The Brooks Scape Handlebar Pouch is superb for day trips or bigger adventures. There's lots of space for everything you want access to while riding, and the hard-wearing, waterproof exterior keeps it all safe and dry no matter what. It's very light, but does flop if the bag isn't full, and the zip flap could do with a redesign.
Brooks' take on the ever-popular barrel-shaped handlebar luggage is this 250mm long pouch (not bag) with a diameter of 120mm. It weighs just 140g, which is very impressive given its 3L capacity. Similar barrel bags tend to be in the region of 190-250 grams.
The bag forms part of Brook's new Scape range, designed for all kinds of riding, including bikepacking and touring. All the Scape bags use the same super tough welded material and can be attached to one another.
The Handlebar pouch can be attached to the Scape Handlebar Roll, or alternatively, you can attach multiple Scape Saddle Pocket Bags to the front and sides.
It's a neat system, but it's a lot of money if you go all in – three Saddle Pocket Bags and the Handlebar Roll works out at £175 for 4.8L of space. I appreciate that's somewhat missing the point of the modularity, though.
The bag's welded construction is impervious to foul weather, and tough enough to withstand some serious abuse. There's a reflective Brooks logo and several nylon loops on the front for attaching things such as lights. All attachment points bar these nylon loops are made from Hypalon, which is incredibly strong and very resistant to wear.
It's worth noting there's very little reinforcement on the interior of the bag (unlike many other handlebar bags), other than sturdy foam protectors at either end. Consequently the bag doesn't maintain its shape very well unless it's full. There are no storage compartments on the inside, so you need to be tactical about where you fit stuff, too.
There's enough space for your lunch, waterproof jacket, phone, keys, and even your tools too – it's very generous. Here's what I fitted in:
Fitting this to your bars is straightforward. Two nylon straps thread through loops in the upper Hypalon patch, and you tighten them through aluminium buckles. These buckles have Hypalon patches underneath to prevent your bars from getting scratched.
It's nice to see there's not a bit of plastic in sight here – it's clearly built to withstand the rigours of adventure riding.
To keep the bag in place over rough terrain, a Velcro strap fastens to your head tube or stem. With everything properly tightened, it works very well.
The length can be an issue. The ends of the bag overlapped the bar tape on the tops, where I would normally rest my hands. As a result, I had to slot my fingers through the gap between bar and bag whenever I was riding on the tops, which wasn't particularly pleasant.
That said, you can get around this ergonomic foible simply by using the included foam spacers. By moving the bag slightly away from the bars, there's just enough room to accommodate your digits.
Brooks claims this is 'fully waterproof,' and while the zip is actually not, the flap that protects it from water is effective. Since the flap isn't secured, though, water could in theory get underneath, but in practice it doesn't – it runs over the top of the flap and away from the zip.
However, there's one small issue with the flap – it doesn't like to stay put. There's just enough room underneath that, when the wind catches it, it immediately lifts and stays that way until you stop or slow down.
Either it's my natural Froome-like abilities creating extreme on-road speeds, or – just perhaps – the design of the flap is simply a bit rubbish. Ideally, it just needs a magnetic fastener to keep it in place. Even a bit of Velcro would do the trick. I fastened some laces around the circumference and through the front hoops to keep it in place on longer rides.
At a more sedate, gravel-grinding pace I didn't find it so much of an issue, but it's definitely something to be addressed in a future update.
Thankfully, the zip itself is easy to operate while you're on the move, the opening is a good size and the large puller makes it easy to find.
The Scape lineup seems on the pricey side, but the Handlebar Pouch isn't that bad against similar barrel bags. Admittedly, that could just be the bike-packing scene's trendiness hiking up all the prices...
The Wizard Works Lil Presto! Barrel Bag is shorter and more suitable for riding in the tops, but it's not as capacious – and it's still heavier. Nor does it have the same level of waterproofing. It's also £15 more expensive.
Dave raved about the slightly roomier OrNot Bar Bag a couple of years back, but it's even more expensive at £85. As with the Lil Presto!, it's not as resistant to the elements as the Brooks, though again the slightly lesser width might be more suitable for your handlebars.
Once Brooks sorts out that annoying flappy flap, it's got itself a real winner. I'd happily take this on day rides or bigger bike packing adventures, safe in the knowledge it will perform really well.
It ticks all the right boxes with a high level of waterproofing, good capacity and impressive ease of use. It's very light, too. It's easily one of the best quality handlebar bags (or any bags for that matter) I've ever come across, and I reckon its tank-like build could last a lifetime.
It's not the cheapest way of carrying things, but against similar competition it comes out on top.
Excellent handlebar bag that makes an ideal partner for any adventure
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brooks Scape Handlebar Pouch
Size tested: 3L
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 Pouch is a practical small bag useful for any ride and fully waterproof thanks to its welded materials and all-round weatherproof details for securely stowing much-needed items."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Capacity 3 L
W 250 x H 120 x D 120 mm
Weight 140 g
Max Load 3 kg
Front reflective logo
Coated YKK zip with protection flap
Aluminium buckles to attach bag to handlebar
Central rear webbing to attach to head tube Rigid internal lateral foam to keep the shape
Lateral hypalon hook for shoulder strap or extra bag attachment
Frontal Daisy Chain for light
Very high quality – perfect for adventure riding. Materials are exceptional, buckles are tank-like. Hypalon patches add even more toughness.
Aside from a flappy flap that potentially hinders the waterproofing, the Handlebar Pouch performs very well. It's easy to access on the go and the bag fits very securely.
I've no doubts here – it's built to last a lifetime.
Very light for its size and capacity.
Similar bags frequently cost much more, and the Scape Handlebar Pouch arguably outperforms them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. This bag can store lots of stuff, and it keeps everything dry. It's easy to access, helped by a really good zip puller – the only minor issue is that it can interfere with your hands due to its length.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The high level of quality all round.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The flappy flap.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are cheaper bags out there, no doubt, but for a 3L (or thereabouts) barrel bag it's one of the cheaper options and stands out amongst the crowd. It's cheaper than both the Wizard Works Lil Presto! Barrel Bag and the OrNot Bar Bag. Neither of those are as waterproof either, or as light. They are shorter, however, which could be better for your bar setup.
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
Aside from the flappy flap, I love using this bag – not only does it look great, it's built like a tank and it performs really well too. Though the flap does weaken the waterproofing slightly when it's not in place, the bag is still ideal for keeping your stuff dry, even in really bad weather. You really get what you pay for.
About the tester
I usually ride: Steel audax bike My best bike is:
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, touring, club rides, sportives,