Luise Trapp Handlebar Bag

A good handlebar bag had been one of my unfulfilled dreams for a while, and the Vuelta demanded more storage space than my panniers were able to provide. While I was roaming the web for a suitable bag, a friend of mine mentioned his wife was not only a skilled tailor (which I knew), but also specialized in making heavy duty bags and backpacks (which was new to me). One thing led to another, and suddenly I found myself in possession of a gorgeous handlebar bag adapted to my needs and made to my specifications.

Quick description: the handlebar bag was invented by the French if you ask the French, and by the British if you ask the British. Honestly, the idea to store things you might need while riding in the one place that you are looking at all the time and that can easily be reached without stopping is so compelling that many avid riders might have had it at similar moments in history. There are many models to choose from, but those handlebar bags that can be regarded as today’s standard are an esthetical disaster. They are also comparably tiny and rely on chunky plastic attachments to stay in place, which often they don’t. True and good handlebar bags (such as the French and maybe the British make) rest on a front rack and are attached to the bicycle frame using a special sort of quick release mechanism uniformly called a décaleur even by the Brits. If and how many front, rear and/or side pockets such handlebar bags should have is mainly a question of preference and of the space available between the ends of the user’s handlebars. I would dare to say that all handlebar bags have a plastic map cover on top to help you not get lost.

Pros: it sits where you need it, it is accessible while you are riding and it looks awesome good. Plus it is seriously spacious – if your name is Paris Hilton, you can toss at least two of your favorite pet puppies in there and still have ample space for emergency make-up (which I imagine to be a lot). In addition to the huge main compartment, there is a big front pocket and – at my special request – a cord running on the sides of the bag that allows you to attach small and light objects with karabiners. Velcro straps keep this thing nailed to your front rack so you might even get away using it without a décaleur with very light loads and on very smooth roads.

Cons: it is not absolutely waterproof, and the bag’s contents will get moist in constant or very strong rain. But then again, even the universally hyped Ortlieb panniers are not absolutely waterproof in my experience. As usually in life, putting things in a drybag will keep them dry, inside or outside the handlebar bag. It is just so much easier (and prettier) to carry that drybag in the handlebar bag. Oh, and you need a front rack. But really, that’s hardly a problem since front racks have been all the rage with bicycle aficionados for a while now.

Verdict: even though this is Luise’s first shot at a handlebar bag, it turned out a masterpiece. And while this fine example of excellent craftsmanship might remain a unique piece, I highly recommend both getting a good handlebar bag and asking Luise if you need a quality bag or backpack.

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