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A bar bag is a useful bit of kit for touring, audaxing, commuting and the like and this Topeak Compact handlebar bag is an excellent example, assuming you don't want to chuck the kitchen sink up front.
Measuring just 22 x 13 x 18 cm and with a capacity of two litres, it's at the small end of the bar bag scale. Nominal load capacity is 5kg, although unless you're carrying gold bullion around you'd struggle to fit 5kg worth of kit in it. I mostly carried my wallet, phone, keys, a backup battery and sundry other stuff in it, and that was more or less a full load.
The internals are lined with flock and it's subdivided with Velcro walls, so you can keep stuff that scratches away from stuff that gets scratched. I found the Velcro caught on the net compartment in the lid of the bag a bit, and that coins and small stuff slipped under the dividers, but generally the dividers did a good job.
On the bike the bag opens at the rear with a double zipper so the lid hinges away from you; that means you can dive in and find stuff easily enough. It comes with a waterproof cover for really foul weather, although nothing I rode through during testing necessitated its use, and I saw some pretty heavy rain.
There are two small side compartments too, that wrap around and do up with a buckle at the front. You can undo this buckle, should you so choose, lengthen the straps and use the bag as a bum bag. If that's your thing. It's not my thing. But it might be useful on tour. The side bits are big enough for credit cards, change, blister packs of ibuprofen and the like.
One issue with bar bags is that you lose a lot of bar space, and one of the best things about the Topeak Compact is that the mount comes with a bar extender. It slots into the top of the mount and gives you somewhere to put your Garmin or your light. It's not the world's most sturdy mount, but it never fell off or anything, and I used it all the time. The bag itself attaches with a locking plate and is held very well, with the small size of the bag meaning it doesn't bounce around much.
Good little bar bag for those that want a few essentials to hand on a tour or commute.
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Make and model: Topeak Compact handlebar bag
Size tested: n/a
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 clever handlebar bag that converts to a fanny pack [sic]. Great for cameras, cell phones and other essentials you want close at hand.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Attachments Fits ø25.4, ø28.6 & ø31.8 mm Handlebars (shims included)
Capacity 2 L / 120 ci
Compartments Divided Main Compartment
Two Side Zip Pockets
Material 1800 Denier
Max. Load 5 kgs / 11 lbs
Protection Fully Padded
Added Features Waist Belt
Clip for Handy Phone Pack
Clip for Cycle Computer
Bag Attachment QuickClick™ (Fixer 8)
Size (L x W x H) 22 x 13 x 18 cm
8.7" x 5.1" x 7.1"
Weight 470 g / 1.03 lbs
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It did a good job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to fit and use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Velcro walls snag the net compartment inside.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.