Storage space for the daily escape or a big bike adventure – that’s what Brooks want to offer with the Scape Travel Bike Bags. We wanted to know whether they’re smart storage wonders or bulky ballast. We tested various models from the collection in real-world conditions for you. Let’s go bikepacking!
The stalwart English brand Brooks originally made a name for themselves amongst city-cowboys and bike adventurers with their premium leather products. With grips, bar tape, stylish rucksacks and bags having been added to their original offering of saddles a while ago, now it’s time for the British brand’s first bike bag set: the Brooks Scape collection. To understand more about the bags we talk about here, why not check out our all-encompassing encyclopedia on bikepacking bags.
The Brooks Scape Travel Bike Bags
The Scape collection sees Brooks offer a range of bikepacking bags in various sizes. They all share the sleek, refined look in black and the less appealing sounding mud colours, robust welded material that will withstand the wildest adventures and the IPX4 waterproof rating. We tested the five bags in the table below.
Here are the key specs:
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||Volume||Carrying capacity||Weight||Price|
|Top Tube Bag||210 x 40 x 110 mm||0.9 l||1 kg||129 g||€ 55|
|Saddle Pocket Bag||150 x 55 x 80 mm||0.7 l||–||66 g||€ 45|
|Frame Bag||460 x 60 x 120 mm||3 l||3 kg||225 g||€ 95|
|Handlebar Roll||350–400 x 160 x 160 mm||12 l||5 kg||560 g||€ 125|
|Seat Bag||400–600 x 180 x 140 mm||8 l||3 kg||550 g||€ 130|
In addition to the models we tested, there are also two different sizes of pannier, a one-piece roll bag for the saddle and a one-piece bar bag in two sizes. With the exception of the Handlebar Roll, mounting the bags is easy even without instructions. However, it’s important to note that the Scape collection was developed for bikes with more relaxed geometry. The straps for the frame bag are too short for fat aero tubesets and the voluminous Handlebar Roll isn’t left with enough space to squeeze in between the bar and front wheel for short, aggressive head tubes. Additionally, the weight of the set is above average for the packing volume on offer.
Little helpers – Scape Saddle Pocket Bag and Scape Top Tube Bag
The two smallest bags in the Scape series offer practical storage space for your essentials. The Top Tube Bag will happily swallow up a day’s rations of bars and gels, ready to give you the power needed to get to the next cafe. A cable opening makes this the perfect place to store a power bank for your bike computer, where it will also be well-protected thanks to the padded walls. With one strap around the top tube and another around the spacers, the mini pantry stays in place securely. However, if you don’t have any spacers underneath your stem, you’ll have some problems fitting the bag and might have to get inventive. An annoying flaw in the Top Tube Bag is the waterproof zip, which is comparatively notchy in use. More about that later.
The Saddle Pocket Bag provides enough space for two spare tubes, CO2 cartridges and the necessary tools. The small saddlebag has three positions for the strap, letting its position be adjusted optimally to fit your saddle. Despite its name, the strap lets the bag be easily affixed to another point on the bike or to other Scape bags if space under the saddle is already taken up by the big Seat Bag.
In the frame – Scape Frame Bag
The one-size Frame Bag has a compact and slim build. That leaves enough space not to have your legs rub on it while pedalling and it also fits smaller frame sizes well. It can be attached securely in different positions with its numerous straps. On the left side of the bag, there’s a flat pocket for items like credit cards, money and a face mask. On the right, you get access to the main compartment with a cable port on the front and an additional internally zipped pocket. Brooks call this the internal organiser. The Scape Frame Bag provides space for longer objects and small items of clothing like underwear, sleep gear, or just two cans of beer. For bulkier luggage, you should reach for the Handlebar Roll or the Seat Bag. There’s nothing new on the zipper front here: neither side runs particularly smoothly, marring the impression of the bag. The cause of the problem isn’t the good-quality zips themselves, but the pulls, which leave room for improvement. They don’t move freely on the slider, meaning it dives in at the front while closing the bag, getting caught on the teeth. This problem is only exacerbated with an almost empty bag which deforms as you close it, just as much as it is with a stuffed, bulging bag. Help might be offered by changing the zipper pulls to ones that can move more freely.
Roll it – Scape Handlebar Roll
The Handlebar Roll is a two-part handlebar bag consisting of a harness attached to the bars and a removable dry bag with two compartments. Mounting the harness can be a little tricky, particularly for cockpits with multiple cables, due to its construction. That makes the two-part design all the more practical: you can just leave the harness on the bars after fiddling around mounting it, while you can remove the dry bag in two simple steps and take it into your tent. Once the Handlebar Roll is in place, you should make sure to secure both parts with the clips and velcro straps intended for that purpose to make sure they don’t loosen. That done, the bag sits securely without swinging around. Your steering isn’t affected noticeably by the attached harness. The dry bag provides room for clothes which can be handily divided into dirty and clean between the two compartments. In contrast to the Seat Bag, the Handlebar Roll dry bag doesn’t have a valve, meaning air can easily get trapped inside when closing it. You should also be aware that a fully loaded roll gets quite voluminous. Particularly for narrow drop handlebars and short head tubes, fitting it could become a tight squeeze. That’s why you should always check before setting off whether your gear and brake levers have enough room and that nothing is rubbing on the front wheel. You’ll also have to change the position of your bike computer – if in doubt it can just be flipped 180°. The two rows of daisy chain webbing along the harness are practical for attaching additional things like the Saddle Pocket Bag or the Handlebar Pouch.
Strapped in – Scape Seat Bag
The Seat Bag is also a two-part system consisting of a harness and dry bag. The harness is quickly and easily mounted with two velcro straps to the seatpost and two straps that tighten around the saddle rails. On the upper inside of the carrier, a small velcroed pocket is a great secret stash for flat items like money. The dry bag is fixed to the harness with a nylon strap using an aluminium hook attached to the carrier’s integrated daisy chain. The dry bag vent is very practical, allowing air to escape when closing it and letting things be compressed effectively. As the dry bag isn’t symmetrical, filling it perfectly requires some practice to not waste space and so that it fits optimally into the carrier. You should be aware that with little luggage and correspondingly compact volume, the dry bag’s fit in the harness isn’t as good. In contrast to the stable roll at the front, as a result of its construction, the saddlebag swings from side to side a little – hard sprints with a heavy load are possible but can feel strange. The up and down movements of the seat bag stay within reason and overall, the Scape Seat Bag can definitely show its face amongst the competition from Revelate, ORTLIEB and others!
With the Scape collection bags, Brooks deliver cool and well-thought-through storage space for your bike, regardless of whether it’s for a day trip, a big bikepacking adventure or the daily commute to work. We particularly like the coherent overall concept with its smart details, good finishing quality and stylish look. However, the notchy zips and, on balance, high weight of the bags for the volume offered marred the overall impression. Nonetheless, all in all, we can still say: Brooks Scape, ready to escape!
- robust material is very well finished
- completely waterproof
- comprehensive range: the right bag for every purpose
- thought-through overall concept
- notchy zips, particularly on the frame bag
- high weight for the packing volume
- no air valve on the Handlebar Roll dry bag
Test duration: 1 month
More information about the Brooks Scape series at brooksengland.com
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Words: Photos: Phillip Schwab