Utility Cycling - Use Your BicycleOrtlieb Bike Bags & PanniersCygoLite Bike Lights: Engineered to ShineMiiR Bottles one4oneCommuter Bike Store Breezer Greenway DX Hybrid Bike 24 Speed - 2011 ModelBionX: Electrify Your BikeRideKick Electric Powered Bike TrailerXtracycle Bike Cargo Kits, Parts and AccessoriesChrome Bike Backpacks and Messenger BagsPlanet Bike: Better bike products for a better worldBanjo Brothers Affordable Cycling GearBike Tech Shop - The Experts on Cycling with Circuitry

Detours’ Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

by Karen Voyer-Caravona

Karen Voyer-CaravonaKaren Voyer-Caravona is an admitted bicycle dilettante in Arizona, who blogs about her adventures on two wheels, vélo envy, her husband’s cooking, and cross country skiing at www.sheridesabike.com. Visit her Website for her endless opinions on the most stylish shoes for pedaling, critiques of bike parking, and the best bike date dining destinations.


Do I carry a bike bag because I pedal or do I pedal so I get to carry a bike bag? That’s a hard question for me because I love bike bags – panniers, messengers, cross shoulder bags, saddlebags. And I spend a great deal of emotional energy coveting the next great bag, wondering if this bag will be the bag. The one that meets every imaginable need and do so stylishly.

The first really great, great bike bag I owned was a Detours Toocan pannier. Now three years old, it’s a beautiful, water resistant, quilted pannier that is also roomy, tough as nails, simple to attach to my bike rack and easy to carry around when I reach my destination.

I later purchased the matching Toocan small over-the-shoulder-bag for trips that require nothing more than a wallet and some lip balm. Because I had the opportunity to check out Detours latest offerings at last fall’s Interbike, I was pleased to review the Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag, a very different bag from the Toocan bags but just as impressive.

Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

The Phinney, named for the Phinney Ridge neighborhood that straddles the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods in Seattle, Detours’ home base, straddles the line between handlebar bag and rack trunk. It resembles a traditional handbag in design and size, measuring 10 x 4.5 x 7.5 inches.

Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

Handbag Mode

The bag comes in orange, black and grey and is fabricated from water-resistant nylon. The bag attaches to the handlebar with nylon handles, both which open with interlocking plastic clasps. Additional nylon straps and clasps neatly and securely lock the bag to the rear rack. Finally, the Phinney comes with a bright yellow rain cover, cleverly hidden in a zipped compartment in the exterior bottom of the bag.

Off bike, the Phinney is meant to be carried as a handbag and, like any decent handbag, the interior includes several organizing pockets of varying sizes and a key fob. I’m a huge advocate of keeping organized when bike commuting so I especially appreciate these elements in a bike bag so that I never have to search around for cells phone, keys, camera or a pen.

Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

Rack-top Bag Mode

I tested the bag for about two weeks, taking it shopping, to the movies and my almost daily treks to Target. I have two bicycles and tested it on both bikes.

Although the Phinney is easiest to attach as a handlebar bag, my preference for it was as a rack trunk. First of all, my Phinney just didn’t work as a handlebar bar on my Breezer since the headlight and the gear cables got in the way of a good fit. A different style of handlebar with the cables position less directly in front, and a lamp that fit on the handlebar or on the fork would have eliminated this problem.

Detours Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag

The headlight and the gear cables got in the way of a good fit.

The side straps and locks didn’t fit for either of my bikes due to the configuration of the handlebars. I could see, however, that on drop bars or handlebar such as those found on a Workcycles or Batavius Dutch bike, the side mounting straps would add stability and prevent the bag from flopping around. Although, I had no problem attaching the handle of the Phinney to the front of my Dahon, I simply missed having my open bike basket in front of me where I can reach in easily for my camera, cell or water bottle. Since I often carry a light sweater and scarf with me, I also like to have a place to quickly deposit them as I shed them when the temperature climbs.

Detours Phinney Handlebar Rack-top Bag

Interlocking Plastic Clasps

I really loved the bag as a rack trunk, which I’ve never used before. The rack mounting gear is located at the bottom of the bag and attachment is very secure. I couldn’t feel the bag move at all during my rides, even after riding over dips or fissures in the concrete. I don’t have a basket for my Breezer, so when I had to use my phone or camera while still on my bike, I could easily reach back for them in one of the exterior side pockets.

Realistically, I’m not going to find a bag that will meet the needs of all situations. It’s a fairly illogical pursuit when one thinks about it. Although, I’ll use my Toocan pannier quite possibly for the rest of my life (it still looks like new), I don’t need a large bag when I’m just going to the dentist or a movie.

Detours Phinney Handlebar Rack-Top Bag

Key Clip

The Phinney is just big enough for trips involving casual appointments, entrainment and recreation where I don’t anticipate carrying a lot of “stuff”. If I do think I might need panniers for trips like grocery shopping, I can still attach collapsible box-style ones to the rear rack while still accommodating the Phinney.

The Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag is clearly designed for the female cyclist who is interested in style and function. The fact that it looks so much like a standard casual handbag is a big plus. For me and many other women cyclists, we don’t necessarily want a bag that looks bike specific. I want a bike bag that blends in nicely with the rest of my life. I get compliments on all my bike bags and when I’m asked about it I always mention how I use it anyway.

As sporty and casual as it is, I probably would not take the Phinney to work with me, that will remain the domain of Coach bags and my Toocan pannier, which I use as a brief case. I will carry it with me regularly when I return to school in the fall and just about everywhere else.

Detours Phinney Handlebar Rack-Top Bag

Interior

At $59, the Phinney is a more affordable rival to a favorite among bicycling fashionistas: the Po Campo handlebar and rack trunk bags. Detours could give Po Campo a run for their money by expanding the line to include additional colors and adding patterned fabric to the collection. I tested the bright orange bag and really liked it for the additional visibility it provided. Black and grey don’t show dirt and smudges but a greater range of colors and patterns injects more fun and personality into a very high-quality bag.

 
BOB Trailer Sale

6 Responses to “Detours’ Phinney Handlebar and Rack Bag”

  1. BluesCat says:

    Okay, so I’m gonna barge in here (the way us male chauvinist pigs ALWAYS do) and ask a couple of GUY questions about this bag:

    1. Good that it comes in the MANLY colors of gray and black. Does it come with a shoulder strap, so you can hang it across your body (like a messenger/sling bag)? The handbag mode (which looks GREAT on you, Karen) would get ME unrelenting ribbing from my coworkers.

    2. I like the rack mount idea; when you un-clip it from the rack, do ALL of the clips and straps go with the bag? Nothing left on the unattended rack for somebody to pilfer?

  2. Tim Sherman says:

    Zippers? I have spent too much on bags with zippers. I spray the zippers with silicon to make them work better but the rain and road grime eventually makes them hard to zip. When it is cold the little zippers are hard to work with cold fingers. I have to take my gloves off to open them. My next bag will have a heavier gauge zipper or no zipper at all. A zipper should be replaceable on my next bag. Jandd offers a warranty if you register your bag. Opening and closing a bag is important and should be easy to do.

  3. Karen says:

    BluesCat: The Phinney does not come w/ a shoulder strap, athough I suppose you could fashion one yourself w/ some rope.

    The truck attachments stay with the bag as they are sewn directly to the botton of the exterior so nothing is left behind.

  4. Karen says:

    Yes, Tim Sherman, there are zippers. I’ve had my other Detours pannier for three years, also has a zipper closure at the top. Despite considerable dust in our high mountain desert environment, I’ve never had any problems w/ the zipper opening or closing.

  5. Alison says:

    Thanks for this review, I’m looking for a nice handlebar bag that can be my purse too. I’m planning to commute to work next year much more than I did this year and an easy to remove handlebar bag would be a great addition to my commuting bags. Plus it will give me more room in my back rack bang for my clothing and shoes.

    I’m going to have to check this one out. You said it would probably work better with drop bars which is what I have. It the way you have it attached above the only way it attaches to the handlebars?

    Thanks!!

  6. Alison:

    The way I attached it was simply the only way I could attach it from those handlebars. The bag has other instructions for better attachment plus, from the photos you can see some side fasteners that are also useful for attaching to handlebars depending on what type of handlebar you have on your bike. I believe those work for drop bars as well. You might want to check the Detours website to see if they have any recent photos demonstrating how it attaches. You might also want to check out the larger version of this bag. Not too large but holds a lot more.

Leave a Reply