The Metropolitan Handlebar Bag (HBB) is a companion to the Metropolitan Pannier that I reviewed a few weeks ago (see here). Both are new from Arkel for 2009 and are part of their “Urban” series of bags designed specifically for commuters. Together they make a nice set, though either can be used individually without issue.
At 425 cu. in., the Metro HBB is a relatively small handlebar bag with slightly less capacity than Arkel’s popular Small Bar Bag. The construction is simple, with a single main compartment, a small pouch for a wallet, and a key clip. The bag is plenty large for carrying a lunch, wallet, phone, and small windbreaker. It would also make a nice home for a compact DSLR with a short zoom such as a Canon XSi with kit lens. The sides are relatively stiff and the bag holds its shape, even when empty.
Features include a small Velcroed pocket in the lid with a see-through window specifically designed to accept an iPhone or Blackberry; a single external slip pocket for papers or a train ticket; a lightweight shoulder strap; an integrated rain cover; an internal liner than can be zipped out for cleaning; and alloy quick-release mounts.
The alloy mounts are totally rigid and showed no signs of bouncing or slipping, even with a full load. (The arms make metal-to-metal contact with the handlebars, so you’ll want to lay down a layer of tape or thin rubber before attaching the mounts to keep from scratching your handlebars.) The bag separates from the arms via a pair of quick releases at the rear of the bag. The arms stay permanently attached to the handlebars to reduce carrying weight and bulk off of the bike. A roll-down flap protects clothing from the quick release mounts while carrying the bag.
The Arkel Metropolitan HBB is a near-perfect handlebar bag for daily commuting to the office. It’s not too big and it carries nicely on the shoulder. It detaches from the bike in just a few seconds and looks professional and nondescript. And like the Metropolitan Pannier, only the best materials were used throughout including heavy-duty Cordura nylon and YYK zippers. Arkel’s bags aren’t cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for; I use their bags everyday and they are 100% reliable and an important component of my car-lite lifestyle.
Capacity: 425 cu. in.
Dimensions: 8.5″x10″x 6″
Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Color: Charcoal w/Black