Lead Out Bags: Quick Review – by Grannygear
For years I was a mountain biker. Cut me and I would bleed dirt. As the sport developed, we began to travel farther and farther into the backcountry. When the hydration pack was invented, we had no excuses on whether we could bring along the stuff we needed. Clothing, food, supplies and even water. No problem. It was our version of ‘tactical’ cycling gear.
And we needed that because we could ride all day and never be close to a store or gas station or whatever. It was bring it or not have it.
Now the roadies were different. They had, to quote Gollum, “pocketses”; three of them, all built into the back of the skin tight jerseys they loved to wear. Handy, those pockets were, and since you were usually reasonably close to civilization on a road bike, they were typically enough.
Gravel bikes are kind of a blend of MTBs and road. You do often have pockets in your clothing when riding them, but you also can get way far away from town too. So the need to carry a bit more with you seems of greater importance on a gravel bike. And many riders on gravel tend to eschew that typical tight fitting roadie stuff and flannel shirts have no big pockets in them.
Enter the soft bags which can be attached to a bike and removed easily when not needed. These come in all kinds of sizes and mounting locations. Top tube bags (Bento Bags), larger saddle bags, frame bags, and bar bags all allow for carrying extra gear and supplies.
I have been using a frame bag on my gravel bikes ever since I began riding them. I never take it off. It is just so darn useful and I sure do not stress over the slight bit of extra weight it adds. We will let the road guys worry about grams. It is made by Revelate and has lasted me for years and spanned two bikes. It’s a peach.
But it is also, perhaps, a bit too much for a day where you just want to carry a few things more than normal or to unburden your pockets a bit. And that is where these two bags from Lead Out Gear come in. I have a sample of their Bar Bag and Frame Bag.
Of the two, the Bar Bag is my favorite. Here is what their website has to say about it:
Free up your pockets and easily stash your phone, snacks, wallet, camera, and other accessories in our water-resistant bike handlebar bag. With 1.3 liters of storage (8″ x 4″), our small handlebar bag is perfect for wherever the ride takes you.
Quickly Secures to Bars: Strap it to your road bike, gravel grinder, knobby mountain bike, town bike, e-bike, or anything with bars. Quick-release buckles make the bar bag easy to add and remove, leaving enough room for lights and out-front bike computers.
Rain and Muck Resistant: Our water-resistant fabric and zippers help keep your items safe in transitional weather. While able to handle mud splatter, road grime, and light rain – keep in mind this is not waterproof. A durable micro-grid ripstop nylon interior with a flat mesh divider add for extra functionality.
Low Light Visibility: A retroreflective stripe helps you be seen in low-light and daytime conditions, providing additional safety on your ride. ride
It is interesting that I never remember seeing small bags like this before gravel bikes came along. I do recall seeing larger bags on the bars that were for touring, but they were bloated things that took over the whole front of the bike. But these small bags like the Lead Out…they are very cool and quite practical. They do have to impact aerodynamics but let’s leave that concern to the roadies as well. We are having too much fun riding to worry about that.
The Lead Out Bar Bag is a pretty simple deal. It seems well made. The zippers look pretty well sealed to the elements and while they do not claim waterproof for this guy, it should shed causal moisture. It has one main compartment and a mesh divider inside. There is a tiny side pocket with a zipper as well.
The bag attaches with two simple straps over/around the bars and cables and is further secured by a bungee corded strap at the head tube or stem, depending on your set-up. It works well enough although bar bags are always fighting for real estate in a crowded space. I did find that my computer mount and a blinky was pushing the straps into a small window of opportunity.
I noticed that the photos from Lead Out showing this on a bike are installed on bikes that have minimal cabling, either internal to the bars or electronic/wireless. That is fine, but most of us are riding gravel or road bikes with mechanical shifting and external cabling, so a bar bag has to work around all the required loops of cable and hose line. It’s a bit of a puzzle sometimes.
The Lead Out Bar Bag pretty small and that is both good and bad. It’s big enough to hold things like a ‘normal’ sized iPhone, a snack bar, keys, a mini pump, etc, but one good set of arm warmers might be too much. Still I think the size is pretty good. If I could I would add a second model with a bit more size for gravel bikes. Maybe about a third more real estate…could be good. Or not. But I would like to take the mesh divider in this one and make it full fabric so a phone in there would not be resting right against a mini pump, etc.
Oh…and that small side pocket? What is that for? I could not get a car key/fob in there, even with a tiny key ring on it. I might prefer this for stuff like lip balm or a gel, etc, but then a stretchy pouch would be better than a zipped pouch.
And while I am asking for the moon, albeit a small one, how about a sewn in place for credit cards or such things? Like two small pouches sewn into the back wall of the bag? Oh…maybe a key clip too.
Now my wife saw me using this and borrowed it for her road bike for a longer than normal ride. She liked it so much she bought one off of the Lead Out website. Who says reviews do not work?
The Frame Bag is made similar to the Bar Bag:
Whether you are heading out for an extended weekend adventure or staying local, the Mini Bike Frame Bag is ready for any adventure. Rock it on your roadie, gravel rig, aero bike, and casual cruiser. Our universal fit is the perfect size to carry more on your ride without having to ride bow-legged with a full-frame bike bag. The size of our bicycle frame bag also allows you to easily access regular-sized water bottles in cages below.
Store your slimmer items, like a phone or wallet, in the lay-flat 2D non-drive-side pocket. Use the frame bags 1.5 liters 3D drive-side compartment to stash outer layers, food, and tools.
Neatly and aerodynamically tucked in your front triangle. The mini frame bag is secured with bungee cords and soft but strong velcro that keep your frame safe from blemishes. A semi-structural foam liner keeps the shape of the bag and ensures the bag contents won’t rattle against your frame.
Our water-resistant fabric and zippers help keep your items safe in transitional weather. A retroreflective stripe helps you be seen in low-light and daytime conditions, providing additional safety on your ride.
Size: 11in x 13.5in x 8.5in [2in wide]
Now I like this a bit less than the bar bag, mostly because it takes up a fair amount of room and yet does not seem to hold very much in return. The side pouches do not really expand well, so with the center foam and the slim profile…well, it better be pretty flat or compressible item(s) in there.
Now there is another thing about frame bags…you need a pretty big frame size to use them and not sacrifice water bottle space. Mrs. Grannygear could not use this bag without giving up one of her water bottles and impeding access to the other.
If I could add some pleats to the frame bag so it could ‘puff up’ a bit when stuffed, I think that would be good.
For my road bike, I have a couple of Jaand Frame Packs that I use for long rides where I might need extra stuff. That is a simple and stuffable bag that basically sits in the same spot. I prefer it over the Lead Out Frame Bag. That said, right now on my Ritchey Road Logic Disc road bike there is a Lead Out Bar Bag attached to the bars and it might just stay there. I would not keep the Jaand bag on the road bike in the same way.
I bet most roadies would embrace the Bar Bag as the small size is not enough to ruin the lines on their carbon fiber uber bikes. And it comes in Rapha Black too. Perfect. As well, the move toward internal cabling/hoses on newer road bikes really opens up room for a bag like this. I am old school and prefer my cables where I can see them. And you kids get off my lawn!
I used both of the Lead Out bags for a gravel event in the Sierras on the Masi test bike. They were just perfect for that day as I needed a biiiit more storage for in between SAG stops.
At $40.00 for the bar bag and $65.00 for the frame bag, a hundy gets you a couple of bags from a small US company looking to make a dent in the industry, seemingly off to a good start.
For more on the Lead Out bags see their website here; https://leadoutgear.com/
Note: Lead Out Bags sent out the Bar Bag and the Frame Bag for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We were not paid or bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.