Cycle bags: carry your kit or repent at leisure, usually by the side of the road waiting for someone to pick you up
|May 4, 2011||Posted by Andrew Gray under Road Bike|
I’m not a mummy’s boy. Nope, not me. And it is very rare these days that my mum even dares tell me what to do. Bless her!
But there is one thing that recently she has nagged me about as if I were still in short trousers, and I have to admit that I still haven’t done anything about, and I think I’m on borrowed time. Punctures threaten and I need to sort out my cycle bag. Leaving the repair kit in my plastic bike shed just ain’t gonna work, chuck! It needs to be out on the road.
Ok, so I think I should get just that little bit broader here, I mean the kit that goes into cycle bags of whatever form they take, and what shape that bag will be. So that’s what I’m going to cover here. Let’s start with the shape.
Storage on the bike
When you’re a MAMIL there isn’t much space to hide anything. That’s why some bright spark years back put a whopping great pocket on the back of cycling jerseys – apart from on mine of course because yours truly forgot to look when he was buying his top and got a half size zip up. What a muppet.
That left me somewhat at a loose end when it came to needing to carry more with me than a tube of glucose tablets and jelly babies and my mobile phone. So at Christmas I got myself the smallest of the Camelbak range. I was looking for something that would be small enough to take with me when I went running with the dog (for poops…which I put in a small sandwich box. No sandwiches were harmed…you really wanted to know that didn’t you?). And I also wanted something into which I could stow an extra jumper, satnav and map, and an inner tube. Camelbak 2litre was ideal.
Of course, I still haven’t sorted out the inner tube, but the rest of it on my recent exploits has been great. The camelbak doesn’t shift around on the shoulders at all when riding, so I will be keeping this even when I move to a proper road bike.
For my tools I actually use an old compact camera case! It’s waterproof and I can fit a bike spanner, pliers, multi tool and multi-headed screwdriver tool without any problems. But of course, no space for the inner tube.
Cycle bags are really kind of a bit generic. By that I mean that a cycle bag could be a pair of panniers, a saddle bag, or fit elsewhere – I personally like the ones that fit between cross bar and downtube in the V. So lets break it down into those areas.
I used to have these when I was a teenager pounding between college and home everyday, the bags both stuffed with files and college books. I think that between them I was carrying 5-10Kg a day! The off putting thing was that as I rocked the bike up the hills the panniers would knock on the wheels! Bare in mind that if you want panniers then you’ll also have to buy a frame, and you will also want a full cycle mudguard as well to keep the bags dry. Depending on make, I also suggest a plastic bag inside to keep everything securely dry – not everything is as waterproof as claimed! The screws that hold the rack to the eyelets, often the same eyelets as the mudguards are fixed to, can also come loose, so it’s worth a regular check.
If you are carting a lot of kit around, then panniers are the way to go.
Obviously they attach to the saddle (duh!) but the way they attach is variable. The simplest and lightest just hang under the saddle, perhaps a strap around the post for stability usually using velcro. One or two models have mounting clips, which are quite novel but I don’t think that it either adds or detracts from the basic velcro fastenings.
You’ll be hard pushed to find a leather saddle bag like we used to love styled as a miniature satchel attaching flat to the saddle rear. Mine was white I recall back in the 70’s, (don’t be fooled asos leather saddle bags are not assos!). Check out on ebay, or be prepared to pay through the nose. If you are going for a leather bag then you need the double eyelets that used to be on the back of all saddles, so again, check the more traditional bike models.
Unless you are a traditionalist then stick with modern fabrics. The range at wiggle won’t be a bad choice at all, but I personally think that you should go into a bike shop and have a look at what size you want.
The alternative is the frame mounted bike bag. I love the idea, but to be honest I’m not sure it would work for me because I’ve noticed of late that as my thigh muscles develop the natural fall of my feet and knees tends inwards. Occasionally I brush the cross bar with my thighs, so anything else that could get in the way might be a problem, but I might still give it a try. Halfords stocks the kind of bag I’m talking about here: small and neat for around £10. Not the one’s at Psyche which in my opinion are a little too big and could end up with some serious inner thigh rubbing issues.
Gather together the kit you need (see below) and take a note of the volume it takes up. Or alternatively ask the shop before you go if you can bring your stuff with you! Then it’s simply a matter of seeing what size fits. Do be kind though, buy from your local store if you are going to try out their sizing.
So what goes into a cycle bag?
- Micro-pump or CO2 pump
- Spare inner tube in a sock
- Repair kit (in case the spare has a problem!)
- Bike spanner
It’s probably also worth saying here what doesn’t go into a saddle bag, and that would be chewy bars, maps, phone, and perhaps you could get away with a smaller bag and put the inner tube and pump in your jersey pocket, or get a camelbak.