The Thule Pack 'n Pedal Handlebar Bag is part of Thule's new Pack 'n Pedal bicycle luggage range. It clips on to the same bar mount as Thule's Bike Wallet we reviewed separately, at the same time. The bar bag can also be used with Thule's Pack 'n Pedal iPad sleeve instead of with the bike wallet.
The first thing to notice about the bar bag is its odd wedge shape which projects horizontally forward from the handlebars. Thule call it a 'unique aerodynamic design'. I can't comment on whether it actually makes the bag more aerodynamic, and if so at which yaw angles. I can say that when I'm using a bar bag, its aerodynamic properties have never worried me.
The bag is veritably feature-packed. The main compartment can be accessed via two zips, one positioned on the top, for when it's mounted on the bike and one positioned on the front so you can get into it when carrying it off the bike with the shoulder strap. There's a small zipped pocket under the main zipped flap, though the fabric is quite tight here, so it's of limited use. There's a mesh pocket on the inside of the smaller front flap, and one on the outside of this flap as well.
On top of the main flap are two elasticated bands to hold a map. It's a shame the bag doesn't come with a waterproof map sleeve that can be found on some other manufacturer's models.
There's an integrated shoulder strap too, permanently attached on one side (there's a mesh pocket to store the strap in) with a buckle to attach it to the other side. I usually leave shoulder straps at home - I would have preferred being able to take it off and reducing the weight of the bag that way.
Just like the commuter pannier, Thule call the fabric weatherproof (and breathable) as opposed to waterproof. It comes with a waterproof cover (which feats neatly in the mesh pocket under the smaller flap), which I would advise using given the two non-waterproof zips into the main compartment.
Bar bags can take up a bit of handlebar space, thus making it difficult to find space to put important thing like front lights. Carradice solve this on their Super C bar bag with light bracket underneath the bag. Thule have solved this with the mesh pocket on the front - this is designed to take a front light which can shine throught the mesh.
It's commendable that they've thought about the problem, but it'll only work with lights that are the right shape. Unfortunately the right shape is not the usual long-with-lens-at-one-end; you need something that can sit flat against the front of the bag with the lens sitting on the long side. It won't work when it's raining either, as it will be obscured by the waterproof cover, as will the map held by the elasticated bands.
While solidly built, and fairly rigid, the bag does flex up and down a bit when fully laden (up to 3kg maximum according to Thule), That can affect the steering more than other bar bags as the bag sits further forward than most. It's noticeable, but not a huge problem.
Weight-wise, the bag itself is about the same weight as other non-waterproof bar bags of the same size. The handlebar adapter you mount it on though, is more than twice as heavy as the ususal Rixen and Kaul bar mount. It's a similar story with price; at £50 (£45 online), it looks like good value on the face of it. Except that the handlebar adapter doesn't come with the bag and costs another £35. Most other bar bags include said Rixen and Kaul bar mount, which, in any case, would only cost you £16.
Overall, the Thule Pack 'n Pedal Handlebar Bag is okay, but not exceptional. The best bit is that you can attach it to your handlebars at the same time as Thule's phone or iPad holder. If that appeals to you, then the Thule Pack 'n Pedal handlebar range is well worth a look. If you're not that bothered, there are better, lighter and cheaper solutions out there.
Feature-packed bar bag that works well with other Pack 'n' Pedal bags, but fairly expensive.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Thule Pack 'n Pedal Handlebar Bag
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Thule Pack 'n Pedal Handlebar Bag - Unique aerodynamic design works great for items like a camera or nutrition that you want within easy reach while riding.
o Dual opening for easy access either while riding or carrying off the bike.
o Easy click in/out from Thule Pack 'n Pedal Handlebar Attachment.
o Weatherproof and breathable main material.
o Includes rain cover.
o Built in reflective fabric increases visibility when night riding.
o Shoulder strap included.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Volume: 6.5 l
Weight: 660 g
Load capacity: 3 kg
Dimensions HxWxD: 24x21x15 cm
Warranty: 5 years
The construction quality is really good, just like the wallet and commuter pannier we reviewed separately.
It's a handlebar bag. You can put stuff in it and then attach it to the handlebars. It does both things well.
I'm not even going to comment on the 'aerodynamic' shape of the bag.
The handlebar bag is well made and the attachment point is chunky. I haven't tested it long enough to comment on real world experience durability, but it certainly looks like it will last.
The bag is itself, at 671 grams on the kitchen scales is about the same as bags from other brands; the fully waterproof ones like Ortlieb or Carradice tend to be a little heavier.
The handlebar mount though, at 399 grams, is more than twice as heavy as the standard Rixen and Kaul handlebar fitting (which has a claimed weight of 150 grams). Having said that, you can't fit a handlebar wallet or iPad sleeve as well as a handlebar bag to a Rixen and Kaul fitting.
At £50 RRP (£45 if you shop around), it's competitively priced. However you need to bear in mind that the £35 bar mount is not included.
The bar mount is pretty expensive; you can get a Rixen and Kaul one for £16, and most bags come with one included.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fully loaded, the bar bag affects steering a bit more than others I tried, which is a function of its horizontal (aerodynamic?) shape. Not a massive problem.
Other than that, it works fine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The handlebar bag can be used at the same time as Thule's handlebar wallet or iPad sleeve thanks to the clever mount.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's shape, I'd prefer something that keeps the weight closer to the handlebars.
Did you enjoy using the product? Sure, nothing massively wrong with it.
Would you consider buying the product? Unless I wanted to be able to carry a phone or iPad at the same time, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they needed to be able to see their phone or iPad at the same time, yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
The handlebar bag itself is averagely good, but comes into its own as part of the system, allowing you to use a phone or iPad at the same time.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,