Words and photos by Aaron VanDerlip
Be prepared. There are still plenty of places where riding means being out of cell phone coverage and far from the nearest services. Keeping yourself out of trouble involves carrying a few extra items such as a toolkit, tube, food, and maybe some extra clothing. One school of thought is to put everything into your jersey pockets. The other strategy is to store these items somewhere on the bike.
Road Runner Bags is small company based in Los Angeles, California. Their product line consists of domestically produced, made-to-order bike bags. They sent GRAVELBIKE two bags for review: the Burrito handlebar bag and the Drafter saddle bag.
The Drafter is a compact saddle bag made of Cordura nylon and velcro. It’s available in a variety of colors and retails for $35-$40 depending on material choice. The bag attaches quickly to the rails of the saddle via a single strap. It’s a simple but effective design–there are no extra straps or zipper pulls flying around in the wind. The bag fits snug against the rear of the saddle, with no swaying or rattling of the bag’s contents. Since the flap does not fully enclose the top of the bag, it’s for larger items only. Tubes and a multi-tool are fine, just no house keys or small parts. The semi-open design means the contents can get wet or dirty eventually. For tubes and tools, however, this shouldn’t really be an issue.
Burrito Handlebar Bag
Road Runner’s Burrito handlebar bag follows the same streamlined construction as the Drafter bag. The cylinder-shaped Burrito is constructed from Cordura, and attaches to the handlebar using two straps secured with small cam buckles.
Because of the shape and placement, the Burrito bag resembles a miniature bedroll that one might see on a motorcycle. A sturdy, water-resistant zipper keeps the bag’s contents secure. Like the Drafter, the bag had an easy attachment story. It would be nice if the bag included slides so you could tuck the extra strap length down. Even though the zipper was on the stout side, I was able to access the bag’s contents while riding.
You might be able to stuff a lightweight shell in there, but Road Runner’a Burrito bag is best used for storing some food, a phone, a pair of gloves or other small items. I definitely prefer the placement of the bag on the bars over the bento-style bags I see attached to riders’ top tubes. If you are looking for a similar amount of storage as a bento box, but want to keep your frame uncluttered, the Burrito bag is an alternative worth considering.
Why would someone choose these Road Runner bags over the dozens of similar products on the market? There are quite a few bags that exist at the same price points that will perform the basic task of carrying your stuff. I think the biggest differentiator for these bags is color and material choice. Black is the default–and often, the only–color available for bike bags. And when there is a choice, you’re usually choosing from a very limited set of conservative options. Road Runner has more than a dozen color and pattern options, as well as alternative materials such as salvaged road sign reflective. With the Burrito you can even customize colors for the main body and side panels. The fact that the bags are sewn in Los Angeles will appeal to those who want to purchase MUSA products.
Both of the bags had areas where the stitching overran the seams. This did not affect the function of the bag in any way, nor did it give me any durability concerns.
The overall construction of the bags appeared very solid. I should note in regards to the stitching, Road Runner provides the following warranty:
If your RR product ever has a problem with the stitching on our part, we will fix it! If we cannot fix it, we’ll send you a new one free of charge.
The bags have a simple, streamlined aesthetic to their construction that I found pleasing. You should consider another product if you need multiple pockets or need internal organizers as these bags had neither. When added together, a semi-custom, MUSA bag for the same price as a bag from the big companies is a heck of a deal. For basic storage needs, I think it’s one of the stronger products out there.
Disclosure: Road Runner Bags provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.