Craft Cadence Top Tube Bag: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted
The season for gravel events is getting started now, and we’ve got a review of something useful for you from Craft Cadence in their new Top Tube Bag that might make those events a bit more pleasant. Top tube bags, or “bento bags” as they are sometimes referred to as, have become a common item on bicycles in gravel events. The handy storage bags have even spawned the propagation of new braze-on mounts on many newer gravel bikes.
What It Is: Craft Cadence’s new “Top Tube Bag” is waterproof but it also has a unique magnetic closure. Here is the feature set as outlined on the web page for this product:
- No more broken zippers – seam welded zipperless design with magnetic enclosure enables full waterproofing and easy access to essentials
- Generous capacity – 1 – 1.5 litre capacity perfect for snacks, battery packs and other ride essentials.
- Potential for mounting phones and computers – a loop at the top enables mounting of smartphones and cycling computers (accessories not included, soon to be available)
- Ease of access while riding – simply flip the bag open and back with one hand while riding
- Electronics friendly – cable outlet with rain cover for battery packs and other electronics for longer trips
- Grippy straps for stability – straps are covered with rubber for stability against the frame
The Top Tube Bag is constructed from seamless, ‘600D Polyester’ coated with TPU and has a magnetic/Velcro closure. An inner zipper pocket secures money, keys, or things you want handy. The straps are rubber coated for better grip on the frame while the front/stem strap is removable in case you are one to slam that stem. Claimed weight is 150 grams ,(and actually did weigh that), and the Top Tube Bag sells for $53.99 USD.
First Impressions: The Top Tube Bag is one of many such bags on the market which can range in size from barely there to enormous. The various shapes these bags can come in ranges all over the place as well. So, I was curious to see where Craft Cadence situated their take on this style of bag.
I think that what we have here is a bag that is on the smaller end of the scale, but not tiny. Closer to ‘mid-range’ on the scale of top tube bags I see. At a claimed one to one point five liter capacity, it isn’t the bag you are going to stuff a ton of things in to. In fact, the construction of this bag lends itself to not over-stuffing, as it has a fairly rigid shape. You may like that, as it will keep Craft Cadence’s version of this sort of bag from bulging out and possibly grazing knees while doing any standing climbing.
Of course, the star of this show is the flip-top, magnetic closure which avoids that struggle you may have had with some bags of this ilk and their stubborn zipper pulls. In fact, the flip-top style of bag is nice for those ‘no-look’ opening and closing maneuvers. Could Craft Cadence’s version be as easily used? Speaking of zippers, this bag is not totally devoid of the zipper, as it does have a nice zippered inside pocket which I thought was a nice place for a bit of money, or to put a key in, or small tools that might get lost otherwise while floating around in the main compartment.
Ride Performance: Mounting the bag was easy-peasy. Nothing unusual to report there other than it did have strap placement which cleared my Revelate Tangle Bag, so I was pleased with that. Now to load it up.
Again, this is more of a minimalist top tube bag. I found that a tube, a smaller multi-tool, and maybe a couple of gel packets would fill up the interior fairly well. I could get my iPhone 12 with its Rokform case to barely fit into the bag securely. Of course, Craft Cadence offers a possible mount on the flip-top with its slotted bit there, but a big weight on the flip-top kind of makes the flip-top thing a bit more cumbersome and clumsy. I’d feel the same with the idea of putting a GPS device on there as well. But it is there if you want to use that.
In use the top is easy to flip up and flip back. I was a bit more leery of whether or not the magnet actually was holding the lid since there is very little feedback to assure you that you have it secured. This made ‘no-look’ opening and closing a bit less appealing to me, but if you are okay with not hearing a click or clack, or something, then you have more trust than I do.
Another thing, and this may be only an issue in very extreme circumstances, but a strong crosswind can flop the bag open at unawares. I had this happen, but I was riding in winds which were gusting up over 40mph at the time, so, this may be something you’d never experience. Still- this is something to be aware of. I should note that there is a strip of Velcro along the inside edge of the flip-top which would aid in keeping that from occurring, but you have to consciously press the edge inward by hand to really get the hook and loop fabric to grab. Besides those two issues I had, the Top Tube Bag is a great bag which stays put on the top tube and gets out of the way of your pedaling while standing. It sheds water well, so if you do get caught in the rain, your things should stay dry and free of mud and dirt.
At The Finish: I was not impressed by the ‘mount’ on the lid for a computer or phone. That idea seems a bit awkward when that lid gets flipped and it just seems that having the weight of a phone or GPS device there would be clumsy. Again- you may have more trust than I there. I’d also prefer a little more feedback from the magnet. A loud click, or some way to understand without looking that I successfully closed the lid. I should mention that every time I flipped the bag shut it did close successfully, if not a bit off-kilter from level, so maybe I’m just a bit too anxious about losing stuff.
The wind issue is something to think about if you ride where high-cross winds are prevalent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry much about that happening.
Overall I think this is a great bag for commuting, shorter rides where I don’t need a lot, or for minimalist who will only be putting nutrition, or the like in the Top Tube Bag to have it ready for a one-handed retrieval. The magnetic lid is better than a zipper in this way. I liked that there is a cable port, so that might come in handy for a back-up battery for lighting, for instance.
The size of the Top Tube Bag is ‘just right’ for racing, and with its semi-rigid shape, it will stay out of your way better than other bags which may be too wide or bulge out when loaded. It is a handsome bag and will look ‘right’ on any gravel bike. I liked that it is waterproof and it also cleans up pretty easily as well. The bag is very well made and for what Craft Cadence asks for it, I think it is a great value.
For more on this product and other Craft Cadence offerings, see their site here: https://craftcadence.com/