Gear Review

Make Your Own: Handlebar Roll Harness

Download our template here:

The market is awash with a huge assortment of very well made bikepacking bags to fit in every nook and cranny of your bike. One of the simplest, and often over-complicated methods of transport is strapping a load to your bicycle’s handlebars. If it’s a small, light load you can get away with very little: I’ve secured a tent to the front of my drop bars with nothing more than the ubiquitous Voile ski strap.

If you’re looking to carry a larger load, however, you’ll want something more rigid and secure, while eliminating brake lever interference found with flat bars. When I ran across the PVC standoff idea on a bikepacking forum I started experimenting. Now in its fifth iteration, it’s gotten stronger, lighter, and much more secure. Besides, one of the best ways to save weight is gear that serves multiple uses, and in this case the waterproof Tyvek roll doubles as my ground sheet or tarp shelter.

The design below has worked flawlessly on many rugged bikepacking trips including the Oregon Outback, British Columbia’s Chilcotins, and Limberlost’s Three Sisters Three Rivers singletrack opus.

As described, this harness comes out to 291 grams, considerably less than the comparable 425 gram Revelate harness. In my experience this continuous strap style attachment holds loads much more stable than commercially available harnesses. It adds rigidity and locks the load weight against the bars and headtube, preventing bounce and chatter. As an additional bonus, the straps around the circumference provide a perfect attachment point for small bags, knife sheaths, bear spray, feathers, skulls, flowers, and other talismans.

It’s a cheap and easy project requiring very basic tools that anyone should be able to do in an afternoon.

What you need

What you need

  • Limberlost’s Handlebar Roll Harness Template ($5 download, PayPal button at the top of this post)
  • Stuff sack approximately 22″ x 7″ or my preference: an 8′ x 8′ sheet of Tyvek (doubles as tarp or ground cloth, available by the foot at Next Adventure in Portland) — ~$8
  • 2′ x 3′ Sheet of 0.035″ Polyethylene plastic  (found at TAP Plastic)— $4
  • 9′ of 3/4″ nylon webbing straps (you might find pre-sewn buckle straps at your gear store, but sewing your own is cheaper) — $3
  • 3 buckles, 3/4″ width — $1.50 (dirtbag tip: cut buckles and webbing off old backpacks before discarding)
  • 6″ of 1/2″ PVC tubing — $0.50
  • 6″ of paracord—$0.50
  • Utility or exacto knife and new blade
  • Saw
  • 1/8″ Hole punch or drill bit
  • Half round rasp
  • Spray Adhesive
  • 60 grit sandpaper
Trace and cut template from plastic
Trace and cut template from plastic


  • Download our Handlebar Roll Harness template and print. (tile pages in print dialog)
  • We’ll be laminating two 0.035″ thick plies of polyethylene together for our harness, but if you find a heavier plastic a single layer may suffice.
  • Repositionable Easy-Tack makes the tracing and cutting much easier. Use a pin to mark where the keyholes of the strap slits will be but don’t cut yet.
  • Feel free to experiment with the the template — this is designed for wide MTB handlebars and a suspension fork. If you have a rigid fork you can probably make a larger diameter roll harness, or if you might be using the harness with drop bars you’ll need to make it narrower. The important thing is that you have rigidity against the standoffs.
  • Sand one surface of each shape, then apply spray adhesive and roll into a cylinder around a filled stuff sack. Use straps to hold its shape while the adhesive dries.
  • After glue has set, use a drill or hole punch where you marked the slit ends to prevent cracking and cut webbing slits.
Cut lengths of 1/2" PVC tubing to length
Cut lengths of 1/2″ PVC tubing to length


  • Cut three 33″ straps, melt ends, and sew buckles. (Once you’re all done feel free to trim them shorter if needed)
  • Measure, cut, and sand PVC standoffs to a length that will clear your brake levers. Here I went with 3″ to accommodate a variety of bike setups, but if just for this bike I’d shorten to about 2.25″. I like to contour the end that rests against the handlebars with the rasp and sand down all the sharp edges.
The straps are a continuous loop around the roll, through the PVC, and around the handlebars
The straps are a continuous loop around the roll, through the PVC, and around the handlebars


  • You’ve done the lion’s share at this point, but the threading of the webbing can be complicated. On the left and right route the webbing through the front double slits, into the standoff, around the handlebar, back through the standoff, and through the rear set of slits.
  • Make sure the standoffs are aligned with each other and the harness will rest against the bike’s headtube without kinking any brake or shifter housing. The rear center edge of the harness should end up just in front of the fork crown. This is the trickiest part and each bike is different.
Use a piece of paracord to secure roll against headtube
Use a piece of paracord to secure roll against headtube


  • In order to prevent the weighted harness from bouncing we’re going to anchor it against the headtube. If there is enough tubing above the lower headset race just a simple loop of paracord will do the trick. If there is none, you’ll have to tie a harness as shown.
  • Route the third strap through the slits and around the paracord.
  • The most abrasion will come from your headtube, but the template is designed to place the plastic (not webbing) against this hot spot. Cover your headtube with Gorilla Tape if you’re worried about the paint job.
The final product
The final product


  • Fill your stuff sack or roll up your tyvek tarp and strap into place.
  • It’ll take some adjusting the first few times you do it, but once cinched down tightly this harness system holds a load more securely than most commercially available systems.
  • After riding for a while notice how it shifts and interferes with cable housing, make adjustments as needed.

Good luck tinkering, and feel free to send photos of your roll to Let us know if you have any handy tweaks to the design or even your own DIY bikepacking hacks. Happy trails!

Handlebar roll being tested on our inaugural Three Sisters Three Rivers adventure.
Handlebar roll being tested on our inaugural Three Sisters Three Rivers adventure.
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