The days when all we needed on a ride was a spare tube that fit into a tiny underseat bag are in the distant past. Today’s rides are longer and venture further off the beaten path. That means carrying several tubes—just in case—plus some food and a rainshell. Plus we need a place for our arm warmers when we take them off. Bikes no longer carry frame pumps, so it’s nice to have space for a minipump, too.

Overstuffing our jersey pockets doesn’t make for a comfortable ride—the old rule of letting the bike carry the load still applies. A simple handlebar bag is the best solution, as it doesn’t affect the bike’s handling like a large saddlebag with its tail-wagging-the-dog feel when we climb or sprint out of the saddle. Preliminary testing suggests that a roll bag also improves the bike’s aerodynamics by providing a fairing for the cavity under the rider’s chest, similar to a large handlebar bag.

We’ve tried many handlebar bags, but none were quite what we wanted. One was filled with standing water after riding through a brief rainshower. Another had straps that came off the first time we rode over rough ground. Others were complex and heavy, when all we want is carry a few things. So we identified the requirements for our dream handlebar roll bag:

  • Simple
  • Light
  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Affordable

We’ve teamed up with Ostrich in Japan to develop the ultimate handlebar roll bags as exclusive products for Rene Herse Cycles. A simple no-frills design keeps the bags ultralight and affordable. Quality materials, ultra-strong straps and reinforced seams mean you can trust them even on the roughest bikepacking adventures. Made from waterproof, 100% recycled Ecopak fabric with waterproof zippers, the Rene Herse Roll Bags are the bags you’ll take on every ride.

Rene Herse Roll Bags come in 3 sizes:

The Small bag has a capacity of 1.0 liter: space for two conventional inner tubes (more if you carry ultralight TPU tubes), a mini-pump (the Rene Herse NUDA fits), plus your wallet and keys. It weighs just 60 grams and costs $ 62.

The Medium bag holds 1.7 liter: room to add a lightweight rain jacket and a few energy bars. The Medium and Large bags come with stiffeners to hold their shapes even when they are only partially filled. The stiffener is yellow to make it easier to see the contents of your bag. Weight: 85 grams (+ 38 g stiffener). $ 72

The Large bag holds 3.7 liter: enough volume to fit a small camera, some spare clothes,… all the things you bring on an all-day adventure. Elastic webbing on the front is for carrying a wet raincoat or other overflow items. The Large bag weighs 157 grams (+ 38 grams stiffener). $ 98

A separate side compartment on the Large bag is perfect for things you want to access quickly without digging through your bag: energy bars, lip balm, small tools, etc.

The straps of the Large bag can be repositioned to work around lights and other accessories.

The Medium and Large bags have a side strap for attaching the Easy Access Pocket ($ 14). This provides a convenient place for small things that you want to access without having to stop and open your bag. The material of the Easy Access Pocket is slightly grippy to keep items in place (unless you ride across really rough terrain). The Easy Access Pocket is also a perfect place to put empty energy bar or gel wrappers. It’s easy to remove and clean after your ride.

All Rene Herse Handlebar Roll Bags are made from Ecopak, a 100% recycled polyester fiber that’s ultra-strong. Each bag upcycles between 15 and 25 plastic water bottles. The fabric and zippers are waterproof to keep your things dry when you encounter a rainshower or two. Pull tabs make the main zipper easy to open and close, plus they provide convenient attachments for race numbers. Reflective trim on the front helps with night-time visibility (unless you cover it with a race number).

I’ve been using prototypes of the new bags on many rides. In fact, quite a few readers have spotted them in Bicycle Quarterly and here over the last year or so. I find the Medium bag the most useful, as it allows me to carry everything I need for an all-day ride. The Small is a perfect bag for shorter rides, and the Large is great for everything this side of overnight adventures. All Rene Herse Handlebar Roll Bags are in stock now.

More Information:

  • Bags in the Rene Herse program
  • Our book The All-Road Bike Revolution explains—among many things—why a front load is easier to balance than a rear load.