Craft Cadence handlebar bag is a small bag made for keeping those key belongings dry and easy to reach. The London based brand has developed this bag with a focus on bike commuting, but in my case it’s been serving me on my weekend rides for keeping my DSLR camera safe and easy to reach. Here are my thoughts on the Craft Cadence Handlebar Bag.
Craft Cadence handlebar bag has a capacity of 3 to 3,5 L without compartments, except for a small 15x15cms mesh pocket attached to the back. The bag is built on waterproof 500D tarpaulin with seamless welding construction and the back is reinforced to help keep the shape. The top folds down and clips for a waterproof enclosure. The bag straps directly to the handlebars with a couple of plastic belts plus one velcro strap for the lower part. There are two lateral attachements for a shoulder strap. As the bag has been designed primarily for commuting there are reflector on the side and the front as well as an extra mount for attaching a small front light.
At first sight the bag looks well made, it gives the impression of an item that’s going to age well. I notice that the seems are strong, the waterproof 500D tarpaulin looks sturdy and thick, the straps look and feel like they will hold for a long time, the handlebar belts are made of a type of plastic that’s flexible but strong at the same time.
The material is like that of a dry bag, thick plastic fabric. The seems are also strong and overlap ensuring the complete waterproofness of the bag. The top of the bag folds down tightly, so there is no way water can come inside. I haven’t had the chance to test it in the rain so I put the bag straight under the tap in my kitchen sink. No water got inside the bag.
Test of waterproofness in the sink
Attachment to the handlebar and stability
Two plastic belts are provided with the bag to attach it to the handlebar. Honestly, I find the belt system fantastic ! It’s very secure, easy to install and clean looking. I prefer it over velcro straps because they feel more secure. I also prefer them over fixed brackets, like many touring handlebar bags, because I really don’t like having a bracket fixed to my handlebar, mostly because of aesthetics. The belts can be positioned 6,5cm appart to 7,5cm appart, so there is 1cm to play horizontally. Depending on how tight the belts are, the bag could sit at handlebar hight or a couple of centimeters lower.
Belt handlebar straps & velcro strap for the lower part
Once I learned how the straps worked I could detach the bag from the handlebar in about 10 seconds and put it back in about 20. That’s very practical if you need to switch the bag from one bike to another or leave the bike parked somewhere in the streets and take the bag with you.
"Unstrapping the belts takes me about 10 seconds..."
There is one velcro strap to attach the lower part of the bag to the head tube or around the spacers under the stem. The velcro strap can be positioned higher or lower, there are 3 cms to play with it vertically.
In terms of stability, I’ve gone for off road rides, double track and chunky gravel, I even fell once quite badly and the bag never moved, no bouncing around or getting loose (and you'll be glad to know that my camera survived the fall too).
The bag has a good size for commuting, sporty rides or light touring. Here is what I can fit inside: a light rain jacket, my wallet and keys, one photo camera and a small go pro. The dimensions of the bag are: H 20cm x D 9.5cm x W 27cm (at widest, 18cm bottom width)
The Craft Cadence handlebar bag price for Europe is just under 50€ which I consider to be good value for the money. Other similar waterproof handlebar bags like the Ortlieb Accessory Pack or the Topeak Barloader are around 55 to 60€ which isn’t expensive either. However, these two other bags have been designed to work as an accessory to a larger roll bikepacking bag, so they sit on top of another bag. Thus, the direct attachment to the handlebar hasn’t been optimized as much as the Craft Cadence.
Lights and computer/cell phone
Because of the configuration of the front end of my bike, the bag was touching the top of my front light, I needed the bag to be 5mm higher, or put the light 5mm lower. I solved the problem by putting the light on the side of the fork. I could have also just bent the light bracket downward or replace it for a lower one.
For my cell phone I use the Quadlock attachment system on my 70mm long stem. There was no interference between the cellphone holder and the bag.
There are reflectors on the side and the front of the bag, as well as an extra mount for attaching a small front light.
It is possible to use this bag as a shoulder bag. There is a strap provided and side attachments on bag.
A small 15x15cms mesh pocket is attached to the inside back of the bag.
What could be improved ?
When the bag is holding tight against the handlebar, the two lower screws of the stem’s clamp rub slightly against the fabric, this could cause the fabric to break in the long term I imagine. I solved this by putting some thick tape over the screw’s heads. It would be a nice improvement to see a little external padding right on the back central area where it’ll come in contact with the stem screws.
I wish the roll top was expandable with adjusting straps, like most dry bags where you can choose to do one fold or many depending on the volume you want to carry and the waterproofness you want to achieve.
I would love to see a couple of lateral mesh pockets, to put small items that can get wet like an inner tube or an apple.
+ Good value for the price
- The roll top is not expandable
+ Very stable
- The front strap is not adjustable
+ Easy and quick to attach to the handlebar (and detach as well)
- The front screws of the stem rub against the back of the bag slightly
+ Good capacity for short rides
+ Good quality manufacturing
+ Excellent waterproofness
+ Very light
3 - 3.5 litres
H 20cm x D 9.5cm x W 27cm (at widest, 18cm bottom width)
500D tarpaulin (seamless welding construction)
about 48€ for Europe (oct 2021)
The bag can come in handy for a quick snack stop