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review

Restrap Race saddle bag

9
£99.99

VERDICT:

9
10
Light, stable and extremely well made, with all the features you need
holds full loads without swaying
Lightweight
Adjustable for angle
Quickly attached and removed
Light loop isn't really useable
Weight: 
234g
Contact: 

The Restrap Race Saddle Bag is a quick-fitting, lightweight and stable way to carry bulky items on your bike. Less than half the weight of Restrap's own standard saddle bag whilst retaining the features needed to perform, it's a great bit of kit at a good price. Quality is excellent too – in fact, its sole problem is a poorly designed light strap...

A few years back I reviewed and really liked the standard Restrap Saddle Bag Holster and Dry Bag, and here we have the stripped-back Race version. The Race comes in at less than half the weight, despite only losing 1L of capacity and nothing in the way of functionality.

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The seven-litre Race attaches with simple straps and buckles, and I found it worked fine across a variety of bikes and saddles, with no noticeable swaying – even with the included 7L drybag stuffed to the gunwhales.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - strap_.jpg

The two saddle straps feed through the rails into plastic buckles, before tidying away back on themselves to adjustable hooks. This means you're cinching down on the strap itself, which is actually a continuous loop stitched to the lower holster and threaded through metal eyelets on the top.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - strap 3.jpg

The stress is taken by the saddle rails, buckles and holster, so you can exert a huge amount of force without worry. This gets the bag as tight up under your saddle as possible, removing all movement. If for any reason one of the buckles fails (and they're pretty hefty, so it seems unlikely), you could tie the strap through the now-defunct buckle's loop; peace of mind for those going properly backcountry.

The drybag is held in by Restrap's tried and tested magnetic quick release which, like the saddle straps, allows really tight strapping yet easy release.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - seat post strap.jpg

The holster is held on the seatpost by a single narrow strap made of marine-grade 'Hypalon' rubber – it's a vaguely miraculous material that doesn't mark your nice seat post, won't slip, but is tough as old boots. The strap threads through two small foam blocks which space the bag out from your post.

Your saddle position and amount of exposed seatpost dictates the optimal angle of the holster, and usefully the strap has four positions for tuning that angle. This adjustability is especially good news if you run a dropper post, too.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - strap 2.jpg

On the bottom of the holster there's a loop to attach a light to, and here's the only grumble I have with the otherwise-perfect design: I don't know of a single clip-on light that wouldn't simply point straight down. You're much better off using the drybag strap for a light. Maybe the actual light loop is the place to dangle your enameled coffee mug...

During a month's battering about Highland gravel roads and rough estate tracks, the Restrap Race Saddle Bag stayed put, out of the way of the back of my legs despite deliberate attempts to provoke sway. It didn't move an inch unless told to, and when you do want it out it's quick. I got to the point of being able to fit it from scratch and ride away in 60 seconds.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - pouch.jpg

The included 7L drybag (also made in the UK by Restrap) is a single section of waterproof fabric, tape-sealed. The rollover closure is sturdily reinforced with a plastic lip to give it shape, with standard snaplock buckles for closure. There's reflective detailing on either side of the bag too.

2020 Restrap Race saddle bag - strapping.jpg

At 244g for the holster and drybag, the Race Saddle Bag is one of the lightest setups I can find. Apidura's 7L Racing Saddle Pack is only 210g, but it's £132 and an all-in-one job – there's no separate drybag, meaning your options for packing and repacking are more limited, while the seatpost interface is unadjustable.

> 17 of the best bikepacking bags — how to choose lightweight luggage

The Restrap Race Saddle Bag is a class bit of kit. The included 7L bag does limit you slightly, but the holster could take something a little larger. In some ways a 7L volume forces you to think small, light and thereby fast; and that's what the Race series is all about.

Restrap has removed every ounce possible without compromising stability or functionality, and has done so at a good price. It's made in the UK too, if that's important to you. As a design for going a long way fast, the Race Saddle Bag is a classic.

Verdict

Light, stable and extremely well made, with all the features you need

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Restrap Race saddle bag

Size tested: 7L

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 go far, fast, with the lightest possible setup.

Restrap says:

"The Adventure Race Saddle Bag uses a laser-cut holster design and is built for ultra-distance riding, audaxes and races."

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

Capacity - 7 Litres

Weight - 234g

"The holster has a dedicated 7.0L drybag that is 100% waterproof and is secured with a Fidlock™ magnetic buckle that's easy to adjust, even whilst wearing gloves. Nylon webbing, Hypalon straps and foam blocks secure the holster around the seat post, keeping the bag securely in place without sway.

The holster is a hardshell construction with an X21 technical outer, and includes Hypalon loops to attach a rear light whilst further Hypalon detailing aids durability and prevents scuffs and scratches. Reflective detailing on the dry bag adds visibility during night time riding."

(7 Litre Dry Bag included)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Superb.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Doesn't budge an inch.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Restrap's quality is extremely impressive and should last very well.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Right down there with the lightest on offer.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

At £99 including the drybag, for the low, low weight it's good value.

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

Can't fault it. Stays put.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The cinch mechanism – it gets you locked down really tight.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The rear light loop.

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

Pretty well – the best comparison in the ultra-light stakes is the Apidura Racing Saddle Bag, but that's £32 more expensive (for the 7L version) with fewer features.

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

The only thing I think could be improved is the light strap. Everything else about the Race Saddle Bag is bang on – if it wasn't for that it would be a 10.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

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.

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