style of saddlebag for day rides and such, but find that when I load up for overnight touring, with camping gear, it gets in the way of carrying anything on the rear rack, such as a sleeping pad or tent. So I wanted to see what I could find in the way of a front, or handlebar bag, and found a lovely one from Velo Orange, of Annapolis, MD. They are the same company that supplied me with the "Zeppelin" fenders and leather bar wrap, and I have to say, they offer a lot of really nice, classically styled bike parts and accessories. You can see the Campagne front bag here, mounted to a Nitto M12 front rack. It's held in place with leather straps, but a fancier solution would be to use a device known as a decaleur. Me, I'm fine with the straps.
The front bag is a good size and a handy place for things you might need while riding along, either on day rides or a tour. I tend to use it for snack, camera, cell phone, note pad, spare gloves or hat, etc. For more utilitarian items, such as a spare tube, patch kit, and tools, I like something under the saddle, so I opted for the matching Velo Orange Croissant (they obvioiusly went with a bread theme on names) bag, which you can see to the left here. It's just big enough for the essentials, and shouldn't interfere with stuff strapped to the top of the rack.
And below you can see the whole ensemble, ready to roll. If you click to enlarge the photos, and look closely, you may notice two other items... first is the small cylindrical light mount on the front rack, just below the bag. There is one on each side, and they are "Gino" mounts from Paul Components. In these photos you can just make out a very small headlight mounted, but now I have a pretty bright Cateye EL-530 mounted on each side. I haven't really done any night riding to speak of with that set up, but I think it's going to work rather well for me.
The other little detail is that if you look very closely you can just make out the battery powered Christmas lights I attached to the frame and racks. I rode around with them for a week or two, and planned to use them on Christmas Eve ride with our shop. Alas, as I noted earlier, the ride got "snowed out", so I instead hung the bike, lights and all, in the shop window for the holidays.
The last ingredients for a loaded tour is a set of panniers, front and rear. I am a big fan of the Ortlieb brand, and I've got a full set of their bags for touring. Keep your eyes on this site for future photos.