The Brooks Scape Handlebar Compact Bag is a high-quality, durable, water-resistant briefcase that can be removed quickly from your handlebar for easy transitioning between on-the-bike life and off.
Brooks has blended its classic looks with versatile performance. There are decent sized pockets inside and out, and a compact shoulder strap increases its carrying options. But the mounting system is semi-permanently attached to your bar and it lacks functional features – netting, webbing and a light hook are all absent. The bag slots into the new Brooks Scape Travel Bag range for all disciplines of adventure cycling, from touring to bikepacking, but given it's missing these features I'd say its use is limited.
Attached to your bar via Rixen & Kaul's KlickFix, this aluminium bag-mounting system takes a little while to screw on initially, but makes taking the bag on and off a simpler, quicker affair.
The quick release system comes with two different sizes of clamps, one for 22-26mm diameter bars, the other for 31.8mm bars, the latter being the size you'll typically require for road bikes. This system does limit you only using the bag on bikes that have the KlickFix attached, but extra ones can be bought separately if needed – they are currently being sold on Amazon for £15.99.
Locked in place, the bag doesn't rattle and is comfortably secure. Pressing down the button on top, the briefcase hooks out easily and quickly for a smooth transition once you make it to your destination.
Brooks has used a custom-made cotton fabric with a two-layer coating for making this bag waterproof. A section of the fabric guards the main compartment zipper as a water defence. It's effective for protecting the contents inside but this also means it's not as quickly accessible. That's okay, because also on the outside is a water-resistant zippered compartment. It's generously sized and easy to access, so useful for quickly grabbing a snack when stopped at traffic lights for example. All the zippers are easy to pull thanks to the large loop tags attached.
Inside, the neoprene organiser has a dedicated space for stashing a 13-inch laptop, as well as a wide zippered pocket and two stretchy mesh slots – there are enough compartments of a good size for tidy separating.
The case has a total capacity of 10 litres and this is plentiful. On rides when you're not packing this bag up to its limit, the two aluminium buckles usefully allow to you adjust the internal space, to compact the bag down.
Measuring 340x250x140mm (WxHxD), the bag holds its briefcase shape at all times thanks to its rigid back. This design also makes it easier to slip a laptop in against this stiff surface.
Carrying the case by your side, filled up to its maximum load of 5kg, feels comfortable enough thanks to the padded handle.
A removable shoulder strap also opens up this bag to being carried on occasions when your hands are full and you're walking around. There are four loops at the back of the bag for hooking the strap through, to use as either a cross-body bag or shoulder bag. The wide strap has no padding and the plastic mounting surface protrudes slightly out the back, so I wouldn't wear it like this for longer distances, but it's a good addition for extra versatility.
Retailing at £105, the Brooks seems reasonably priced for its size and mounted design. For a smaller 8.5 litres of capacity, Ortlieb's Ultimate Six Plus costs £85, but it does have additional functionality with a smartphone window. Topeak's TourGuide DX Bar Bag has an even smaller 7.7-litre capacity but is priced accordingly at £72.99. Both of these are a bulkier box design, making them a better choice for storing items like a camera, whereas the Brooks is slimmer and can carry a 13in laptop.
The outside of this bag is clean and uncluttered for a smart finish, but this also means it is missing some functionality. A reflective logo at the front is a small nod to visibility, but there's no light hook, no webbing for storing a waterproof, or netting down the sides for stashing used wrappers or a water bottle.
It's also only available in what Brooks calls a 'mud' colourway – a cross between grey and green, which won't be to all tastes. It's a shame that it doesn't come in any alternatives.
Quality, hardwearing materials are used throughout, the craftmanship is top notch, and this bag functions through all weather. The mounted design does limit using it between bikes unless you buy another mount, and without webbing or netting it wouldn't be my bag of choice for bikepacking or touring. If you want to carry a 13in laptop to work on your bike, though, it's a decent option.
Slim but spacious and robust briefcase for mounting to your bike – with some limitations
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brooks Scape Handlebar Compact Bag
Size tested: -Width: 34cm -Height: 25cm -Depth: 14cm
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?
Brooks says: "The Scape Handlebar Compact Bag is a cycling briefcase made from lightweight, waterproof materials and weatherproof details. Equally at home for long-distance touring or daily commuting in the city."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Front reflective logo
External waterproof pocket
Coated YKK zipper
Easy pull zipper
Aluminium buckle to better adjust the internal space
Comfort padded handle
Padded mesh on the back for comfort and breathability
Neoprene internal organizer in Neoprene with 13" laptop sleeve, zip pocket and 2 elastic mesh
Shoulder strap included (it can be used as cross body bag or shoulder bag)
Klickfix attachment included"
Very high quality materials used.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Quick and easy to take on and off the bike once set up. It looks slim and smart, but it has lots of space inside for carrying a 13in laptop and lots of essentials.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well-sized outside water-resistant pocket, spacious inside, slim design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No netting, webbing or light hook. The mud colourway isn't for me!
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's reasonably priced for the capacity. For a smaller 8.5 litres of capacity, Ortlieb's Ultimate Six Plus costs £85, but it does have additional functionality with a smartphone window. Topeak's TourGuide DX Bar Bag has an even smaller 7.7-litre capacity, and is priced accordingly at £72.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for commuting.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a smart-looking briefcase made from quality, hardwearing materials, spacious inside and with a good mix of pockets, but it is missing functional extras on the outside: there's no light hook, webbing or netting. It is simple and stylish for commuting, but doesn't cross over into touring or bikepacking so well. The mud colourway may not be to all tastes either.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track
Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.