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The BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bike Bag With Phone Navigation Pocket is a fine little bar bag that is good value and comes well specced. It's not perfect, but for anybody looking for a cheap way to keep a decent selection of valuables within easy reach, it's not bad at all.
You have to hand it to BTR, it really offers value for money. Just look at the name of this product: officially it's called the BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bike Bag With Phone Navigation Pocket. There's no scrimping on wordage there. (When you see the mammoth choice of bags on the BTR website, you start to understand the need for such specific nomenclature.)
The theme continues with the spec. The BTR WRHBBWPNP has a useful selection of pockets – one main pocket, two side pockets, one front pocket and one top transparent pocket that riders of a certain vintage would call a map pocket, but which normal people will almost certainly use for their phone. This is big enough to accept even the biggest non-tablet mobile device and the clear cover allows touchscreen operation. Total capacity is 3 litres.
While there is thick waterproof sealing on the zips, the rest of the bag's body is only water resistant. It does a decent enough job in drizzle, but you wouldn't want to put it through a monsoon. For just a smidge of added visibility, there is reflective printing on the sides and front, and a front light loop. Thankfully, it does without much of the over-engineering that left Steve unimpressed with the BTR Deluxe Bike Bag top tube bag.
The great advantage of handlebar bags is that you can keep your valuables within sight at all times, even when off the bike. To that end, BTR has fitted two plastic tabs at the top rear of the bag, to which you can attach the included shoulder strap.
Things are slightly less impressive when it comes to fitting the bag to the bike, though. BTR has avoided using an established handlebar bag system, such as the popular KlickFix clamp, and instead uses three Velcro straps (backed with the kind of leatherette last seen upholstering the interior of a 1973 Austen Allegro). Two of these wrap round the bar with the further vertical strap wrapping round the stem.
Fitting is a little bit of a faff because you have to search out each little buckle to feed the relevant strap through, but it's not a massive hassle and you get better with practice. To its credit, the BTR WRHBBWPNP stays in place nice and securely on the road, even when well loaded and faced with Britain's worst potholes.
More fundamentally problematic is the fact that the strap that goes around your stem is positioned underneath the bar straps. This has the effect of pulling the front of the bag down and away from your eye line, meaning the top map/phone pocket is effectively out of view from the saddle. The shape of the bag doesn't help this anyway, with the clear top pocket sloping away from the rider.
One disadvantage of bar bags generally is that they add extra weight to your steering, so control can become unnervingly light. My personal opinion is that BTR has avoided this by giving its bar bag a very sensible capacity, which means that as long as you use it for keys, wallet, suncream, snack, spares and multi-tool, any difference to your bike control is well within acceptable limits.
There are plenty of top-end bar bags available from the likes of Outer Shell and OrNot, not to mention established favourites such as Ortlieb, Vaude and Carradice. But those all cost multiple times the price of the BTR, which is more likely to be mixing with brands such as B'Twin and Halfords' Ridge brand. In that kind of company, it can more than hold its head high.
In fact, for the price, I'm very impressed with the BTR. Yes, there are a couple of small negatives. But if you find that a seatpack just can't handle your burgeoning selection of ride essentials and you fancy something bigger and – dare I say it – more practical for off-the-bike duties, this is actually a pretty decent entry into the world of bar bags.
Cheerful little bar bag that has a couple of negatives but actually fulfils its role quite well
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bike Bag With Phone Navigation Pocket
Size tested: 3 Litre capacity
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?
A handlebar bag aimed at commuters, tourers and leisure riders.
BTR says: "Water resistant bike handlebar bag by BTR is an excellent way of storing and viewing your navigation device or map. This mini handlebar bag is compact yet has a 3-litre capacity (including pockets) and allows you to keep your essentials to hand. The touchscreen navigation pocket goes across the lid, so you can see it easily and fits most smartphones. Never get lost or lose your way again! Extra strength support in the material across the back and each side means that the bag keeps its shape and so your lid remains visible for your location viewing."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Touchscreen navigation pocket across the lid
Front light loop
Water resistant wipe clean material
Reinforced material across the back and sides
3 hook and loop fastening straps
Anti slip backing on the straps
Detachable shoulder strap
2-way zipped lid
3 external pockets
Dimensions: length 21.5cm, height 16cm, depth (across lid) 13cm
Seems reasonably well made, although my test version got squashed in transit and doesn't keep its shape too well.
Pretty good. Performs as expected with only the transparent top pocket being a let down in that it is hard to view on the move.
No issues with durability so far. Zips look particularly hardy.
Not too heavy at all.
Very good compared to higher end offerings such as Outer Shell or OrNot. Even good value when compared to brands such as B'Twin and Halfords' Ridge range.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well. It's not ultra-waterproof and fitting is a slight faff, but otherwise it performs possibly even better than I expected.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I think the size and spec is just right for a simple entry-level bar bag.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that it tips slightly away from the rider – I really want to use that top pocket without having to lean right over the bars!
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 overall score
While it's not a perfect, boutique-quality piece of cycling luxury, the BTR bar bag is actually a decent and very good value entry-level offering that will do the trick without too much disappointment.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure