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13-05-2023 | Frank Jansen

AGU Venture bar bag review

It must have been sometime in the 1990s that the handlebar bag was cancelled. Clumsy, unnecessary and above all very ugly. At present, it's 2023 and the bag is back. Now in rounded form and under a new name, the better sounding bar bag. You see them not only among bike packers and gravel riders. The cute little round bag is quickly gaining ground among roadies as well. Time to give it a try myself.


Photo: in action during Mallorca 312.

Use case

To be honest, I didn't really see the use case of a handlebar bag on an everyday training ride. My spare tube and multitool go into a small saddle bag and then I have three pockets left over for food, phone and extra clothes. And even after my testing period, I stand by that: a bar bag is simply not necessary for me on 95% of rides. Of course this doesn't apply to everyone, some people just want to have as little as possible in their back pockets. Or take a lot with them on the road. Or just want to keep up with the latest fashion. That being said, on very long rides where you also have to carry a lot of clothing, a handlebar bag could be usefull for me as well.

Bar bags come in many shapes and sizes. The smaller ones are meant for training rides or gran fondos, the larger ones for the better bike packing adventure. I purchased a simple and small model from AGU, the Venture model. Other brands such as Rapha, Apidura and XAND sell such bags, of course. The AGU comes in at 35 euros - you can't call that very expensive. The bag is round, features a waterproof zipper and on the side there are two more small open pockets for quick access.

Installation

Fixing is done with two longer straps that you wrap around the handlebars and secure in a clip. This is a very sturdy connection that will not loosen easily. The straps are quite long so mounting on an (integrated) wing- or aero handlebar is not a problem. The excess part of the straps does flap a bit, so it is advisable to cut it to the right length and burn the ends to prevent fraying.

In order to prevent the bag from wobbling, it has to be secured with a third Velcro strap. If you (like me) mount it on a bike with fully integrated cables, the bag will be tight against your headtube and the zipper will be on the front. The third strap then goes around the stem. To prevent damage I've put a piece of clear tape on headtube. This is what it looks like on my Scott:


Photo: without cables, the bag is tight against the steering head.


Photo: the zipper is about in the middle of the bag.

Cables outside

My gravel bike is a bit older and still has the cables partly outside. The bag then leans against the cables and the zipper is more at the top. The third strap goes around the cables. In both cases, mounting is two minutes work at most.


Photo: with cables in front, the pouch sits further away from you. You are therefore less likely to hit the pouch with your legs. The long straps were not yet cut in this photo.


Photo: the zipper is now more at the top.

Riding

While cycling, the bag hardly wobbles. You do have slightly less room for your hands, but it is not very disturbing. Riding with your hands on top is no problem at all. What is annoying is that on my Scott my legs lightly touch the bag while standing. This problem did not occur on my gravel bike, where the bag is just a bit further away. It's not tremendously severe, but worth mentioning. The bar bag has no other influence on steering behavior, so that's nice. You don't notice it at all, even when it is completely full.

With a little practice you can also take something out while riding, although that is of course not recommended. The zipper works fine and makes a solid impression.

What will fit inside?

My model has a capacity of 1.5 liters. What will fit in there? Four buns, for example, is no problem, and you can cram some bars and gels in there as well. A windstopper, gloves, buff and 3-4 bars will also fit easily. Even a 500 ml water bottle is possible, and even then you have plenty of room for food. The gran fondo Mallorca 312 proved to be the perfect opportunity to really put the bag to the test. The six bags of Beta Fuel fitted in easily, plus a few more gels. You can put a small tube of sunscreen in there, for example, or a set of earphones.

Waterproof

To test this, we filled the bag with newspaper props, then put the garden hose on it for a few minutes. The paper stayed dry, so a rain shower will definitely not be a problem.

Conclusion

On longer training rides (or, of course, a gran fondo), a handlebar bag can certainly come in handy. That said, there are of course many alternatives, such as a top tube bag, frame bag or a Camelbak. Those solutions may look less hip, but are certainly no less effective.

I have very little to say about AGU's bag. In my opinion, it looks much better than Rapha's rather clunky model (okay, it also fits half a liter less). Assembly is dead easy and it withstands a rain shower. For what I do with it it fits enough, if you really want to go bike or hotel packing you obviously need something bigger. The price is also fair. And if you think black is too boring, it also comes in gray and brown.

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