Craft Cadence Handle Bar Bag: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
Recently I introduced the Craft Cadence Handle Bar Bag and now after having used it in various ways I am ready to give my final take on this unique solution for carrying stuff. I’ve used it on four different bicycles and I have carried varying types of cargo. In this final post I will give my opinions on what this bag is best for and where it might have some shortcomings. Okay, here we go……
At first I was using it on a ‘townie’ bike I have here and it worked great for errands like taking the mail down to the Post Office, or for picking up a few items for the kitchen from the local convenience store. I also used it on a 112 mile gravel ride as a way to increase my water bottle carrying capacity. Then I transferred it over to a couple of other bikes to see how it could be used as a place to stow extra clothing for possible bikepacking duties.
As I reported in my opener on the Craft Cadence bag, it is easily mounted to a handle bar and the very stout straps are held in place by a steel buckle with two prongs which mate into holes molded into the straps. Those straps pass through slots in the bag which are made out of tarpaulin material which is extremely tough and I cannot see where there would be a problem with those tearing unless it were for reasons of a crash or overloading of the bag with something really heavy. Like a bowling ball. So, yeah, this bag’s mounting system, albeit simple, is stout. There is also a hook and loop strap which captures the bottom of the bag and can hold that against your head tube to keep the bottom of the bag secure and under control. More about this later.
Okay, with simple, lighter items, like clothes, or small things purchased at the store, this bag is basically invisible in a riding sense. Only when you start getting cargo weight up do you start to feel inertia on the bars, but after a while I was acclimated to that. Even with two full water bottles in the bag. And by the way, that’s about as much weight as I’d feel comfortable carrying for long distances. Not because the bag isn’t up to the challenge, but because any more weight would start to negatively affect handling enough that it would annoy me. You? I don’t know….
The tarpaulin material is really tough stuff, and I don’t doubt that this bag would last quite a long time with reasonable care. It cleans up well, and is very water resistant. But it also does not stretch. Like- at all, so getting some things in the bag that almost fit is pretty hard to do. If the Craft Cadence bag material stretched even a tiny bit, it might be even more versatile. That said, I am a notorious over-stuffer, so take that with a grain of salt. I was a bit dismayed when some things in boxes were juuust too big, and I had to find another way to get them home. Things that I could stuff into my Revelate Tangle Bag and, you know, make it work.
Things like clothing, nutrition, smaller items, and the like are best for this bag. I think I’d use it for extra outerwear when I was looking at variable weather situations because the stuff would probably stay dry in the Craft Cadence bag. Commuting with this bag would be a great idea as well if you need to carry smaller items and with the included shoulder strap, you can take the bag with you into a store for a quick errand run, or in to your workplace.
There were a couple of things that were bothersome with the Craft Cadence bag besides the material not being very forgiving when trying to stuff in odd shaped objects. One of the surprising characteristics which cropped up was a scrunchy-squeak noise when heavier objects would move against the tarpaulin material inside the bag. Water bottles did this, and a few other things with heft and smoother surfaces would cause this noise as well. I could wrap things with a cloth, or set a rag in the bottom of the bag to alleviate that, so there was a solution to avoid that noise.
Those straps that hold the bag to the bar? Great straps. Very strong. Not very stretchy. This makes getting the bag off a bit of a chore. I would imagine that smaller hands with less strength would really struggle with that issue I had. A stretchier compound of rubber would help here, but I suppose strength was the main concern when designing those straps. In a way, I can’t argue with that.
Finally, you recall that above I mentioned I was going to bring up how the bottom of the bag is held against the head tube with that hook and loop closure? Well, it is a very secure way to go about controlling the load and keeping the bag from swaying forward from the bike, but this puts that tarpaulin material right against your head tube. I actually rubbed through the paint on my carbon frame on my 112 mile ride due to this. Perhaps Craft Cadence could put some softer material in that area, and maybe give the option to apply a bit of protective clear tape to the rider by providing a small strip in with the purchase price. A bit of instruction and I think that might save a lot of frustration down the road, especially if folks give this bag a job carrying stuff on long, unpaved routes.
At The Finish: The Craft Cadence Handle Bar Bag is a very sturdy, well made bag which has a lot of versatility and is simple to use. I think it is unique in a world of handle bar bags which look mostly like colorful, overgrown Tootsie Rolls. Its flatter shape hangs nicely and stays out of the way of the rider and can be clear of accessories mounted to the handle bar with ease.
Some might lament the fact that it isn’t really a bag you could easily gain access to the cargo with while riding. I guess that never really bothered me, but I can see where that might be a valid complaint with this design. Otherwise, I think the Craft Cadence Handle Bar Bag is a near-hit. The few issues I had with it could be tweaked out of this bag in the future with some small changes. As it stands, if you address the nits I had, (which could be done if you are aware of them), I think this bag is pretty good. If Craft Cadence sees fit to address these small faults, well that would raise my opinion quite a bit.
For more on Craft Cadence see their website here: https://craftcadence.com/
Note: Craft Cadence sent over their Handle Bar Bag for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.