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Restrap Race Top-Tube Bag: The Goldilocks Bag

For the past two months, Tyler has been testing the 1.2L Restrap Race Top Tube bag on his local trails in Western Alberta. Follow his journey as he gets to know this waterproof, stealth-like bag.

Restrap Race Top-Tube Bag: The Goldilocks Bag

As a guy who's always rocking a top-tube bag I have been critical of every bag I use—too small, too long, too shallow. The biggest reason for being so particular about top tube bags is simply how much I use the damn things. They are on every bike I ride and I shove everything from camera batteries to garbage into them. My gripes have always been based on the bags being too small or too big. I'm really into that goldilocks style compromise.

Restrap is based in Yorkshire, UK and has been around since its humble beginnings in 2010. They pride themselves on many things I appreciate including sustainability and functional design. From custom frame bags right down to pedal straps there's not much they don't accommodate in the world of bikepacking bags. I love that they are in the business of repairing their products and giving them new life rather than expecting customers to fork out the cash for something new.

A Peek At The Race

Now that I have completed a handful of gear reviews, one aspect I have really started to pay attention to is how the product is packaged and shipped. With this being my first impression of the company I have to say that I loved Restraps attitude towards sustainable shipping practices. The top-tube bag arrived in a paper shipping bag and all materials surrounding the bag were paper. Nice.

Next, was my first look at the bag itself. The Restap Race comes in three sizes 1.2, 1.5 and a whopping 2L. The 1.2L bag that shipped to me appeared big enough to fit more than I could usually fit in a bag of its length, due to its taller design. I was actually quite pumped! “This is it”, I thought. “The Goldilocks bag!” I immediately loved the features and how it integrated the mesh side pockets. “No more sticky gel wrappers on my phone!”

On the surface, The Race bag is made of X21 waterproof material with an aquaguard zipper. Restrap's brand style is definitely one of a muted tone and darker palettes. All of the Restrap bags have that similar look of a stealth bomber that will appeal to folks who love simplicity and clean lines in their setups.

Mounting & Usage

Next up, I attempted to mount the Race bag to my Panorama Katahdin but the mounting holes were ever so slightly off. Restrap is pretty clear on their website that the Race bag does fit both standards of top tube boss spacing and the Katahdin was the only bike that had this issue—so this feels more of a bike problem than a bag problem. In addition to the holes in the bag not lining up, the bag towered on the top tube of my relatively dainty gravel bike making for a look that I just couldn't live with. Long story short, I tried mounting the Race bag on my Panorama Taïga. Presto, it worked and looked great! The height of the bag matched up with the height of the spacers and its unassuming style took nothing away from the beauty of the Taïga, a near perfect match.

Earlier, I mentioned how the Restrap Race has the look of a stealth bomber, which makes total sense as it has been custom designed for ultra-distance racing and audaxing. I will be clear that I am not a racer but can easily make the leap to what is required for a serious racer from the experience that I do have. With that in mind, I hit my local trails with a bag full of essentials to do a real world test.

No matter what I threw at it, the Race bag stayed secure and in place throughout all terrain including some rough single track riding. After an hour of riding I stopped to grab the homemade granola bar that only a whiny purist like myself would eat. I opened the bag and did some digging. After rooting around for far too long I came up with the bar. I initially thought I wanted a bottomless pit of a top tube bag that could carry all my “essentials” but it turns out that too much of a good thing is tough to use. Also, maybe I need to rethink the definition of essential.

My favorite feature of the Restrap Race bag (and something I wished my other bags had) was the side mounted mesh pockets for a few “essential” odds and ends. As well as the small, possibly accidental, pockets inside the bag that house the plastic internal frame of the bag. I found them handy for keeping my wallet and my multitool close at hand.

After making my way back to the garage I did some repacking and found I was able to put a mountain bike tube deep at the back of the bag and still had the room for the regular goods, including tire levers, camera batteries and a snack. Turns out the bag fit the bill for packing all I needed for a day out on the single-track trails. I also loved that it took away the need for me to strap a tube to the frame of the bike.

Wrapping Up

Even though the Race bag I tested was the smallest format of the lineup at 1.2L, for me, this bag still lands within the Papa Bear category of the Goldilocks zone. I imagine the even larger sizes of 1.5L and 2L would be awesome for overnighting or multi-day trips or races. The Race is a bag with a large volume, much of that volume coming from its height. When I started out with the Race I was initially annoyed with this tall design but I learned to enjoy it in the right application. Once I packed it up properly and had it mounted on the right bike during the right outing I started to really enjoy its features.

If you are in search of a top-tube bag that could handle the challenges of carrying it all (plus more) while keeping all your goods dry, this bag would fit that bill. It really does check all the boxes of practicality.

✓ Pros
Feature-rich design
Sturdy build for rugged use
Environmentally friendly packaging is refreshing
✕ Cons
Depth may be excessive in certain applications
Lacks personality of some small batch brands
Elastic strap could wear out or break compared to traditional Velcro
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