The Altura Vortex 2 front roll combines durable, waterproof materials with a large main storage area in addition to an accessible, quick-access pocket. It is reasonably stable in use, assuming the supplied strap is long enough, or an alternative is sourced, and it has stood up to some poor weather.
- LifeLine Adventure Handlebar Bag review
- 2021 Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR review
- Straight Cut Bagel Bar Bag review
The handlebar roll has a maximum size of 5 litres, which may seem small, but should be enough to fit a summer sleeping bag, spare items of clothing or perhaps a bivvy bag. It isn't a large amount of space, so if you have the room and the need to carry more, there are much bigger bags available, but it still provides a useable amount of space for bikes with limited clearance or handlebar width.
The bag is constructed using the same impressively waterproof and durable 210D polyester fabric as the Vortex 2 saddle pack with an IPX6 water protection rating. This rating means it's tested to withhold powerful water jets, assuming you correctly close both ends of the bag. When fitting the bag to a bike with a narrower drop handlebar or a bar with levers tilted in, you may lose some of the 5 litres of maximum space available.
Altura Vortex 2 - Fitting
The front roll attaches to the handlebar with two fully removable velcro straps. These work well and means that if they start losing their 'bite', they can be easily replaced. Altura provides small foam pads to separate the bag from the bar slightly, although if used on a drop handlebar bike, there is still not enough room for your fingers behind it. You could add more of your own if this is an issue for you.
Several attachment points allow the bag to fit different styles of bikes with two options for the handlebar and two frame/fork points underneath. The strap provided for the frame/fork was too short and could not reach behind either the fork crown or behind the head tube on my bikes, so my only option with the strap was to attach around some cables, which is not ideal.
Luckily as this velcro strap is removable, fitting a longer alternative will be very easy. Although I feel this really should have been provided, the standard strap will not be long enough for many, if any, bikes, and it seems like a big oversight.
Using a longer strap, the setup is quite stable, with the mounting system allowing easy attachment to the bars, adjustment and removal. The attachment and stability can't match a good harness system, such as the Alpkit Kanga or Wildcat Lion (on test currently), but it is at least on par compared to other similar bags. It's also a big plus that Altura has made the straps fully removable, so when they wear out, you can fit new ones.
The buckles used for both end closure and tensioning straps are easy to use, and there is the option of strapping something extra under the tensioning straps on the front, although doing so could make access to the front zipped pocket more tricky. There is also a small tab on the front, which is a good place to fit a light, although it won't form the most stable mounting point.
The front, easy access pouch is big enough for items like food, phone, a small tool or spares and is secured using a fully waterproof GETBLOCK zip, which worked well throughout and remained watertight.
The Vortex 2 weighs 285g, which is reasonable for a front roll with the amount of space available, but there are lighter systems or harnesses available for minimalists.
Value and verdict
The Altura Vortex 2 costs £60, which isn't as cheap as the Lifeline Adventure pack, but the design and quality of materials still make it very good value, even if you factor in buying a longer buy velcro strap.
With the exception of that short attachment strap, which can be easily solved, the Vortex 2 provides a durable design with fully waterproof materials that should handle the worst British weather. Multi attachment points make it suitable for various bikes, and in use, it is quite stable with a weight and price that makes it competitive against other similar designs.
You might also like:
- 13 of the best ways to attach gear to your mountain or gravel bike
- The best gravel bikes we've tested that you can buy and get shipped to your door