Whether you’ve plenty of experience of packing for bicycle tours, or a first timer, or even a daily commuter looking for a better way to pack your essentials, the right bicycle handlebar bag can make or break a perfect bike setup.
Small items can get lost in frame bags or panniers, and trying to find them means interrupting your ride and stepping off the bike. Keeping important belongings (phone, wallet, camera, post- ride snack, etc.) on the front of your bike will put them within easy reach and balance out your load, especially if paired with something like a seat post pouch.
There are a number of bags on the market to choose from, each with unique characteristics, innovative designs, and varying price tags. Generally, you’ll want to look for a model that is un-obstructive yet spacious, easy to attach and detach, and ready to rough it in all kinds of weather.
Bags are designed to fit most handlebar styles, though you might have to slightly adjust your cables to make sure the bag sits comfortably. If you have carbon fiber handlebars, you might want to double check with the bag maker and wherever you got your bike from to make sure that clamp attachments will not damage the material.
Like most bike-specific bags, handlebar bags are usually made of a material like Cordura, a highly durable nylon or nylon blend that ensures waterproofing and is resistant to punctures or tears.
Always look for a waterproof rating when shopping for any bike bag; the last thing you want is for your items to end up soaked in a puddle of rainwater. Remember that “Water-resistant” or “Weather- resistant” are not sure-fire guarantees when it comes to product descriptions. “Waterproof” is the only term that means your product has been engineered and tested to keep your things dry.
The following handlebar bags are chosen based on their versatility in different scenarios, durability, and ease of use.
Founded a little over a decade ago, this Yorkshire- based company designs, produces and tests bike products based on personal experience. A small team and an emphasis on the hand make Restrap bags one of a kind in their attention to detail; an eye for sustainability and hiring local are also part of daily operations. All products come with a lifetime warranty, covering both repairs and replacements.
Now, on to the bags themselves- coming in at a 10- liter capacity, Restrap’s Bar Pack is compact yet sizable, fully waterproof, and simple to attach in one step in thanks to spring- loaded cam locks. With a hard shell back and internal stiffener, the Bar Pack retains its shape when fully loaded. A hypalon roll-top closure promises protection from the elements as well as quick access. The Bar Pack’s bonus feature is its external packing space; the bag sports a front holster made to fit a D-shaped lock and an elastic drawstring that can secure a light jacket or gaiter on the outside of the pack.
The company’s Bar Bag introduces a slightly different approach to packing your bike; instead of a single product, the Bar Bag system consists of a holster made to hold a dry bag and a food pouch that sits on top. The dry bag is included in your purchase along with the food pouch, and can hold up to 14 liters, and attaches with a buckle (this means no fussing around with mounts or clamps). The food pouch measures 1.5 liters (the large version of this product includes a 3 -Liter food pouch) and can be added on thanks to a magnetic pin system which helps it click into place. Foam inserts between the holster and your bars are the latest improvement to the Bar Bag, meant to assist with brake clearance. Along with the initial buckles, fork retention straps act as additional attachments to keep your load from rattling as you go over dips and bumps. Securing both parts of the Bar Bag setup will be like second nature as you get used to it, but this instructional video from Restrap is worth watching in the meantime!
Canadian- born, Quebec based brand Arkel is a purveyor of quality North American bike touring gear at affordable prices. With a patented Cam-Lock system, the company is a household name on the pannier circuit. When it comes to handlebar bags, Arkel offers three main types to choose from based on your traveling needs. All are waterproof and covered by warranty.
Coined a “utilitarian” bag by its makers, the 4- liter Signature BB is a budget- friendly option for commuters or day trippers looking for a safe and secure place to hold valuables on and off the bike. The Signature is easily convertible to a shoulder bag thanks to an included strap, meaning you can lock up and start exploring right away. Adjustable velcro straps secure this bag on your bars, and reflective stripes offer added evening visibility. Each bag comes with a special touch from Arkel; the signature of the team member who created it adorns the inner tag.
The company’s classic touring bag is an awesome choice for longer rides; durable and waterproof, it’ll bring any cyclist peace of mind on the road. The zipper closure features welded seams to make sure no moisture finds a way in on rainy days (while the external pockets are not waterproof, they can be easily shielded with a raincover). An aluminum mounting system adjusts to fit your bars, while extra brackets are available in case you want to try this bag on different bikes. Additional bonuses include a waterproof map case (great for anyone who owns an Adventure Cycling map set), and, for the photographers out there, the ability to use your handlebar bag as a protective case for a digital camera (check out these instructions).
The Roll Packer 15 is a versatile option for bike packers looking to pack lightly. Measuring a capacity of 15 liters (a 25 liter version is also available), this bag attaches to an aluminum hanger, which then mounts to your handlebars. This kind of model is preferred by bike packers because of its ability to hold and compact essential gear such as base layers, a sleeping bag, or even a lightweight tent. Though it’s perfect for an excursion, the Roll Packer can be used in any context that requires carrying a bit of supplies; it would make a trustworthy commuter bag for those who cycle to work all year round.
With an emphasis on constant improvement, evolving products, and customer feedback, Britain’s Craft Cadence produces bags made for commuters, by commuters. At 3-3.5 liters, The Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag is ideal for daily urban riding, as well as the occasional overnight or extended trip; made of tarpaulin, the bag is ready for anything you might throw at it, including a tour. Craft Cadence takes unexpected downpours and nighttime traffic seriously, and the bag is outfitted with reflective stripes as well as a maximum waterproof rating. The three- point belt mounting system allows you to adjust the bag’s position on your bike, and its shape makes sure that contents are easy to reach even while riding. A strap for conversion into a shoulder bag is included with your purchase.
Blackburn’s Outpost Elite Hitchhiker is another budget- friendly option for long distance riders as well as avid commuters. Its unique, boxed shape stands out from the crowd; the bag can be used on its own or paired with a bar roll like its sister product, the Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll. Conveniently, the Hitchhiker can be paired with non-Blackburn bar rolls as well, allowing you to mix and match your existing setup without purchasing additional gear. The attached front bungee makes a great pocket for holding just- in- case items; stash your jacket or rain pants underneath and be glad you did once the weather takes a nasty turn. No matter what your cycling needs are, you can’t go wrong with a Blackburn product; the company has a strong reputation for reliable, lasting products that spans over five decades in business.
The Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll is another harness and dry- bag combo system that works for rougher rides where carrying enough gear is crucial. Easy to pack, attach, and adjust on the go, the Outpost Elite is a handlebar setup you can depend on; don’t forget that you can pair it with the Hitchhiker bag described above for added storage!
When shopping for handlebar bike bags, try to prioritize quality over cost or brand names. While top cycling brands have been making amazing products for a while, it’s always worth checking out newer, small-scale makers; more often than not, the designers are the ones strapping up their bikes and riding to work to test out their products.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect handlebar bag, there’s nothing left to do but store your essentials, tighten the buckles and get on the road!