Bar Bags: Coming to a Roadie Near You

A friend of mine who is always ahead of the fashion curve was sporting something similar to this thing two summers ago when we rode together to Alpe d’Huez.

Here’s his Open Upper bike, with a slightly bigger version.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that I’m looking at regular 5-10 hour rides this season, having a non-sweaty place to store my peanut butter sandwich is looking more and more attractive. Even a ‘mini’ would give me an extra 1.5 liters on bikepacking trips, too, if they ever happen again. Weight is not really an issue when doing huge miles (it’s definitely not a race), either, and the mini version I’m looking at is only 160 grams anyway.

You’ve seen these bags many times before, if you pay any attention to the new gravel / adventure scene. Even if you don’t, images like the one below will have come across your feed whether you like it or not.

Photo: Bike Exchange

Apparently this type of bag is a thing for road cyclists back home, but because I’m stuck here in the sunny south of France, I’ve only ever seen the phenomenon once. All this has been ‘validated’, by the way. Yesterday on GCN’s coverage of the Tour de la Provence, Dan Lloyd mentioned that pro cyclist Jasha Sutterlin was seen out on a training ride with a bar bag. Stephen – my friend who rides with them – also told me he’d seen Alaphilippe sporting one. Here it is, but you’ll have to look hard or have a good imagination.

Dear Reader, do you have one of these contraptions? Any brand that you could recommend? So far I’ve whittled it down to Rapha, Lead Out (the bag above) and Ornot.

35 thoughts on “Bar Bags: Coming to a Roadie Near You

  1. Only used one once for a 200km Audax to store rain gear. Much better than weight on the saddle which I’ve done on previous Audax rides. Takes a bit of getting used to as it affects the front feel. If you feel the need to carry even more then consider a frame bag before a saddle bag but that’s probably way more than what you will need.

    • I don’t ride with a saddle bag these days, so all my stuff has to be put into my pouches. Interesting that you say the bar bag is better than saddle. I would have thought that the extra weight on the front would be bothersome.

      Yeah, I think a frame bag would be more for travelling. Even on a 10-hour ride, I’ll be able to find some bakeries for food and can normally carry enough clothes in a small space even for the high mountains.

      • It’s better than a big saddle bag. I ride with a small one as I can’t stand weight in my rear pockets. I’ve ridden a good few Audax with a large saddle bag but did the last one with small bar bag (basically a larger bar roll compressed down) , regular saddle bag and waist pack. I’ve since bought a frame bag to replace the waist pack. I found it better to spread the extra weight across the bike rather than in one location. It will definitely feel odd when you first use a bar bag.

        • I see what you mean about the large saddle bag now. I have one of those, too, for travelling. Mine ‘wags’, especially when I get out of the saddle, which really takes some getting used to. I would never consider something like that for a one-day ride.

        • I can understand that, coming from a bike touring background. While I have you then, do you wear Audax bibs, if they are really a thing? I see them on the site of Cafe du Cycliste, who I buy from occasionally, and wondered if I should consider something like this for the Tour du Mont Blanc in July (up to 19 hours in the saddle).

        • I don’t have specific Audax bibs but I do have a few pairs that are better for long distance cycling and time in the saddle. Pactimo club shorts are actually my most comfortable but I also wear a couple of Castellis. I would be wary of marketing speak but I do see Wiggle sometimes rate the pad on shorts for hours in the saddle. Probably not much help to you, sorry, 😔

        • No, a good help, thanks! Now that you mention it, I think that my old Pactimos have some of the best chamois I’ve worn, too. I had a few sets of kit from them for two years of Haute Route.

        • If you have any kind of support option it might be worth considering having someone bring you a change of shorts somewhere near halfway (if that’s permitted?). No matter how good the chamois a nice, clean, fresh pair would be a great boost 😊

  2. Also a bottle bag on the handlebar is an emerging trend. Allows easy access to snacks whilst riding or a convenient place to store your phone whilst also making it easy to grab.

    • I had to Google that, Guy. Is that otherwise known as a ‘stem bag’? Looks like its a thing for Mountain bikers more than road cyclists, but I did see a couple of road bike photos. Do you see them where you are much?

      • They’re a big thing with bikepackers but speeds are usually slower. An easily accessible top tube zippered bag is great for snacks etc. It allows access without stopping and the contents are protected and safe at higher speeds. Usually a bit more aero too due to the location and shape if you’re racing.

  3. As a gravelist: on a roadbike i would.opt for top tube, food pouches or a bigger at the saddle. In front its getting more on my nerves, when its windy.. get tool and tube back at the saddle and for 90% your rides you are fine again.

    • You’re the 2nd one to suggest the top tube bag, so there must be something there. This would be a cheaper option, too. I’ll put some thought into it, thanks.

        • I thought about you immediately when Varsten (aka Carsten) suggested it. You used that thing in Strade Bianchi and the Etape, I think. I do like the little round bar bag look, though…and I can get one in 44|5 orange!

        • Make it 4 – my top tube and frame bag likely support the same volume with more convenience, more stability, and better aerodynamics. If you still need more space then add a small tool saddle bag which doesn’t degrade stability. I personally don’t want anything catching wind that would affect steering, but I admit I haven’t tried recent versions on windy days.

        • Well, one thing for sure, this post certainly generated a lot of response! My top tube and frame bags are both apidura so no big surprise there. My frame is small so my frame bag has to be as well if I want to fit two water bottles. I opted for a triangular shape that lets me fit a 1000ml on the rear cage and 600ml on the front, but side entry/exit.


        • Who knew a little bag could cause so much controversy? I haven’t gotten into looking at the frame bags yet because I’m not really looking at bikepacking in the near future.

  4. Reblogged this on The Vicious Cycle and commented:

    It’s now been an entire season with my bar bag, so I thought this article needed to be re-blogged.

    My verdict is that the bag I bought (Leadout) is great. There’s virtually no difference in ride feel, although I suppose I’m being slowed down a bit by its non-aero shape, not to mention location on the bike. I don’t like saddle bags, so the ability to put all my essentials in one place that’s accessible (not while riding, unless I’m feeling dextrous) and not stretch my jersey too much is very nice.

    I’ve had every sort of comment on the bag, too, from ‘ nice Man Bike-purse’ to ‘Can you give me the name of the maker?’. The jury is still out on whether this will catch on with the Road crowd, but my bright orange bike purse is making waves in France.

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