- Novel closure is easy to use one handed
- Perfect size for carrying food, tools, spare layer and camera.
- Can carry a six pack of beer
- The price, but quality comes at a cost
There’s no two ways about it – the Outer Shell Drawcord Handlebar Bag is just excellent. It's easy to use one-handed, you can stuff everything from a camera to a six pack of beer in it, and it's made from quality materials, which helps justify the price.
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I’m a big fan of bar bags. Though they may have had a slightly dorky reputation in the past, they are genuinely practical providing easy access to your things on the go. The Outershell bag makes this particularly simple with its clever closing "mechanism". It’s easy to overlook a bar bag and dismiss it as simple to design, but this is the best solution that I have ever come across.
A drawcord closure gets cinched shut with one hand. This is attached to a “storm flap” at the front which pulls down when the closure is tightened. An additional elastic strap is then looped around your stem securing the flap properly and shutting the contents off from the elements. The length of the elastic can be adjusted with a toggle to suit your stem length. It’s a tiny bit more difficult to open fully with one hand, but still easy enough to gain good access.
What’s nice is that because the bag opens towards you, it’s very practical to get into from your bike. Instead of having to peer over your bars, the opening is there and easy to access. Small details make all the difference.
Overall construction is as well thought out as the novel closure. A stiffened frame ensures the bag maintains its shape whether it’s full of your things or not. The "stuff-sack" like opening, means it is possible to overstuff the bag too if required. At a stretch I’ve managed to cram a camera, a spare layer, tools, two tubes, valuables and even a bit of food.
A white X-Pac liner gives a good "backdrop" to make finding things easier, as well as keeping the whole bag weatherproof. An internal zippered pocket lets you stash any valuables. You can also get a seperate foam liner for the bag if you need to carry precious cargo such as a camera. On the subject of weather sealing. I’ve taken this bag through some atrocious conditions and everything inside has stayed protected and dry.
I’ve also made much more use of the outside 'slide-in' pockets on the front and sides of the bag than I expected. These are perfect for a phone (I keep mine in a small dry bag threaded to the main bag), snacks, gloves, multi-tools or any other small items you need easy access to.
The build quality really is impeccable. Seams are neatly finished and everything is robust and durable. The main PU Coated Fabric can be upgraded to X-Pac for an extra $10, and either option is available in range of different colours and patterns.
I jest just a little, but it’s a bag that you’ll be able to hand on to your kids. I particularly like that the shock cord used for the storm flap, drawcord, and headtube attachment is easily replaceable if it does ever break.
The bag is mounted with two handlebar straps and an additional elastic cord around the headtube. Foam spacers can be purchased (at $1 each) to fine tune the positioning of the bag. I ended up using these at the headtube to rotate it up into a bit more of an upright position.
If you need to carry the bag off your bike, there are also two handy D-Rings. You can either buy an Outershell shoulder strap, or do what I did and just use a length of cord. Attachments on the back mean you can also easily attach it to an Outer Shell Stuff Sack Harness. Personally, I fully intend to equip myself with a full set of Outer Shell bags – they’re just that good.
The Outer Shell Handlebar Bag has become my go-to for carrying things on rides. It can cover a very wide range of duties and as a keen photographer, has also become my “cycling camera bag”. At $90 ($100 if you specify an X-Pac outer fabric) it’s not cheap, but for a bag handmade in the USA with such good design, quality materials and high construction quality it’s worth every penny. It’s just a box on your bars, but what a glorious box!
I'm sure the bag is excellent, but for that price I would not have expected to have to seperate it from the headtube with some bits of foam. Surely a simple, adjustable, metal and rubber bracket sprouting from the rear the bag that buts up against the bottom of the stem would be a significantly better approach.