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The Restrap Adventure Race Frame Bag is a tough, lightweight choice for fast-and-light adventures. Fitting most frames because of its shorter cut and generous mounting straps, it goes on and off bikes quickly. Although not 100 per cent waterproof, it's good enough to shrug off showers and looks sharp too.
Yorkshire's home-grown Restrap, made in Leeds, has a reputation for building tough bikepacking kit that will last for years of adventures. In its new Adventure Race series it's taken its learning and applied it with lightweight tough fabrics and new design thinking to create a line of bags more suited for short and/or fast trips where weight is more of a concern.
The Adventure Race Frame Bag is a four litre bag with two pockets. On the left there's a flat pocket good for thin objects – a phone, map, wallet, flat multi-tool – and the right a larger pocket good for inner tubes, light jackets, gloves, and so on. Both pockets have the same covered waterproof zip design, which does hamper access somewhat. I'm not sure how much extra waterproofness the flap over the zip adds, but given the bag is not 100 per cent waterproof itself it does seem a bit of overkill.
Inside the lining is a dark orange on the sides (but not the bottom), making finding small things relatively easy.
There's a cable access port partway down the front of the bag, where it contacts the down tube. The overlap is about 5cm, keeping water out while making threading cables easy enough to do.
The fixings are likewise simple: two wide Velcro straps around the top tube, with rubberised backing to minimise scratches and add stability, and then two nylon strap-and-buckle sets on the down tube face with loads of spare strap, kept tidy by a rubber O-ring. These two long straps mean the Race Bag can be fitted to frames with a pretty steep down tube angle, or one with considerable girth – even around a full-size e-mountain bike down tube.
The closure buckles are easy to use with gloves on, and snap securely closed. Once secured, there's not a hint of movement to be seen even over very rough ground with a full load.
The lack of a movable ladder-and-strap option means if you have cable bosses in the way of where the straps are, you're out of luck – but these days with more and more bikes featuring internal routing, this isn't really a problem. The front top tube strap did obscure the GO button on the Ribble CGR e-Gravel bike I was reviewing, but we can't expect Restrap to anticipate all things.
The fabrics used on the top and around the extremities of the bag, the sides and the zip flaps are waterproof, but as the seams aren't sealed the bag is not 'waterproof'. So 10 minutes under the road.cc Garden Hose Of Doom (Shower Setting) revealed the large pocket had leaked, while the small pocket was still dry. Now this is a rather extreme test even by Scottish Highlands standards, but just be aware that paper or non-IP-rated electronics could get damp in prolonged wet weather. I'm not sure that anything short of an actual drybag will guarantee waterproofness for most bikepacking bags, and in the ethos of fast and light Restrap can be forgiven design choices that may let a bit of water in.
Restrap advises that it made the choice not to seam-seal the bag in favour of having bound seams internally – and the internal seam finishing is indeed very tough, each seam folded over with a layer of nylon webbing and stitched through. Your choice is to opt for the 100 per cent waterproof sealed seams of competitors for £15 more and made elsewhere, or Restrap's lower-cost, home-grown-and-made reinforced version that will keep all but the most horrific weather out.
The length of the bag at 37cm means with careful packing it doesn't bow out too much, so there were no issues with knees rubbing. As there's no internal vertical support it's probably not the best place to put really heavy items that may migrate towards the bottom centre. Again, this is all about fast and light, not carrying frying pans and jars of pickled eggs.
Over a few months bashing about the Highlands, the Adventure Race Frame Bag was a no-nonsense way to get stuff out of pockets and out of mind. Spare tube, mini-tool, three muesli bars, mini-pump and lightweight jacket all vanished inside and stayed quietly put throughout rough-as-guts rides taking the definition of 'gravel' to unheard-of places.
Swapping to other bikes for short rides where a stash of picnic supplies were needed – even a bottle of wine and two plastic cups – was not a problem.
Restrap's standard £60 Frame Bag is 190g for 3.5L, and is a longer, thinner design with a strap for the seat tube. The Adventure Race gives you an extra 500cc of space, and is a shorter, deeper design more likely to fit smaller frames (there are full dimensions on Restrap's site, so you can cut out a cardboard template to check). The extra weight per cc is likely from the flap over the what looks to be waterproof zip.
If you really want 100 per cent waterproofness then the £90 Rapha Waterproof Frame Bag is one option, but as it's the long-and-shallow design your frame might not accommodate it. Apidura's 205g Race 4L bag is a whopping £98, but like Rapha's offering is fully waterproof. It's cut almost the same as the Restrap Adventure Race, just not quite as deep.
Overall, the Restrap Adventure Race Frame Bag is a quality bit of kit that will secure to most bikes quickly and easily, swallows stuff and keeps it in place, and will shrug off all but the worst of weathers while letting you charge e-things via the cable port. For V2 I'd like to see the zip flap removed and maybe a bit more focus on the waterproofing around the seams, which should make an already very good bit of kit into an excellent one.
Easily-removable and secure bag for holding ride essentials, mostly weather-resistant
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Restrap Race Frame Bag
Size tested: 4L
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?
It's for people wanting to carry a decent ride's worth of kit in the frame, not pockets, quietly and across a range of bikes.
Restrap says: 'The Adventure Race Frame Bag has been designed as a durable and lightweight bag for ultra-distance riding, Audaxes and races. Using X21, a waterproof technical fabric, 6oz nylon lining and YKK zips, the bag gives easy access to your gear whilst on the move, while remaining light weight and inconspicuous.
'A Hypalon pocket cover and pockets on each side keep your things organised and easy to reach. Reflective detailing aids visibility during night riding, and an extra cable slot is also provided at the front of the bag for dyno cabling and charging. Reflective detailing adds visibility during night time riding.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight - 198g
Size - 4L
Great build quality.
Really the only letdown here is weather resistance.
Looks tough as boots – no issues at all.
Middling, considering it's basically the same weight as Repack's own standard bag for the same dimensions, when this is supposed to be the 'race' version. That said, it's the same weight as Apidura's race framebag.
It's only £15 shy of Rapha's fully-waterproof framebag – but that's not made in the UK.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It held things solidly and didn't shift over really rough terrain.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The straps – very easy on-off.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The zip flaps. It would be great if Restrap could work out how to get rid of them.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's towards the high end of frame bags, and for £75 I'd have expected more waterproofness, and maybe a bit less weight, possibly small internal mesh pockets for fiddly bits. But they are made in Leeds, so comparisons with bags made elsewhere aren't directly fair on price alone.
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
I'd like to see Restrap drop the flap and focus more on seam proofing – that would make for an easier-to-use product that would be lighter and more waterproof. It's still very good as is though, and will do pretty much anyone right for long or short days.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.