I spent a lot of time researching the best bar bag and finally settled on Arkel’s small handle bar bag. While most of my other gear is Ortlieb, and they make a reasonable bar bag, Arkel ultimately won me over.
Available in 2 sizes and 2 colors, Arkel is completely focused on utility and durability over any aesthetic competitiveness. While some people may be really into the retro look of the bags, it’s not exactly my style. Arkel’s bar bag is just as waterproof as any Ortlieb bag, (if you’ve got doubts check out this adorable video) and arguably more durable. Arkel uses a rip stop cordura fabric (think chrome bags) that isn’t prone to the abrasions Ortlieb bags will catch over time.
What ultimately convinced me that Arkel was the way to go was the mounting system. Made out of aluminum, these brackets are solid. The bag connects with an audible click, and sits solidly. Removal is simple: you push the metal tabs on the bag of the bag and pull up. The only issue I’ve found with this system is making sure that the attachment tabs on the back are fully tightened or the tension in the tabs gets out of whack. I know that a number of touring cyclists use various bar bags with the wire smash system, but the removability and solidness of Arkel’s mounting system ultimately suits my needs better and encouraged more confidence.
The bag sits about 2″ out from the edge of the bar, leaving plenty of room for your hands to grip the top of the bar for distance comfort. You can also see the back of the bag has an additional piece of fabric that can be folded down to cover the mounting hardware when carrying the bag off bike.
The inside of the bag is rather voluminous. While this is certainly a nice thing much of the time, it also means that your things might bounce around and be noisy on the road. I’ve started putting a jacket in the bottom to muffle any road noise. It’s really nice that the waterproof liner is a bright yellow, it really does make finding your things much easier. The bag is designed to open away from you so you could certainly reach in and grab something while riding (but safety first!). The bag also has an extra large lip on the rim so you can leave the bag unzipped and not have to worry about the waterproofness being compromised.
One of may favorite features is the carrying strap. It goes on and off very easily and the bag size isn’t so large that it would be annoying to carry around a crowded place. The strap easily fits in the front pocket of the bag when not in use. Best of all, this bag is so cycle chic.
If you’re looking to buy an Arkel bag, you are able to purchase from them directly online; however, you should also note that Uptown Bikes stocks Arkel products. Support your local bike shop!