UPSO TEBAY TOP TUBE BAG

190g 1.5 litres £35

UPSO bike bags have two things in common with Carradice’s own brands. They are traditionally, hand- made, at Nelson’s Carradice factory (OK, three things), out of up-cycled lorry tarpaulins. Colour schemes for each bag are unique - depending on the tarp they are cut from. The UPSO Tebay Top Tube Bag, is beautifully made to Carradice’s exacting standards (four things in common). Ours was made by Debbie, and Steve would like to say, “Thanks, Debbie, really neat work.”

 

Pros: beautifully made, feels very durable, water-resistant, bu, in practice, pretty much waterproof.

 

Cons: being ultra-picky, a full hi-viz lining would be nice. Tech conscious folk might seek cable port.

Spec 4/5

 

Top tube bags come in two main categories, with variations; those that sit flat on the tube and open upward, and those that stand vertical and open in the middle. UPSO’s is very much in the latter.

UPSO bags are unique designs – no two or identical – depending purely on the colour scheme of the old lorry tarp tarp they are cut from. I’m a real fan of my UPSO Potters Pannier. Available bags are shown on-line, so you can pick your personal favourite, or keep an eye out until the perfect partner for you bike comes along.

 

23cm long x 12 deep x 5.5 cm wide is neither the largest or the smallest you’ll find. It gives 1.5 litres capacity. On shorter steering tubes it may stand proud of the headset. The outer is made entirely from recycled lorry tarpaulin. That is not the only ‘green’ element: bits of old inner tubes are used on the straps to offer grip and protect your paint job.

In fact, the whole bag is technically water-resistant, despite the obviously impermeable tarpaulin fabric. Lorry tarps don’t like welding or taping, apparently. However, the seams are bound and stitching is very neat and tidy. Frankly, the whole thing looks like it could be fired into space and come back to earth in one piece (this theory was not put to the test).

 

Inside the main compartment you’ll find two orange side-pockets for small items and a bit of organisation.

bike comes along.

 

23cm long x 12 deep x 5.5 cm wide is neither the largest or the smallest you’ll find. It gives 1.5 litres capacity. On shorter steering tubes it may stand proud of the headset. The outer is made entirely from recycled lorry tarpaulin. That is not the only ‘green’ element: bits of old inner tubes are used on the straps to offer grip and protect your paint job.

Stability 4/5

 

Narrower, upright designs, are, in my experience, generally more stable than flatter, broader top tube bags – unless they are mounted on oversized or rectangular profile tubes. In that sense, I’ve not been surprised that the UPSO Tebay had held firm whether on the road or during gravel/towpath jaunting.

 

Velcro straps are nothing special, but the grip is great. Makes things easy to shift between bikes, too.

 

Capacity 4/5

 

Personal preference for light loads in top tube bags apart, I’ve taken all the gear for a day ride – weather cold but predictable, so no need for a water-proof top. 1.5 litres is quite sufficient for most purposes. So, inner tube, mutli-tool, Zefal’s Air Profil Micro Pump, CO2 inflator, tyre levers and in the case of the old single-speed, adjustable spanner. There’s still been space for the mobile, the wallet (well-hidden from companions at the café), and that vital bag of jelly-beans.

Of course, you can’t expect a sleeve top-side to allow for a view of the GPS or Phone screen. The latter will be tucked away inside, and you’ll have the former mounted on the bars.

 

Accessibility 4/5

 

Obviously, this is via the zip that runs the length of the bag. Weight-weenies might deplore the dimensions of the fob, but they do make it easy to open and close on the fly, even with woven gloves, such as Showers Pass Waterproof Knit Gloves.

 

This makes it easy to grab a gel, or, in my case a midget gem or two, a lump of toffee, etc. Even better you can get into the side pockets easily to check you’ve got your credit card for the café, and that your mobile device is safe and sound.

 

On the fly, the depth of the sides prevents contents falling overboard. A definite plus for clumsy fingers, such as I.

 

Waterproofing 4/5

 

Yes, technically water-resistant, but neither day long drizzle or heavy showers managed to penetrate is defences. So, I poured a watering can directly over the zip. Dyster wreaked no more havoc than Nature. It seems to me that, so long as you don’t fill it with stones and hurl it into the briny, things should stay watertight.

 

Care 4/5

 

Not much to say here. A wipe with a damp cloth easily removes muck. Add a little detergent or mild bike wash for grease marks. And don’t get confused: some bags will have blemishes from a previous life.

 

Value 3.5/5

 

From the perspective of a leisure, touring cyclist, with no personal best ambitions, gear like this is hard to beat. If rugged is your bag, especially if you value the unique, then £35 quid will not seem like a lot of money. Take into account the bag’s strong water-resistant – if not technically waterproof - properties, I think you have good value for money.

 

In addition, you can pay well over twenty quid for a much smaller capacity. Having said that, racers/TT orientated riders will be conscious of the prominent position and lack of aero-dynamic curves.

 

Having said that, there are cheaper and lighter versions, which may serve the speedier, day-rider, or short-blaster better. Passport’s Top Tube Pack is one of them, and you’ll get a sleeve for mobile or SatNav. It is even a tad larger, though stability, on standard round tubes is not so good, in my opinion.

 

Conclusion

 

Tough and very well-made, the UPSO Tebay Top Tube Bag is typical of Carradice/UPSO. Traditional quality is to the fore, with, in the case of UPSO, distinct individualism. Perfect for the leisure or touring cyclist seeking a robust bag with decent capacity for the necessaries and not too worried about weight.

Verdict 4/5 Another top tarp off the UPSO wagon.

 

Steve Dyster

 

https://upsobags.co.uk

PUBLISHED 2020

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