Dill Pickle Handlebar Bag Review

I purchased a Dill Pickle Gear handlebar bag in September of this year. Below are a few tidbits about Dill Pickle Gear and about myself as a rider, followed by my thoughts on the bag itself.

Dill Pickle Gear

All of their products are handmade in Massachusetts by Emily O’Brien (I think that is the right name). She offers several different sizes of saddlebags, the handlebar bag, mud flaps, a tool holder, and a U-lock holder. Everything is custom made (she does have a few pre-made items available). You can chose from multiple different colors and multiple different add-ons. The website has a really nice feature where you can instantly see what the final product will look like. Flipping back and forth between different color variations is quite nice because these bags are not cheap. Get it right the first time. I did have to e-mail Emily several times to ask questions (mostly because I am a moron) and she replied quickly and graciously.

Mike the Bike PT as a rider

Despite how much I love riding, my yearly mileage would best be described as moderate. For several years I was able to cover 2,400 miles/year. Last year was about 1,800 miles (darn third child) and this year will be closer to 2,100-2,200. My favorite type of ride is 100+ miles. I have now done about 10 rides of that distance over the last 5-6 years. None of these have been a brevet or other official rando event, not because I am not interested but purely because there are none that are close to me. My longest single day was 146 miles. My pace would best be described as “spirited”. No one would describe me as moving along casually, but neither is each ride a hammerfest. This handlebar bag was my first one. I have nothing else to compare this bag to.

Why I bought it

Many of the blogs, magazines and websites I frequent talk about how a handlebar bag is so wonderful for carrying essential items on long, self-supported bike rides (the kind I like to do). What had turned me off to the idea was that most traditional handlebar bags require a rack to support them. Would I even be able to install a rack on my bike? Also, when you add up the cost of the rack, the bag and other mounting hardware, it starts to be a pretty penny. The Dill Pickle handlebar bag does not require any special mounting hardware, is cheaper than the rack/bag/mounting hardware combo and is actually lighter overall.

Initial Impressions

Sorry for the less than professional photos
You can see there is plenty of space for hands/brifters

After ordering my bag, it took about 5-6 weeks before it arrived. Remember, each one is made-to-order. When it arrived, I eagerly dived into it to see what it was like. Light is an apt descriptor. I did not weigh it but the bag could not be more than about a pound. As I looked it over, one thing that struck me was that I could not see any loose threads, any missed stitches, are any noticeable imperfections. You could see that it was made by hand because some of the stitching was not perfectly straight, but not in a low quality sort of way. The colors (emerald green and grey) were a good match to what I was expecting from what I saw on the website.

Installation

Don’t worry, it doesn’t sit this wonky once properly set up

I do not need to go into the details here, but installation is pretty straight forward. It uses a series of straps and velcro closures. I did have some difficulties figuring it out but that is mostly because I am kind of dumb. When I asked Emily about why I was having so much trouble, her answers left me with a facepalm moment. Believe me folks, it ain’t that hard, unless you’re me. Once you knew how to use the straps, you could probably move it from one bike to another in about 2-3 minutes.

Steering/Handling

One thing I had read about handlebar bags is that they can affect steering, making the front end more unstable than it normally would be. With the handlebar bag on, there was no difference that I could tell. My bike felt exactly the same. Do you want to know what the geometric trail is on my bike? If I knew, I would be happy to tell you. I once tried to figure it out but I did not really trust the numbers that I got. As a reminder, this is my first handlebar bag so I do not have anything to compare to.

Utility, i.e. how well does it work?

Top flap flips completely open. The inner skirt is meant to keep stuff from flying out.

Once it was set up properly, the bag is quite easy to use. The side mesh pockets are loose enough to get your hand in but not so loose as to have stuff fall out. The top flap opens fully without any difficulty. Once fully open, the wind will not accidentally close it. The magnetic closures that hold the top flap shut click into place without much fussing. Even if the magnetic closures do not catch, the flap seems to want to stay shut. The unique shape left plenty of room for my hands to rest on the top of the bars without hitting the bag. The only minor annoyance I can bring up is that my Garmin 500 is not quite able to sit at an angle I like because of the placement of the bag. I would move the Garmin to my stem but a 70mm stem does not work well with the garmin mount. Oh well.

Waterproofness

Despite having done only two good rides with the handlebar bag, its waterproofness was amply tested. The first ride was drizzly for about 75% of the 64 miles. No water inside. On the second ride, it rained for a least 2/3 of a 130 mile ride. At times it was such a downpour that we achieved terminal wetness (the point at which you cannot be any more wet than you already are without diving in a lake). Once again, no water inside the handlebar bag. Not a drop. When you look over some of the design details of the bag, it is easy to see why. It is obvious that this is a product designed and created by someone who has been there, done that.

How much did it hold?

During my 130 mile ride the bag held:

  • 8 gels in the two side mesh pockets

In the main compartment:

  • a rain jacket
  • arm warmers
  • extra liner gloves
  • 4 nutella & jelly sandwiches
  • a spare tube
  • my phone
  • sunglasses
  • a few other small, miscellaneous objects

The top flap was snug but it did close. My multi-tool, tire levers and an additional spare tube were in my saddlebag.

Am I satisfied?

Very. Before shipping, my bag was $170. It is easy to use, can be moved from bike to bike, is waterproof, looks good, can hold a good amount of stuff, and seems to be very solidly made. Well worth the price. If I had a need for another one of her products, I would not hesitate to make a purchase.

Overall

If you are interested in a handlebar bag but are put off by either the high cost of the traditional type or do not think your bike will accept a rack, give Dill Pickle Gear your consideration. Even though her products are not cheap, they still rate as a very good value on the dollar.

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