Review: Detours Sodo Handlebar Bag

I do love my Wabi Classic. Set up as either a single speed or fixed gear, it rides like a dream, handles great, and is sexier than any bicycle deserves to be. If there is one downside, it’s that it lacks mounts for a rack and panniers. This is perfectly acceptable, as few cyclists are willing to ruin its aesthetics with bike luggage. Of course, that would generally limit me to a messenger bag or backpack for those rides where I need to carry more than I can stuff in my jersey pockets. So when Detours offered the opportunity to test out their Sodo handlebar bag, I knew just which bike to mount it on.

At 10″ x 4.5″ x 8″, it’s sized just about right for shorter trips, or as an essentials bag when touring. Expressing volume in cubic inches (it has a capacity of 330ci) never made much sense to me, other than being a handy way to compare other bags. For the mathematically-challenged like myself, 330 cubic inches accommodates your spare tube, levers, patch kit, multi-tool, keys, wallet, phone, MP3 player, compact camera, eyeglass/sunglass case, lightweight jacket, snacks, and more. Although it can handle up to 13 pounds of cargo, I doubt you’d want that much hanging off your handlebars.

 

The thoughtful folks at Detours really did their homework with this one. Not only does it come with the tools necessary to mount it, but there’s enough miscellaneous hardware that you should be able to fit it to the skinniest old school steel bars, or the newest 31.8 carbon fiber ones, and everything in between. In just a couple of minutes, I had the quick release mount attached to my bars, and was ready to load it up and take a spin. But first, let’s take a closer look at the bag itself.

 

Externally, there’s a small pocket on either end, with a reflective loop. On the underside is a zipper for the compartment containing the rain cover. I you’re sure you won’t encounter bad weather, you can use this space for items not accessed often. The top flap is TPU-coated, with a large, clear window on the pocket that holds your map or phone. It’s accessed from the underside, making it extremely water resistant, if somewhat difficult to get to. The clear plastic resists scratches, despite the terrible things we did with fingernails, tools, and finally sandpaper. Yes, sandpaper will scratch it, but then you’re getting what you deserve, I suppose. It will resist scratching under “normal” use though. Unbuckle the snug-fitting flap, and you’ll find two zippered compartments, each with two zippers and pulls that can be accessed with gloves, wet or dry. The first zipper reveals a full-length compartment with a clip for your keys, and a sewn-in pocket that has three sections – a mesh pocket for coins, a couple of loops for pens, and then two more flat pockets, measuring about 4.5″ and a bit under seven inches. Fold the top flap all the way back, and you can access the main compartment, which is quite spacious (for the overall size) and includes a small hanging pocket. There’s a panel attached with velcro at the bottom that can be pulled away to reveal some closed cell foam and the plastic panel that helps maintain shape, while providing a solid place to mount the quick release hardware.

Loaded up with enough to get me through a long afternoon ride, the Sodo still had a bit of room. I wasn’t going to try to pack more though, because I used the side pockets for water bottles. Since I didn’t need a map for touring, the map window was nice for seeing which callers I would be ignoring on my ride. (When I use the GPS on my phone, it’s only to record rides, not to find my way) Overall, it was nice being able to bring along all the little extras I might normally leave at home. The Sodo let me extend my ride time and my comfort level. It’s well designed, has plenty of pockets to keep things organized, and the quick release plus the shoulder strap make it easy to take with you when you’re off the bike. My only complaint is that as long as the logo on the front is reflective, I think Detours should make it much bigger. Definitely worth a look if you’re commuting, touring, or just want to bring a bit more gear on a ride, without resorting to a backpack.  detours.us

– Brian

 

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