Craft Cadence asked if I’d like to try a couple of their products so I asked Dan Phillips to try the top tube bag out long term, here’s what he thought…
Craft Cadence, was started by a group of London cyclists who felt that many of the bigger companies who design gear for commuters, despite some of it being very good, didn’t particularly evolve/improve their products over time, in line with the cycling commuter community’s needs. Their aim was to reach out to commuters just like them, get their feedback and design products that served them better.
They sell direct to customers, meaning they are able to produce products in lower numbers and focus on evolving their designs based on feedback from those customers. Their range of products includes bags, pollution masks and cycle clothing.
They are a member of the 1% for the Planet initiative and are committed to sustainability in the production of their products, using recycled materials whenever possible and offering a product take back scheme, where customers can send back bags they no longer need and receive a voucher for a discount on their next purchase. These bags are then refurbished and re-sold meaning they don’t end up in landfill, which is all good in my book.
They sent UKgravelCO one of their waterproof top tube bags for review and although I no longer commute to work, due to working from home since the pandemic, I do use combinations of handlebar, top tube and frame bags on most rides, depending on how much I need to carry. This meant I was able to put it through its paces in a range of different circumstances.
The bag is polyester coated with TPU and uses a seamless welding construction and is claimed to be waterproof (more about that later). Attachment is via three Velcro straps with anti-slip rubber grippers and instead of using a zip, like many top tube bags do, the closure design uses a combination of Velcro and a magnetic catch. Capacity is stated as 1 – 1.5litres and other features include a cable outlet with rain cover at the front of the bag for use with a battery pack to power devices on longer rides or for powering lights, a loop on the top of the bag to enable mounting your smartphone or GPS unit and a zipped pocket inside the bag ideal for holding keys or other small items, that can easily get lost in the bottom of a bag.
First impressions were good, with the bag appearing to be solidly constructed with some well thought out features.
The bag itself can hold a fair amount and I easily fitted my phone, multitool, cereal bar cycling cap, wallet and keys. The zipped inner pocket is the perfect place for keys and made finding them at the end of a ride a breeze.
When initially fitting the bag, I was a little concerned that due to the long length of the straps (I’m guessing this is to ensure it’s fit on a wide range of different bikes) and the skinny top tube of the bike I was fitting the bag to, only a very small amount of the Velcro on each strap was making contact. This proved to be an unfounded concern though, as the straps never came loose over a number of rides on a range of terrains. I’ll keep an eye on it though, as once the Velcro begins to age, this could become an issue.
The Velcro/magnetic catch closure system makes opening and closing the bag while riding really easy, meaning it would be ideal for holding snacks and accessing them on the fly without having to stop during longer rides.
Previous experience of using some top tube bags has highlighted that many of them have a bit of an Achilles heel and can suffer from what we at UKgravelCo call ‘FBS’ (Floppy Bag Syndrome). The top heavy nature of this style of bag means that many of them flop from side to side particularly over rougher terrain, meaning you catch your knees on them when pedalling, proving very annoying. When fully loaded the Craft Cadence bag only suffered from slight flop compared to other bags I’ve used, and on smoother terrain, hardly moved at all, so a plus point there, however this did change somewhat when I added my GPS unit to the loop on the top of the bag, increasing how top heavy it was and the flop greatly increased. My Garmin is on the larger size being an older 810 unit so this might not be such an issue, if you were using something a bit smaller and lighter, but I’d definitely be concerned if mounting a smartphone to the top of it.
To be honest, I’d be reluctant to mount any type of navigation device to the bag, as the position it puts it in further down the top tube, means you have to look straight down to read it, making this both uncomfortable and awkward. This is a personal preference, but it would definitely be a last resort for me and I’d only consider it if handlebar estate was limited.
As Craft Cadence advertises this bag as being waterproof, I wanted to ensure that this was the case. During the period I tested this bag I only got caught in a full downpour once (rare for the UK I know). The contents of the bag remained dry and I even left the bag out in the rain for a good half an hour after the ride, to really test it. Despite it being soaked on the outside, the inside of the bag remained dry. I also rode in some pretty muddy conditions with the bag getting splattered with mud all over. Yet again the contents were fine. I did notice some mud had made it’s way under where the top cover overlapped the bottom of the bag on a couple of occasions but it hadn’t made it all the way to the contents, so no harm done.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a top tube bag, this one could be a good option. It comes with a nice range of features and if fairly comparable price wise at £40.99 (March 2022) to many others of similar quality on the market. Being waterproof, its ideal for the unpredictable weather of the UK and if loaded sensibly, fit and stability is good.
For more about Craft Cadence’s Products click here
Many Thanks to Dan for this review, look out for more reviews soon. Another from Craft cadence and also Chrome, Garmin, Giant and Redshift Sports