Musguard Handlebar Harness Review: One Strap, Multiple Possibilities
The Musguard Handlebar Harness weighs just 148 grams, uses a unique one-strap design that wraps around the stem and handlebar, and is one of the most affordable harnesses out there. We’ve been testing one over the last few months to see how it stacks up against some of its closest competitors. Find Miles’ review here…
Owned and operated by Jurij Lozić, Musguard is a Slovenian brand that got its start following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013. Earlier this year, they announced their latest product, the Musguard Handlebar Harness, which takes some clear design cues from their original OMNI fender. The Musguard Handlebar Harness is made to hold a dry bag on your bars and uses a unique one-strap design that wraps around the stem and handlebar to ensure the load stays firmly in place.
Design and Setup
The harness itself is made from recycled 0.8 mm polypropylene. An aluminum/acetal G-hook with cam keeps the dry bag secured in place, and two silicone-backed straps (with included EVA spacers) attach it to the handlebars. There are slots in the harness for an additional head tube strap, but according to Musguard, they found it wasn’t needed for a tight setup, so the head tube strap and spacers aren’t included at this time. The harness weighs in at just 148 grams, which is among the lightest we’ve seen—only around 10 grams heavier than the Revelate Designs Pronghorn harness.
The single webbing strap design is what sets the Musguard harness apart from other harnesses we’ve seen. Although it’s difficult to clearly convey without using it yourself, the idea is that the webbing strap that pulls the harness and dry bag toward the handlebar/stem is the same strap that wraps around the stem/handlebar and the weaves through the harness itself. The middle/lower section of the webbing wraps around the top of the stem, pulling the harness up and under the stem, while the top portion wraps under the stem to hold tension from the top.
After a few attempts, attaching the harness to the handlebar becomes straightforward, but it has its quirks. First, short mountain bike stems don’t leave much room for the webbing, so it can get bunched up at times and doesn’t look quite as clean compared to a longer stem setup. Secondly, depending on your cable/housing setup up front, it can get a little awkward routing the webbing and actual harness onto the handlebar. In the end, you’re not left with much say on where the cables end up and how they’re pushed toward the head tube unless you completely unweave the webbing strap and loop it through your specific setup by hand.
With it installed and tensioned correctly, the setup is tight and clean. Although Musguard says the head tube attachment isn’t necessary, I found it was required to hold things in place when riding technical/bumpy mountain bike trails. With a lower strap installed, it’s pretty solid, with only some minor side-to-side movement due to its webbing and flexible plastic construction.
Thoughts While Riding
Over the last few years, I’ve been switching back and forth between a lightweight harness system and a top-loading handlebar bag. I see clear benefits for both, but when keeping weight and pack size down to a minimum is the priority, a harness always takes the cake. Harnesses are easily adaptable to dry bags of varying sizes, they allow for off-bike packing and unpacking, and are great for carrying bulky items like sleeping bags and tents.
The Musguard Handlebar Harness is the second lightest harness I’ve ever used, next to the Revelate Designs Pronghorn. However, they are vastly different products. The Pronghorn uses a more traditional design compared to the Musgaurd’s single-strap weave. It seems like Musguard’s flexible plastic construction and webbing attachment leave a little more room for side-to-play compared to the Pronghorn, which uses a fabric construction with a fibreglass strut to provide structure along the handlebar.
The Musguard’s plastic is harness is significantly larger than the Pronghorn (and the majority of other harnesses I’ve used, for that matter). That includes the Outershell Harness I reviewed, which also uses a plastic sheet for the body of the harness. The larger harness wraps further under the load than other harnesses and ensures solid contact with the dry bag, which seemed to make it easier to tuck in a jacket or tent poles when some overflow packing space was needed. Like Outer Shell’s harness, the plastic body isn’t particularly grippy when paired with lightweight dry bags, so ensuring the strap is tight and locked is crucial for keeping everything in place.
The design of the harness eats up more handlebar accessory real estate compared to traditional harness systems, which is worth considering. I often mount my GPS directly beside my stem, where the bar is still 31.8mm, but on certain bars that taper down quickly, the Musguard didn’t allow this. Thankfully, the two provided foam spacers provide plenty of room for your hands, not impinging hand positions on long rides. I only wish they provided the head tube attachment strap/spacers, as I consider them to be non-negotiable for harness setups.
It’s clear that Musguard took time to dial in the shape and functionality of the harness, but there are several other little details that don’t go unnoticed. All of the various tabs and mounting points are labeled with printed text, one of the handlebar attachment points is labeled “hamburger” for no good reason, and there are additional cutouts/mounting points along the outside of the harness. Plus, they integrated two matching tabs that allow allow the harness to be rolled up out of the way when not in use, which is pretty clever.
- Competitively priced
- Reasonably stable with the additional head tube strap in use and everything tensioned properly
- Locking buckle doesn’t loosen over time and is nice to use
- Several clever details and roll-away feature
- Some side-to-side play
- Awkward to install around certain cable/cockpit setups
- Plastic is slippery when paired with lightweight dry bags
- One-strap design takes up handlebar accessory space on either side of stem
- Material: Polypropylene Harness/Webbing Straps
- Weight: 148 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Slovenia
- Price: €49 (~$52 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: Musguard.com
Emily and I have both used the Musguard Handlebar Harness on several bikepacking trips, and we’ve shared similar findings. Once it’s setup and tensioned correctly, it functions just as well as any other harness—aside from the slight amount of play in the handlebar attachment. The main strap that both holds the dry bag in place and pulls the system toward the stem holds firmly thanks to the sturdy G-hook locking buckle, and considering the price, it offers a lot of bang for your buck. I think a lower head tube strap and a couple of extra foam spacers should be included, and although it has its quirks compared to traditional harness designs, it really does function well. I can’t help but wonder if Musguard will use a similar one-strap design for some sort of seat bag system in the future.
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