With a mountain bike, carrying kit on your bars is a doddle. As bars get wider so the size of bag you can use gets bigger. While a gravel bike drop bar might dwarf its roadie cousin you’re still limited to about 46cm. We’re big fans of kit such as the Passport Handlebar Bag but getting kit in an out can be a pain as the drop bar hooks get in the way of the openings. You’re limited in what you can carry as the bag is fixed to the mounting straps.
What if there was another way…
This new harness from Straight Cut neatly solves that problem. By using a separate dry bag and harness you can use a larger diameter dry bag and expand outwards & downwards while still keeping clear of your bars and levers. The straps used to secure the dry bag are independent of the harness attachments. Just pop a couple of QR buckles and the dry bag is ready to unpack. Refitting is as simple as doing them back up, as you haven’t touched the harness attachments there’s no further tweaking.
Using the space between your dropbars more effectively isn’t the only plus side to the Straight Cut harness. The method of attaching the harness has some significant advantages over the competition. Initially the design had us scratching our heads but once we’d worked it out we decided it was genius. Starting at the bottom, you loop the two straps through the fork crown and back through the tri-glide buckle. At this stage you can adjust the vertical location of the harness. It doesn’t take long to set it so the harness clears your tyre and doesn’t block your bar mounted lights.
A common gripe with bike packing luggage is the potential for it to damage the paintwork of your beloved bike. Handlebar harnesses that loop around your headtube are particularly bad for this. By attaching to the fork crown and bars, the harness is only attached to rotating components so there’s no sawing action. With just a bit of judicious taping ,you can all but guarantee to avoid marking your frame. Additionally, as the harness stays fixed in the perfect position, there’s no faffing as you strike camp and repack your kit.
Materials & Construction
Made from cordura canvas, the harness looks built to last. The buckles, ladderlocks and tri-glides are quality ITW Nexus items. I especially like the camlocks in the buckles, there’s no way the load will gradually work its way loose through the rough stuff. Despite seeming bombproof, the harness tips the scales at a meagre 160gms(5.5oz). You will of course have to factor in the weight of your dry bag to get the all-in weight. This has additional advantages. Aside from being able to choose the perfect capacity bag for a given ride, if you get a hole in your dry bag it can be replaced relatively cheaply as it’s not integral to the harness. Combined bags/harnesses are usually only water-resistant so require double-bagging in any case.
Out on the trail
The harness didn’t disappoint in use, staying rock-solid in position and supporting its load well. We’ve tested it exclusively on rigid bikes so it hasn’t had the benefit of extra cushioning beyond soft tyres. When time comes to unload your kit, the buckles unclip in a flash and the separate bag allows for easy repacking. We used the 13 litre Alpkit Airlok Dual for our testing and it works well in the harness. The additional loops on the Airlok providing piece of mind your luggage was staying put!
Unless you’re after kit in a colour other than black then it’s difficult to find fault with the Straight Cut harness. It’s easy to fit (once you know how!), won’t damage your bike, holds your kit securely and is lightweight. I like it so much I’m going to ask Straight Cut if I can take it to Morocco in February…
Last modified: 4th December 2019