Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
saudidave
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby saudidave » 23 Oct 2009, 11:14pm

I use an Altura rack bag myself. Affixes via a velcro "landing strip" that you leave permanently velcro fixed to the rack. It has a couple of nylon click fix fasteners for security. It also has small fold down panniers in the side pockets.

I've been commuting 8 months with mine and it has room for waterproofs, spare underwear, a towel and my sandwiches. As for lights; one on the rear rack and one on the offside seat stay. Sorted

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essexman
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby essexman » 24 Oct 2009, 8:32am

That seems backwards to me. Panniers are good for commuting due to the volume, saddle bags are good for day rides or v.light one night credit card touring.

On a commute i might need, office stuff, laptops, waterproofs, tools, wipes, spare clothes etc. I also might want to get shopping etc cos its mid week. Basically for a commute you want a car boot without the car.
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eileithyia
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby eileithyia » 24 Oct 2009, 8:40am

I have the karrimor uplift for my carradice saddlebag being one of life's shorties. An invaluable piece of equipment that I would never part with.

But there are plenty of other styles of saddlebag that do not fit on a bike for a shorty without either sitting on the mudguard/brakes and/or rubs against the back of the riders legs, my partner has been struggling to find a bag that is just big enough but not excessively so.
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paulah
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby paulah » 24 Oct 2009, 10:09am

essexman wrote:On a commute i might need, office stuff, laptops, waterproofs, tools, wipes, spare clothes etc. I also might want to get shopping etc cos its mid week. Basically for a commute you want a car boot without the car.


Bike tools, tyre levers, spanner, inner tube, latex gloves, cable ties, 4 AA batteries, 4 AAA batteries, glasses, tissues, clothes, towel (lightweight microbfibre), food supplies, fruit juice, waterproof jacket, helmet cover and visor, purse, keys, mobile, occassionally biscuits for team, sometimes waterproof trousers, sometimes a book. Then on the way home I often stop off at the supermarket.

Saddlebag? Maybe not.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Oct 2009, 1:17pm

paulah wrote:Bike tools, tyre levers, spanner, inner tube, latex gloves, cable ties, 4 AA batteries, 4 AAA batteries, glasses, tissues, clothes, towel (lightweight microbfibre), food supplies, fruit juice, waterproof jacket, helmet cover and visor, purse, keys, mobile, occassionally biscuits for team, sometimes waterproof trousers, sometimes a book. Then on the way home I often stop off at the supermarket.

Saddlebag? Maybe not.


There is nothing on that list that would not be swallowed up by a Camper Longflap without even folding the flap out, so long as the book wasn't an encyclopaedia picked to prove a point. A lot of it, such as the tools and batteries would fit in a side pocket, so long as they were not something like a wheel jig, picked to prove another point. Purse, specs, mobile, other side pocket. Obviously, supermarket shopping is a different thing altogether - I bought a trailer for that when I decided a set of Super C panniers was inadequate.

There is another thread on this subject somewhere, with a picture showing what somebody packed in a saddlebag. I think I mentioned then having packed a full set of uniform including boots - the only problem is a peaked cap which is not designed to be packed in anything but a box.

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ersakus
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby ersakus » 24 Oct 2009, 1:43pm

When using an improvised saddle bag, I found that the centre of gravity is quite high and the bike felt unstable compared to using panniers. (In theory i was carrying less with the saddle bag).
Panniers make the bike feel very stable, especially two of them.. or better 4 on my tourer! Grab/click and go in a second (ortliebs) and extremely water proof and compactable/aerodynamic when needed. I went back to my small ortlieb panniers after using a saddle bag for day tours. They are just much more useful for me.

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frank9755
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby frank9755 » 24 Oct 2009, 1:44pm

Thanks everyone, some interesting comments! I hadn't expected so much response.

Trying to summarise, there seem to be three main reasons why more people don't use saddlebags for commuting

1. Out of fashion
2. Failure to sell a simple quick-release fitting - requires DIY / bodge (99% of people want Mac or Windows, not a Linux solution!)
3. People don't realise how much they do hold

Frank

PS Ersakus' post crossed with mine. The stability point is interesting. I imagine that if a bag is swaying that could certainly make the bike feel unstable. However - and others will know more about this than me - I believe that having weight low down and partially behind the rear axle is not as good for bike stability as having it in the same place as most of the rest of the weight, ie the seatpost.
Last edited by frank9755 on 24 Oct 2009, 1:57pm, edited 2 times in total.

garygkn
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby garygkn » 24 Oct 2009, 1:49pm

I gave up panniers as I lost my Karrimors on a ride at night they bounced off.
I have a Barley, a Zip Roll and a Nelson as well as a Karrimor saddlebag.
I prefer them and if you have a variety of sizes you can chose to suit your needs.
The Zip Roll is for me one of the most useful.
You can fabricate a loop or velcro a light to the back if there isn't already a facility to hold a light.
You can also use a rear light on the seat stay.

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paulah
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby paulah » 24 Oct 2009, 3:11pm

thirdcrank wrote:
paulah wrote:Bike tools, tyre levers, spanner, inner tube, latex gloves, cable ties, 4 AA batteries, 4 AAA batteries, glasses, tissues, clothes, towel (lightweight microbfibre), food supplies, fruit juice, waterproof jacket, helmet cover and visor, purse, keys, mobile, occassionally biscuits for team, sometimes waterproof trousers, sometimes a book. Then on the way home I often stop off at the supermarket.

Saddlebag? Maybe not.


There is nothing on that list that would not be swallowed up by a Camper Longflap without even folding the flap out, so long as the book wasn't an encyclopaedia picked to prove a point. A lot of it, such as the tools and batteries would fit in a side pocket, so long as they were not something like a wheel jig, picked to prove another point. Purse, specs, mobile, other side pocket. Obviously, supermarket shopping is a different thing altogether - I bought a trailer for that when I decided a set of Super C panniers was inadequate.
.


At 24 litres and 1 litre less than my ortlieb front rollers (used on the rear rack), this would all fit into the camper but..

When I stop at the supermarket I often have to leave the top of the ortlieb front rollers unrolled, adding , at my estimate, at least another 40% to the luggage space. I wouldn't want to take a trailer to work just for popping into the shops on the way back. Apart from the extra weight, the thought of negotiating one round all the potholes, post-earthquake like road surfaces and the obstacle course at the start and end of the cyclepath near work is enough to give me nightmares.

And the extra width on the rack provides a stable support for things like carrying a huge laptop or newly bought tyres or other things that I might get delivered to work.
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resus1uk
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby resus1uk » 24 Oct 2009, 3:31pm

My trikes all share luggage.
My Higglns Ultralite trike is back from the frame finishers. It doesn't have a rack or provision for bags as it is not the main shopper. A quick fix was to use a Rixen Kaul seat mounting & mount the bar bag facing backwards. Admittedly difficult to read the map in this position.

Remember to change the bag light to a red one.

The shopping basket & map holder also fits the RK system.
They all have the same lock mount to share the lock (same key) &the under seat clip for the saddle pouch.
The only left on item on each machine is a Trek frame bag on the top bar for keys , coins & phone

thirdcrank
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Oct 2009, 4:56pm

I think the centre of gravity thing has to be accepted, but IMO, it's overstated. A properly attached saddlebag doesn't sway any more than any other properly attached bag. If one is heavily packed, rather than just fully packed, then it is mounting and dismounting that has to be watched. If you just lean the bike over there is a likelihood that the front wheel will rear up and dump you backwards. It did it once to me when I was 13 on my first real tour. I learned my lesson at the bottom of a fortunately dry roadside ditch in Lincolnshire. The other lesson I learnt then was that you can usually manage with a lot less stuff than you think.

I'd be the first to accept that with modern saddles, the traditional saddlebag is more or less extinct. I have a set of Ortleib front rollers (with an external pocket fitted for tools etc)on one of my bikes (as rear panniers) because fitting a saddlebag on a loopless Brooks Pro was just too much trouble, but they are IMO a poor replacement for a saddlebag. I'm something of an Imelda when it comes to bike luggage (and Goretex togs, and lights, and gloves, and.... :oops: ) and in the days when I had to ride with office type stuff, I used a Karrimor cycling briefcase, following a recomendation by CJ in the CTC mag around 1990. Smart enough to take to any meeting. Mine was a 'second' which made it even better. Like so much else they stopped making them. I still have mine, but not recently used.

I think the carrying shopping thing is a bit of a different issue and can just as easily be used as an excuse for having a car or even a van. I certainly could not get a stone of spuds, 4 pints of milk, 2lbs of sugar, four cans of beans, a 1.5 kilo bag of sugar and several bottles of wine etc., in either a saddlebag or a pair of Ortleib front rollers, but I'd not try. I used big panniers and or a trailer when I was fit enough to tow that lot home. We've had links on here to websites of pics of touring bikes laden with multiple panniers, and others of cyclists who are little more than beasts of burden in poor countries carrying vast amounts. I've posted more than once about how the Viet Cong beat the might of the US forces with a mixture of determination and bicycles, but that's all another different issue. This is about commuting in the UK.

I think that frank9755 gave a pretty good summary of the answer to his own question, although I've always blamed Brooks rather than Carradice. It's certainly true that saddlebags only went out of almost universal use with the demise of leather saddles. I'm also not generally a "fings ain't wot thy used ter be" merchant. Pre-Blackburn, I'm not even sure if a half-decent pannier rack was available in the UK and people used all sorts of army surplus knapsacks as panniers.

Finally, I'd not want to sound prescriptive but OTOH I do think that a couple of the posts have been from people who have never tried a saddlebag and are making assumptions.

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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby Flinders » 24 Oct 2009, 6:51pm

I take that last point to heart, thirdcrank- I hadn't ever heard of these uplift things (I will refrain from the more obvious remarks about the word on a family Forum). I may take a look and see if one might help before going for another rackbag, though I'm not sure that kind of uplift would help me any more then the other kind, and for the same reasons..... :wink:

Just shows what you can learn on here!

PS Uh-oh, just found one (Carradice) and I'm afraid it wouldn't work as there really is no seatpost for it to fit to!

thirdcrank
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby thirdcrank » 24 Oct 2009, 7:07pm

The Uplift I'm talking about - made by Karrimor, not Carradice - was a simple affair which depended on the saddle having proper bagloops. I've posted pics on here before when people have advertised for one to help with the search. My copies of the pics have disappeared with my gallery.

The basic Uplift consisted of a wire rectangle with a cross-piece, which had two slim metal tabs. The saddlebag was strapped to the top of the rectangle and the tabs slotted into the bagloops. The third saddlebag strap then went around the seatpost as normal. To remove the bag, undo that strap, lift up the bag and the Uplift then served as a carrying handle. There was a version which also had a part extended out under the bag for extra support, this was L-shaped in profile, with the foot of the L providing the support. Pretty much history now although I still have two. When last seen, my L-shaped one was in France, in pics sent by the current owner who was a discerning member of this forum.

pete75
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby pete75 » 24 Oct 2009, 7:13pm

My Carradice Cadet is qr as are they all, or so I thought, 3 buckles and straps - takes under a minute to remove or fit. I've used saddles from all the major manufacturers over the years, Brooks, Wrights, Terrys and they've all had bag loops apaet from stuff designed for competition like my Brooks Professional.

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paulah
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Re: Why more commuters don't use a saddlebag?

Postby paulah » 24 Oct 2009, 8:52pm

The real question to me is why use a saddlebag? The panniers can offer far more space, a broad base to carry a laptop on, and I can just dump them one-handed in place on the rack. What advantages does a saddlebag offer apart form saving weight not having a rack (which is a negligible saving anyway when you've got a laptop that you can hardly carry out of the office).
There shall be only one pannier