Monday, January 23, 2012

I Craved Carradice, Don't Need a Parking Lot


Saddle bag made of cotton duck, with leather straps, made in England

I had heard of Carradice bags before, mainly from other bike bloggers, and was intrigued. But when I listed to a program on The Bike Show, "Another Day for you and me in Carradice," I was convinced. The pride of careful production, the craftsmanship, the attractiveness of something of good design made to last, along with a certain degree of respect for a small shop in England making something very good, made me want to try out a Carradice bag that fit my needs. I purchased a Low Saddle Longflap, and a Bagman quick release rack to mount it. (If you click on The Bike Show link, make sure you also check out the photos of the Carradice shop, those old machines are incredible.)

Mounted, only about half full

I could have gotten a larger one, as you can see, but I wanted to start out with something in the middle, to see what it would be like to have a larger, but not ginormous, saddle bag.

With this one, about half full, I didn't even know it was there. The Bagman rack hold it very firmly, no rattles, no wobbles, and no clearance issues with my legs.

May be close to my ideal bicycle stuff carrying system. And I may be wrong, but that flasher loop looks good.

I am always looking for better ways to carry stuff on my bike(s). A bag, a rack, a pannier, I'm looking for something durable, easy to put on the bike and take back off again, with enough capacity to carry stuff like books, some groceries sometimes, other times food and drinks for a picnic in the park, a jacket, plus assorted bike tools, a pump, a spare tube, lights, camera, lock, spare clothes, and so on. The carrying method also has to be mechanically sound, so that it doesn't cause more trouble than it solves, so it has to stay in place, can't bounce around, basically has to do its job well without complaining or falling apart. Monsoon-proof is also good for my application.

Close-up of quick release quick-released

This bag is called "long flap" because the top flap has an extra long fold-out piece that can expand the capacity of the bag significantly. I didn't need that for this ride, but if you use it, there's a water-resistant inner bag that cinches shut under the expanded flap. The quick release seems sturdy and effective, and I will report back on durability and wear as I use it more.

Bagman bending

The Bagman rack is somewhat bendable, and being a bit of a perfectionist in such matters, I had to try to bend it in order to get optimal bag volume and placement. I said "somewhat", though, because it is a stout rack, not really intended to bend in use, which is what you want. Unless you want to bend it. It's kind of an awkward shape, too, so I couldn't just stick it into my vice and bend it. The rack tubing appeared possibly stouter than seat rails, so it seemed like a bad idea to clamp it onto them and try to bend it that way. I tried several different ways to set up a good, stable way to bend it, and ended up using lag bolts and a 2x4 to hold it down. The clamps that woodworkers have on the sides or front of their workbenches might have worked, but I don't have those, so I made do.

My first thoughts for how I intended to use this bag were for commuting. I still might do that, but I really like the all-around abilities of this bag to carry a varying amount of random stuff, which might make it more suitable for my weekend adventures and urban explorations. So I mounted it on my go-anywhere weekend adventure and urban exploration bicycle to see how that works. And, once I saw The Bike Bureau commuter pannier, well, I knew what my next Carradice purchase is going to be. That actually looks very close to what I have been looking for over the last two years of bicycle commuting. It's probably also monsoon-proof.

If you look around, these bags seem affordabe to me, particularly for how well they are made. Of course, that may be the perspective of someone who just sold his car, and now has a little extra cash to spend on bike stuff. The money I just saved on car insurance for one year alone would allow me to buy a rather full collection of these fine bags. You know, that last sentence made me smile so much I think I will end there.


I purchased this bag myself. Please see my FTC notice and blog disclaimer if you have further review-related questions.

13 comments:

  1. it's so ultra-cool to see a bike and no snow!!! the bag is verrrry nice john - i love the old school english bicycle stuff. my nxt bike for touring will be a dawes if dreams do come true!! steven

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have the same bag -- and a few others -- and use a Bagman as well.

    However, I've never seen the black QR mount shown in the 4th photo from the top. Where did you come by that?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm attracted to those bags also. I can see they could work for an over night bike packing trip. Hmmm, oh the possibilities.

    By the way, I like your older mountain bike with thumb shifters. These are the bikes that my husband and I prefer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice.
    Still, that looks pretty ginormous to me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think they have a reputation for being quite durable also. Good choice!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great bag...a lot of the local club riders use them on endurance rides as they can hold all the kit they need.

    A really nice bit of traditional British cycling equipment...

    -Trevor

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks good! Now, the NEXT Smarty-Pants English Device (SPED) ya need to get is a Brooks saddle to replace that Trek.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Welcome to the cult of Carradice! Always nice to have another member. ;-)

    And what BluesCat said.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ewww, bag escalation! I look forward to your longer term conclusions. Still, even a minimalist such as myself has to be intrigued at the possibility of replacing my rear rack with - a seat bag.

    ReplyDelete
  10. SW the mount is a Bagman Sport Quick Release, available wherever Carradice are sold, (when in stock).

    It also appears that they evolve the designs as they review wear patterns and look for refinements and improvements. Which probably seems like a fine line to the folks in Nelson, since once you start doing it for those reasons, the possibility of lowering costs also enter in, and more plastic and nylon has to look attractive from a cost perspective. As long as the change makes it functionally better or more durable without subtracting from the character of the bag (this one is labelled "Originals" after all), it's probably OK. But, for example, I'm not so sure about plastic buckles. Regarding a Brooks saddle, I'm sure it would make a great addition to my commuter, but it would run counter to the ugly and inexpensive accessories theme.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In the "Close-up of Quick release quick-released" photo is the piece you have attached to the bag part of the quick release or is it something you've added? I've only ever seen the quick release with saddle clamp part, not anything actually fixed to the bag to mate with it and the normal leather straps used on the bag to attach to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Adam, that piece came with the Bagman quick release. It is a plastic thing that attaches through holes in the Carradice bag to a wooden dowel inside with two beefy zipties that are supplied. I don't have any other Carradice bags, but I believe the holes that the zipties go through are different that previous designs because they are not the leather-reinforced leather strap slots I've seen online. When you cinch down the zipties, it becomes quite firmly attached to the bag, which leads to the bag being quite firmly retained by the quick release.

      Delete

Please feel free to comment here, almost anything goes, except for obvious spam or blatantly illegal or objectionable material. Spammers may be subject to public ridicule, scorn, or outright shaming, and the companies represented in spam shall earn disrepute and ire for each occurrence.