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Made in Yorkshire in a practical, hardwearing design, the Restrap Top Tube Bag takes what is one of the simplest bits of cycling luggage and makes an instant classic of it.
Opinion is divided on top tube bags. Some believe all things not worn or ridden must be stowed in a jersey pocket. Other (I call them 'sensible') people recognise that sometimes, for some applications, getting things out of pockets and having them easily accessible is the way to go. On a bike, 'easily accessible' means in front of you, and often the volume of stuff you need access to is minimal – a phone, camera, food, glasses, and so on. What you need is for your stuff to be securely held, protected from weather, and be easily removed or carried on different bikes.
Once upon a time all bikes of a long-distance nature were more or less the same: skinny steel top tubes and head tubes at roughly the same angle, with tall quill stems. Nowadays, all bets are off, with a plethora of tube shapes, diameters, headset arrangements and angles. To make a generic item of luggage that does the job while remaining minimalist and rugged is a genuine challenge.
The Restrap Top Tube Bag attaches to your bike at two points – a two-inch-wide rubberised Velcro top tube strap at the rear, and a three-quarter-inch Velcro strip at the front around your head tube. It slopes from front to back, starting out about 6cm tall and ending at 3cm. Inside it's about 3cm wide, and with careful packing doesn't bulge to knee-swiping dimensions.
The top tube strap is backed with a rubberised finish so as to stay put and not scratch your paintwork, although as with any luggage, any grit trapped underneath will, over time, mar the surface, so a bit of clear 'helicopter' tape is worth investing in if you want to keep things pristine.
The corners of the strap are nicely angled and rounded, so as not to present any square corner to snag on clothing – an important aspect as your knees will be brushing past the bag with every pedal stroke.
The front attachment point is where Restrap's design genius and experience shows. The double-sided Velcro strip measures 20 x 180mm, long enough to wrap around the fattest of head tubes or headsets, yet narrow enough to fit around setups where there's no visible headset to speak of and the stem is slammed close to flush with the top tube.
The strap doesn't need to be horizontal – not even close. Attached to the front of the bag are two 25mm Velcro 'wings', which wrap around the aforementioned Velcro strap and hold the front of the bag secure. As the wings are a few cm tall, tapering from bottom to top, they allow the Velcro strap to be optimally positioned to hold the bag secure – you can go higher to aid stability if possible. The wings can be peeled off in a few seconds, should you need to remove the bag for security at a cafe, or convenience at a campsite.
In practice, the fully-loaded Top Tube Bag stayed put over the roughest of terrain. The straps were easily adjusted and once set stayed put.
The most-used feature of any top tube bag will be the zip. Restrap has used a waterproof YKK zip – surely the Rolls Royce of such things. The zip pull is a red loop of cord, allowing operation with thick gloves on, and the zip is easily pushed home into a wee 2cm-deep zip 'garage', enhancing waterproofness and preventing the dread zip rattle. The zip does up forwards and upwards, so you can open it just as far as needed to access things while on the move, reducing the risk of unwanted ejection that can happen with those that open from the bottom.
Internally there are two mesh dividers running the full length of the bag, allowing separation of, say, food from tech and bike tools. These dividers aren't pulled tight, so if you want you can use the full interior space to store a single object such as a larger camera, snack box or tool roll.
The compartment comfortably measures 20cm at the base internally, and will take a pretty decent mini pump such as the 22cm Birzman Apogee with a bit of pushing. All but the silliest-sized of phones will fit comfortably, screen outermost to protect from damage.
Restrap prides itself on making kit for harsh conditions – it was born in Yorkshire, so you'd expect nowt less. A frankly harsh test of the Top Tube Bag under a garden hose on full shower setting for half an hour resulted in 50ml of water seeping through the the 1000D Cordura sides/seams. Restrap lists the fabric as 'water resistant' so this is perhaps an extreme test (unless you cycle regularly in the Highlands or Wales), and certainly a brief shower will bead off the surface without ingress. While many modern phones and cameras are now properly waterproof and sensitive electronics should be kept in a dust- and water-proof enclosure, it's nice to know that the Top Tube bag affords decent short-term protection regardless.
Looks-wise, I think it's a cracker. The 1000D Cordura will last decades and any signs of wear should be worn as a badge of pride recalling many happy miles. No cows were harmed in the production of the manmade engraved label either.
At £30, the Restrap Top Tube Bag isn't the cheapest forward-mounted luggage option – you can get them from around a tenner, although some are more, such as Topeak's Fast Fuel Tri Bag at £32.99 – but it has to be one of the best.
Practical design married with hardwearing materials makes for an excellent, easy-to-access storage option
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Restrap Top Tube Bag
Size tested: Black
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?
It's for any cyclist wanting to store and access small things up front, in any weather.
Restrap says: "Whether you're out for an hour or on a multi-day tour, the Restrap top tube bag is perfectly designed to keep your tools and snacks within reach. Made from 1000D cordura, and with a waterproof zip, it will withstand whatever your ride throws at it. Adjustable Velcro strapping fits any headset height. Includes internal mesh pockets for organised cycling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Restrap lists these features:
Sturdy water resistant 1000D Cordura
Universal velcro fitting system
Easy pull waterproof zipper
Approximate length: 21cm (bottom)
Approximate height: 11cm (tall end), 6cm (short end)
Approximate depth: 3cm
Only let down by being dark inside. And no, it's not 'waterproof', so don't expect that.
Still looks like new. Made to last.
Not the lightest, but durability means weight.
Could be the last £30 you'll ever spend on a top-tube bag.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The front fit point adjustability. Fits any bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
If the internals were a brighter colour, making things easier to find, it would be perfect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling