Origin8 CargoLight Bars Review

Your backpack is probably your most important piece of kit. Unfortunately, wearing a backpack while riding feels like wearing a ski jacket made of lead. With the Origin8 CargoLight bars you'll never have to wear a backpack again.

Over the last 6 months Billy Arlew, Justin Aguinaldo, and myself have put these bars through their paces. What follows is our assessment of the strengths, weaknesses and WTFs of the CargoLight bars.

A video posted by Billy Arlew (@billyarlew) on

A video posted by Billy Arlew (@billyarlew) on

Specs

  • Buy them hereherehereherehere, and here in 25.4mm and herehere, and here in 31.8mm
  • Price: $30-175
  • Clamp Diameter: 25.4mm and 31.8mm
  • Width: 680mm - 26.75"
  • Rise: 90mm - 3.5"
  • Grip Length: 165mm - 6.5"
  • Grip Diameter: 22.2mm
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Handlebar Weight: 848 grams - 1.86lbs
  • Bag Weight: 540 grams - 1.19lbs
  • Total Weight: 1,388 grams - 3.05lbs

How do they ride?

 Photo by  Billy Arlew

Photo by Billy Arlew

 Photo by  Billy Arlew

Photo by Billy Arlew

The first thing you'll notice is the wingspan. At 680mm wide these bars are quite a bit wider than typical road bars. Unfortunately it does make shooting those tight gaps between cars more challenging. But it also makes the ride much more stable, a quality that messengers have increasingly been embracing.

When carrying a heavy load your bike will behave differently than you're used to. One time, while carrying a full load, Billy was caught off guard by the swinging weight and went down. But under typical conditions you'll find that the width of the bars provides ample leverage for weaving through traffic with cargo.

The hoop isn't intended to be used as a riding position. But that didn't stop Billy from getting aero on the hoop and "pass[ing] fools like crazy" during a cross race.

How much can it carry?

We have been unable to find an official weight limit for the CargoLight Bars. However our consensus is 20lbs max. With more weight the bars could twist inside of the stem clamp on bumpy roads.

The dimensions of the bag are 11.5" x 8.5" x 9.75". The drawstring also allows you to overflow the bag. There's easily enough space to carry a 6-pack, an extra layer, your lock, and a few other must-haves. Or go inception style and throw your whole backpack in.

One thing to be aware of is the ease with which one can endo when fully loaded. It's a lot easier to lift the rear wheel off the road when you're carrying weight in the front of the bike. As with any bike, ride well within your bike's limits when fully loaded.

How accessible is your stuff? 

The CargoLight bars are the gold standard in accessibility. Trying to remove your hoodie when you're wearing a backpack requires a pretty long red light. The CargoLight bag is so quick that even a short red is long enough to get dressed for the World Naked Bike Ride.

The use-case where most storage solutions fail (even the Bike Strap) is while the bike is moving. The CargoLight bag does not have this issue. I've been known to remove my hoodie and securely store it without ever stopping. A nearly impossible feat with panniers.

Like many backpacks, the CargoLight bag is cavernous and lacks pocket hierarchy. If you're out on a night ride then you're going to spend a lot of time rooting around trying find that J you rolled.

The bag attaches to the bars with 6 Velcro straps. This makes it slow to put on and take off. I leave the CargoLight bag on my bike and carry a light weight backpack with me.

Will it get stolen?

Like most bars, the CargoLight bars can be relatively easily stolen by a thief carrying an allen wrench and some wire cutters. Fortunately (and I use this term loosely) wheels are often a much better value proposition for thieves because they're easier to steal and more valuable.

If your bag is stolen a replacement bag is only about $20 on Amazon. Unlike a set of panniers or a porteur rack, which often run in the $100+ range.

How secure is your stuff?

If you use an elaborate bungie cord system to hold junk to your rack then you've seen some shit. The CargoLight bag is made of nylon, not steel bars. During hundreds of miles of testing across a huge variety of situations I've never lost so much as a loose penny.

In cases where you're piled high with cargo the drawstring is a must have. Just tighten that bad boy down and your CargoLight bag's tightly clenched sphincter will keep your stuff safely stowed.

Unfortunately the CargoLight bag suffers from a very common problem: shit's always bangin' around. The bag has a solid plastic bottom which your lock will use to send out morse code your entire ride.

How durable is it?

You know what sucks? When your rack falls off your bike. The CargoLight Bars solve this by welding the load bearing structure straight to your bars, which themselves are attached to the bike with a very reliable 4-screw joint.

Unfortunately the material the bag is made of is somewhat brittle. Justin has an affinity for wheelies and carries his Kryptonite Fugetaboudit lock in the bag. He was able to bust a hole in the bottom after 3 months or so. We estimate that the typical daily rider should get at least a year of daily wheelie-free use out of a bag.

How weatherproof is it?

In the carefully chosen words of our textile expert Melissa Davies: "it's water resistant". In light rain on a short trip (10-15 minutes max) you don't have much to worry about. Just make sure to tighten the drawstring.

In heavy rain even a tightly clenched drawstring will leak. For those situations it's probably better to keep your water sensitive stuff in your backpack or a dry bag.

How compatible is it?

No bike component is universally compatible. The Origin8 CargoLight bars have a lot going for them, but some bikes will have compatibility issues.

They come in both 31.8mm and 25.4mm clamp diameters. These are the two most common clamp diameters for modern bikes. But older bikes (and even some newer bikes) aren't compatible with either. If you're unsure what the clamp diameter of your stem is you should consult your calipers or a local bike shop.

The hoop is fantastic for mounting tons of gadgets. Want to roll with dual headlights, a Garmin, and your phone mounted on your bars? No problem.

The compatibility issue that will affect the largest number of bikes is the grip length. If you have a shifter on one or both sides then you will have to cut down your grips ~1cm depending on your setup.

How do I optimize my ride?

Small amount of grip overhang on the Modeo Daily Grind

Every time you change a component you change how your bike rides. Sometimes this means other components also need change. To optimize your ride I recommend:

  1. Wheel Stabilizer ($15) - Makes the bike easier to handle when loaded (no need to give up riding no handed)
  2. Double Legged Kickstand ($40) - Who's going to hold your bike for you while you load it up with cargo?
  3. Mountain Bike Seat ($20) - If you're upgrading a road bike then your posture is going to become more upright. Keep your posterior happy with a new saddle.

Summary

The CargoLight Bars are less expensive and more functional than any other cargo solution we have tested at Modeo. They earn the Modeo seal of approval despite a few shortcomings in the design of the bag.

We love them so much that we've got a few prototypes kicking around...

Available in 2017?

Design by Arlew Goods

Design by Arlew Goods