WATERPROOF HANDLEBAR BAG
325g (including all straps) £39.99
The Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag is clearly the little sibling of their admirable backpack. Like it, the design concept is top-notch, and the execution admirable Robust, effective, highly functional, are words that spring to mind, but it looks smart, too.
Pros: waterproof, thoughtfully designed, comfortable off the bike.
Cons: nothing significant.
The target audience of commuters and day-riders – 3-3.5 litre capacity reducing its attractions for more protracted ventures – will find much of promise. Described as “clam shell”, the shape is flat and upright, as opposed to box-like (dimensions are height 20cm x 9.5cm deep x 18cm bottom-27cm top width). By the way, that “clam” shape is very amenable to carriage off the bike compared to ‘boxier’ models (shoulder strap is included).
Seams are sealed which, along with the 500D tarpaulin material (often used for marquees, shelters, etc.) offers an IPX5. In real terms, this offers total protection against water. However, unlike its Backpack counterpart, the closure is not a roll-top type, thus IPX5 (protection against a continual low-pressure spray e.g. rain). With more spray or submersion water there might be ingress, but with rain, road spray, and so on there should be no problem.
The familiar three-point fixing to bars and head-set/stem, has just one familiar Velcro type strap. The handlebar straps are much more interesting. Rubber, with a metal buckle, they are similar to some closures used in skiing. The rubber makes them more grippy, the length highly adjustable, and the buckle design secure.
Apart from the flamboyant yellow colour, there are reflective stripes on the black side-panels. A light loop adds another option for increasing road-presence.
Internally, within the main compartment is a mesh organiser pocket for small items that will not get entangled in the mesh.
Craft Cadence say that if you can’t use the rubber straps on offer and can only use Velcro, for whatever reason, to get in touch with them and they’ll advise. The circumstances where they can’t be used would seem to be pretty limited, although they are wider than most bar bag straps I’ve come across. They are also heavier, but that can be written off against in the context of the target audience and the benefits.
In my experience, hook and loop type three-point fittings need to be pulled tight to hold things firm. That can limit the range of positions available. Craft Cadence feel that their straps allow the bag to be dropped lower by loosening straps. This should prevent interference with bar-mounted items, such as lights. Certainly, they are long enough to allow a wide variety of positions, provided you have clearance above your front tyre or mudguard.
Mounting is easy, just install the straps the right way round. That did not trouble even my brain very much. It has graced the wife’s commuter, my old Carlton Clubman (effectively a day ride, fun bike), and my son’s go-anywhere (generally college) Pinnacle. Running headset mounted hub dynamo lamps on my commuter and tourer has prevented mounting on either, although there’s no doubt it would fit.
Generically, the strap for stem or steering tube can cause problems for those running longer stems with little rise. There are ways around this, but it has not been an issue in the case of the Craft Cadence bag.
Capacity is very much in the target area: commute and day. Craft Cadence recommend using it in conjunction with their waterproof backpack if you have a laptop or larger items to carry. Indeed, unless you have a very small lock or frame-mount it you will need another bag of some kind. Mind you, that would be true of all but the largest bar bags.
Having said that, I have managed to fit in basic tools, lightweight shower-proof jacket, wallet, keys, face-coverings, phone, and such like. That’s plenty for a summer day out – especially combined with a wedge-pack for the tools: I can then fit in a couple of bags of jelly beans, too – or a thin cable lock (the sort that would not prevent theft, but might just deter an opportunist).
Needless to say, pleas to bring home a take-away or a bottle of milk have gone unheeded.
Away from the bike, it hangs comfortably from the shoulder and, in my opinion, bounces around less than more rigid models.
All things considered, I’d describe capacity as good rather than great. It must be said that Craft Cadence are straight-forward about this – see above recommendation.
Generally, I try to avoid harsh contact between bar mounted items and brick walls or thick undergrowth – the results are inevitably unwelcome. So, I’ve not given the bag too many scrapes. However, the backpack has survived a few on low canal bridges, so things should be pretty tough.
Waterproof? Well, there’s no doubt that the material is. Unlike the backpack, closure is by a single buckle without a roll-top. Immersion or deliberate misuse might lead to ingress. Despite that, it is hard to envisage any ‘normal’ cycling activity that will get the contents wet. It has been left outside in torrential rain, been the victim or road-spray when without mudguards, and had the watering can emptied over it (ok, not a ‘normal’ cycling activity except in the Seven Day Cyclist fraternity): all has remained dry as the proverbial bone.
So, for £4 or so more, you can get a waterproof bike-packing bar bag such as the Zefal Z Adventure F10. Around 7 litres more capacity, but without the easy access and a whole lot less convenient off the bike. Indeed, one can get a shop brand bike-packing bar bag for twenty pounds or so.
I’ve got to like my BTR Handle Bar Bag a lot. Rigid, with a three litre-capacity, it is described as water-resistant, but has manage most circumstances. I’ve generally kept electrical goods and valuables in plastic bags for additional peace of mind: I have not felt the urge to do this with the Craft Cadence bag. Mind you, BTR’s model comes in at around £25.
Very robust, and, to all intents and purposes, waterproof, is the See Sense Handlebar Bag. Close to the Craft Cadence in price, a capacity of 1.9 litres may entice minimalists, but is less likely to suit a ‘two bags of jelly beans’ cyclist.
The Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag is well-research and executed, meeting its design brief with admirable precision. For the commuter or day rider it will prove a robust friend, offering great protection from the weather for your bits and bobs. I have supplemented it with a backpack a single pannier or a seat pack, depending on the object of the commute, with the latter option proving admirable for summer day rides when overstuffed jersey pockets were not an option or were needed for map, cap, and other bits.