Let’s say I’m trying to ride a bike and carry stuff at the same time. What do I do?
Trying to Grow Additional Arms
Certainly, you realize that you aren’t a Chia Pet. You cannot, simply by will, sprout new appendages. However, I do have compassion for your plight. This is a question as old as mankind: “How can I load as much stuff onto my person at one time without becoming a moving garbage pile and/or compromising my stability and injuring myself?” Of course, back in olden times, our ancestors were carrying, like, jaguar skulls and misshapen root vegetables. You, nowadays, carry several tiny computers and a wad of high-tech water repellent gym clothes. Same-same.
Anyway, I found a genius solution to this dilemma: The Brooks England line of bicycle bags. First off, even their company name sounds sophisticated, doesn’t it? I imagined a bag that smelled of rich leather, displayed in a mahogany-panelled library of a shop, peddled by a man wearing a tuxedo and a monocle – wait! Or maybe this fellow!
Brooks also offers high-quality bicycle saddles (which come with a decade-long warranty!), apparel, replacement parts, helmets, and other bicycle accessories. They even put out an annual magazine called “The Bugle.”
Let me back up a minute. I used the phrase “genius solution” above to compensate for a mighty large oversight on my part. You see, when the kind folks at Brooks contacted us, I studied their line of well-made, fashionable bags for bicycle commuters. I focused in on the prettiness. My eyes filled with covetousness. Tiny, shiny messenger bag emojis began dancing in my irises.
I overlooked a key detail, that Brooks has created “the best [bags] for riding [bicycles] since 1866.” Yeah, right, and uh, I live in the middle of rural bumble-dump mountain country. And, uh, like, I don’t ride bicycles. But whatever! When the Brooks England strand bag arrived, I was determined to offer a proper review despite my lack of bicycle savvy. “Where there is a will, there is a way!” I exclaimed aloud, and I might have peppered that with a few motivational curse words, you know, to get hyped up and stuff.
First, I approached a colleague who commutes several dozen miles (er, 40-ish kilometres), by bike, to work each day. “Listen, bike guy,” I said. “I have to review this Brooks England strand bag, and it’s geared toward other bike guys.”
He looked at me wryly. “You’re not a bike guy.”
“I’m not even a guy, guy,” I replied. “I need you to give me your thoughts on this baby.”
He gingerly picked up the bag. “It’s sharp looking,” he said, turning it around in his hands, unzipping it and peeking inside. “Nice amount of room.” He tugged on the straps, saying, “It’s nice they have this waist attachment belt; sometimes just a shoulder strap makes things feel unbalanced.” Bike Guy then opened the front compartment and rammed his fist in it. “This part stretches out. You could shove a lot of stuff in there.” I nodded, thinking of the jaguar skulls and yams.
“Wanna test drive it for me?” I asked. He immediately shook his head no and apologetically shrugged his shoulders. He explained, “I prefer backpacks.”
“Yeah, well I prefer Truck Guys,” I spat out angrily. Okay, that literally did not happen. I actually patted his shoulder and meekly said, “Thanks anyway for your thoughts,” and then walked down the hallway, silently sobbing (that didn’t happen either – I mean the crying part. I didn’t cry about it. I’m not some kind of Cry Guy).
“Well, it’s on to Plan B,” I decided, and one weekend, I escorted myself to the local bike rental rack. You might not have these where you live, so let me explain. At several key spots throughout my small city, there are stands full of brightly colored bicycles available for rental. Each bike has a credit card reader attached, and upon swiping your card, the bike breaks free of its rack-prison. You are then able to ride around town on a neon kaleidoscope-mobile, attracting gawkers, curious children, and a few hippies who might have taken too much LSD.
Anyway, that phrase “it’s like riding a bike!” is true. You do not forget how to ride a bike. I rode a bike with the Brooks England Strand Bag for you all, and here’s what I learned.
- This bag is big. Or I am small. Either way, I ran into the size issue again – a challenge I had with other products I reviewed. In the cute graphic illustrating how to wear the bag, the bicyclist has the bag resting squarely on his lower back. In my experience, the bag hung below my lower back, even after shortening the straps as much as possible. Standing, the bag covered my bum. Riding, I needed to hang the bag to the side. It was perfectly comfortable, but I can see how it could become problematic if I had really filled up the bag.
- I wish there were little compartments or holders on the inside, for pens (or lipstick – what?).
- Price! Disclaimer: I purchase on a weak American dollar. Everything European seems expensive to me. This bag runs €170.00 / £145.00. That said, for a regular bicycle commuter, who can experience real physical problems from a poorly designed bag, this would be money well-spent. Plus, it qualifies for free shipping!
- It is very stylish and professional-looking, and more importantly, it is well made. The material is weatherproof, and there are reflective strips – super important while you’re commuting.
- It is roomy! The interior offers plenty of storage space. Even though I lived on the wild side and rode helmet-less, I estimate a standard helmet could easily slip in the front compartment. The laptop sleeve is well-padded.
- The straps are comfortable. The back of the bag offers padding without looking like rugby protective equipment.
- There is a little teensy pocket, perfect for credit cards or keys. For some reason, I found this little detail very cute.
Overall: Quite worthy of purchase! If I were to travel back in time, I would pay more attention to the dimensions of the bag, and I’d likely pick one that was more multi-purpose. Although Brooks specializes in biking, they offer a wide array of bags that could also serve well as airplane carry-ons, work cases, travel bags, and general carry-alls. And for what it’s worth, I’m recommending their backpacks to the Bike Guy.
See you next time,