At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.
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Zefal's Z Race is a sleek and discreet bag with a Tardis-like capacity, a transparent window and handy magnetic opening rather than a zip. It fits neatly on your top tube and, mostly, keeps out of the way of your knees.
It's not the most robust feeling bag and I'd be wary of carrying anything weighty and valuable – a phone or camera for example – in it. But for a stash of jelly sweets and chunks of banana loaf it does the job just fine.
It has three Velcro straps, or screws if your bike has the fittings, that keep the Z Race snug and straight on your top tube. It can slump out of true if you bash it, but otherwise it's a fairly secure fit.
The magnetic opening seems at first flimsy and perhaps not to be trusted, but it locks securely yet lightly enough to allow you to get your fingers inside for some well-earned grub on the go.
Movable dividers allow you to arrange the internal space to your liking.
One disadvantage of the magnetic opening against a zip-up bag is that, should your carelessly unattended bike take a tumble, it will amuse, for example, a waiting queue of daytrippers at Longleat safari park by spilling its contents across the road.
Zefal doesn't make any claims about its waterproof qualities. However the interior has remained completely dry during numerous showers and one sustained exposure to Scottish wind, rain and road spray.
On a long day ride it's important to keep fuelled between pitstops and this is where the Z Race earns its keep. Its 0.5L capacity means you can pack in enough of whatever helps to keep your legs moving without having to perform contortions through layers of inner and outer clothing, or even get off your bike, to reach your back pockets.
Now winter's on its way and we're layering up, that makes the Z Race, and the top tube bag in general, a really useful accessory on your bike. Extra carrying capacity right where and whenever you need it.
The only real negative is that it's a bit pricey, though it's well made and a good size. Apidura's Expedition bag is more expensive at £47, but it is bigger – although that means it can get in the way of your knees. Restrap's Top Tube Bag is cheaper at £29.99 and was highly rated, but you can pay a lot less for similar products: Deuter's Energy bag is just £15 or less online.
Really useful extra storage for longer rides that fits nicely and is easy to access, but it is a bit expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Z Race Frame Bag
Size tested: Dimensions: 160 x 45 x 70mm (S) / 220 x 60 x 90mm (M)
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?
Zefal says, "The Z Race bag is a frame bag which fits to the top tube, either using self gripping straps or screws. The transparent window and magentic opening ensures quick and easy access to the contents of the bag for the riders. One removable internal compartment mean a better organisation of items needed by cyclists during a race. Made from a top-quality material, this bag is lightweight and resistant making it the perfect partner for the ride whether training, races or rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Zefal lists these features:
* Universal mounting using self gripping straps or screws
* Anti-slip material on the lower part giving better grip to the top tube
* Magnetic opening - quick and easy access to contents
* Lightweight, resistant material
* See-through window
* TPU 420D & Grip material
* Dimensions: 160 x 45 x 70mm (S) / 220 x 60 x 90mm (M)
* Capacity: 0.3L (S) / 0.5L (M)
* Weight: 90g (S) / 130g (M)
Easy to open, and secure when closed (as long as your bike's upright).
£34 is pretty pricey compared with, for example, Deuter's £15 offering. It's more expensive than Restrap's highly regarded Top Tube bag too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Easy to flick open and forage for food, magnet keeps it securely closed, keeps rain out, movable compartments are useful and it stays in place on the top tube. So pretty good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to get into.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't trust it to hold valuables/breakables as it could open if your bike happens to fall over...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Apidura's Expedition bag is £47 (but bigger), Restrap's Top Tube Bag is £29.99, and Deuter's Energy bag is just £15.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, it's extremely useful.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good: it's secure on the bike, doesn't interfere with your knees, easy to open, and holds plenty. The only negative really is that it's rather expensive, and that knocks the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.