Altura Orkney handlebar bag review
The Altura Orkney handlebar bag is Altura's top of the range bar bag, but seems to have in-built faults, and these faults are frequently reported on cycling blogs and customer review web sites. Despite this, I rather like it. So here is a review of this expedition quality lightweight, waterproof barbag:
Altura Orkney bar bag features:
- 7 litre capacity (approx)
- Waterproof Dryline construction
- Rixen and Kaul quick release bar fitting
- Duratec fabric
- Detachable front pocket
- Removable map case
- Shoulder strap
- Reflective trim
The dependable Rixen and Kaul quick release bracket fits easily to most handlebars (although it may push aside fittings for cycle lights and computers etc) and, in my case, the product came with two pairs of handlebar clips: standard and oversized. (I also bought the extension bracket, unnecessarily as it turned out.) This barbag will fit bikes with Shimano's 'washing line' cables, although there may be some scuffing of the sides of the bag.
There is an optional KLICKfix Multi-Clip for front lights, cycle computer etc, but it is rather narrow, and I only just managed to squeeze two slim Raleigh LED lights on the bracket. Another model, the KLICKfix Multi-Clip Plus, is advertised on R & K's web site, but at the time this wasn't available from Zyro, the UK distributor, when I placed my order with a local bike shop. The KLICKfix Multi-Clip Plus has two attachments that fit either side of the standard model to allow more accessories to be fastened in place.
Smaller cyclists with 700c wheels may find, as I did, that the front, detachable pocket droops forward and touches the front tyre, especially when climbing. This is particularly an issue when I have used the front lights; when I tilt the barbag forward enough for the light beams to be at the correct angle, the pocket moves even closer to the front wheel. I use the pocket – which is certainly not waterproof – for sunglasses and the shoulder strap. There is one click fastener on a baggy flap, so the pocket isn't suitable for small or valuable items. The main compartment is, in my experience, perfectly waterproof. Just make sure that the top flap is secured in place.
There are no internal dividers, just a mesh pocket with four separate sections. A plastic clip is useful for keeping your keys in a readily accessible place and that section is long enough to store a few pens or pencils. (I put my mobile phone in the centre section, and a credit card-sized magnifying glass and an emergency tenner in the right side section.)
I've read that the handlebar bracket has broken for some owners, but it seems sturdy enough to me. Just remember not to overtighten the clips when attaching the unit to the handlebars. The main, and most widely-reported failing, is the map case. Most negative comments I've read had been that in hot weather the glue that fastens the Velcro strips becomes tacky and eventually melts. The glue appears to have failed on my map case: on the Belgian canal path between Damme and Ghent, inevitably in the pouring rain, the two Velcro strips held tight, but the glue that held together one strip on to the case simply undid.
And when it is working as intended, the map case just sits there relying on the weight of the map itself to keep the case in place. When you open the barbag's top flap the map may flop on to your front tyre. No real problem, but if you have a strong tail wind you may find yourself distracted as you try to regather the case because it has blown forward and is resting on front pocket or wheel. I've taken to leaving the front light bracket on with the lights acting as a retainer to keep the map case – and sometimes the top flap – in place.
For me there isn't quite enough Velcro to fasten the top flap securely. If I'm a bit pressed for time and move away sharply after a quick snack stop, the short flaps that fit over the three sides of the barbag sometimes fail to fall in to place properly: the flaps nearest the 'hinged' edge occasionally fold in to the bag itself and this seems to push apart the two strips of Velcro that would normally engage. The top flap can sometimes bounce off on bumpy terrain. Unless, of course, it is held in place by those front lights.
I considered making some sort of retainer to keep the map case in place. The loops seem to be there for a purpose. However, nothing in the manufacturer’s instructions suggest how they should be used, and I just haven’t got round to doing anything with them.
I ordered a handlebar bracket for a second bike and, needlessly as it turned out, a pair of clips for oversize bars. So I now have three pairs of clips for oversize bars – and an extension bracket that I have no use for either. Other accessories are available, but I think that I will limit myself to another map case in time.
ease of use
value for money
The scores would be higher if the map case wasn't fundamentally flawed, and if there was a more positive fastening for top flap. I was also annoyed to have to unclip the detachable front pocket and stuff it in to my rack bag when it was being scuffed by my front wheel. The RRP for the Altura Orkney handlebar bag at the time of writing is £59.99 (Evans Cycles), but can be had for less money.