ARLTB Rear Rack Bag
Recently I was looking for a small bag to use on my road bike so that I could run a quick errand without having to take my commuter bike loaded with fenders and full size bags. Since I already owned a Topeak MTX seatpost rack (Amazon has listed here) I looked at their MTX bags, but was shocked at the price tags pushing $100 or more. A few searches later I came upon these cool little bags by ARLTB (no, I don’t know how to pronounce it either, although it appears to be an acronym for All Roads Lead To Bike) that were not only cheap but seemed the right size to suit my needs.
The bag came delivered in a standard Amazon box, but inside was simply a blank plastic bag sealed with the actual bag inside. No company logos, no literature, nothing but the bag itself. Despite this unusually barebones presentation, right off the bat I was impressed by how much there was to this bag: reflective accents on all sides, a generous main compartment that can expand with a zipper, multiple small pouches and elastic straps to tie things down, side pouches that actually unzip and fold down to resemble pseudo-panniers, a pouch on the back compartment for a water bottle with a strap to attach a taillight, and what appeared to be an integrated rain cover tucked into a pouch on the bottom of the bag (although I did not see how it would actually secure itself to the bag and fear it would simply fly off at the first gust of wind).
All these features have the bag coming in at a weight of 715 grams, or a hair under 1 pound 10 ounces, which isn’t much but still more than I was expecting for simply a small bag. The space for each pouch was ample, but I doubted it would be enough for doing something like commuting where you’re not only carrying a change of clothes but also lunch/dinner. The side pouches would hold a folded up pair of jeans but not much more; the main compartment could hold a full outfit (without shoes) folded together, but then you’d have to find a spot for everything else you’re carrying.
The bag attaches to a rack with two large Velcro straps at the bottom, as well as two smaller Velcro straps to hook the bag onto the front of the rack to prevent it from sliding forward or backward. Installation was fairly simple, although once the straps were attached as tight as I could get I was still a little worried about its stability when loaded.
When installing the bag I did find a hole in the main compartment where a seam had either ripped or was not stitched at all. It was rather disappointing to find this straight out of the box, but sometimes you have to accept these things when buying something so inexpensive.
Before the test ride I loaded up the bag in my garage with clothes, plastic food containers, and other items to see how useful the bag could actually be for different needs. The water bottle pouch on the back of the bag was disappointing, as the pouch is too shallow to secure a bottle and I’d fear a bottle would get ejected at the first bump you hit. In that same area the taillight strap was incredibly thin and did not allow my light’s clamp to secure itself. I tried attaching the light hooked to the pouch itself but it was impossible to control what angle the light stayed at, which could be problematic in the dark.
I threw the bag on my Topeak rack (Amazon has it here if you want something similar) and went out for a road ride with intent to grab some post-ride beverages on the way home, which would be the perfect test for the main compartment. For most of the ride the bag was essentially unloaded, although in the second half as the day was warming up I had to strip off my arm and knee warmers and tossed them in the bag instead of inside my jersey pockets. All good so far.
On the way to the store, I ended up in some sections of heavy traffic where on multiple occasions I was pedaling hard out of the saddle, which meant the bike was rocking side to side a lot. It didn’t feel funny on the bike, but when I got to the store I saw the bag was tilted strongly to the side as if it was about to fall off the rack (the straps were still secure though). I ran inside, grabbed a four-pack of pint cans, and was happy to see the bag was the perfect size for them. In fact, this bag should easily hold up to 8 bottles or cans of your favorite soda/beer/water. While the load felt secure and I double-checked the straps were tight, the extra weight was definitely noticeable when riding and any time I stood up to pedal I felt like the bag was about to swing off the side. I took it easy and the bag and beverages made it home intact.
I feel that if you already have a rack and are looking for a bag for occasional light-duty errands, such as dropping off small packages at the post office, picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy, or doing an early morning donut run, then this bag is well worth the cheap price tag that Amazon currently has it listed at. It would probably be sufficient for an easy ride on a greenway or other smooth bike path if you wanted to take along a small lunch for a mid-ride break, and I know I’m going to keep using it for short errands on weekends like I did today.
Rob is a New England native who has been living in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2012. Upon learning how to ride at the age of five he quickly found that everything is better on a bicycle, and hasn’t stopped riding since.