If you’re like a lot of new bikepackers looking to upgrade your DIY handlebar set up crafted of rope or straps after a couple of overnighters, there are some great options for you. An off-the-shelf solution will likely provide a more stable, reliable, and user-friendly product. We commend the utilitarianism in make-shift gear, but sometimes you just want to ride without fiddling around with your gettup, and that’s where we come in! At Revelate we offer a couple of different handlebar solutions, primarily the Harness or the Sweetroll (and yes, the Pronghorn, but more on that later…).
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it: What is the difference? To some extent, the choice is just a matter of personal preference but there are some technicalities depending on your ride. Let’s start with this comparison chart and then go through the features of each system.
Singular vs Modular
These two handlebar systems essentially serve the same function: an easy way to carry gear up front. The major difference between the two is in their form. The Harness is a modular system. It offers you the ability to provide your own drybag, use ours (the Saltyroll), or load it up with nonconforming gear like a packraft, climbing equipment, or bulky winter gear. Three front straps keep your load secure and release for easy removal.
The Sweetroll is a single unit that is designed to stay fixed to your bike and provide access to your gear through its double-ended drybag. It is best suited to pack soft goods on the inside (sleeping bag, tent, clothing) and has an external flap with a bungee cord so you can quickly secure an extra layer, tent poles, or even a sleeping pad.
The capacity of these two models is pretty similar. The Sweetroll comes in two sizes, 11L and 15L and it also has the added bonus of the front Manta flap which conceals a bungee cord for external storage. The Harness only comes in one size, but you have the ability to fit a large capacity drybag if needed. If you pair the Harness with the Saltyroll, which is about 7″ in diameter, the maximum capacity is 15L, equivalent to the larger Sweetroll. In general, we don’t recommend carrying a lot of weight on your handlebars because it can lead to poor handling, but if you do have extra bulky gear, like a cold-weather sleeping bag for instance, we can even make strap extensions to accommodate the larger diameter of that gear.
If you’re looking to add a bit more capacity, both handlebar options are compatible with our Egress pocket. This addition adds about 3L capacity and it also is one of the handiest places to organize your smaller bits. The Egress pocket is waterproof with an easy access roll-down closure and comes with a removable padded liner. If you are troubleshooting a place to carry a small camera, electronics, or secure non-replaceables, this is the spot! When added to the Harness, the Egress creates the ability to sandwich a layer between your drybag and the pocket.
Are you riding with drop bars? If so, the Sweetroll is the most versatile for this fit. We go into more detail on this combination in another blog post but the important thing to know here is that the Sweetroll is not rigid like the Harness. You can roll up the ends of the bag to fit a more narrow space between the bars and still have room to shift. Most road and gravel bikes are also gifted with ample clearance between the bars and the tire which means you can opt for the larger diameter Sweetroll, the 15L, to maximize capacity. The 11L works great too, just a little smaller!
You can use the harness on drop bars if you don’t have narrow width bars. If you’re using 38 or 40 cm drop bars, the Sweetroll would be your best bet. The width of the Harness is about 12″ wide without a drybag hanging out either end of it. If you are using the Saltyroll you should be able to roll this down to about 13.5″ width. You will still need additional clearance to move your shifters, so plan for that when measuring.
With any style of handlebar, it is important to note that these bags will not work with cantilever or road style front brakes that have a vertical exposed cable. Disc or V Brakes only!
If you are a convert of the the Jones handlebar lifestyle you will be interested to know that the Sweetroll offers the addition of a four point mounting attachment with the Jones Loop Bar Kit. This is ideal if you’re going on more technical terrain as it offers a more stable mount. The Jones Loop Bar Kit is optional, however, and the Sweetroll will also work with just the two standard mounting points. You can read up more on this topic here. The Harness does not offer these additional attachment points but can still be used on the Jones bars mounted to the nearest bar it just hangs a bit lower so tire clearance could be an issue here with larger loads.
The Pronghorn is our lightweight handlebar system that functions most similarly to the Harness + Saltyroll combo and works well on Drop bars because it is not rigid. Unfortunately, this system has been out of stock for some time. To make a long story short, one of the required materials for this product was discontinued due to a supplier changing hands in the midst of the pandemic. We have been working towards a solution literally every day since. We hope to have some news for you soon, but we don’t just yet, so bear with us just a little bit longer! If you want to be notified when this item comes back in stock, please sign up in the red box on the product page.
Lastly, I’d like to address a few of the common questions we get asked:
Q: “Which is better for singletrack?”
A: They’re both good! Both systems mount to your handlebars using a spacer or mounting block that offset the bag from the bars allowing for room for your cables to pass through. They also feature a head tube mounting strap to further secure and stabilize the bag.
Q: What is the spacing between the mounts on the Harness?
A: The rubber blocks are about 4″ apart, and they are 1″ wide. From the outside of one block to the outside of the other is about 6″ when installed.
Q: Where do my cables go?
A: This is a little bit different on each bike, but the major guidance you need to know is that the cables should not be sandwiched in with the mounting blocks. They need to be worked around them so that the compression of the bag does not interfere with your ability to shift or break. It’s best to figure this out before you’re ready to depart for your trip because it may take a little bit of time to figure out the best setup.
Q: I lost my Harness block or spacers for my Sweetroll, do you have spares?
A: Yes! You can find Harness blocks and Sweetroll spacers on our website under parts & repair. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or are unsure what you need, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, if you have other questions regarding our products please feel free to send an email to email@example.com and we’ll do our very best to help you out!