In recent years, handlebars bags are gaining popularity among bike commuters, gravel cyclists besides long-distance cyclists who have been using them for a long time.
With it, you can carry some extra load which otherwise would end up in your back pocket.
There are many models to choose from today. So one of the most commonly asked questions is,
Which one should I get?
On this page, I’ll cover that and also share with you some tips before buying one. Things like bag size, materials, mounting and more.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Handlebar Bags
For Drop Bars
Chrome Helix Handlebar Bag
Chrome Industries has been around since 1995 and is based out of New York City.
The Chrome Helix is a small-sized, 3 liters handlebar bag that comes with interior compartments with sleeves for easier organization. It utilizes a hook-and-loop attachment system, making it easy to attach and remove from your handlebars when you need to.
After removing it, you can also use the hideaway strap to carry it across your shoulder, or around your waist. The 1050D nylon material, coupled with the 450D tarp lining makes it a tough and durable bag to have.
- Pros : Very easy to attach to the handlebars.
- Cons : Front panel design is plain and boring.
Timbuk2 Beacon Handlebar Bag
Timbuk2 is based out of San Francisco and has been around since 1989. Since their inception, they’ve been focusing heavily on bike messenger bags.
The Timbuk 2 Beacon is designed to fit on handlebars of different sizes and weighs 167g. It can double up as a shoulder bag with the shoulder straps being hidden on 2 of the side pockets. It’s made from polyester, which is a waterproof material that keeps your gear and accessories dry in rainy conditions.
It has a capacity of 3 liters, which is just enough to store your essential items such as your mobile phone and some snacks. Velcro tabs and mini-buckles are used to attach them to your handlebar.
- Pros : Can double up as a small shoulder bag (straps provided)
- Cons : Expect to pay a higher price.
PRO Discover Handlebar Bag
Made from a waterproof synthetic material, the PRO Discover Handlebar bag has one main roll-style assembly system, which opens up on both sides for quick accessibility.
Riding at night becomes much easier because it has some reflective elements that make you visible. It has a capacity of 8 liters, which is ideal for storing clothes and other medium-sized accessories.
This bag also has a bungee cord that you can use to store items that you want to access quickly. Mounting and fastening are easily achieved through velcro straps.
- Pros : Lifetime warranty.
- Cons : Bag contents are not easily accessible while on the move.
Lezyne Bar Caddy
The Lezyne Bar Caddy uses a roll-closure system which can found on both ends. It also has an adjustable hook-and-loop adjustment system, which secures it sturdily on your bike frame.
For easier accessibility, it has external drawcords, which can be fastened or loosened. This bag is also made from a water-resistant fabric that keeps your gear dry in rainy weather.
It has a capacity of 7 liters and measures 3.1” x 2.1”x 4.5”. Visibility at night is increased by reflective strips found across the body.
- Pros : Very sturdy and secure mounting system for heavy loads.
- Cons : Not ideal for narrow (40cm and below) handlebars.
Ortlieb Handlebar Pack
Ortlieb is one of the leading brands in bikepacking bags. So this bag is no exception. It’s available in 2 sizes; 9 and 15 liters. The larger version is ideal for bikepacking and storing larger accessories.
For a stable and sturdy mount on your handlebar, the Ortlieb Handlebar Pack uses drawstrings, compression belts, and bungees that secure your load tightly. It attaches to the handlebars using a hook-and-loop strap with spacer meshes to give your bar some clearance.
Balanced weight distribution is brought about by the cylindrical shape of this bag. It’s made from a waterproof material with highly luminous 3M Scotchlite reflectors on its outer surface for extra visibility at night.
- Pros : Made with durable, waterproof materials.
- Cons : Expect to pay a premium over other models.
Rock Bros Bikepacking Handlebar Bags
The Rock Bros handlebar bag is a set of two bags, a larger 21 liters roll bag and a smaller, 6 liters bag.
There is plenty of storage room for the Rock Bros and they’re ideal to carry light clothes, sleeping bags, and some food for multi-day bikepacking and long-distance rides.
Mounting is easily achieved through quick-release straps, which can be adjusted. This bag also has reflective logos to keep you visible at night. It’s made from waterproof 600D nylon material that has an innovative seamless design to keep your contents safe.
- Pros : Excellent value for money for 2 bags.
- Cons : Mounting straps aren’t the most durable.
Thule Shield Handlebar Bag
Thule is one of the leading names when it comes to bike accessories such as bike racks and bike bags. You can certainly expect a quality product in the Thule Shield.
The Thule Shield is designed with easy access in mind. It has a volume of 10 liters, adequate to store items such as your smartphone, some snacks, a jacket with some space still left.
The main body is made of nylon and rated at IP54, meaning it’s dustproof and water splash resistant. It also has an integrated attachment, which you can use to install a bike headlight for night riding.
- Pros : High-quality overall design from a reputable brand.
- Cons : Not completely waterproof.
Tourbon Handlebar Bag
The Tourbon Vintage is one of the most stylish handlebars around. It’s made from leather and waterproof waxed canvas, which has a premium quality and a nice finish.
You can choose from 3 different colors; black, khaki, and green to match your bike or even bar tape color. You can open it easily for access through the zipper system found on the top side. Installation can be easily achieved through two leather straps.
It weighs 150g, making it quite lightweight, and measures 10” x 5.5” x 8”.
- Pros : Classic yet stylish design with 3 colors to choose from.
- Cons : Material is prone to getting dirty.
Topeak Tour Guide Handlebar Bag DX
This is the largest bag Topeak has ever manufactured. It has a volume of 7 liters and weighs 2.7lbs. The outer surface is made from nylon and is completely padded to prevent splashes of water from seeping through the material.
The main compartment is divided for easier organization of accessories. A map can be held close to you by a clear pocket found on the top side of this bag. Whenever you want to travel on foot with this bag, you can use the shoulder strap to carry it across your chest, or the handle to carry it with your hands.
- Pros : Plenty of internal compartments for organization.
- Cons : Heavy and bulky for the given storage space.
Handlebar Bags Buying Guide
1. Ease of Access
Handlebar bags come in different designs, and the same can be said to how to access your contents. Each has its own pros and cons, and the type of bag you choose will largely depend on your usage type.
Let’s take a closer look at each access type.
- Top Access. These are handlebar bags that open from the top side, making it easier for you to access your items while you’re riding. This is the most common style of access in many handlebar bags. For example, the Chrome Helix the Thule Shield.
- Side Access. In this design, the bag either opens from one side (left or right side) or it opens on both sides. Accessing your gear while you’re riding can be tricky at times.
- Bag Roll. Most handlebar bags used for bike packings such as the Lezyne Bar Caddy and Ortlieb have this design. It is a roll closure system, which is used to store sleeping bags and clothes. Such bags are harnessed to the handlebar for support.
2. Handlebar Bag Mounting
Mounting refers to how the bag is attached to your bike. Generally, lighter and smaller handlebar bags use straps and those designed for a larger load will use mounting brackets as they’re sturdier.
Mounting brackets are attached to your handlebar, giving you a chance to secure your bag sturdily and remove it without altering the mounting system. For example, the Topeak Tour Guide DX.
The capacity of handlebar bags ranges from 2 to 20 liters.
Those below 10 liters such as Timbuk2 Beacon and Tourbon Vintage can be considered small capacity and are usually used in commuter and cruiser bikes to carry small equipment such as smartphones and some snacks.
Larger handlebar bags which a capacity of 10 to 20 liters such as the Ortlieb and Topeak Tour Guide DX are used for bike packing and touring to carry larger items such as clothes, sleeping bags, and small tarp tents.
4. Bag Material
A large percentage of handlebar bags in the market are made from nylon. This is a synthetic waterproof material, which protects your gear during rainy seasons. It is also a lightweight material that does not exert extraneous weight on your handlebar.
Bags made from nylon are very strong and durable.
5. Existing Handlebar Set Up
You should check the cockpit to ensure that a bag will fit perfectly without interfering with your bike’s computer, bell, brake lever, and other cables. You can also opt for a strap mounting system that has a holster. It will provide some clearance between the bag and the brake lever.
It would help if you were very careful before mounting a bag on your handlebar. Carbon handlebars are not compatible with large capacity bags that are between 12 to 20 liters. Such bags exert extraneous weight on carbon handlebars and might end up damaging the bars.