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review

Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag

8
£39.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Rugged and strongly water-resistant bar bag with some nice touches, but check clearance on smaller framesets
Rugged material
Versatile design
Decent capacity
Can block lights and computers
Weight: 
357g

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The Craft Cadence Handlebar Bag is aimed at commuters and day riders. It may lack the outright carrying capacity and quick release mounts commonly found on touring models, but these things aside it's well-made, reassuringly secure and very waterproof.

For the main bag, Craft Cadence has gone the high-frequency welded tarpaulin route, reminiscent of UPSO's range. While the IPX5 rating means it isn't waterproof in the submersible sense, combined with the 'clam shell' design it shuts the door to heavy rain. I've had no issues throughout the test period whatsoever.

> Buy this online here

Total capacity is 3.5 litres. The deep main compartment features a mesh pocket for phones, wallets and the like, while the rest is open plan and lends itself beautifully to the end-of-day 'bung in and get home' school of packing.

2021 Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag - with shoulder strap.jpg

At 20cm tall it comfortably swallows tool bags, spare tubes, gloves, arm and leg warmers, a micro jacket, snacks, a USB charger, a spare battery and lights – oh, and its own detachable shoulder strap – without signs of indigestion. I had no issues with bounce, bob or sway. Just make sure there's enough space between your bars and front tyre to accommodate it.

2021 Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag 2.jpg

Externally there is a lighting tab and retro-reflective detailing, though the tab is the best host to clip-on blinkies, rather than chunky torch types. This Moon Nebula Front Light is as big and heavy as I've dared go.

2021 Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag - reflective and light loop.jpg

Mounts

These are what I'd describe as 'watch straps on steroids,' but Craft Cadence also sells Velcro versions if that's what you're gagging for.

One thing to note is that the tighter you pull the straps, the higher the bag sits. In some instances, this may require relocation of lights and other accessories to suit. The straps have clearly inscribed increments, making it easy to match either side.

2021 Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag - straps.jpg

There is a third stabiliser strap, made from Velcro and designed to wrap around the headtube, for added stability. This arrangement is less convenient than the popular KlickFix or other quick release systems, and Velcro can leave 'tan lines' in your paintwork, so placing 'helicopter' tape around the head tube is a sensible precaution.

Weatherproofing

As a matter of course, I subjected this to my close range, 3-minute garden hose test and was pleasantly surprised to find the contents remained bone dry. Out on the road, torrential thundery rain simply beaded up and rolled away, and the inside remained dry even after 2-3 hours. Being tarpaulin, the outside is also easily wiped clean.

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After 350 miles of use, there's scant evidence of wear to any part of it.

Value

The Craft Cadence is competitive, given its specification and capacity. The Altura Heritage Bar Bag is pretty similar and, although it has a Rixen & Kaul mount, that's a double-edged sword – it's very stable but slow to swap between bikes – and the price is a good deal steeper at £60.

You can go significantly cheaper than the Craft Cadence, though – 7L 'barrel type' bar bags start under £20, while 8.5-litre tarpaulin versions can be had for under £30. Those on a tight budget and willing to sacrifice some water-repellency may find 3L BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bag With Phone Navigation Pocket worth a closer look, but you get what you pay for – it's let down by the pocket's positioning and so-so fitting kit.

Summary

Minor niggles aside, I think Craft Cadence have struck the right balance in terms of pricing, design and specification for commuting and general riding. The strap system might not be to everyone's taste, but it's infinitely superior to Velcro in my book, and more universally accommodating than models employing quick-release brackets.

Verdict

Rugged and strongly water-resistant bar bag with some nice touches, but check clearance on smaller framesets

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Craft Cadence Waterproof Handlebar Bag

Size tested: 3.5 litres

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?

Craft Cadence says: "Designed to complement a backpack for commuting or as a standalone lightweight organiser for day riding, this Handlebar Bag will keep your key belongings dry while giving you quick access during your ride."

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

Craft Cadence lists:

Seam welded clam shell design enables IPX5 waterproofing with easy one handed access to essentials

3 – 3.5 litre capacity perfect for phones, DSLR camera and set of lens, external battery pack, keys and other essentials

Three point mount with non-slip belt system on handlebar, suitable for road bikes, hybrids and folding bikes

Detachable strap that turns bag into casual shoulder bag when taken off the bike

Tough wearing tarpaulin material will take abuse for years and years

Internal mesh pocket for easy organisation of phones, battery packs, wallets, etc.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Solid and highly water repellent. Strap design is particularly good.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Good across the board.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Well made throughout and no obvious weakspots.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

Feels solid, but crucially stable and supportive to heavier loads.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Good value, given the build and specification, although there are cheaper bikepacking models if price is your absolute bottom line.

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

This is a very well-executed bar bag for moderate loads and in my view, more practical than full-on bikepacking models.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Simple but solidly made.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

May require some reorganisation of lights, computers and similar accessories.

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

The Craft Cadence is competitive, given its specification and capacity. The Altura Heritage Bar Bag is pretty similar and, although it has a Rixen & Kaul mount, that's a double-edged sword – it's very stable but slow to swap between bikes – and the price is a good deal steeper at £60.

You can go significantly cheaper than the Craft Cadence, though – 7L 'barrel type' bar bags start under £20, while 8.5-litre tarpaulin versions can be had for under £30. Those on a tight budget and willing to sacrifice some water-repellency may find 3L BTR Water Resistant Handlebar Bag With Phone Navigation Pocket worth a closer look, but you get what you pay for – it's let down by the pocket's positioning and so-so fitting kit.

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

Minor niggles aside, I think Craft Cadence have struck the right balance in terms of pricing, design and specification for commuting and general riding. It useful and very weatherproof, and an eight.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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