Carsick Designs - Handee Randee
Guten tag freunde and welcome to another review with me, the weird van dwelling bike riding freak of nature. In this review we’ll be taking a look at the truly wondrous Carsick Designs Handee Randee. However, before we get stuck into one of the best handlebar bags on the market, lets take a trip down memory lane!
Bikepacking has revolutionised bicycle touring and offered riders a more efficient, innovative and refreshing approach to pedal driven exploration. In the past options were pretty limited, with most riders opting for standard panniers, a traditional style handlebar bag and potentially some sort of trunk/saddle mounted arrangement ( this remains a great option ). However, in recent years this has all changed and the market has been completely overwhelmed by a wave of bespoke bikepacking bags. One of the most notable achievements of this bike bag revolution is just how many are hand made by small independent companies all over the world. Consequently, customers are often able to specify quirky colour schemes and custom modifications that ensure each bag is like no other. In other words, the bikepacking revolution is in many ways exactly that, a REVOLUTION. Viva la Bikepacking has taken business away from the industry giants and instead favours the expertise and vision of skilled independent crafts-men/women. This shift in commerce has helped give bicycle touring real personality, with very few bikes looking the same. Bikepacking is edgy, it’s exciting, personal and helps our small businesses…what’s not to like?! However, with so many superb products on the market, which bags are best?!
In reality this question cannot be answered. It wouldn’t matter if I truly believed I’d found the perfect set-up ( which I certainly haven’t ), every other rider would disagree and that’s awesome. It’s the personality in bikepacking, the individuality, which is responsible for so many dramatically varying, yet equally superb bike set-ups. That said, I can share my personal experience with different products and hopefully answer some questions you may have about certain options. One important factor to bare in mind is practicality. It’s all well and good fitting elaborate bags all over the bike, but if you can’t easily access your gear then you’re going to quickly become frustrated. I can tell you from experience that cramming your waterproofs in some god forsaken place when you’re caught in a downpour is not ideal. I think a lot has been done over the years by bikepacking brands to make their bags more user friendly and compete with the design simplicity of traditional panniers. It’s the amalgamation of innovative space saving design and user comfort that really sets a bikepacking bag apart. One such product that nails these quintessential prerequisites is the Carsick Designs Handee Randee.
Carsick Designs was established by Brian and Monica; a married couple with a passion for cycling and designing products by hand. As is so often the way with quality products, the designers genuinely love what they do. It doesn’t take long to recognise that this was a product designed by someone familiar with life on two wheels. On their website ( www.carsickdesigns.com ) they explain that they wanted to combine their love of cycling and the outdoors, whilst following in the footsteps of their ancestors and manufacturing products by hand ( …basically the best kinda people ). It was therefore fitting that Carsick Designs was established when Brian inherited his grandfather’s mid-century industrial sewing machine and turned his hand to bikepacking bags. So you’re thinking, what makes the Handee Randee ( also referred to as the H R from this point ) so damn good?!
Quality. Plain and simple. All the materials, seams, straps, pockets and machining is spot on. The H R is a companion I’d happily rely on for a round-the-world expedition and that’s saying something. The design is well thought out and has four mounting points on top of the bag along with a head tube strap to fit securely under the Jones H-Bar. Moreover, the padded blocks below each strap prevent the bag from being tight against the handlebar and thus allows the rider to comfortably grip around the mounting points ( also prevents friction damage to the paint ) or utilise the space for a second smaller bag ( e.g. the Wildcat Tom Cat ). The bag fitment is well thought out and exceptionally secure, even on the really rough stuff. It was great feeling confident enough to throw the bike down technical singletrack without the worry of gear coming loose. At this point I’m going to get all controversial and state that although the bag is made specifically to fit the Jones H-Bar ( which it does superlatively ) it also mounts to the standard handlebars on my Surly Instigator. The joke is I didn’t realise til recently that the company don’t specify this and are currently working on making changes to the H R In order to accommodate other styles of handlebars. I had the Handee Randee mounted to the Instigator for my Isle of Skye ride and it fit great utilising just two of the four top straps ( I then used the two spare straps to neatly secure my camera tripod to the front of the bike ). Moreover, there’s so much useful daisy chain webbing incorporated into the design I’m confident you’d be able to retro fit the H R to most bikes ( not to mention the webbing is extremely useful for attaching extra gear ). That said, Carsick Designs will undoubtedly be improving the compatibility so get in touch before ordering and run through your requirements ( Brian & Monica are extremely helpful ). Right, so the Handee Randee hangs to the bike like a powerlifting Chimp, but what about the usability?
In my personal experience, I’ve found that a lot of harness systems like this are good for items you only need access to once/twice a day, but not great for gear you need regularly. In other words, a harness system and dry bag combo is great for things you need perhaps at the beginning or end of the day, but not ideal when you just want to quickly grab something. The Handee Randee is NOT a harness/dry-bag combo, alternatively it’s a sophisticated all-in-one hybrid bag that offers excellent usability, whilst maintaining a superbly stable harness based structure. The clue’s in the name Handee ( Handlebar or handy ) Randee ( randonneur ) i.e. a combination between a bikepacking harness system and a classic randonneuring bag. Obviously, there’s pro and cons, one such criticism would be that the former allows the rider to quickly detach the entire dry bag when needed ( e.g. at night before getting into the tent or leaving the bike unattended ). However, thanks to large dual openings the contents are so easily accessed that I don’t consider this an issue with this particular bag. Furthermore, both ends are secured using a strong velcro, roll-top and buckle combination, which kept my belongings bone dry in Skye despite incessant rain. It’s worth noting that the roll-top openings allow the H R to be extremely compact for weekend trails or alternatively loosened up to create an absolutely huge bag on tour for extra gear ( this saved me on Skye when a few bags didn’t arrive quite in time and I was forced to stuff a tonne of extra gear into the H R...hence why the bag looks comically huge in some of the pictures). The bag also features a generous sized front pocket with two smaller internal dividers ( easily fits an iphone 6/7 plus or similar ). This extra space is perfect for storing an abundance of snacks and is kept bone dry using the same roll-top/velcro/clip fastening. If that wasn’t enough Carsick Designs provide two generous sized Goodie Bags. These fit neatly on the handlebar using the existing straps from the main bag and strapping to the H R’s rear facing webbing. The Handee Randee is exceptional value for money when you consider you’re getting a hand made all-in-one system that includes an ingenious built in harness, extra large dual opening in-built dry bag, a generous easy access front storage pocket and two Goodie Bags for just $240. So Jack, any final words?
I have to say…I completely and utterly fell in love with the Handee Randee in Skye. I’m talking truly smitten…what started off as a hot steamy borderline illegal obsession has developed into a romance that wouldn’t look out of place in a Shakespeare play….I shall call it ‘ Jack got Randee ’. This is a bag that will last for years, fit almost any bike, work as both a compact weekender or round the world companion, provide excellent usability and all at a bargain price. If that wasn’t enough Brian & Monica are awesome and provide excellent customer service. I’ve had the privilege of road testing numerous bags over the years, but the Handee Randee may just be my favourite to date and will be once again proving its worth in Iceland this June.
· Side panels rolled 3 times, approx. 22W x 6D x 7H; Side panels unrolled, approx. 36W x 6D x 7H
· ROLL TOP POCKET: 10W x 2D x 11H unrolled; 7H rolled
· Floating liner helps to keep inside contents dry
· Front Roll-Top pocket with floating liner and 2 sleeve pockets inside (big enough for the iPhone 6 Plus)
· Five mounting points for stability, no swaying
· Two removable Goodie Bags on the cock pit side for quick and easy access to water, snacks, phone, or camera
· Foam spacers at the 4 bar mounting points provide hand clearance so you still have access to all the hand positions of the awesome Jones bar
· The foam spacer at the head tube keeps the bag away from your frame
· Each side panel rolls and unrolls to provide quick and easy access to main bag and to adjust bag size to your needs
· Omni tape on the inside edge of each side panel allows one side panel to be sealed closed while packing from the other side panel
· Bar tacked daisy chain webbing on bottom, and top for attaching items such as your fly-rod, tent poles, slingshot, etc....
· Included compression straps around the entire bag to secure it to the bars
· This bag is a GREAT option for a rack-less set up whether you are bike packing, touring, camping, fishing, commuting, and for everyday use. We never ride without a Handee Randee attached to our bike.
· CENTER PANEL: 1000 Denier Cordura or Terrain X-Pac™
· SIDE PANELS: 1000 Denier Cordura or Terrain X-Pac™
· WEBBING/BINDING: Nylon
· MOUNTING STRAPS: Nylon webbing with cam lock
· HDPE and high density foam inserts
· EVA foam spacer/protection blocks
· The materials used are extremely water resistant but our bags are sewn together and there is always the possibility of water wicking through the seams so we recommend using dry bags that have welded seams for your items that must remain dry.
· Since this is a handlebar bag we recommend carrying soft, lighter weight items such as your sleeping bag/system or clothes so as to not hinder steering.