Review: Porcelain Rocket MCR Handlebar System
What can be said about Porcelain Rocket that hasn’t already been said? Not much. Porcelain Rocket has become just as synonymous with bike packing bags as Revelate and for good reason too. Scott and his crew have been cranking out innovative designs in the bike packing bag world for a while now and they only get more and more popular and often, flatteringly so, emulated by others trying to make it in the industry.
Porcelain Rocket started from the mind of Scott Felter who started making bags around 2009 with a home sewing machine that he found by a dumpster. Upgrading to an industrial machine he began honing his craft to suit his own needs for venturing off on bike packing trips. This developed into hiring staff as he grew and moving shop to where he currently resides in Alberta. It’s his focus on detail and making sure his bags live up to his own high standards that keeps people coming back for more and even opting to stay on a waiting list for custom items.
This is where the Porcelain Rocket MCR Handlebar bag comes in. I was going on a bike packing trip and needed a handlebar bag option. I had looked around for one to accommodate a larger compression roll but included an easy to take off system for ending a day and setting up camp. Through the community I was pointed in the direction of Porcelain Rocket and put myself on the waiting list. I’ll admit, I was under a crunch because I waited till the last minute to put a custom order in and I may have emailed Scott way too many times about progress but it showed up at my house a couple days before I took off. (Sorry!)
This is just me being stupid but I wish it came with an instruction manual. It took me a little too long for me to admit to figure out which straps strapped where and which buckles clipped into its counterpart but after doing it several times for practice I was able to quickly get it on and off. One of the things that I love about this bag is the ability to separate the “missions control” bag while leaving the stuff sack strapped to the bike and vice versa allowing you to quickly take important items like ID and money you have stowed in the bag with you when you park. Also allowing you to unclip your stuff sack on and off the bike for quick packing and going mornings without removing the whole system. The MCR can accommodate between a 5 to 15L stuff sack.
The bag is made from 500D Cordura for the outside and Xpac VX21 material lining on the inside. I opted for the ever popular Multi Cam pattern. Cordura is a very strong, water resistant material that holds up to abrasion so it can take a beating when your trail starts turning into an overgrown mess and your bike front is now your bush clearing super dozer. The zipper strip is water resistant as well allowing you to keep your snacks, edibles or money dry for a while. I have yet to have a problem with this getting soaked due to the inside lining of Xpac. Inside the bag it is more than capable or being stuffed to the brim and has a separate pocket to keeps some items like money separate from the rest and I have yet to have zipper failure. Thank god for YKK. Actually, nothing else should be used. Bag makers. Don’t skimp on zips.
The system is attached in two places to make sure there is no bag sway. I appreciate the color coding when figuring out that the red straps go on the handlebars in two places. Then there is another strap that attaches to the bicycles head tube. Another detail with this system is that Scott has designed it to prevent rubbing of the head tube against your bag to make sure you don’t wear a hole in the your dry bag, keeping you items dry. This is accomplished by putting in a RhinoTek fabric barrier between the bag and the bike.
Here is where I can appreciate people like Scott or anyone making bags in this industry. It’s hard. I mean mind numbingly, painfully hard to make bike bags. This is a skill that takes practice. I bought a sewing machine because I wanted to learn how to make bags for myself and friends and it has been rewarding but possibly the most frustrating thing I have attempted. My bags have come out lopsided, barely stitched, too small and outrageously hideous. I cannot tell you the amount of material I have wasted getting just one bag to look right and this is where Scott and his crew shine. Their bags come out perfect every time. There is love in these and they took the time to make it right so you can abuse it. Areas are bar tacked in places that are stressed the most. The stitching is tight and straight allowing for an impenetrable seam. These are things I wouldn’t have cared about had it not been for taking up a hobby like sewing. Also, in learning how to sew bike packing bags, I had questions –and lots of them– and I can’t thank Scott enough for taking the time to actually respond to my messages in great detail on what materials to use, what thread weight and how to use my own damn machine. This is where I can appreciate what Porcelain Rocket does because not only are they constantly on top of changing or creating new designs to adapt their line of bags to the ever moving bike packing market, they also aren’t afraid to give up some secrets of success with some lowly hobbyist because they are at the forefront of the pack and they aren’t going anywhere.
I will say that one thing I can’t figure out and maybe it’s user error on my part or maybe I’m just over packing but it does tend to sag and loose tension in the straps over time. I’m sure this is just because of going over rough terrain and bouncing and bobbing but I find myself re-tightening every so often to make sure it doesn’t start slipping down on my tire.
Keep up the momentum PR.
If you want to check out and order a bag then you can visit his online store below.