Bags by Bird (BXB) Tail Grab Review
Released earlier this fall, the Bags By Bird Tail Grab is a unique handlebar bag that comes in two sizes, has a rando-style flap opening, and offers quick-access storage for ride essentials. We’ve been testing both the Lil’ Tail Grab and the Big Tail Grab for the last couple of months to see what they’re all about. Find our review here…
Maybe it’s the bright new shop or something in the desert air, but Tucson, Arizona-based bag maker Bags by Bird (BXB) has had a productive last few years. It’s hard to believe owner/operator Jay has only been in business for about four years now, especially considering the young brand is already responsible for some of our favourite bikepacking bags. What started with the popular Teardrop handlebar/saddle bag has evolved to include frame bags, a variety of other long flap-style bar bags, and my beloved Piccolo short flap bag, which snagged a spot in my 2021 Editor’s Dozen gear picks last year.
BXB seems to have found a sweet spot when it comes to in-stock bags and made-to-order wait times, while still finding time to design and develop new products. They came out with the Better Half Framebag in 2020, the Piccolo Short Flap in 2021, the Bernie Bar Bag this summer, and the new Lil’ Tail Grab and Big Tail Grab handlebar bags this fall. Everything BXB releases is unique, thoughtfully designed, and exceptionally well-made, so when I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the new Tail Grab bags, I jumped on it.
The BXB Lil’ Tail Grab was first out the door, taking design cues from their Bernie Bar Bag but incorporating a rider-facing opening for quicker access. It’s a simple bag with a single exterior stretchy pocket out front and a single main compartment. The Big Tail Grab was released about a month later and is the larger sibling of the two, offering slightly over double the capacity, two side pockets, and an additional front pocket with a bungee/hook closure.
BXB sent over a coyote X-Pac Lil’ Tail Grab and a custom Purple X84 X-Pac/Marigold X50 X-Pac Big Tail Grab so I could take a closer look. With temperatures dropping and precipitation at a max here in the Pacific Northwest, both bags have been semi-permanently attached to our bikes for the last couple of months. Find my thoughts on both below.
BXB Lil’ Tail Grab
The BXB Lil’ Tail Grab is a small handlebar bag with a rando-style flap that opens toward the rider. The lid secures around the back of the stem or stem bolts using a section of adjustable stretchy cord, making it easily accessible while on the bike, even with one hand. While it’s about the same size as their Bernie Bar Bag, the design of the Lil’ Tail Grab covers the middle of the handlebar, making it less ideal for those who have lights or bike computers mounted near the stem. While this design might be a deal breaker for some, I’ve found that the flap opening offers solid weather protection and stability for the setup.
Like their other bags, the Lil’ Tail Grab has multiple Hypalon strap points at the handlebars, back, and bottom of the bag. It attaches to the bar using two Voile Nano Straps with optional foam spacers and around the headtube using a stretchy cord. Between these and the rigid body liner, the bag stays in place and holds its shape no matter how much you stuff inside. The Lil’ Tail Grab is clean and simple with just a single additional stretch pocket made from a technical nylon/Ultra PE ripstop material—one of the lightest, most durable stretchy mesh fabrics out there.
At just 3L, the Lil’ Tail Grab likely won’t be replacing any larger-capacity bags for bikepacking, but it’s certainly a slick option for everyday use and big day rides. It’s slightly larger feeling than your standard burrito bag and much easier to access and stuff an extra layer into due to its unique closure. With the addition of a padded insert, it would make a great option for carrying a small mirrorless or point-and-shoot camera, and having the stretch pocket out front is great for multi-tools, snacks, or garbage.
BXB says about 7″ of clearance is needed between the handlebar and front tire when foam spacers are being used, which is recommended. For stems without bolts, BXB suggests using a large zip-tie or Voile Nano strap wrapped around the stem column to give a spot for the stretchy cord to loop onto. With this in mind, I’ve found the Tail Grab works better without a top tube bag in place, as it can make accessing the stretchy loop pretty awkward.
- Capacity: 3L
- Material (as tested): Coyote X-Pac X50
- Weight: 226 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Arizona, USA
- Price: $105 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: BagsxBird.com
BXB Big Tail Grab
While still on the smaller end of most top opening handlebar bags, the BXB Big Tail Grab is over double the size of the Lil’ Tail Grab. At 6.5L, it’s not quite as big as your standard handlebar roll/bag for loaded bikepacking, but for lightweight overnighters or ultralight bring-only-the-essentials type of rides, it could work.
The Big Tail Grab shares a similar overall design as its smaller sibling, but there are a few key differences. First, the handlebar attachment points are reinforced with a wooden dowel, just like their larger bags. This adds more rigidity and stability to the bag, while making it better suited to heavier loads. At the exterior, the stretch mesh front pocket is replaced with a flap lid and bungee/hook closure, inspired by their Better Half Framebag. The lid can be opened and closed with one hand and provides proper protection from the elements, unlike the mesh pocket. There are two additional stretch mesh pockets on each side of the bag that are perfect for stuffing a multi-tool, snacks, or even a small camera. The stretchy fabric BXB is using for these pockets feels technical and durable and seems to be holding up great after some use. If all that isn’t enough, there’s a section of shock cord along the top of the main lid for lashing down a light layer or spare gloves.
At 10.5″ wide, the main flap closures eats up a significant amount of handlebar real estate. Even for folks running wide bars, you’re only left with a few inches on either side for mounting lights or GPS devices. Again, for commuting and day rides, it’s probably not that big of a deal, but it might be a factor to consider for loaded trips. I’ve found both bags eat up less of the cockpit area when paired with a longer stem, allowing the bag to rotate further under the handlebar, creating less overlap on top. In my eyes, both bags set up better with stems that are at least 70mm long, but they can still work with short modern mountain bike stems.
Like the Lil’ Tail Grab, the Big Tail Grab is designed to be run without a rack or supporting device. Since it’s bigger, BXB recommends at least 9.5″ of clearance between the bottom of the handlebar and the front tire. They also include several foam spacers and a set of Voile Nano Straps for a clean setup. My only real complaint would be the lack of internal padding to accompany the hard plastic liner, which provides structure but not much in the way of protection for sensitive electronics or cameras. Since the quick access, rider-facing opening, and size all make sense for hauling a small camera, it would be really cool to see BXB offer some optional padded liners at some point.
- Capacity: 6.5L
- Material (as tested): Purple X84 X-Pac/Marigold X50
- Weight: 453 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Arizona, USA
- Price: $160 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: BagsxBird.com
- Handmade in Tucson, Arizona
- Top-end quality and craftsmanship
- Unique design is practical and functional
- Two sizes are great for commuting and big day rides
- Stable and bounce-free
- Loss of handlebar real-estate
- Doesn’t pair nicely with top tube bags
- Won’t replace a larger capacity handlebar roll or bag
- No interior padding
Every bag I’ve tried from Bags by Bird has been thoughtfully designed and extremely well built. Jay seems to have found an effective rhythm where he’s restocking bags, opening up preorders, and coming out with interesting new designs fairly regularly. Considering it’s a one-person operation, I find this quite impressive. The Tail Grab might not replace my larger capacity handlebar bags, but for day rides and lightweight summer overnighters, it’s certainly one of my favourites. The rider-facing, rando-style lid is intuitive and the various pockets on the larger Big Tail Grab make it a useful option for hauling larger loads.
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