Words & Image: Lester Perry
RRP: $79.95

Roll the clock back only a handful of years and the use of a Bento Box top tube bag was reserved for a select few, either a rider out for a leisurely Sunday morning jaunt around Auckland’s waterfront, stopping for coffee and pastries on the way; or a hardcore bike packer with a bike so ladened you’d wonder where the kitchen sink was stashed. These days though, a bento box is regularly used by every Tom, Dick, and Catherine. A great place to stow everything from snacks for your ride or tools, to a power bank for device charging during a big day out on the bike – they’re a damn handy piece of kit. Mountain bike, road, or gravel; we’re now seeing them on all manner of bikes.

Some time ago while prepping for a multi-day trip on the gravel bike I decided I needed more snack storage, so on a quick trip to my local bike store I picked up a Bontrager Adventure Top Tube Bag.

Constructed from heavy-duty, waterproof nylon fabric, a waterproof zip, and closed-cell foam sandwiched in the sides to keep the whole package tidy and semi-rigid, the bag attaches to the bike’s top tube with either the supplied ‘hook and loop’ straps or if your bike has them, ‘water bottle mount’ style bolts. At first, I was a bit thrown by the fluro internals, wondering why they bother with the over-the-top bright fabric lining. After using it on my first trip it was obvious, the fluro helps items in the bag stand out so you can easily see what you’re grabbing, be it a jet-plane lolly, or a sour snake – no more guesswork. Lord knows you don’t want to grab the wrong one!

I’ve mounted this bag aboard both my gravel and mountain bikes for big days in the saddle. On the gravel bike, it’s in place with the bike’s bag mounting bolts, and on the MTB, with the straps. Both mounting styles work adequately, although using the bolts gives a cleaner aesthetic, while the straps offer plenty of length and multiple location options on the bag, allowing them to likely fit any bike with a top tube. The ability to open the bag and fossick around with one hand is ideal, particularly when off-road, and the slim internal pockets ensure your smaller nick-nacks all stay where they should.

With the popularity boom of front-mounted handlebar bags, the top tube bag has been somewhat forgotten, but the old saying “If you know, you know” certainly applies here. Ignore the haters, they don’t know what they’re missing out on, plus the top-tube bag is more aero than a handlebar bag any day of the week!