If you're looking for a stylish way to to carry a few essentials, Louis & Joy's Handlebar Bag is a good choice. Its very well made, with interior cushioning that can put your mind at ease that valuables are going to stay safe on your adventures. This standard size on test is a bit limiting – 1.5 litres is on the small side for bar-mounted bags – but there is a 'biggie' option for a few dollars more...
Made in Houston, the cylindrical Handlebar Bag is made from a waterproof canvas lined with nylon and features one internal storage area, along with two external pockets.
Easy grab access to the main compartment is through a water-resistant zip. This quick on-the-go access design – with a zipper on top instead of a roll top closure – isn't going to be fully waterproof but this high quality build does hold off showers, just not prolonged rain. If storing anything valuable and the weather looks changeable, I'd bring a dry bag along.
The zipper is missing a large loop for easier grabbing with gloves. You can of course add one yourself, but it would have been useful if included.
Two cam locking straps are simple to use for attaching the bag to your bar, and these provide a completely solid hold when locked in place. The distance between the two is 11cm and they measure 18cm long each. Unlike a voile strap that uses holes for notching up, the cam lock can be secured at any point in its length, for micro-accurate tightening.
Two woven elastic cords are also included for connecting to your head tube to prevent rocking movements.
Inside there's a foam and plastic insert giving the bag both cushioning and rigidity. It's not very thick – only half a centimetre – but the inclusion of this soft padding made me feel a lot more comfortable storing valuables, including my phone and GoPro, in the main compartment.
If you are using this bag to stuff a gilet or jacket coated in mud splatters, the interior is going to get mucky in no time. It's very handy then that the liner is removable, making it easier for wiping down and cleaning the bag.
There are three sizes available. I've got the standard on test, which measures 19cm wide and 10cm deep (1.5 litres capacity). The biggie is the same width but a little deeper at 12.7cm (2.4 litres capacity), while the mini is 16 x 9.5cm (1.1 litre capacity).
The size of this bag certainly looks unobtrusive on your handlebar, and it doesn't get in the way of your riding in the slightest. I did find the capacity of 1.5 litres rather limited for storing a range of items, though. The width is long enough for carrying a phone, and alongside this I had room to store a gilet, GoPro and couple of energy bars. Given the interior padding, it would have been great if it had the capacity to carry my Sony A6400 – which is quite a compact camera – but it is too awkward a squeeze.
Down each side are exterior pockets. At most these are only 5cm deep and there's no elasticated top for tightening the entry/exit point. There's little security to these, and I struggled to find a use for them at all. Even used wrappers don't stay put very well, so I moved away from stashing those there as I didn't want to risk littering.
The finish of this bag is so stylish in its simplicity. It looks very neat with all the features such as the zip, straps, elastic cords and logo in a black finish. The printed Louis & Joy logo is visible at the front of the bag, but it's not excessive, and the available bag colourways are tasteful and there's loads of choice.
As well as the forest green on test, with the inside of the side pockets and main compartment a red fabric, there are 12 other colours to choose from in this design. Then there are two-tone options with the whole side panel of the bag featuring a second colour, and Louis & Joy even has some 'colour block' designs with a four-colour mix.
Most of the shades used are subtle, but there are some camo options if you crave something louder. There's a very high chance you'll find one to match your kit, which is what matters, right?!
Costing £57 for the standard, this is cheaper than many handlebar bags, though it is also a little smaller. The slightly larger 2.15-litre Wizard Works Lil Presto! Barrel Bag is £70, and for an extra fiver there are some stylish custom designs. But Louis & Joy's biggie option has a 2.4-litre capacity for £65, which makes it better value in terms of size than the Wizard Works.
The Ortlieb Ultimate6 S Plus Waterproof Handlebar Bag has an even greater 5 litres for £75, but it arguably values functionality (with its smartphone window) over style.
Aesthetic finishing details are top notch on Louis & Joy's bar bag, and the removable internal padded liner is well thought out, as it keeps valuables safe and can be cleaned easily.
But some other functionality is overlooked. There's no zip tag for easy grabbing with gloves, no reflective details, no light hooks, the external pockets aren't deep enough for stashing dirty used wrappers, and the standard size is limited to just stashing a few essentials.
If you are here because looks matter most and you don't want any of these extra touches that will ruin the simplistic styling, this is a very high quality option. The attaching system is effective and the water-resistant zipper will keep the contents inside nice and dry except on prolonged rainy days.
High-quality, stylish bag with inside padding for small valuables, though not much room for many...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Louis and Joy Forest Handlebar Bag
Size tested: Standard
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?
A stylish handlebar bag, for those preferring simplistic styling over lots of functional extras.
Louis & Joy says: "Handlebar bag made from waterproof canvas lined with nylon. Single zipped compartment and side pockets. Two cam locking handlebar straps and two woven elastic cords to connect either your cables or head tube. Water resistant zippers and seam sealed."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Louis & Joy lists:
Width: 6 1/4 in
Height: 3 3/4 in
Width: 7 1/2 in
Height: 4 in
Width: 7 1/2 in
Height: 5 in
Material: Waterproof Canvas & Nylon
Made in Houston, Texas.
Very well made.
Inside padding is a great touch for storing valuables and the cam locking handlebar straps are effective for attaching to your bars for a secure hold. Elastic cords also help to prevent any rocking movements.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great for storing a few choice essentials on your bars, with easy on-the-go access thanks to its zipper opening.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stylish looks, padding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Standard size is a bit limiting, and the side pockets aren't deep enough or elasticated to make me feel comfortable stashing anything there.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheaper than other handlebar bags we have tested on road.cc, but the capacity is also less.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, in a colour that matches my kit.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a very stylish, easy-access handlebar option and the quality of the build is great throughout. The removable padded liner inside is a useful touch and the cam locking handlebar straps are effective, but the side pockets were unusable in my experience due to not being deep enough or elasticated. It's good overall, but more secure side pockets would make it better – and I'd like just a little more room, though there is a 'biggie' option too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track
Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.