Carradice is Twice as Nice

That, I know, is my lamest title yet.

I’m still not in riding trim, though I think I’ll be able to do a short toodle on a trail this weekend. I don’t have a new saddle for the Raleigh, as my industry connection (Hi, You!) hasn’t been able to order it yet, so it’s just me and the Panasonic. I don’t mind, though. My expectations for my first post-surgical ride are low, so I can keep the mileage to a minimum. The recovery has been tougher than expected. I may have aggravated my condition with some spirited boogying due to complete physical boredom, as well. Hey, sometimes a girl’s gotta dance!

Anyway, the Panasonic now has a saddlebag. It’s been quite a journey to get to this point. This bike is a racing bike, and not set up for a rack. There are no braze-ons either front or rear. Racks can, of course, be added anyway with p-clamps, but I thought a bag would be a prettier option for this beautiful bike.

When I purchased the bike, I bought one of these from Rivendell, in gray, to go on it. I thought I might be able to throw my small laptop in there, and commute if I wanted. In the description, it says it will fit on “even smallish bikes” that won’t normally fit a saddlebag. Well, okay, but I’m not sure what they meant by “smallish,” as it didn’t fit on my bike at all. The problem was that the bag hit the back of the frame, just beneath the seat post, and compressed the rear brake cable. This was not a good thing. Otherwise, it was a lovely bag, and fit the laptop plus a jacket and spare tube, etc. perfectly. I was disappointed, but nothing I did seemed to change the fit. The brakes engaged constantly. Also, it wobbled a lot when fully loaded. When I called Rivendell to bitc… complain, they told me it wouldn’t work well on a bike with the seat set with less than 6 cms of seat post. Oh, you mean… like a Rivendell? Aren’t Rivendell the guys who advocate not riding a frame so big you have to jack the seat up?

So I returned the bag, and ate the postage. Instead, after more research, I purchased a Carradice Barley, in black. Along with it, I bought a Bagman Sport QR (for Quick Release) bag support, also from Carradice. I chose the Barley for the classic saddlebag look, and for its size. It won’t hold my laptop, but it will hold everything else I might want to take, without being so large as to affect the bike’s handling. The Bagman Sport QR is more expensive than the regular Bagman, but has the advantages of a: supposedly fitting smaller bikes better, b: allowing me to rapidly remove the bag should I stop somewhere and not want to leave it out (but since I rarely leave the Panasonic locked up anywhere, this would be a pretty moot point) and c: it works on saddles without designated bag loops, like my vintage Selle Italia Ladies Turbo.

My apologies for snowy, busy pics. You work with what ya got, you know?

I ordered both items from Wiggle, a company in England who sell many Carradice-y items for cheap, and who ship to the US for FREE if the order is over $86. Yes, that’s right: international shipping is FREE. Unfortunately, Wiggle doesn’t tell you on their site when something is backordered. I ordered my items in October. In November, I was informed that everything was backordered through December. Then in December, they told me I would have the items in January. The bag arrived in late January, but the Bagman was still outstanding. I received yet another email, with a new date. It finally arrived in mid-February, four months later, which ended the saga. It was hard to stare at that saddlebag for a month and do all those rides without it, but it sagged right onto the tire when I tried it out with no Bagman and the straps stuck through my seat rails.

In the meantime, I’ve been using my little saddlebag from Minnehaha as a handlebar bag.

I originally bought this bag for the Raleigh, to throw keys and such in for short rides.

(Picture taken before I realized I could put the straps through the saddle loops).

It’s very small, but I can stuff a surprising amount into it, including: spare tube, multitool, tire levers, batteries for lights, asthma inhaler, phone, wallet and keys. I have even managed to fit my thick winter bike gloves and a fleece neck warmer in there on top of the other stuff, though I wouldn’t recommend that as a regular habit. Now that I have the Carradice, it can go back onto the Raleigh. My only complaint about this bag is that after getting absolutely soaked several times, the color from the rivets on the top has “run” onto the surrounding leather. That’s a pretty small complaint for such a great little bag, though. Anyway, now it has character.

I fitted the Bagman QR onto the Panasonic the day it arrived. It simply clamps to the seat rails on the saddle, and was very easy to install: five minutes, tops. Then I compressed the two levers at the sides, and slid the Barley’s straps, which were fastened to form loops, into place. Release the levers and voila! The bag is now held onto the Bagman. I also chose to strap the bottom strap of the bag onto the support to give it extra stability, but if one were going to remove the bag with any regularity, this might be inconvenient. The Bagman holds the bag off the rear tire beautifully and helps the bag keep its shape.

I placed the spare tube, levers and multitool into one of the Barley’s small side pockets. The main pocket is capacious, and should easily hold a fleece, a jacket, gloves and snacks, should I so desire. I’m a bit of a gear minimalist (too much multi-day camping with a bad back), so I can easily see doing a day-long ride with this bag, or even multi-day, if I weren’t camping at night.

I’ll be riding the bike soon, and testing out how the bag affects the ride quality, but I wouldn’t expect it to do much of anything. It doesn’t wobble at all, and its size means I can’t over-pack it with tons of weight. After much waiting, I’m really pleased. I think the bag looks beautiful! Tell me what you think.

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7 Responses to Carradice is Twice as Nice

  1. adventure! says:

    Finally! You got the Carradice and support after all this time! I hope it works well for you. After getting my first Carradice three years ago, I can’t go back to not having one. Hell, I’m so crazy I have two!

    A tip I learned: I bought some extra straps and put them in the loops. It’s how I hold my U-Lock.

    Ironically enough, I just got one of those Minnehaha barrel bags as well. I’m using it as a handlebar bag on the Raleigh, because I just love having something up front on all my bikes, and I wasn’t going to put on a rack or basket. (That just wouldn’t be proper!) So I have a barrel bag in front, Carradice in rear.

  2. rideblog says:

    I have pondered the bag-up-front, bag-out-back combo, and will definitely switch out the Minnehaha bag when needed, if needed. I just can’t see exceeding the Barley’s capacity very often! But I do like the look.

    I realized after I took the photos that the cable lock, which is only there for the direst of emergencies (such as the need to run into the 7-11 and buy a Snapple, with the bike in view the whole time) as I know how easily snipped they are, can go into the Barley, and therefore not be ugly anymore. I will do this shortly.

    And I know, I’m so excited!

  3. The Carradice Barley and the Zimbale 7L bag are my favourite saddlebags. The size is just perfect, and I agree about being able to do a dayride with just the bag. My bicycles must be a slightly larger size than yours, because I use mine without support and it does not touch the tire.

    That bicycle of yours is looking sharp; love the purple and white together and the bag bag fits in nicely. Feel better soon!

  4. Auchen says:

    Looks fab !
    Well worth the (almost interminable) wait! – and a very potent endorsement for Carradice and Minnehaha too.
    Don’t be surprised if other accessory suppliers come after you for product endorsements.

  5. raverson says:

    No apologies for the pictures, the second pic with the rock wall and snow is fantastic. And yes the bag looks good and ready to do everything it was meant to do. Now Snarky, can we talk about those wheel reflectors?…

  6. rideblog says:

    Auchen, I don’t think I’d mind that, but I’m afraid, as slam poet Taylor Mali puts it:

    “I have a policy about honesty, and ass kicking. Which is: if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.”

    I know this would be a problem for me :). I was, afterall, only diplomatic about Rivendell because it was nearly six months ago that they pissed me off! I couldn’t accept things I didn’t really like already, which sort of defeats the purpose, I think. I believe Veloria has a similar policy, but she’s so much nicer than I am, that I can’t even imagine what sort of havoc I would wreak if I started to talk honestly about most products I encounter.

    Do love the Carradice (so far) and the Bagman, and the little Minnehaha. No lie :).

  7. rideblog says:

    Raverson, I’m shocked! They’re VINTAGE! :)

    You should have seen the bike when I bought it. Big ol’ lollypop reflectors front and rear.

    I’ll live with being a bit of a geek though, as at least these serve a purpose that my lights can’t replace.

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