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review

Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag

6
£50.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Stylish, robust and easy-access protection for essentials, let down by a poorly-designed front strap
Robust
Slim
Stylish
Easily accessible
Pricey
No direct mount
Poorly designed front end
Weight: 
132g

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The Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag is a robust, well made and stylish bit of kit. If you're looking for simple, accessible storage to mount on a knock-about-town bike, use on one-day trips or multi-day adventures, it's a reasonable option. Unfortunately, its price and a less-than-versatile attachment don't go in its favour.

Brooks is pretty late to the bikepacking party, and you'd think that might have given it time to really sweat the details. For me, they haven't quite got it right with the Top Tube Bag. It'll be a matter of opinion as to whether its pros outweigh its cons.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Just like the rest of the Scape range, the Top Tube bag is stylish and understated. Along with the Scape Panniers it will appeal to those not solely focused on bikepacking; it lends itself use on its own for quick blasts, on or off-road, and day trips.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag_packed.jpg

It still fits with the 'modular' design, tethering to the main packs if you're running other Scape things. In short it's versatile, and the Velcro mounting means it's quick and easy to swap about.

Construction and mounting

The bag is a welded construction, with a stiff base and sidewalls. It's rigid at the front too. You can see this on my gravel bike quite well.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag_gravel.jpg

The bag attaches with two Velcro straps at the top tube and a third at the steerer – they're smooth underneath and left my paintwork unmolested, but frame protection is still a good idea.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag - straps.jpg

There are three positions for the top tube straps, but only one for the front end. The straps themselves are really robust and a good length, and I got away with using one top tube strap on my mountain bike to get the bag snug to the headset.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag_mtb.jpg

The problem is, there's no scope for changing the front strap's position, so if it doesn't fall right for your stem, spacers and bars, there's nothing you can do. I fitted the Scape to several bikes, but none gave the perfect fit.

Yes, you can switch to a different, narrower strap, but for £50 it's disappointing to need extra parts.

Once on, it holds its position pretty well, though on bikes it doesn't fit well it tends to pivot a few degrees when steering. I never had issues with it coming loose though, even on rough off-road.

Stability

There is no option to direct mount it, and I'd say this is Brooks' biggest omission. The stability on all my bikes was 'acceptable' rather than good. There are no pockets or dividers either, but then there really isn't any need for them in something so small.

By my tape measure, the Scape is 21cm long and 4.7cm wide. At its highest point it's 11cm, and it tapers down to 6cm.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag - back.jpg

While the slim, tapered profile and rigid shape is good for knee clearance, it does mean you can't really overstuff it. The interior is smooth and anything inside is really well-protected, though, despite the lack of a liner, and it cleans up easily both inside and out.

> 26 of the best bikepacking bags — how to choose lightweight luggage

Waterproofing is as good as any out there. We've not had much rain recently so it's been in the shower several times, and coped admirably; no ingress whatsoever.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag - zip.jpg

The coated YKK zip and one-finger puller makes for very easy access; there's no dragging and the bag keeps its shape, so you never need two hands to open it. There's a cable exit too, which is handy.

2021 Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag - top.jpg

Oh, and it's good to see this product come mounted (with cord, not plastic) on a thick piece of card – nobody needs excessive packaging all over their (land)Scape.

Value

While there are plenty of cheaper bags available, the Brooks Scape is hardly alone at £50. The Straight Cut Top Tube Bag is £55, for instance, and Miss Grape's Node Road is £60.

If you are keen to get a direct mount bag, Apidura's Bolt-On Top Tube Pack is worth considering for £52, though the Restrap Top Tube Bag is £32.99, Deuter's Energy Bag is now £14 and the LifeLine Adventure is £15.

Conclusion

Brooks' Scape Top Tube Bag offers outstanding protection for your kit, easy access while riding, and attractive styling. Given the lack of versatility in its mounting and the relatively high price, though, it may struggle to compete in a crowded market.

Verdict

Stylish, robust and easy-access protection for essentials, let down by a poorly-designed front strap

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag

Size tested: 0.9L

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?

Brooks says: "A convenient accessory bag for much-needed items, the Scape Top Tube Bag is is a convenient, 100% waterproof, welded bikepacking bag for much-needed items, equipped with an innovative, fully waterproof, easy-pull YKK zipper to keep your bags' contents dry and safe."

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

Waterproof

Lasting performance

Practical functionality

W:21cm H:11cm D:4cm (from packaging)

Volume: 0.9l

Max load: 1kg

Weight: 100g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Keeps content secure and dry. Can sway with movement of the steerer if the front strap isn't optimally positioned.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Straps and bag are really robust.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
5/10

May sway if not fitted well - you'll need to re-adjust to avoid leg rub.

Rate the product for value:
 
3/10

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

Keeps contents dry, protected and easily accessible. While it is quick to mount, the front strap is not a great design.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Slim, robust and easy to access.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Front strap not very adaptable.

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

While there are plenty of cheaper bags available, the Brooks Scape is hardly alone at £50. The Straight Cut Top Tube Bag is £55, for instance, and Miss Grape's Node Road is £60.

If you are keen to get a direct mount bag, Apidura's Bolt-On Top Tube Pack is worth considering for £52, though the Restrap Top Tube Bag is £32.99, Deuter's Energy Bag is £14 and the LifeLine Adventure is £15.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Assuming their bike was suitable, yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Scape's robustness, style and ease of access are all excellent, but all this becomes redundant if you can't achieve a good mount. Something this expensive should fit well on a variety of bikes, and to score higher it needs a better front strap design.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 173cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Road  My best bike is: Carbon road.

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

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