Revelate Handlebar Bag Shootout: Harness vs Sweet Roll

Revelate Designs makes a couple of excellent solutions for toting gear on the handlebars. As I was weighing out which one would be functionally perfect for Gin on our upcoming trip, I jotted down a few notes…

Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

Revelate Sweet Roll – for Bike Touring?

I had seen the Revelate Sweet Roll in action before, but didn’t really get much hands-on. The first thing I noticed when putting it together, in comparison with the Harness which I’ve used for a while now, is that it is much simpler, cleaner and lightweight. It weighs about 115 grams (4 oz) less than the 15oz Harness. At the same time it also seems slightly less rugged. But that may be because it’s a soft bag where the Harness has a semi-rigid backing. I’m sure that it’s as tough as a two-dollar steak; all of the Revelate stuff I have used is extremely well crafted and very durable. Here is a list of strengths as well as photos and notes:


  • Waterproof – the Sweet Roll is essentially a tough drybag with elegantly designed and placed hardware, and reinforced fabrics to prevent abrasion.
  • The design makes it easy to add tubular shaped or rolled items to the outside with the accessory straps.
  • The bag is also designed to work with the accessory pocket.
  • The Sweet Roll is slightly less complicated than the Harness.
  • Integrated clips on the straps that go around the handlebar make it easier to attach and detach.
  • The spacers on the handlebar straps work very well and by design, don’t shift around.
  • The cinch cord add on is great for carrying maps, or letting something dry in the sun.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

The Sweet Roll packs anywhere from 16″ wide to around 24″ wide.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

Rohloff cables barely slide over the Sweet Roll when packed wider.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

For display sake, I strapped on the Big Agnes Q-core Sleeping pad. Ultimately I will need to put it in a drybag to prevent abrasion with the straps, but all in all, the bag contains a sleeping bag, rain pants, a rain jacket, and on the outside the sleeping pad. A pretty good load on the bars at 2,500 gram (5.5 lbs).

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

There are 2 straps where it mounts to the bars. The first is a velcro loop that binds the foam spacers which hold the bag away from the bars. Works like a charm.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

Revelate is very good about reinforcing the areas that may take a lot of abrasion with more burly fabrics and materials.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

Each end works just like a dry bag, and like the harness, the Sweet Roll can be left on the bike and unpacked from the sides.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

Ultimately I will move the headtube strap down on the daisy chain in order to make it wrap below the down tube.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll

Here it is packed longer with the same contents as listed above, only all inside.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll - Rohloff

This configuration leaves the cinch cord available for a map or other such items for quick access.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Sweet Roll - Rohloff

It may pose a problem stressing the Rohloff cables. This could be avoided if the pack is loaded under the cables (if they are long enough).

Ideal Uses for the Sweet Roll

  • Carrying clothes, or other things that need to stay dry; perfect for lightweight bike touring.
  • I think it will be perfect for Gin on our upcoming trip packed with all her sleeping gear and rain gear – 5.5lbs total.
  • Great for tentless bikepacking. Or for use in combination with another method to store a small sleeping shelter; Dustin used his to tote a sleeping bag, tarp and a couple other items on our last bikepacking trip.

Revelate Handlebar Harness – Bikepacking loaded

I have put quite a few rough miles on the Handlebar Harness over a few trips. My initial decision to get the Harness over the Sweet Roll was based on using it with a full-suspension bike, not to mention the need to load a gigantic three person tent. Here is where I think it shines (also see notes in the photo captions):


  • Perfect for stacking two large cylindrical items; in this case a tent and sleeping bag.
  • The Harness also works with the accessory pocket.
  • When items are stacked it moves the weight lower and provides a slightly better center of gravity than the Sweet Roll.
  • Very easy to load and unload while the Harness remains attached to the bike.
  • You can tell that Eric at Revelate spent a great deal of time perfecting the design of the harness; lots of intricacies and rugged hardware.
  • UPDATE: Eric, from Revelate, let me know that they added the quick releas clips to the current iteration of the harness.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

Perfect for a sleeping bag and a two person tent, or a very light three person tent.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

I like the grip of the formed rubber spacers for the bar mounts. However, they do shift during rough riding and require the occasional adjustment. Not a big deal though.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

The harness works well for packing a more narrow and vertical load.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

A view from the cockpit.
Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

A slightly lower center of gravity.

Bikepacking gear: Revelate Handlebar bag - Harness

The burly clips on the harness allow you to cinch the straps down, then lock them into place. Nice details.

Revelate Pocket

Using the harness with a larger three person tent.

Revelate Pocket

Map and snacks!

Ideal Uses for the Revelate Handlebar Harness

  • Perfect for use on a full suspension bike with no room in the triangle.
  • I have beat this thing up on some downhills carrying hefty loads and it seems very sturdy. This configuration weighs about 2,950 grams (6.5 lbs) without loading the pocket… on the last trip I had it bursting with a pound of trail mix, maps, a knife, etc.
  • Great if you are planning on carrying a tent up front, or stacking narrower cylinders for a more vertical configuration.
  • Tim

    Will the “stiffness” of the Harness bend enough to accommodate, say one narrow cylinder (i.e. a light weight sleeping bag)?

  • Most definitely. I have carried a minimal load of a small tent in it as well. It’s pretty flexible…

  • Jeff

    OK, I have to ask – what color is the aqua/blue troll in these pictures? I am assuming it is custom, it looks incredible! Any info on the ral number of this paint?

  • Jeff, it’s RAL 5009. i got mine painted a darker green and Virginia got hers in this color; I was slightly jealous, the blue looks pretty cool on the Troll.

  • Wandering by Bicycle

    Great comparison! I have been using the Sweet Roll with the large handlebar pocket for the past two months and I like the double entry design but found the two straps were not enough to keep everything stable on rough roads. I added two more straps, one on each end and this keeps everything solid. To reduce cable kink I use flexible brake noodles on my cables where they go into the Rohloff shifter and brake levers.

  • Thanks! I will keep that in mind and look into the noodles… I’ve never used those before.

  • Mark

    Ok so which one do you prefer

  • I actually like them both for different reasons. We are taking the Sweet Roll on an upcoming overseas trip, but if I was going to buy just one, it’d be the harness, for the sake of versatility. Plus for the price of a the Harness, you can almost get it and their Saltyroll ( which makes a great combination… and gets the same capacity of waterproof space, to boot. Where, or how, will you be using it?

  • Mark

    The plan is round the world trip.. in Vietnam now .. Have use panniers and trailer in the pass a few years ago in Europe .. Trailer broken and panniers got eaten by a crazy dog .. So looking for better solution As I want to get back in to cycling. Putting together a new setup going much lighter now. Looking to pack in the handle bar setup hennesy hammock tent .. Ultra light sleeping bag and inertia xl urltra lightweight system sleeping pad .. Looking for something that will last .. And won’t have problems with it .. I talked to the guys that sell them they will ship to Vietnam .. Ps where your oversea trip plan for

  • Nice. We are flying in to Cape Town, South Africa on December 6th. From there we plan on working our way across the Cape by way of dirt roads, some single track, mixed with a little pavement and ‘hitchbiking’ where necessary. From there we are going to bus/bike/train combo it up towards Lake Malawi where we will work or way up to Uganda. We have about 4 months, before meeting my wife’s family in Morocco, so we are planning a mixed transport kind of a tour…

  • Andi

    Have a look at Ashima Super Noodles. I’ve also seen the same branded by origin8 ..
    Instead of running the cable through a metal tube it simply bends the
    housing. I even thought Rohloff offers them by themselves. But it looks
    like it is just a special package by a webshop
    Can’t tell if it works better then standard brake noodles (or at all) but just ordered that specific set and will find out.

  • Pingback: Revelate Designs handlebar bag solutions | Fat Bike Brigade()

  • Wakatel Lu’um

    Hey Logan, just a question how do you find the different types rubber spacers when comparing the Harness & Sweet Roll?…my reason for asking is I have the older version of the Harness which has the same spacers as the Sweet Roll…

  • i really like the molded spacers on the harness (older version shown here)… but, they have a tendancy to shift when riding rough terrain. They generally feel a bit more solid and keep the gear better spaced from cables though. The stacked square spacers on the sweetroll have been fine on our tour. I don’t really have any cons to pin on them other than the fact that they feel slightly less solid and allow a little less room. Both do the job well so I guess it’s a toss up. It seems like there were several iterations of the harness; which ones does yours have?

  • Wakatel Lu’um

    Thanks for the reply…my Harness looks similar to the Sweet Roll in that I have the stacked spacers and the smaller clips…can’t see any reason to change so I’ll stick with the oldy…keep up the great site!

  • durianrider

    I don’t use the rubber blocks on my Harness. Check out this vid.

  • Dan Clements

    I also use the harness without the blocks, on my Surly Straggle with the blocks in place he load sits to low and rubs my tire. On my Surly Karate Monkey the blocks work great. The harness works super!

  • Good to know… thanks Dan.

  • Juancho

    Hey I know this may be an aside but I really enjoy the photos you post here. What is the rig or setup you are using? (if you don’t mind my asking.)

  • Thanks! I alternate between a fuji x100 and a Canon 6d… on the Canon I use a 35mm sigma, a 135 f/2 or a 24-70 f/4.

  • Sean

    Great review, answers a lot of my questions. leaning heavily towards the harness, if only it wasn’t perpetually sold out. :-(

  • Thanks… the harness is a good and versatile choice. Worth the wait!

  • Travis Williams

    I now own this beautiful frame, but it’s been stolen by my 14 year old son. He’s given “Steve” a sex change and has re-named her “Sexy” after Dr. Who’s Tardis. He LOVES this bike!!!

  • Nice! Glad it worked out!! Gin said she’s glad ‘he-she’ has found a good home after traveling through Latin America, Africa, and southern Spain…

  • darelldd

    Excellent pictures and write-up. Thanks for taking the time! I just found it after a couple of years. :-) It sounds like you’ve discovered that *more* can be carried with the harness. Due, I guess, to not having the limits of the stuff sack that IS the Sweetroll. I wonder what the practical weight limits are for either of these.

  • Thanks Darell. I don’t have an exact weight spec, but I’ve pushed the harness pretty hard. I’ve had the same one for years and carried a sleeping bad and a 2.5 man tent on really rugged terrain. It’s a beast.

  • Chunyu Ou

    Is that revelate pocket waterproof?

  • No it is not; it’s water resistant, but once it’s saturated, things inside wik water.

  • Gideon McClure

    These look like awesome options. I have other RD bags and they’re sweet. Right now I just want to attach a drysack with some straps to my Jones bar. Is there a way to do this without buying one of these options? If so, how do I do it without interfering with cables?

  • Sam Moan

    I just purchased the revelate harness for my trek fuel ex. I am having issues with it putting the bags in the tires way while the front suspension is active. Do you have any ideas on how to over come this?

  • atnorhe

    Very good and useful review. Just what i was looking for.

  • Ryan Klucker

    Did you find a solution to this? I have the same issue.

  • Sorry, missed this earlier. I typically put a little extra air in the fork and dial it to the middle trail mode setting (the new Float). That said, a skinnier roll like the Sweet Roll or Entrada works a little better with long travel forks…

  • Jared

    Nice write up. I have both set ups and always grab the harness. I like the harness because i can use whatever drybag i have that matches my load that day.

  • Stephan

    I’m looking for a handlebar bag system to use with my drop bar gravel bike. I plan to use it to carry my sleep system (small 2-person tent, sleeping bag & pad). My bike has 46cm Cowchipper bars, which have ~16″ between the inside of the shifters. I like the idea of the Harness for my planned load, but I saw a blog post Relevate wrote about using a large Sweetroll on drop bar bikes – . In your opinion, what is the better system for use with drop bars, especially considering my planned load?


  • Hi Stephan. Well, you won’t be able to carry nearly as much, even with a large Sweet Roll. Check out the latest review of the new Harness, as noted you can organize items to pack outward in a horizontal fashion, which of course helps with a drop bar…

  • dmorg

    I recabled my Rohloff to make room for a handlebar roll. No problem, with YouTube. :)

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...

Follow Us

and join the conversation.