There’s nothing more likely to generate a big sigh in us bicycle riders than a beautiful photo of a switchback climb up a mountain: the lone cyclist pedalling stoically upwards. These days that bike may also have bags attached to it, and we won’t look away. Bikepacking is the new cycle touring and, as we sit behind our computers, we daydream of departing for days on end on adventures, carrying everything we need attached to our bikes with bikepacking bags. London-based company Apidura has the racing bike bag set to get us all on the road, so long as we learn how to pack to a bare minimum.

Bikepacking bags for racers

There’s one main difference between the bicycle touring bikes of Grandad’s day and bikepacking bikes in 2019. Bikepacking bags are designed to be used without racks, carriers or other uncool stuff attached to your bike in order to carry your bags. This means two things: first, the bags must be well-designed in order to function properly; second, the rider will be able to carry very little luggage indeed – meaning no tent, no sleeping bag (or only a minimalist one) and so on. This range of three bags by Apidura is aimed with long-distance competition racing in mind. Think ultra-distance events or long audax events. The set consists of a handlebar bag, a frame bag and a saddle pack.

bikepacking bags

Handlebar pack

Not a bag but a pack, you may notice. This bag, with two detachable side pockets, has a total capacity of 5l. That’s enough room for a compact bedroll and perhaps an extra bottle of water. The bag on the handlebars is useful for storing snacks, your phone and (for the old-school folks like this writer) – an analogue map. The rain protection on this bag has been carefully thought out, and the side compartments can all be opened and secured with one hand. The fabric is called Hexalon, Apidura’s own-design ‘ultralight laminate’. Good to know: this pack will fit on both conventional drop handlebars but also has loops for fixing it to aerobars as well.

Racing frame pack

This bag hangs from the crossbar at the front of the bike near, but not in the way of, your knees. This 2.4l capacity bag is designed for heavier items thanks to its low centre of gravity. It can also be opened on the move.

Racing saddle pack

Apidura says this is the first saddle bag specifically designed for ultra-distance competition and audax. This means, we gather, that it’s a bit smaller than many such bags on the market. The bag’s total capacity is 5l and it weighs only 200g. It’s designed to improve the rider’s visibility and has reflective fabric (again, from Hexalon laminate), a lamp clip for long journeys in the dark and hi-viz details. It fits snugly under the saddle and is designed to reduce sway (larger models of this type of bag tend to swing from side to side if you get out of the saddle and pedal hard). 

Given that the average day-pack has a capacity of around 20l, you can see that, with a total luggage capacity of 12.4l, this set-up is only for those people who really know how to keep everything to a bare minimum. Price? Saddle pack: €142; frame pack: €102 and handlebar pack: €130. Even just the idea of being able to strap these on our machines and pedal off into the (long) distance gets our heart-rates going here in the office.