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Commuting luggage - saddle bags/seat packs

the_hundredth_idiotthe_hundredth_idiot Posts: 813
edited February 2009 in Commuting chat
I'm currently using a rucksack to carry stuff to and from work but I'm looking for a better option. I don't want panniers - it seems over the top for the amount I usually carry back and forward (unless my boss starts to enforce taking laptops home every night) and is quite an expensive option once I take into account fitting a rack to two bikes (£30 for each rack? £60 for a decent pannier?). Plus, I'm not a huge fan of the look of racks on my road bike.

So, I've been looking at saddle bags. The Carradice SQR Slim seemed a good bet - more than big enough for day-to-day stuff and probably even enough room for my laptop. But, as my mouse was hovering over "PAY", I suddenly realised that it was a bad move as I have a carbon seatpost on my road bike. Seat post clamps and carbon seat posts - not a good combination.

So my options seem to be:

>> Carradice Barley - I love the retro look and 7l of space should be ample (perhaps not for the laptop). My only concern is that it is a bit of a faff to put on and take off - bear in mind that I'm using for commuting so will be regularly removing from the bike. Does anyone with a Barley have a view on whether this would be a pain? I'd also need an adaptor clamp thing for my seats, though I have been tempted to splash out on a old-school seat like a Brooks B17 for the road bike.

>> Carradice Prima Maxi - fits to the seat rails and holds 5l so should be sufficient - but looks a bit ugly. Also, it doesn't have a fancy clip system so might also be a bit of a faff to put on and take off - but the advantage is that I don't need to buy additional bits and pieces to allow me to fit to two bikes. Again, any views on that bag?

>> Ortlieb seat packs - quite good looking in a much more modern way than the Barley. The large size holds 2.7l which is probably enough for my odds and ends (puncture repair kit, spare tube, multi-tool, spare lights, wallet, mobile, BlackBerry, keys) plus space for clean underwear (I get my shirts laundered near the office). But is that enough for taking my towel home for a wash? I could get a second fitting bracket for about £5, or perhaps also buy a smaller size seat pack for weekend rides on the road bike.

Any thoughts on those options? Any others that I've missed (most seat packs seem far too small for anything other than the bike stuff and perhaps a mobile)? I've currently got a Trek seat pack but it only holds about 1l so is too small for my needs and, unfortunately, Trek don't seem to do a larger one.

Or perhaps I should just replace my carbon seat post with an aluminium one? Any tips for that if I do? So many seat posts and so many seem to be carbon these days.


Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.


  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    I've got one of the Ortlieb seat packs that get's used for long day rides in the winter and audaxing. My only complaint is that the bracket wouldn't fit my saddle (Brooks B17) so I had to improvise an attachment using cable ties. That means it doesn't come off very often, but that's not really a problem. I suspect the mounting bracket works fine on modern style saddles anyway.

    I don't think you'd get a towel in it though, but then you could just do a weekly towel run with a rucsac.

    Being waterproof is obviously a bonus for the Ortlieb and it looks slightly more appropriate on a modern bike compared to the Carradice stuff.
    More problems but still living....
  • i have this ... ress.shtml

    it's brilliant and acts like an excellent mudguard as it sits higher than the seat (i have a brooks professional)

    but i may get one of these ... tour.shtml

    build quality is great by the way because they are all hand made in an old mill in nelson near where i live
    Cotic Soul rider.
  • andy83andy83 Posts: 1,558
    can i ask what rucksack you are using?? is it a bike specific one??

    i was usuing an old adidas bag and gettting sick of tired of it so considered saddle bag or panniers, then i bought the deuter cross air ... 360034639/

    and its a fantastic bag, so comfortable and the strain i had on my back before has gone and even theough im taking more to work due to space it feels lighter if that makes sense
  • Better still get a messenger bag. They are really really comfy when adjusted properly and will take huge amounts of stuff.

    I have a crumpler one and it is awesome, today it carried:

    laptop (10" netbook really)
    bluetooth mouse
    cd drive
    lab specs
    cold relief meds
    two torches (mini maglite and TK11)
    gerber multi tool
    CO2 pump and spares
    spare batteries
    tyre levers

    in the past I've even taken really big things, like the rigger off a rowing boat, new handlebars, megaphones, spare clothes. Awesome thing
  • The Ortlieb's great, mine currently acts as my mudgaurd and carries: overshoes,rainlegs,multitoolx2,oatcakes,2 tubes,cO2,pants,waterproof jacket, then use the innov8 rucksack ... 360039777/ once a week to bring shirts & any extras in, very light and only about £40ish from Wiggle. Try the Life venture towels they fold down to nothing and dry brilliantly ... B000R2GF1Y
    Ribble Stealth
    previous: Kiron Scandium, 80's Raleigh Equipe, Striker :)
  • Cheers for the responses.

    @ amaferanga. Fair point - wearing a rucksack once a week isn't a bad thing - I do occasionally have to take my laptop home on an evening so use a rucksack then. I have seen an Altura Day Sac in Evans (reduced to £20) and I suspect the Ortlieb is a similar size - big enough for everything but the towel.

    The Carradice would look a little odd on my Spesh MTB, but I don't usually use that anyway. I suspect it wouldn't look too out of place on my Fratello - it's a modern bike but has a slightly old school feel to it.

    @ scottgeniusltd2005. I like the look of the Glentress and had thought about it. Same problem re the SQR system, though: no good if you have a carbon seat post. The Prima Maxi is the same size but fits to the saddle rails instead.

    @ andy83. The rucksack I usually use is not a bike specific rucksack - but I'm just not a fan of rucksacks when I'm riding. I do have a more sporty rucksack (a Camelback of some sort) which is a bit better, but still a rucksack. I'd rather let the bike take the weight ...

    @ ride_whenever. Ditto re messenger bags. I think they look pretty cool but I just want to keep the weight off me.

    @ [email protected] I've got something like that towel and I keep it at work as a reserve as I've been caught out a couple of times having left my normal towel at home - dripdry is not my preferred approach :?. But the changing rooms at work are quite small and can get a bit crowded in the morning. I prefer to keep things a little more under wraps! :lol: Or rather, the other guys in the changing room probably prefer that. I suspect I'm going to go for the Ortlieb and use a rucksack once a week. From what you've said it sounds like it can do pretty much what I need and is probably easier to live with than the Carradice Barley.
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • It always amazes me how much is taken on the average commute. Laptops aside what do you need to carry ?
    For instance on Monday I take shirts, skiddies and socks for the week in my Deuter and bring home the dirties on the same Monday. Shoes and two pairs of trousers stay at work and are rotated through the dry cleaners every now and again.
    For the rest of the week wallet, pda and phone go in one jersey pocket. Windstopper and overshoes in another. Pager, keys and memory sticks go in the third in an old sunglasses case.
    Spare tube, tyre levers, patch kit, chain remover, spoke key etc all fit in the water bottle.
  • Yup - that's about what I take as well - just don't like rucksacks when I'm cycling (or overfilling my jersey pockets). :)
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
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