You’ll probably know Chrome industries or Chrome for their excellent courier or messenger bags from way back in the 90’s. They continue to make those bags from their San Francisco base but now make a whole range of stuff from casual clothing, cycle commuter clothing and shoes to just about every bag you can think of. They also ship to the UK.
The guys at Chrome sent me two handle bar bags to try, The Helix seen above and a Doubletrack. I’ve been running the Helix for a couple of months on various bikes to get a good feel of how they suit gravel riding an the kind of conditions that the UK can meter out. The Doubletrack has just taken the Helix’s place on my bars and that review will be in a few weeks when I get some riding time in with it.
The Helix is a 3 litre bag measuring 6″ x 9″ x 3″ and weighs 0.6lbs. it’s made from a nylon and polyester mix and the interior is lined so there are zero issues with annoying rattles.
There are two small mesh pockets inside but otherwise it is just an open space. There are no external pockets. Two sturdy velcro straps fix the bag to the bars and once set they are 100% reliable and don’t budge. There is a stabilising strap at the back that clips around the head tube.
In use the Helix can take quite a lot of kit despite what looks like a small space. I had arranged a group ride, the first after the latest Covid lockdown and because pubs and shops were still closed I suggested everyone took a beer and a pie with them on the ride so we could have a socially distanced picnic. In the Helix was a large sausage roll, a 330ml can of beer, a waterproof jacket (that folds up into it’s own pocket) a GoPro camera and mini tripod, a phone, my keys and a cycling cap. Loaded up like this especially with the weight of the beer the Helix remained steady even over some very uneven trails and didn’t flap around.
I rode with the bag in all conditions, sun, wind and on one occasion a couple of hours ride in torrential rain. Chrome do not claim that the bag is waterproof at all on there website but i can confirm after this thorough drenching the contents of the Helix were as dry as when i put them into the bag.
In fact the Helix was a fit and forget item it was so reliable. If i could make one change to make it better though would be the zip. it works well, it never stalls or clogs but for me it is on the wrong side of the bag! It is sited close to the handle bar rather than the front so if you run lights on your bars or a Garmin etc these get in the way of the operation of the zip and you have to stretch around these to open the bag. Site the zip on the leading edge and it’d be perfect.
The Helix has another trick, literally up its sleeve because tucked away at the rear of the bag are two straps that convert the bag to a waist or across the body pack. this came in very handy when i visited my local bike shop and inadvertently picked up a new helmet. I obviously couldn’t wear two helmets so I converted the helix to a waist pack and slung the helmet in its bag over the strap and made it home without incident.
After all these rides, in sun, mud and at one point snow, the Helix just needed a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and it looks as good as new. it’s taken all I can throw at it without any effect at all. I’ve even dome T shirt deliveries with it
Should you buy one? The helix is very competitively priced at £55, it’s sturdy and reliable and can take more stuff than it looks like it can. If you like black too then its ideal as that is the only colour it comes in. if they could move that zip though it’d make it the perfect day ride bag that you can literally take anywhere, even without the bike
more info can be found on the Chrome website Here
As with all my tests, this is an impartial and real world review. I’m not sponsored and I’m just an average rider like most of the cyclists out there. I do inform anyone who sends me things to test that It will be an honest review good or bad