Brittle Days

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Carradice and Compatibility.

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I am a big fan of Carradice saddlebags. They’re solidly-made and have a lovely retro style of their own. Saddlebags put your luggage close to the bike’s centre of gravity – under the saddle. This makes a much more natural ride than one with panniers.

A decent-sized saddlebag, like the Super C or Nelson Longflap is also perfect for holding the usual commuter kit – a change of clothes, laptop and cables, small amount of bike tools, lock, etc.

However, there are some things to bear in mind with the way that they mount on the bike. I’ve learnt some of these lessons the hard way, so am writing them down in the hope that others will make better decisions.

The most solid way to mount a saddlebag is with the Carradice Classic Rack. This rack attaches to the saddlebag loops in your Brooks saddle. If you have a different make, you may need to buy some extra loops. However, the lovely Brooks Cambium has saddle rails at a more oblique angle than the famous B17. This means that the bag sits at an angle, puts strain on two of the joints in the rack, and can cause them to crack. I (and Melbourne’s crappy bike lanes) have broken two racks like this. A fix for this problem is to wind an inner tube (or other flexible thing) around the lower part of the rack, so that it sits further from the saddle rails and at a more upright angle. However, the more upright it sits, the more likely it is to rub against your bum, so there’s a balancing act there.

Similarly, the Nitto saddlebag grip doesn’t like shallow saddle rails. Which is a shame, as it’s beautifully-made. It’s mostly useful for B17 owners who want a quick-release. On a Cambium, it makes the bag sit low enough that it bashes the back of your thighs. It also has no support to stop the bag swaying.

I have also tried the Carradice SQR system. This mounts on the seatpost and uses a wire loop to hold the saddle bag away from the back of the saddle. It works fine, unless you have a Thomson setback seatpost, or similar. The SQR mount needs to be fixed near to the top of the seatpost, to give enough clearance over the rear wheel to attach the bag. The Thomson has a bend, to allow the saddle to sit further back. This means that the SQL has to sit on the bent section, which puts the mount at an angle. This angle means that the mount is susceptible to bumps knocking the bag loose – despite the mount having a catch.

I have also used the Carradice Bagman support. This is a pretty solid way to attach and support a saddlebag. You do have to periodically tighten up the grub screws that hold it together as they have a tendency to wiggle loose. However, it is fiddly to attach and detach. So it tends to live on the bike and look a bit strange when there’s not a saddlebag on it.

In short, and in order of preference: If you have a B17 or similar, the Classic Rack is brilliant. If you have a different saddle and don’t mind excess bike furniture, use the Bagman. If you have a Thomson seatpost, use the Bagman. If you have a straight seatpost and don’t want the bagman clutter, consider the SQR.

I have a Cambium and a Thomson seatpost, which means I’m either going to have to find a way to make the Classic Rack sit more upright, or be stuck with the Bagman.

Written by tomsulston

15/02/2016 at 15:28

Posted in Uncategorized

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