Tribulus Endover Review: Ultralight Rolltop
Hailing from New Mexico, USA, Tribulus’ Endover is a front rolltop bag that promises minimal weight and maximum functionality. After a few months of use, we share our thoughts on how it has fared…
We first took a brief look at the Tribulus Endover in our Saddlebags and Front Rollbags roundup, and we were impressed. Given how this bag combines ultralight materials with the practical, easy-to-pack benefits of a top roll design, we figured it was worth sharing a more thorough appraisal…
Keen botanists may already recognise Tribulus to be the Latin name for the infamous goatheads that mine much of the Desert South West, including the trails in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where this small, one man business is based. But just what makes this front rolltop bag any different from what we’ve seen so far? In a word: weight (or rather, lack of). With a background in ultralight backpacks and shelters, it’s immediately apparent that maker Nathan Meyerson has kept a keen eye on the kitchen scales in creating the Endover. The result is a large bag that weighs just 450g; for comparison’s sake, that’s just over half the weight of Roadrunner’s Jumbo Jammer, and a third of the weight of one my favourites, the Fabio Chest. Materials are thoroughly modern too. Ever considered a wooden dowel to be a little old-fashioned for your tastes? In its place, the Endover’s carbon strut provides structure for the bag, proving itself tougher than the wooden dowels I’ve used. But just in case it does break, it’s removable and replaceable.
How about wear and tear? Does light mean skimpy and flimsy? Thankfully not: after a couple of months of hard hard use, the Endover has yet to show any signs of any damage, except for some light abrasion on the Xpac where the side straps have rubbed. Although I wouldn’t consider the stitching to be as obsessively bolt straight as some of bikepacking bags I’ve seen, I’m confident in saying that it makes up for it with an extremely solid build. Stress points are all reinforced and bar tacked – which is just as well, as there’s a number of straps pulling in directions to keep the bag secure, as you’ll discover below.
As for detailing, there’s a pocket on either side of the bag, with bungee cords that cinch them flush to the bag when empty. These pouches are slim enough not to get in the way, but still be really handy; a good size for an iPhone, a Moleskin notebook, or a few snacks. When in New Mexico, they also provide protective sanctuaries for a couple of ripe avodacos… My test bag also featured a liner, into which slides a piece of foam. Although not designed to be removed and used as a sit pad, it helps give the bag shape, no matter what I pack it with, and serves to protect my camera, which I pack on top of my sleeping bag. Speaking of loading, doing so from the top makes the Endover a very versatile bag; aside from trips, it’s served me for grocery shopping in town, unlike a lot of bikepacking gear that’s only suited to being on tour. Its size is very usable too. With a claimed capacity of 30L, this translates into ample room for a 30F (-2c) down sleeping bag, clothes, and my DLSR camera. If I’m happy to fill it to the brim, there’s room for a big bag of bread, without squashing it to pulp.
At the other end of the capacity scale, the Endover is light enough that when it’s empty, I can cinch it in tight to the handlebars and leave it on the bike, with no effect on handling. Shorter riders should take note though. Given that the bag is relatively deep (rather than wide, like a side access rollbag), it does mean that you’ll need to check that there’s sufficient clearance between the tire and handlebars: 11in to be precise, or 28cm. Tribulus is considering a smaller, shallower version in the future. Unlike a cradle-style harness, you won’t be able to fit in a tent with long poles; internal width is around 16in (40cm), so bear that in mind too.
In terms of fitting the Endover to your bike, it’s a relatively quick process, depending on how secure you want it to be. Two straps attach it to the handlebars via a daisy chain that runs along the top, offering a number of mounting points. Two further cam straps cinch it down to the fork blades from a daisy chain at the back, holding it securely in place. If conditions get extra rowdy, there’s two supplementary side straps, attached to the handlebars with onewrap velcro, that run from a midlevel daisy chain. The latter are great when riding technical singletrack as they really nail the bag in place, but they’re not required if you’re keeping to mellow gravel roads. Furthermore, there’s a strip vertical strip of daisy chain to hug the bag tight to your bike’s headtube, for extra stability.
This plethora of daisy chains means that the Endover can be tailored to your setup and needs, as well as offering plenty of spots to attach a light, or even on a shoulder strap for carrying the bag off the bike. It also means there are different ways of opening and closing the bag. The official method makes use of two buckle straps that are attached behind the bag and run under its belly, clipping into their counterparts on the handlebars once the bag is rolled down. The long straps provide compression and keep contents nicely in place, while the ‘tails’ stay on the handlebars – on either side of the stem – when the bag is removed. Not only is this method very secure, it also pulls the bag in tight enough to to see the front tire, which I like. And, it provides a place to cinch an additional layer on top. In practise, I didn’t need to actually buckle them each time I opened the bag; rather, I’d let the strap slide through to create some space to unroll the material, then cinch it in tight when I was done.
If you’re running a riser bar with a separate crossbar (like Oddity’s excellent Razorbar), you can also choose to run a single center strap, which I modified with a side lock slide release buckle. Why the option? A single strap allows quicker access, but doesn’t hold contents quite as securely over rough terrain. Whichever method you choose to run, the nature of top loading bags still allows for a much speedier and less tetris-like packing process than sideroll bags. The downside? The Endover can’t be removed as quickly as a rollbag with a cradle, and you’ll lose the front marsupial pouch these models often include.
Also worth noting is that the bag has a drawstring closure, like a backpack. I didn’t need to pull it tight for day to day use, as it slows down accessing the bag. But if the weather takes a turn for the worse, it definitely offers bonus protection from rain. My test version of the Endover uses Dimension Polyant Purple Xpac X21. The material itself is waterproof, but this particular variety can’t be taped, so water can work its way through the seams. In practice, mine weathered several relatively heavy storms without any issues, so for most people, so it’s unlikely to be a major concern for most. But if you’re expecting regular downpours, other Xpac fabrics/colours on offer can be seam sealed though, like the Multicam X33 and Dark Green X44. Unfortunately, the labour intensive seam sealing process does incur another $50 on top of your bill; if you want to save some cash and do it yourself, you can request the bag without binding tape. All bags have a Black VX51 face fabric with PET backing and reinforcement, except for the camo version… which is full camo.
Bear in mind that the bag I’ve been testing is one of the first off the line, so there may well be minor tweaks in the production versions. As an example, I asked Tribulus to leave the ends of the straps open, so I could cut them to length – as you can see in the pictures. Until I decided on how long to leave them, I knotted the ends to stop them accidentally slipping through the buckles. I can see velcro tabs being be a good idea, so you can set strap length to suit, and keep the ends tidy.
- As light as any specialist, modern bikepacking gear.
- Very stoutly made despite ultralight credentials.
- Extremely secure, over all kinds of terrain, thanks to lots of modularity.
- Very easy to pack, whatever you’re packing.
- Relatively quick and easy to access, depending on what strap system you’re using.
- Requires more saddle to tire clearance than a sideroll handlebar bag.
- Takes some dialling in, to figure out the best strap system for you.
- Not wide enough for some tents; a cradle style mount may work better if your shelter has long poles.
- Volume 27 Liters (30L inc side pockets)
- Weight 445 grams
- Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth) 13in x 22in x 16in (33cm x 22cm x 40cm)
- Clearance required (saddle rails to tire) 11in (28cm)
- Straps Nylon with ITW Nexus Hardware
- Material Dimension Polyant X-Pac (X51, VX21, LS21, X21, X42, V21)
- Colors Purple, Teal, Black, Dark Green, Coyote Tan, Camo
- Place of Manufacture New Mexico, USA
- Price $185
- Contact Tribulus Limited
The Endover is an excellent front bag that avoids the usual compromises we associate when weighing up the pros and cons of practicality versus weight. Its capacity strikes a good balance too, whether you’re planning short weekend trips or a longer journeys alike. Granted, it’s not as quick to remove from the handlebars as a rollbag that uses a cradle, and shorter riders will need to make sure its deep shape works with their setups. It’s not 100% waterproof either, unless you choose a material that can be taped. But I really love how easy it is to pack, no matter what I choose to carry, and how extremely secure it is on the bike, no matter what kind of terrain you’re tackling. Best of all, its versatility suits all the varied ways I like to use my bike, for both recreation and transportation; whether I’m bikepacking along a technical trail, touring along remote desert roads loaded with supplies, or just heading into town to go shopping.