Going Going Bike

Apr 122013
 
The Rapha backpack is practical and good looking off the bike too

We have a guest blog from one of our regular readers who provides her take on cycling commuting bags. The three bags reviewed are made by Rapha, Vaude and Anya Hindmarch!

 

I am a regular female commuter embarking on a 13 mile return cycle three to four times a week through London. I would not describe myself as a fashion slave but I have a slight weakness for nice bags and shoes. Throughout my career as a commuter I have had trouble with applying the same standards to my cycling accessories.

To make a commute comfortable a good commuting bag is essential. In my view there are four things that make a good cycling commuting bag: (i) comfort, (ii) space, (iii) aesthetics and (iv) weather-proofness. I will explain why each of these are important.

Comfort

If your commute is longer than a few miles you will know that the bag needs to feel comfortable, either over your shoulder or on your back. I generally prefer to commute with a backpack unless my journey is very short. Most good backpacks have padded straps and belts which add to the comfort of your journey. Some, like the Vaude backpack that I have used, have a mesh net that creates an extra space between your back and the bag making sure you do not get overheated. Rapha’s backpack surprisingly does not have this feature and the reasons for this may be due to aesthetics or space.

Space

I work in an office and need to look smart. Luckily, like a few work places these days, we have showers at work. This means, however, that every morning I need to bring in a shirt or a smart top plus suit trousers or a skirt and, of course, a pair of shoes. The commuting bag needs to have enough space for me to put the change of clothing and some make-up. The Rapha bag is excellent for this. Particularly because it zips completely flat open so you can neatly fold your clothes and have enough space for make-up.

Rapha backpack 2

 

Inside the Rapha bag

 

Aesthetics

My favourite bag to cycle with is my Anya Hindmarch handbag because it is made out of beautiful leather and it slings delicately across my back. It is not, however, a very practical commuting bag.

I have to admit that the Rapha bag, whilst not nearly as beautiful as my Anya, is a brilliant alternative. It looks classy with leather zip pullers and black exterior with distinctively Rapha white leather band. You can definitely look pretty cool in a bar having a post-work drink or doing some shopping with a Rapha bag and then jump on a bike to cycle home.

I have used the bag for nearly 12 months and it has not shown any signs of aging. This is a remarkable achievement given the amount of use, both on and off the bike, which it has had.

I have to confess that I loathe the bright yellow builders’ jacket-coloured Hump bags. It seems that everyone has them in London! However, visibility on the road particularly in a large city like London is of utmost importance. Rapha have come up with a bright pink Hump alternative which can be taken off and zipped up at the bottom of the bag. I have had guys comment on the cover when I am waiting at lights and a few have said that a man could not pull off the bright pink. I have to disagree as I have seen a few London male commuters carry it off pretty well. Come on, guys, you wear all those other crazy lycra colours so don’t be shy of bright pink!

The Rapha backpack is practical and good looking off the bike too

The Rapha backpack is practical and good looking off the bike too

Weather-Proofness

Despite certain preconceptions about female cyclists I am not a “fair weather cyclist”. I avoid cycling on ice but you will regularly see me on my bike in rain and wind. My commuting bag, thus, needs to be weather-proof. Vaude as well as most other cycling-specific backpacks often have detachable waterproof covers. The bright pink cover on the Rapha bag is a bit thicker than the Vaude one and in my view is more waterproof.

The cost is also an important consideration for most of us, so, I am including this as a final fifth category.

I set out below a table summarising three bags I have personally used over many months on my own road bike and rated them in these five categories.

Bag

Comfort

Space

Aesthetics

Weather-Proofness

Cost

Vaude

5

4

1

4

£30 (discounted)

Rapha

4

5

4

5

£125

Anya Hindmarch

2

3

5

1

>£500

 

Ratings explained:

1 – very bad (Contador because of doping)

2 – manageable (Gatis Smukulis – not a star yet but a fellow country man)

3 – ok (Chris Froome)

4 – good (Bradley Wiggins)

5 – excellent (Cancellara  – because I have a personal weakness for his good looks).

 

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>