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review

Apidura Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack

8
£52.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Great bag with innovative design and features, but pricey
Solidly made
Lightweight
Waterproof
Unobtrusive
Pricey
Weight: 
104g
Contact: 

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The Apidura Racing Top Tube Bag is a slimline model aimed at those who want to ride fast rather than haul loads of kit. Attention to detail is excellent – and there's no reason not to use it on slower jaunts if you really wanted to...

Materials & features

There are two versions of the Racing Top Tube pack – one using Velcro, the other the bolt-on version we have on test. This, as the name suggests, is designed to bolt directly to the bosses on the top tube – an increasingly familiar sight on gravel bikes.

> Buy this online here

There are two sets of drillings in the bag's base, theoretically meaning it'll be compatible with all frame sizes. It comes with two 3mm stainless Allen bolts, featuring rubberised washers to isolate against shock and prevent loosening.

Curiously, given the size, capacity and weight, it also features a Velcro strap for tethering it to the stem, which I found surplus to requirements.

2020 Apidura bolt on top tube bag - strap.jpg

The bag itself is made from 'Hexalon', which is a very light yet very strong laminated nylon fabric.

Measuring 23.5x4x10cm, internal capacity is a litre and is totally open plan and spartan, save for a closed-cell foam bottom to protect phones and other sensitive electricals from vibration and bigger bumps.

2020 Apidura bolt on top tube bag - open.jpg

It employs a flap-type closure that fixes in place securely with a powerful magnetic catch. There's no danger of it being swept open on a blustery day.

2020 Apidura bolt on top tube bag - clip.jpg

There's also a cable port up front which I found adequate, striking the right balance between accessibility and protection. For context, I tend to charge lights/action camera via dynamo USB during the day, so need to be able to feed the cable from a bar-mounted dynamo switch.

Mounting and performance

None of my framesets actually feature the bolt-on option, which might make you question why I went this rather than the Velcro route, but I was curious as to whether you could successfully mount it using a neat little adaptor kit such as Topeak's Versamount

The answer is, you can. The Versamount is one of the most secure, paint-friendly band-on designs I've come across and the 1.2kg maximum payload more than adequate for the kind of storage involved here. It held the Apidura pack rock steady and completely free of annoying sway.

2020 Apidura Racing Top Tube Pack mounted.JPG

I've used it to carry a double decker USB charger, smartphone, cash in a freezer bag and a packet-fresh spare tube. It's incredibly easy to flick the flap, reach in and close again, even when riding at 20mph plus.

Careful packing helps, but the foam 'flooring' seems to play its protective part well enough too, with minimal rattle over washboard surfaces and scabby tarmac.

Hustling along on my fixed gear winter trainer these past few weeks, I've concluded it would make easy transition to road and even time trial bikes, where easily accessible and unobtrusive are key (assuming you were looking towards the Velcro or band-on routes).

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best bikepacking bags

The slender profile means there have been no issues with knee clearance, the sort that can often lead to a slightly curious 'knees out' pedalling style.

Given its profile and location, it's well shielded from brambles and other abrasives – no bobbling or other damage to date, and the fabric is easily wiped clean. To date, superficial spatter is dismissed with a damp cloth, though during winter I'd probably go the soft brush and sudsy bucket route while doing the bike.

Waterproofing/accessibility

Talking water... I was a little wary of directing the garden hose at the bag at close range with goodies on board, so performed said test for three minutes with the bag empty. Nothing got through – it remained bone dry inside and I've had no issues in wet, showery conditions.

Value

Even allowing for the nice materials and touches, compared with some designs and relative to capacity, £52 seems a bit steep. It's cheaper than Restrap's Race Top Tube Bag, which is £59.99, but that is 1.5L.

> Beginner’s guide to carrying stuff on your bike

Restrap's non-Race 0.8L Top Tube Bag comes in at £31.99, although it's not waterproof, while the bolt-on version is £34.99, the same price as Topeak's Fast Fuel Tri Bag, albeit with a smaller (0.6 litre) internal capacity.

The Velcro versions of the Apidura are slightly cheaper – £50 for the 1L size, £45 for the 0.7L.

Conclusion

There's no getting away from the fact that the Apidura Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Bag is pricey, but it is also very well made, with innovative features. Overall, I think it's very good.

Verdict

Great bag with innovative design and features, but pricey

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Apidura Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack

Size tested: 1L

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?

Apidura says: "The Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack is designed for ultra-distance competition, gravel racing and the needs of time-conscious riders whose bikes have top tube bolt bosses.

'With an innovative magnetic quick-access flip-top opening, this waterproof bolt-on top tube bag is ideal for storing battery packs, mobile phones and race essentials. Constructed from an ultralight, waterproof laminate developed for Apidura, the bag fastens securely to the top tube bolt bosses common on gravel and adventure bikes, with a choice of two mounting positions to accommodate different frame sizes and geometries. The completely waterproof flip-top opening provides fast access and a clear view of the full contents of the bolt-on top tube bag, while keeping your belongings dry.

'A closed-cell foam padding structure protects your frame and electronics from damage on unsealed gravel roads and for added convenience, a protected cable port enables charging of devices on the go. Specially designed, high-contrast reflective features enhance side visibility in all light conditions.

'The race bolt-on top tube bag is a useful standalone bag for gravel riding or as part of a full Racing Series setup. For bikes without bolt-on bosses see our Racing Top Tube Pack."

My feelings are that it's a well made and designed top tube bag, but rather pricey compared with other options.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Apidura's website says:

The bolt on top-tube bag is made from Hexalon, a bespoke laminated fabric developed specifically for Apidura. Designed to fit the demands of ultra-distance cycling competition and audax, the material is waterproof and lightweight, with strong tear and abrasion resistance.

The front attachment points are reinforced with Hypalon, a durable rubberised nylon that provides extra protection against friction and puncture.

Two attachment bolts included.

RACING BOLT-ON TOP TUBE PACK FEATURES:

Standard and off-set mounting options

Choice of sealed mounting holes for a perfect fit and waterproofing

Magnetic one-handed opening for easy access

Protected electronics cable port

Reflective exterior graphics for visibility

Constructed from ultralight waterproof Hexalon

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Does exactly what it promises and to a very high standard.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Great build quality and materials. No zippers to snag or fail. No obvious weak spots so should last a good while.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

Slimline design means no issues with knee clearance.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

High ticket price compared with many other top tube bags, tempered by the features, materials and build quality.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, I've been very impressed with the Racing Bolt-On Top Tube Pack. The slimline design will hold essentials that you want to keep safe yet easily accessible. I've only noticed it in the positive sense and despite some initial uncertainty regarding the magnetic flap, water-resistance has not been compromised.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Solid fabric, neat design.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It's pricey.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Even allowing for the nice materials and touches, £52 seems a bit steep. Restrap's Racing Top Tube Bag is £59.99 but 1.5L, while its 0.8L Top Tube Bag comes in at £34.99 for the bolt-on version, £31.99 the Velcro.

Topeak's Fast Fuel Tri Bag is £34.99, albeit with a smaller (0.6 litre) internal capacity.

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

It's a really well conceived bag, if pricey relative to the competition.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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