First Impressions: Nittany Mountain Works & Randi Jo Fabrications Bags

Widely praised for their comfort and versatility, Jeff Jones’ Loop handlebars are a favorite of many gravel and adventure riders (including yours truly). The bar’s unique design also lends itself to attaching accessories such as cycle-computers, navigational devices, and of course, luggage. While it’s perfectly acceptable to lash a dry bag to the loop section, purpose-built bags offer more convenient access to items like snacks and cell phones. If this sounds good, but you prefer a bag that’s as unique as your bike’s handlebars, fear not, because Nittany Mountain Works and Randi Jo Fabrications offer Jones-compatible bags in a wide range of colors and materials.

Nittany Mountain Works Jones Bar Bag

When the folks at Nittany Mountain Works (NMW) asked which color I preferred for my review sample, I told them white, grey, or maybe red. Imagine my surprise when the Jones Bar Bag ($68 MSRP) arrived and I discovered that they had used all three colors. Although my bag happened to be an early production version, the unique colorway wasn’t a special one-off. Nope, NMW offers no less than thirty nine color choices for the bag’s main fabric, and eleven colors of webbing.

Constructed in the US from durable 1,000 Denier Cordura fabric, Nittany’s bar bag features a seam-taped vinyl liner for stiffness and protection from the elements. A u-shaped, water resistant zipper provides easy access, and a zippered mesh pocket in the bag’s lid helps keep the contents organized. Attaching the bag is quick and easy with the five included hook-and-loop straps.

With a 6″ height, the 231-gram NMW bag easily accommodated a 29er tube and repair kit with room to spare. Although Nittany’s bag lacks any foam padding, the heavy duty vinyl liner did an excellent job of protecting the bag’s contents. On-the-fly-access was good, with the zipper well suited to one-handed operation. When attached, the NMW bag is centered vertically (relative to the handlebar), making it a good candidate for bikes with limited clearance

Randi Jo Fabrications Jeff ‘n Joan’s Bag

If you’re a fan of bespoke cycling caps, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Randi Jo Fabrications (RJF). In addition to their bespoke caps, the Oregon-based company offers a curated selection of handmade bike bags. Named after Randi Jo’s parents, the Jeff ‘n Joan’s Bag ($90 MSRP) is compatible with Jeff Jones’ line of Loop handlebars (including the new 2.5 model), as well as the Surly Moloko Bar.

With the Jeff ‘n Joan’s Bag, RJW utilizes 10.10-ounce waxed canvas for the body, and 6.25-ounce waxed canvas for the roll top section. Inside the 200-gram bag you’ll find a bright orange ripstop liner, with 1/8″ closed cell foam surrounding the bag’s sides. A magnetic buckle secures the bag’s roll top closure, and additional items can strapped to the bottom of the bag via the four, one-inch loops.

Like the Nittany bag, Randi Jo Fabrication’s Jeff ‘n Joan’s bag attaches via five hook-and-loop straps. With the roll-top completely closed, the bag measures 5″ tall. With its lower position on the handlebar, however, the top of the RJW bag remains flush with the top of the bars. Additional capacity is easily achieved via the bag’s roll-top closure, and the roll-top can be folded inside the bag for open-top access.

Summary

Both the Nittany Mountain Works and Randi Jo Fabrications bags make excellent use of the Jones Loop Bars’ storage capabilities. For quick access, I preferred the zipper closure on NMW’s bag. When more carrying capacity was needed, however, I opted for the Randi Jo Fabrications bag. And with its flush-fit, roll top closure, the RJF bag offered easier access to the Loop Bar’s multiple hand positions.

Disclosure: Nittany Mountain Works and Randi Jo Fabrications provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

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