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review

Carradice Baja Bar Bag

8
£52.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Not as waterproof as some, but well made with neat attention to detail
Large flip adds extra weather resistance
Straps are well positioned
Reflective detailing is well thought out
Doesn't hold its shape when empty
Weight: 
250g
Contact: 

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.

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The Carradice Baja Bar Bag is well thought out and well specced for the money, and it looks to be as tough as old boots too. The Camo finish may not be to everyone's taste, but you can also get it in black or even 'now you see me' fluoro yellow.

For more luggage carrying options, check out our guide to the best bikepacking bags.

There are many handlebar bags on the market and the majority of them are very similar, with often just small details that make the difference between a good bag and a very good one. The Baja bag is definitely one of the latter.

> Buy now: Carradice Baja Bar Bag for £52 from Carradice

First of all, it's easy to fit. It's simply a case of passing each of the two straps around the handlebar and through the plastic clamps to give a good secure fit.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - bar strap 3.jpg

Between the clamp and the handlebar you'll find some foam padding – two sections on each strap – which creates a bit of space for your fingers between the bar and the bag. They can be removed if you want.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - bar strap 1.jpg

For added security there is a third strap, which you can use to attach the bag to the head tube or wrap around your cables. I didn't need it on the road bike, but if I was out on rough gravel trails then I would use it to stop it swinging around too much.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - head tube strap.jpg

You can't reposition the straps, like on some bags, but I found them to be placed ideally – wide enough apart to offer stability, without covering the taped sections of the bar, and far enough away from the stem that they don't clash with computer mounts or light brackets.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - back.jpg

Because of the way they tighten, the straps will also work with aero-shaped bars, and their length means that if your bike has exposed cables and hoses that keep the bag further out front, there won't be any issues.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - side 2.jpg

The strap positions mean the Baja can also be used as a saddle bag on those seats with bag loops.

At 3.5 litres in volume there is plenty of space inside for your ride essentials. I could easily stuff in a lightweight rain jacket, spares, tools and snacks if I wanted.

> Cycling emergency essentials: the 10 things you should take with you on every ride

Everything inside is kept dry in pretty much all weather conditions. Even though Carradice doesn't make any waterproof claims, light rain and drizzle beads off the 1,000 denier Cordura, although heavier and prolonged rain will make its way through eventually. Personally, I'd never fully trust the waterproofing claims of any bag, so for anything electronic or that needs to remain dry I'd use some kind of internal bag or pouch if I knew I was in for a day of rain.

One thing that does help here is the flap that sits over the top of the bag, poppering in place to cover the main zip.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - front flap open.jpg

Within that flap is an extra zipped pocket which is ideal for small items that you want to grab on the fly – energy gels, map pages, work passes, that kind of thing. That flap also has a loop for a clip-on light, which sits facing straight ahead when attached to the bike – not something every bag achieves – and there is also a reflective circular detail too.

Carradice has also added reflective strips running top to bottom on the sides, which is a nice touch for when you're riding past junctions or on roundabouts in the dark.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - side 1.jpg

In fact, everything works well. The only slight niggle for me is that when empty the bag doesn't hold its shape, unlike the Topeak Tubular bar bag that I reviewed recently.

It's not a major deal, it's just that the Topeak is easier to get things in and out of, even when lightly packed, plus it looks better – very important.

Quality-wise, there is little to fault the Carradice. It is well made throughout, and it's made in the UK too. The material is very robust and has stood up to all kinds of abuse from overgrown hedges and foliage on my local gravel trails with not a scratch or hitch in sight.

2023 Carradice Baja Bar Bag - zip pocket and logo.jpg

Priced at £52, it's decent value for money, too. The Topeak I mentioned above is £67.99 for a similar size – a touch bigger than the Baja at 3.8 litres, but not hugely so.

Restrap's Canister bag is similar in shape and fitment, and is a couple of quid cheaper at £49.99, but you are only getting 1.5 litres of space, and a single pouch too. It is waterproof, though.

Conclusion

The Baja works well regardless of the bike you are fitting it to. The build quality is great, as is the size, with the only downside possibly being the lack of full waterproofing. Carradice makes no claims on that front, though, and for the money I think it's a very good purchase.

Verdict

Not as waterproof as some, but well made with neat attention to detail

road.cc test report

Make and model: Carradice Baja Bar Bag

Size tested: Capacity: 3.5 litres Dimensions: 28 cm long x 14 cm wide

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?

Carradice says, "A handy midsize bar bag for drop or straight handlebars. Great for carrying your essentials close to hand."

It's a well-designed bag that fits securely to your handlebar.

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

Carradice lists these features:

Attaches to handlebars via the straps provided – no rack/support needed

Closed cell foam spacers are included to give your hands full access to handlebars

1000 denier military grade Cordura for abrasion resistance and strength

Multi-direction reflective panels for low light safety

Lined lid protects the main compartment from the worst of the weather

Zipped main compartment and flap pocket for easier access

Showerproof zips with rattle free pullers

LED light attachment loop

Optional third strap included to attach to head tube/cables for extra security

Can also be attached to saddles that have saddle bag loops

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

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

At 3.5 litres it has plenty of space for those ride essentials.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Plenty of space and the added pouch on the flap is a great touch.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It doesn't hold its shape when empty.

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

It's cheaper than similar sized bags like the Topeak mentioned in the review, and around the same price as the Restrap – but double the size.

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

It's a good price for the size of bag and the details, and though it's not waterproof (Carradice doesn't claim it to be) and some similar bags are, I think that with the quality of the build and the design it is very good.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

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9 comments

Avatar
james-o | 10 months ago
1 like

I've got the Zipped Roll, the old-school version of this and I use it as a bar bag. Whoever though pop-studs were a good idea needs a talking to... it's a great bag apart from the way it can be a major faff to get the flap buttoned down while riding. 

Avatar
jaymack replied to james-o | 10 months ago
3 likes

If only more manufacturers would realise that what we want, what we really, really want is for the flap to open away from us when we're in the saddle. This bag is the best smallish bar bag in the market, I just wish it were made here - https://off.road.cc/content/review/bags/outer-shell-adventure-drawcord-h...

Avatar
wtjs | 10 months ago
0 likes

Another excellent bag, with a very large range of options, is from CamelChops, made in Scotland!

https://www.camelchopsgear.co.uk/product-page/the-camelchops-gen-y-blimp-2-5

 

Avatar
brooksby replied to wtjs | 10 months ago
0 likes

Some of Carradice's latest offerings do look a lot like other companies' bags.  Especially since Carradice got bought out by Aqua wotsit.

My example - compare and contrast the Wizard Works Shazam! saddlebag with the Carradice Odyssey XL bikepacking saddlebag.

Parallel evolution, I guess...

Avatar
james-o replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
0 likes

As great as Wizard Works bags are, Carradice were making that format of bags before the folks at all the newer bag companies were off stabilisers : ) I think it was Carradice who came up with the design but not entirely sure. 

All Carradice have done is make their classic cotton duck seatpack in different (lighter XPAC) materials. 

Avatar
brooksby replied to james-o | 10 months ago
0 likes

Oh, I know that, James-O!  (I have a Carradice Cadet bag which is several years old...)  It was more the design change of "rolltop interior plus extending bag, made out of cordura" that I'd meant.

Avatar
james-o replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
0 likes

Gotcha : ) 

Avatar
Paul J | 10 months ago
0 likes

There's nothing more hilarious than seeing riders on expensive aero bikes, with aero wheels, and then with a bar bag up front.

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to Paul J | 10 months ago
3 likes

Why?

1) A handlebar bag can be more aerodynamic than e.g. a saddlebag (https://www.renehersecycles.com/aerodynamics-of-real-world-bicycles/). And whilst a bag might negatively affect aerodynamics, I don't see that it necessarily contradicts aero features elsewhere - an aero bike with aero wheels and a handlebar bag is still going to be more aerodymanic than a non-aero bike with non-aero wheels, with a handlebar bag .  

2) Bags are removeable, and the same person can enjoy different types of cycling. Just because someone rides with a handlebar bag sometimes doesn't mean they don't also sometimes ride/race without one. There's no reason why they can't use the same bike for more than one purpose. 

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