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review

Restrap Race Top Tube Bag

8
£59.99

VERDICT:

8
10
A great way to carry a lot of kit on your top tube, easily fitted and swapped between bikes
Large 1.5L capacity
Rock-solid adjustable mounting
Stable sides
Large zip cover
No cable port
Weight: 
190g
Contact: 

The Restrap Race Top Tube Bag is a large, stable bag with innovative fixings that should attach to any bike. The zip cover is going to divide opinion, but apart from that, it's a cracker.

Yorkshire's Restrap has been churning out made-in-the-UK bikepacking and luggage kit for a good few years now, but the company isn't resting on its successful, chunkily-stitched laurels. In the new Race Top Tube Bag, it has added some genuinely useful features to make this staple luggage item a long-distance winner.

> Buy this online here

Firstly, the size: at 1.5L this is possibly the largest top tube bag on the market. Extending way past halfway along the top tube, even on an XL frame, at 37cm this is one loooong bag. Add in the 10cm height and 4cm width, and you can fit a lot of kit inside.

The biggest challenge with top tube bags is vertical stability. There's been a plethora of solutions here, usually variations on Velcro straps that go around and underneath the stem. Restrap has come up with a stiff fabric collar that is held in place by a loop of thin bungee cord, secured by a plastic hook on the opposite side.

2020 Restrap Race top tube bag - attachedment strap.jpg

Unlike Velcro, the bungee loop acts as a self-tensioner, ensuring that no matter where the stem turns, or what you add or remove from the bag that changes its shape or stress on the sidewalls, the bag remains upright and taut. It fits any stem setup, even very low stack options which are usually difficult for top tube bags to handle.

The Race Top Tube bag is held in place primarily by a really wide Velcro strap set 90mm from the front, and at the rear by a thin 'Hypalon' strap that slides through one of three positions on a ladder strap sewn into the bottom rear outside of the bag. The strap has a simple yet totally secure plastic snap buckle, and can be arranged so the excess strap sits upright flush with the bag side. Both straps will accommodate really wide top tubes, so you should have no issues there. Hypalon is a special kind of tough, fray-proof yet malleable rubber from the marine industry – so perfect for binding stuff to bike frames in a non-slip, non-scuff manner.

> How to go bikepacking: A beginner’s guide

Adding and removing the bag between bikes in a replicable fashion was literally a few seconds' work. So if you were concerned about it being pilfered outside a shop or cafe, fear not – just take it along.

The internal lining is a nice orange, making finding small things easier. The sides are reinforced with thin plastic, aiding the shape retention and minimising the chance of knee rub. With no internal divider to add strength this was an initial concern given the length, but I was able to stuff inner tubes, tools, muesli bars and even a light windshell aboard with no notable bulging. What you see inside are the bound seams – a layer of nylon webbing stitched over the panel fabrics for reinforcing.

2020 Restrap Race top tube bag - inside.jpg

So far, so secure storage. Which brings us to the bag's Marmite feature: the 'unique Hypalon zip cover'. This is a long flap that can be used to pull the zip open, with the usual pull-tag to close. The flap is secured to the zip itself in manufacture – if you wanted to remove it you'd have to get agricultural and bend the zip to disconnect it, but I'd suggest you don't.

2020 Restrap Race top tube bag - zip and top cover.jpg

The zip itself looks waterproof, and the flap overlaps it on both sides by about 10mm. Under the road.cc Garden Hose Of Doom (Mist Setting) for 10 minutes, there was a veritable river of water running down the length of the flap, and (as would be expected) none underneath. Upon opening, the test towel inside was dry.

2020 Restrap Race top tube bag - opened.jpg

So... is the cover really necessary? Adding weight, something to break, get caught in the wind, annoy you... In short, yes. Using a pair of pliers I undid the flap, thereby exposing the zip and its seams either side to the simulated shower, and water did indeed make its way inside. As the zip and the 'X21' fabric that it's sewn into are waterproof, the ingress was via the seams of the bag; they're reinforced internally and very strong, but not waterproof.

As with Restrap's Race Frame Bag, the trade-off here is for strength, longevity and lower cost over 100 per cent waterproofing.

> Buyer’s Guide: 17 of the best bikepacking bags

Riding about for a few months, occasionally in high winds, the zip flap was surprisingly stable – I can only recall a few occasions where I felt the need to pull it forward again a little to make it lie flat. I was concerned about knee rub but that didn't happen, even out of the saddle – of course, your mileage may vary depending on your/your bike's dimensions. The zip was easy to operate even through multiple glove layers, and there was nothing about its use that was in any way untoward.

Value and conclusion

Now, £60 for a top tube bag is right up there in the price stakes, but if you want the extra space then you're short on choice. Apidura does a 1L bag (not waterproof) for £47, and Alpkit does a few but its 1.5L Fuel Pod isn't currently available; 1L is the max, for £34.99.

The Restrap Race Top Tube Bag screams 'adventure' in big black ALL CAPS letters. Paired with their other Race series bags, it maxes out your storage and does so in a stable, easily fitted way. Recognising the balance between cost, strength, mostly-waterproofness, and Made-Locally-ness, all round it's a class bit of kit.

Verdict

A great way to carry a lot of kit on your top tube, easily fitted and swapped between bikes

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Restrap Race Top Tube Bag

Size tested: 1.5L

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?

It's for people wanting to carry a lot of gear within easy reach.

Restrap says: 'The Adventure Race Top Tube Bag has been designed as a durable and lightweight bag for ultra-distance riding, audaxes, and races. Using X21, a technical waterproof fabric, 6oz nylon lining, YKK zips, and our unique Hypalon zip cover. Reflective detailing adds visibility during night time riding.

'The bag is held firmly in place with a three-point Hypalon fitting. A new universal headset fitting and internal plastic structure keeps the bag upright, stable and secure, and is designed to work with all headsets, including bikes with a low stack height. An adjustable frame fitting means the bag will work with most frame bags, and all Restrap Frame Bags.'

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

Weight - 192g

Capacity - 1.5L

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Bombproof with high attention to detail.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Only marking down due to no cable port, really.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Early days, but bombproof construction suggests it'll last well.

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

About average I'd say for the size.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

£60 is pricey, but it's the largest top tube bag I could find.

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

Really well. The flap didn't annoy me, and swapping between bikes was dead easy.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fitting. Perfect.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I'm not 100% sold on the flap.

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

Obviously at £60 it's expensive for a top tube bag – but if you need to carry a lot of kit, it's about your only option and per-cc it's on a par or slightly better than others. Apidura does a 1L bag (not waterproof) for £47, and Alpkit does a few but they currently max out at 1L and £35.

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 very good; if it were properly waterproof, it would be near-perfect.

Overall rating: 8/10

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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