- Sustainable materials are a theme with imported bike bag brands.
- And there are some clever magnetic clip designs, too.
- You can even use online sizing tools, to check the fit and frame clearances between bags and your bike.
There are some great some local businesses manufacturing bicycle bags here in South Africa. But what about international options?
The go-to bags for most gravel-bike packers would the saddle bag, handlebar bag, top-tube bag, and frame bag. Or a combo thereof, capacious enough to carry all your kit for rides lasting anything from a single-day outing to more ambitious multi-day adventures.
Started back in 2013, this family-run business is driven by a team of enthusiastic cyclists who use their first-hand experience to develop innovative, expertly made bike packs.
They have an in-house team of designers and makers at their London headquarters. These designers desire to push the boundaries of bag construction. The result is a range of sleek, lightweight bike packs made of laminate materials and welded seams that are durable and waterproof.
We chatted to East City Cycles in Cape Town – the leading retailer for Apidura in South Africa – to see which bags are best suited and have proved most popular to local gravel riders.
Racing Top Tube Pack
From Apidura’s 'Racing Series' designed specifically for ultra-distance racing, bags in this range are ultralight and waterproof with hi-viz design elements.
The top tube bag comes in two versions. A bolt-on if your frame has top tube bolt bosses. Or a version with Velcro strapped attachment points reinforced with Hypalon, a durable rubberised nylon.
It has an innovative magnetic quick-access flip-top opening and its closed-cell foam padding structure protects your frame and electronics on rough gravel roads. Price? R1 295.
Expedition Handlebar Pack
Especially durable with exceptional waterproofing, Apidura’s 'Expedition Series' has been designed for road riding long distance tours.
A key piece of kit for any long-distance road bike tours, this 9-litre handlebar bag fastens to handlebars with a reinforced attachment system for stability.
The dual roll-top closure is pretty cool, allowing flexible packing capacity, and the hands-free air release vent is really handy, making compressing the bag hassle-free. It prices at R2 395.
Expedition Saddle Pack
Another bike-packing basic, it provides a spacious compartment under your saddle to hold clothes and equipment on endurance rides.
Available in 14-litre size with a roll-down compression and closure system, the bag’s volume can be tailored to your packing requirements.
It has a three-point attachment system with Hypalon-reinforced Velcro straps allows the saddle bag to hug the seat post, increasing stability and cutting down on lateral movement. It retails for R2 995.
Expedition Frame Pack
Keeping your centre of gravity as low as possible is what you want when bike packing (which is why a backpack isn’t an ideal bike-packing solution) and a frameback is one of the best ways to do this.
The Apidura frame pack also has a handy battery lead/hydration hose port for charging devices or staying hydrated and it comes in five different sizes – 3 litres, 4.5 litres, 5.3 litres, 5-litres, and 6.5-litres.
On Apidura’s website, you’ll find a frame bag sizing tool that will help you work out what size frame bag fits your frame. These bags price from R2 395.
Another family business out of the UK, Restrap is based in Yorkshire, focusing on using sustainable materials.
They hand-make everything in-house, giving the brand complete control over the materials used and the flexibility to quickly change and improve their designs.
“Design, build, ride” is the company’s simple mantra and the Restrap crew take pride in the thorough testing they put their prototypes and on-shelf products.
You can buy the bags in SA via Everyday Cycle Supply Co’s website.
This has an easy loading hardcase made from textured nylon and with nylon webbing for extra strength and is fastened with reflective military paracord and reinforced eyelets.
This "holster" as they call it, encases a 14-litre dry bag secured with a patented magnetic buckle that is designed to be easily adjustable, even while wearing gloves. This bag is R2 599.
Again, this features an easy loading hardcase made from textured nylon and with nylon webbing for extra strength.
It holds up to a 14-litre dry bag, secured with easy adjust buckles and a clever magnetic pin system, for an add-on food pouch which will take three more litres. Price? R2 599.
Top Tube Bag
Like Apidura’s, there is both a bolt-on and a Velcro-strapped version.
It’s made from 100% waterproof textured nylon, opens and closes with a robust YKK zip, and a headset fitting designed to work with all headsets, including bikes with a low stack height. The top tube bag is R769.
This is available in three different sizes to suit any frame, from 2.5- to 4.5-litres. There’s a size guide on the Restrap website to help you work out which is best suited to your bike.
The frame bags have Inner mesh pockets (including an additional document pouch) and an extra cable slot for any batteries cables.
These bags feature rubberised strapping for extra grip to the frame and reflective paracord zip pulls for additional security. They price from R1 499 – R1 799.