At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Lightweight and waterproof, the Topeak BarLoader is easy to fit, has an impressively rugged build and keeps all your valuable gadgets/dry clothes/best biscuits safe yet easily accessible.
Usefully, this 6.5 litre bar bag is designed to work either on its own, or alongside the Topeak's 8L FrontLoader bag. Consequently it either straps to the bar directly with simple Velcro straps, or onto the larger bag with longer straps.
It's made from a super-tough, sonically-welded and waterproof TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane to its friends), with a roll-top closure for maximum weather protection. Inside, there's a simple main compartment with front and rear zipped mesh pockets.
You also get a removable shoulder strap, which proves very handy for longer stops. In fact this, coupled with how easy it is to get on and off the bar, swiftly made it a favourite option.
Incredibly easy to fit and remove, the bag will fit most frame sizes – even those with little clearance between bars and front wheel. It's also easy to adjust so it's stable and secure, with no bumping around, while the zipped mesh pockets are handy for keys, phones and the like.
It's light and tough, and holds just the right amount of stuff (jacket, warm gloves, snacks and so on) to be genuinely useful for winter rides, both solo or as part of a broader touring set-up.
With its soft and pared-down build, the BarLoader stands out in a crowded field of rugged box-type bags such as the BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bike Bag with Phone Navigation Pocket, though at only 3L it barely has room inside for its own name. Then again little does, and the BTR WRHBBWPHP is only £14.99 (it's pronounced Warhub-wuhfoop. Yes it is).
At £54.99 the BarLoader is cheaper than the similarly-sized and also weatherproof Ortlieb Ultimate6 S Plus Waterproof Handlebar Bag (£75), though, but also less structured than the standalone Ortlieb. The BarLoader is lighter and more versatile, however, and arguably better value for money.
The Topeak is simple, light, well made, reassuringly waterproof and rugged, and very versatile. It also doesn't block bar space for your other stuff, such as GPS or lights, provided you don't overstuff it.
It's a well-built, rugged, light and versatile bit of kit, with a build that promises to last years.
Well made, well designed and versatile bag that's lovely to use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak BarLoader
Size tested: 6.5L
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?
Topeak says: "A quick mount handlebar drybag that can be used alone or mounted as an accessory bag atop our FrontLoader bag system."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
6.5 L / 395 ci
Quick release buckles and hook and loop fastener
MAX LOAD CAPACITY
3 kg / 6.61 lb
Inner bag, Reflective printing, Shoulder strap
31 x 25.8 x 8.9 cm / 12.2' x 10.2' x 3.5'
325 g / 11.46 oz (w/ inner bag)
Very well made.
Did just what it was supposed to do, and did it well.
Very light thanks to a simple design.
Well-made, rugged and versatile enough to earn its price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. Easy and fast to fit and remove, and very practical.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to fit and remove, rugged waterproof build, versatility as a stand alone bag or together with a larger bag.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
With its soft and pared-down build, the BarLoader stands out in a crowded field of rugged box-type bags such as the BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bike Bag with Phone Navigation Pocket, though at 3L it barely has room for its own name. Then again little does.
At £54.99 the BarLoader is cheaper than the similarly-sized and also weatherproof Ortlieb Ultimate6 S Plus Waterproof Handlebar Bag (£75), but also less structured than the standalone Ortlieb. The BarLoader is lighter and more versatile, however, and arguably better value for money.
Did you enjoy using the product? It swiftly became a favourite
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This well made, tough and waterproof bag is easy to use, a great size and is super versatile. The shoulder strap makes it spot on for cafe stops, too – it's an easy nine.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.