Bags By Bird (BXB) Piccolo Short Flap Review
Released this spring, the BXB Piccolo Short Flap is a modern top-accessed saddlebag or handlebar bag that’s specifically tailored for bikes with tighter clearances and narrower drops. We spent several months testing out the large and small Piccolo on a wide range of trips and day rides. Find our full review here…
Bags by Bird, or BXB for short, is a one-person business founded by filmmaker Jay Ritchey. Each and every bag is handmade by Jay in Atlanta, Georgia, and typically released in small batches that are often sold out shortly after they’re announced. Jay’s bags have proven to be quite a hot commodity since his first model, the Teardrop, was released back in 2018, and the evolution of his solid and well-conceived designs has been fun to follow.
Since the BXB Goldback is a larger bag (available in two sizes that range from 17-27L with a minimum width of 17.5″), Jay saw the opportunity for a slightly more svelte offering. The BXB Piccolo Short Flap is just that. Designed as a smaller, more versatile sibling to the Goldback, the Piccolo is better suited to rigs with limited clearance between the bars and front/rear tire or for those running narrower bars. Just like the Goldback, it can be used as a top-loading handlebar bag or as a traditional-style saddle bag, with or without a rack or support. While the Piccolo has a shorter, non-expandable, main top flap, the adjustable webbing buckles and generous overlap easily allow for tightening down an overflowing bag. The bag has two side pockets, two lengths of daisy chain across the front for your dangling desires, and a drawstring closure that can expand to accommodate larger loads or cinch down to provide better resistance against the elements.
The Piccolo uses two wooden dowels and an HDPE liner to provide stability and structure. The upper dowel, at the main top strap point, is removable and lives inside a Hypalon sleeve secured with two Phillips wood screws. The lower dowel prevents the bag from folding over the headtube of the bike, and provides additional rigidity for the lower attachment point. Paired with a removable HDPE body liner, the Piccolo is impressively stable and holds its shape and position on the bike on the roughest of trails, while still providing a little give for stuffing in loose items like extra layers and puffy jackets.
The Piccolo Short Flap is currently offered in two sizes, small and large, and I’ve been testing out both. The tropical camo pictured here is the larger of the two, made with an ultra-durable X-Pac X50 that uses a waterproof X-Pac ripstop polyester layer and a hard-wearing 500 denier nylon face fabric. The small Piccolo is made from a black heather Liteskin LS42 fabric, which is a highly tear-resistant, non-woven polyester that’s fast drying and waterproof. Although the fabrics BXB uses are waterproof on their own, the construction of the bags isn’t 100% waterproof because the seams aren’t sealed. However, the bags are extremely weather-proof thanks to thoughtful construction and material choice. Personally, I’ve had no issues with rain or snow penetrating the bag, and unless I was expecting some serious downpours, I would trust my camera to live inside the bag.
Emily was quick to get her hands on the smaller Piccolo, as it was a little easier to fit between the controls on her narrower bars and she found it obstructed her view of the trail ahead less than its larger sibling. While I found it to be a little small for anything more than an overnighter, it was my go-to for day rides. Due to its conservative dimensions, it fit well on every bike I tried it on and was perfect for hauling some extra layers, a sandwich, snacks, and tools for a long day ride. On our scouting mission of the Snowden or Dust route on Vancouver Island we published earlier this summer, Emily commented on how stable the Piccolo was on rough singletrack. However, she did point out that a harness or roll type handlebar setup has even less impact on the view of the trail and front tire, especially for shorter riders, which made for a few unnerving singletrack descents.
The large Piccolo is 2″ wider and 1″ taller than the small, but packs in an additional three litres of storage. While not massive, it felt totally appropriate for bikepacking, and I’ve paired it with a rear rack with micro panniers for a cold-weather setup when extra gear was needed. It’s noticeably bigger on the bike than the small version, which wasn’t a big deal for me at 6’1″, but is worth considering for smaller riders. I also found that these top-access style bags do have a little more impact on steering and control, especially when riding very rowdy trails. While I have nothing but good experiences with BXB bags, I’ll likely still lean towards a slimmed-down handlebar roll setup for singletrack bikepacking routes. Of course, when you need more space for gear on longer trips or are mostly sticking to gravel and doubletrack, the Piccolo and Goldback both make a lot of sense.
To offer a quick comparison, I pulled some key specs from BXB on both the Piccolo and Goldback in both size offerings. You’ll find weight, volume, width, and height for each below. Of course, the majority of these specs are approximate and will differ slightly based on fabric and how the bag is packed. The height measurement is important to ensure you’ll have adequate clearance above your front tire if running it on your handlebar, and a small rack or support is a good idea if clearance is hovering around 1″ or so. As you’ll notice, the biggest difference between the Goldback and Piccolo is their width, as the Piccolo is designed to accommodate narrower drop bars and free up space for cables and alternate hand positions.
BXB Goldback vs. Piccolo
For anyone coming from a handlebar roll setup, the Piccolo won’t take long to get used to. The large flap is accessed via two plastic quick-release side buckles, and it opens up to the main storage area. There is an optional webbing strap with an alloy G-hook style buckle that runs across the opening of the bag to a daisy chain on the front, which is used for cinching down bulky loads and for keeping things tight. Once released, the interior cinch closure can be opened for full access. The bag is most stable and weatherproof with all buckles and cinches in use, but it can take a moment to get inside the bag. It didn’t take long for me to learn to pull the strap outside of the bag before packing things up.
Both side pockets have overlapping lids that keep them very weather resistant, and the design of the bag allows the main compartment to be packed full without expanding into the pockets, rendering them nearly useless. I usually stuff a multi-tool, a few snacks, and other small items that are handy to have nearby in them. While they may seem on the small side, I think they pair well with the size of the bag, which isn’t massive to begin with.
- Smaller size works well with narrow bars and smaller bikes
- Very stable thanks to the HDPE liner and dual-dowel supports
- Handmade in USA
- Utilitarian design is simple, robust, and versatile
- Fairly expensive, but well worth the money
- Small batches sell out quickly
- Slightly more obtrusive compared to a slender handlebar roll setup
- No upper strap adjustment
- Capacity: 10.5L / 13.5L (Small / Large)
- Material (as tested): Liteskin LS42 / X-Pac X50 (Small / Large)
- Weight: 630 grams (Small Liteskin), 780 grams (Large X50)
- Place of Manufacture: Georgia, USA
- Price: $195 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: BagsxBird.com
I said it in our recently published saddlebags and top-loading handlebar bags Gear Index, and I’ll say it again here: The Piccolo is a fine example of what a modern flap-style bag can be, and BXB nailed it. Beyond a few limitations while riding singletrack, which is common to all bags of this style, the Piccolo has me totally sold on top-loading bags. My first time seeing Jay’s bags in person was at the 2019 Bikepacking Summit at Mulberry Gap, and it was clear he had an attention to detail that most bag makers can only hope to achieve. I’m very interested to see what else he has in the works, as the Better Half Framebag, Goldback, and Piccolo I’ve tested have all been quite a hit.
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