The Restrap Race Musette is a great backup way to carry a small amount of planned or unexpected stuff when out on your bike. With a few nifty features that mark it out from 'just a bag', it won't change your life but it could make your next day out more practical.
Musettes have been a part of cycle racing since at least the 1950s, and despite various attempts at evolution or substitution, even today the vast majority of pro cycling teams load up the humble cotton bag with food and drink, then send staff out to feed zones to hand them off to passing riders. That they work so well amongst a dense peloton moving at 50kph, enabling racers to get food and drink into their faces without crashing in a pile of limbs and splintered carbon, is testament to how well they fit into the sport's ever-shifting physical dynamic. That they have remained unchanged for nearly a century speaks to the maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it'.
Of course a cotton bag is a cotton bag. What Restrap has done is added its own twists on the iconic design, taking away nothing except the cheap-as-chips price while adding actually useful functionality.
First and foremost, the strap. It's made from marine-grade Hypalon rubber – it will never fray, it's very strong and, being rubber, it doesn't slip easily when worn over clothing. This is important in a musette, as when you're bent forward on a bike with a decent load in the bag, you don't want it sliding forwards around your knees.
The Hypalon rubber is so grippy you actually have to run your fingers under it to reposition the bag if needed. The strap is also adjustable for length using one of Restrap's solid, small snap buckles. Both ends of the strap are sewn into the bag at a 45-degree angle so it sits perfectly. This length-adjustability means the strap can be extended fully and the bag positioned centrally on the back, coming up under both arms and around the neck – thereby centring it and absolutely guaranteeing no movement if you need to ride someplace with a fair old bit of body language.
The bag itself is made from waterproof fabric and comes in three colours – olive, orange or black – and the internal seam is stitched over with nylon webbing for reinforcing. If you manage to rip this bag at the seams, you really should reconsider your job as a depleted-uranium courier.
The top of the bag is closed with a single popper fastener, allowing it to be closed over while holding bulky items. I have a musette that features a zip, and while more secure for small objects, this limits carriage of larger items. I can confirm that the Race Musette does accommodate one eight-week-old female spaniel (working, not cocker). Your mileage may vary as to successful retention of other breeds.
The final trick in the Race Musette's bag (sorry!) is the ability to fold, roll and secure itself into a small-fist-sized ball. Sewn inside the top of the bag is a short loop of wide elastic, which, once the bag is rolled, folds over to hold it in a compact bundle. This then makes the musette perfect for popping into a pocket or a frame bag, ready to handle the evening dash to the shops once you're unpacked and set up at your campsite, or to drag the evening's supplies those last few miles to your preferred location.
It's also grand for a morning's cruise about cafés and bookshops, perfect for holding a paper, magazine or two, wallet and sunglasses.
Many, many other brands make musettes for far less money – I liked the Velopac Musette, but found the zip made it a bit volume-constrained when closed. Even Rapha's take on the musette is only £10 – and you can get any number of designs for as little as £2 if you look around. So at £25 the Restrap may indeed be the most expensive musette in existence. That said, you're paying for the tech involved in the strap/elastic loop and the time spent by the Made-in-Leeds artisans to sew it up with reinforced stuff.
I'm not a hundred per cent sure the fabric being waterproof is much of a benefit given that the top can't be sealed, but it does mean if you plonk it down on wet grass or a rain-splattered table, your magazine or whatnot will remain dry.
So, in fitting with the overall Restrap Adventure Race ethos, the Race Musette is as technically loaded as a musette can get, is made from bombproof materials and far outperforms the standard cotton strap variety on the bike. If that's worth £25 to you, this is your bag, baby.
It's the last word in quick-and-easy on/off-the-bike portage of small items
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Restrap Race Musette
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?
It's for people wanting a superlight, pocketable way to carry expected or unexpected stuff, on or off the bike.
Restrap says: 'The Adventure Race Musette Bag is a stylish addition to our range, both on and off the bike. Made from 6oz waterproof coated nylon, our musettes are durable and reliable. A popper fastener keeps everything secure, whilst an adjustable Hypalon shoulder strap tailors the bag to any user. Included on the inside of the bag is an elastic loop, allowing the bag to be packed down and folded to a minute size, allowing it to fit into a jersey pocket or any other luggage with ease.'
Can't fault Restrap quality.
It does the job really well.
Early days, but the construction and materials suggest this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.
For what it does, 71g is light.
Given it stays put, very comfy.
It's more expensive than most musettes, but you're paying for features that a basic cotton version simply cannot match.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfect. Didn't budge an inch.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The non-slip shoulder strap.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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
Really the only thing to mark down here is price – everything else is really well executed.
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.