A handlebar bag is the most underrated bike upgrade

In the past year, more people than ever jumped on bicycles. According to our reporting, fitness bike sales rose 125 percent after the first pandemic. Sales of gravel bikes rose 144 percent in June 2020 compared to 2019 and sales of electric bikes in June 2020 increased 190 percent year over year. Many analysts predict this trend will continue through 2021.

For those of you who bought a new bike or jumped on an old one, welcome – or welcome back – to the team. I have relied on bikes for stress reliever for more than two decades and have found cycling to be my salvation during the most isolating parts of the lockdown. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I can find every excuse to get out, be it on my commuter bike for simple errands or my gravel grinder for long, dusty weekend trips.

I’ve spent a lot of time testing bike accessories to see what sticks. I always roll with a helmet and water and never leave my home without lights – front and back – because they can help reduce accidents at any time of the day. The only other piece of gear that makes it onto almost every bike I own now is a basic handlebar bag.

After thousands of miles, I found that these are bags A simple and accessible way to lug around my main repair tools and everyday carrying gear. Instead of carrying a clunky backpack or putting my repair kit, wallet, keys, and phone in my pocket every time I do a job, a handlebar bag carries all of these items.

Most of these bags are easy to attach to the handlebars with Velcro or plastic straps, and are designed to stay in place and not interfere with cables or lights. I don’t have to worry about my phone falling out of my pocket and I won’t forget my tool kit because it’s always in my pocket and on the bike.

My current favorite is the Chrome Urban Ex 2.0 ($ 70). It’s just a cave-like pouch – there are no extra pockets – but it’s high on my list as its roll top is easy to access and close while driving. The Ex 2.0 is also supplied with a hide-away strap that turns it into a shoulder bag from the bike. This portability is important to me because I live in a city with a lot of petty thefts so I don’t leave anything on my bike when it’s locked and I’m inside for long periods of time.

On long gravel drives, I shoved all of my snacks and repair tools into my jersey pockets. That worked fine, but it feels better to have this weight off my back and on the front of the bike instead. The Ex 2.0, which holds three to five liters thanks to the expandable rolltop, is big enough to hold my usual items as well as an additional layer, a packable windbreaker and even a small camera.

There are cases when handlebar bags are not practical. When I ride a road bike 100 miles, aerodynamics and weight are more important than comfort. Most mountain bikers may prefer on-body storage, such as backpacks or fanny packs, as handlebar bags tend to lash out on uneven terrain. But for other riding styles, handlebar bags are hard to beat.

Aside from the Ex 2.0, here are three other options that I’ve tested and recommended.

Farewell barrel bag ($ 88)

(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

These bags are hand made just down the street from the Santa Fe field office. The barrel is about two liters smaller than the Ex 2.0, but still carries the essentials, no problem. It is made from a 1,000 denier Cordura nylon that is bomber and lightweight and uses indestructible mini voile straps to attach the handlebars.

Ornot handlebar bag ($ 90)

Handlebar bag summary ornot_h.jpg(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

A main pocket in this bag swallows your vehicle tools and snacks, while your phone slips into its own pouch on the outside and is held in place with a small elastic cord. This feature allows easy access while driving and You want to pull out your phone for a photo.

Swift Industries Ardea Pack ($ 135)

handlebar-bag-roundup-swift_h.jpg(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

Tuck the sturdy hip belt away while this bag is on your bike and flip it out when you want to take it with you for a hike. Swift also makes a range of attachments, like this handle bag, that fit on the Ardea to carry things like a water bottle, camera, or phone.

Main photo: Jakob Schiller

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