As a bikepacker and death march-type ride enthusiast, I have my fair share of experience strapping bags to my bikes. For the ride that doesn’t necessitate camping or cooking outdoors but that does require extra snacks or clothing, I have found that the handlebar bag is the one-bag solution. This summer, the Topo Designs Bike Bag has been a handy companion on many bike rides, from a 200-mile road(ish) ride to a gravel overnighter around Steamboat Springs.
What I love: Let’s get the technicalities out of the way first. This bag costs $49, and I really love that. More so, for such little money, this bag gives a whole lot.
One, it boasts a spacious 5.5 L volume.
When I rode my gravel bike from Kremmling, Colorado to Steamboat Springs on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail a few months ago, all I brought along were the typical tools and snacks, in addition to a rain layer, a sundress, a flannel shirt, and a pair of flip flops. I fit all of it into the Topo bag and a bike vest. When I arrived in Steamboat, where my friend Amy Charity of SBT GRVL graciously agreed to host me, she was very concerned.
“You really fit everything you need in there?”
She also kept offering me things like extra clothing and toiletries and food.
But I had everything I needed and wanted and carried on back to Kremmling the following day. It didn’t rain, but had it, the Topo Designs Bike Bag would have kept my essentials dry. The outside of the bag has a burly water-resistant zipper with a paracord zipper pull, and the inside is lined with waterproof truck tarp material. I can be a messy bike traveler, littering bike bags and pockets with crumbs and smears of PB&J, so I appreciate how easy it is to clear the interior of this bag.
At first, I wasn’t sure about the triangular shape, mainly for looks, but I grew to appreciate it for utility. It makes getting into the bag easy as everything is visible, and pulling things out is quick, too. The padded base also contributes to the structure.
The Topo Designs Bike Bag stays securely on the handlebars with a hook and loop two-strap attachment system with four options for placement of the Velcro straps. It never shifted or bounced around while I was riding, but that’s because I had to fiddle with the one aspect of the bag that bugged me.
What bugs me? The attachment system could use some work. The bag comes with three Velcro straps for securing the bag to your cockpit. The two that go around the handlebars work well enough; it’s the strap that is supposed to go around the head tube that doesn’t work: it’s not long enough.
Fortunately, someone else in my household has a different handlebar bag, so I poached the paracord from his and threaded it through the webbing on the back of my Topo Designs bag. Then, I looped it up and over my stem and secured it with a barrel adjuster. Voila!