As a self-identified roadie, handlebar bags were the furthest from my mind on pretty much any bike that wasn’t a dedicated touring bike. I mean, you can pack enough calories in a jersey pocket to sustain you for 3-4 hours. And the look of a bag dangling off your bars, ghastly! Some gels, bars, scone from the Bovine Bakery, peanut butter & honey sandwich… Pack your jersey pockets with stuff that slowly disappears by ride end and you’re ok. And then the weather changes…
I spent years living in Southern California. Inland north San Diego County to be specific. A day where you needed arm warmers was cold. Jackets? Jackets were for hanging in your closet waiting for trips to the mountains in winter. Shoe covers? Never heard of them. And then I moved to NorCal – to an area of NorCal where we are subject to winter morning temps in the 20s. And I like to ride in the mornings. All of a sudden, I found myself researching winter riding gear. Real winter riding gear. Well, maybe not mid-west-sub-zero riding gear, but riding gear for temps that felt really damn cold. Because it’s not a dry cold, it’s a humid cold. Thirty degrees with 95% humidity is bone chilling cold. And then I found out I have symptoms related to Reynaud’s syndrome so trying to keep my fingers and toes warm became very challenging. It wasn’t uncommon for me to not be able to use my hands for an hour after a morning ride because my fingers had no feeling in them.
During this time, I got hooked up with Gore by an old friend and I started buying gear to keep me warm on a ride and, this winter, I haven’t had a day where my fingers were useless post-ride (knock on wood) – thank you Gore Windstopper gloves. However, while my ride might start off with temps in the 20s, it can warm up to the 60s within a few hours. How do you deal with all that cold weather gear once it’s becomes relatively hot? I’ve blown out enough seams in jersey pockets trying to stuff extra jackets, gloves, warmers to know that jersey pockets were not going to suddenly become larger. I needed storage space.
A larger seat bag isn’t in the cards because big seat bags only end up chewing up riding shorts. A big boxy rando bag wasn’t necessary because that’s like renting a 26′ moving truck when a pick-up will work out just fine to move cross-town. No, what I needed to do was get over my preconceived notion that handlebar bags were uncouth on road bikes.
What I found was a bag that’s super easy to securely mount, doesn’t sway when riding, and can be accessed and closed easily with one hand while riding. I’m not sure how I found it, but Outer Shell Adventure’s Drawcord Handlebar Bag was exactly what I was looking for. It’s a clever design made in San Francisco and it’s easy to transfer between bikes. The carrying capacity is just right allowing me to shed and stow a jacket and gloves while still having room for my camera and some nibbles. The one-handed access/closure is really sweet and I appreciate it every time I pull out my camera for on-the-fly shots. It has two external side pockets and one front stash slot that’s perfect for a few gels and for stowing that 6″ adjustable wrench you found on the road.
Best of all, it perfectly holds a carnitas burrito from Whale of A Deli.
(What’s playing: Lynyrd Skynyrd Freebird)