A bicycle handlebar bag is simple. It’s a bum bag for your bike, built with all your cycling-specific needs in mind, such as being able to open while you ride, or have access to a metro card or a key. While a good one can’t change your life, it can save you from showing up with a sweaty back after cycling around town to the office, party, or office party. And maybe show up at that party less sweaty shall change your life. After spending nearly 20 hours interviewing cycling professionals and researching handlebar bags on the internet, we picked 14 bags, put them on our bikes and started cycling. And now we are sure that the Road Runner Bags California Burrito is the best choice for anyone who wants to change their ride.
Road Runner Bags California Burrito
Spacious without taking up too much space on your handlebars, this Cordura nylon bag is simple, easy to use and able to store all your essentials.
The Road Runner Bags California Burrito is simply designed in a way that is effective, elegant and durable at the same time. This 3.3 liter tubular bag (about the size of a six-pack) holds all the essentials you need for a day on the bike: wallet, phone, keys, some tools, snacks and a light jacket. This is the largest bag Road Runner makes – yes, you could get away with a smaller bag, but having some extra room comes in handy. The nylon straps are movable to fit the width of your handlebars, and that simple yet unique feature sets this bag apart from the other bags we’ve tested. It has a single zipper that is easy to operate while on the bike and side pockets for small items you may want to grab quickly. It’s made from durable Cordura nylon and comes in six fun colors to match your bike. The California Burrito also easily transforms into a shoulder bag with Road Runner’s universal shoulder strap (sold separately).
Chrome Helix Handlebar Bag
Slim, low profile and more water resistant than our top picks, this polyurethane-coated polyester handlebar bag is just the right size to last you all day long. The handlebar attachment system could be better though.
The Chrome Helix handlebar bag is sleek enough to take anywhere, but in our testing, we found that the Velcro attachment system on our bike wasn’t quite as functional as the one on our top pick. While some people may not like the fact that a $65 bag is considered a “budget choice,” we found that the $50 to $60 range was the least you could expect from a bag, yet was sturdy enough to not bouncing around on the handlebars. This 3-litre rectangular bag is the size of two collection containers (the classic white folding box). Accessing items while on the bike is easy as the lid opens towards you; while that feature is not unique, it is not common to all handlebar bags. The Helix has no outer pockets, but does have two inner mesh pockets. It is made from a durable and highly water resistant polyurethane coated polyester material that is stiff enough to hold its shape even when empty. Thanks to the stowable carrying strap of this bag, it can also be easily removed from a bicycle.
Swift Industries Catalyst Pack
Built with recycled laminate nylon tarpaulin material, the Catalyst is a high capacity and solidly constructed bag that works just as well on and off the bike.
The Swift Industries Catalyst Pack is the only bag that looks like a bicycle messenger bag yet functions like a handlebar bag on a bicycle. Rectangular in shape, it has a top flap that clips over the front of the backpack, as well as an internal cinch closure, much like a shoulder bag you would see someone carrying. This is an expensive bag, but it’s unmatched in thoughtful features for commuting by bike. It is made from the tough and waterproof Ecopak EPLX400 fabric, a recycled nylon material originally designed for sailcloths. This bag’s even bigger brother, the Zeitgeist Pack, is popular in bikepacking circles and is known to last for many thousands of miles. However, the slightly smaller Catalyst is the perfect size for commuting by bike. This bag has a capacity of 6 liters, just big enough for a Yorkshire terrier or other small breed of dog. In fact, this is the only bag we tested that felt sturdy enough to carry a furry friend confidently on a bike’s handlebars. We managed to cram an entire 3 liter box of wine into this bag, along with a warm jacket, snacks, tools and a book. While the Catalyst is quite large, it’s just small enough to fit just about any handlebar and is surprisingly lightweight. The expandable lid also works great for quickly filling a jacket underneath while riding.
Ortlieb Ultimate Six Urban
This high-tech quick-release mounted bag is made from a fully waterproof, polyurethane-coated Cordura nylon and offers easy access on a bike.
The Ortlieb Ultimate Six Urban handlebar bag looks like a surprisingly fashionable lunch box, but this lunch box is easy to use when you’re on the bike and the 5 liter capacity can hold a lot. We can easily fit a six pack of cans in this bag, with room for a few sandwiches to complete the picnic. The lid uses a magnetic closure and flips open away from the rider so it’s not between you and the bag’s opening, which faces the rider; this allows you to open the lid with one hand while sitting on your bike and scurrying inside. (This was the only bag we felt confident enough to do that with.) It also has a clear touchscreen-compatible pocket on the top of the lid, so you can always have your phone visible – handy when you’re using your phone. used for cards. Please note, however, that you will need to purchase the attachment system of this bag separately.
Rapha Bar Bag
This small, sturdy, polyurethane-coated polyester bag keeps you light while carrying the essentials.
The Rapha Bar Bag is a lower capacity bag that is remarkably well constructed. Everything about this bag cries out for excellent craftsmanship – from the impeccable construction that becomes apparent upon close inspection of the inner lining to the way the straps are attached to the outside of the bag. The rigid polyurethane-coated nylon keeps it from sagging on your handlebars, which is unusual in smaller handlebar bags. The main compartment remains particularly accessible when the bag is on the bike thanks to the zippers that are the easiest to operate of all the bags tested. It has two inner mesh pockets for small items plus a second outer zip pocket for anything you want to keep separate during a ride. This bag is only just big enough to fit the essentials – a light jacket, a multi-tool, a tube and a few bars – so it’s better suited for recreational riding or commuting in nice weather.