The Aqua T50 Roll Bag is actually part of Oxford's motorcycle-specific range, but since it sent it to us we decided to test it anyway and found it a useful waterproof hold-all for sporting events and holidays.
The bag is made from a vinyl-like material in a welded construction. The seams are broad and flat and, if a little untidy in places, were certainly strong and completely watertight. Fastening points and buckle mounts are reinforced with an extra layer of material.
The bag is closed by means of a roll-down top. Ortlieb pannier users will recognise this, though the details are different. The top of the closure is stiffened with webbing strips stitched along the whole length and these are brought together and rolled down. Two turns is enough to prevent any water ingress. This system makes it much easier to pack and unpack than a conventional hold-all. Another advantage is that, if the bag is only half full, you can roll the top down further to take up the excess space and it stays well packed and holds its shape.
Once you have the top rolled down to your satisfaction you hold the bag shut with the clip-fasteners, which snap into corresponding clips secured with a webbing strap at each end of the bag. This was quick and secure, but would have been better if the clip fastenings were symmetrical. As it is, if you turn the top over three times you will find it won't clip in – it has to be two, four or six turns. There are also two more webbing straps and clips that run over the top of the bag and allow you to cinch everything down nice and securely.
You now have a tight, well-shaped bag and the contents won't move about, so it's nice and stable. You could certainly consider using this for touring, especially if you like to carry a lot of kit, but the 580mm width means it would need to sit cross-wise across a rear rack, supported at either end by your panniers.
The version of the T50 that Oxford sent us has one carrying handle in the middle. Depending on how full the bag is and how many times you have rolled the top over, this sits more or less on top of the bag. While this webbing handle has a fairly crude cover stitched over it, this is quite short and I found, with my big hands, that the unprotected part of the webbing could rub my little finger. The Oxford website shows the latest version of the Aqua T50 includes handles at each end as well, and this would be a welcome addition.
The shoulder strap is made from wide webbing with tough nylon spring clips at each end. I was a bit puzzled about how to fasten this, as the photograph on the product ticket shows it attaching to loops at each end of the bag, while my bad didn't have these. Instead, I clipped it to the D-loops on the top straps, which also stopped any tendency for the bag to go banana-shaped when being carried (a simple plastic board included in the bottom of the bag also helps maintain rigidity). Again, the website shows the latest version having D-loops on the ends of the bag. The shoulder pad is free to slide along the length of the strap and was wide and quite comfortable.
The bag comes with a broad Velcro strap on the base which is designed to go under the pillion seat on a motorbike and keep the bag in place. This could also conceivably be pressed into action on a bicycle pannier rack, too, though with a pannier rack being a skinnier construction it would be difficult to pull it tight enough to stop it sliding from side to side. A collection of webbing straps is also included, which can be used to run through the various loops and hold everything secure. These are neither as simple nor quick to use as the good old bungee.
Mostly how I used this bag was as an all-purpose tote for my dry clothes, helmet, boots, towels and so on, when out riding from the car. It certainly holds a lot of stuff. The fact that there's only one big internal space means you have to be creative in keeping clean and dirty or wet stuff apart. Oxford has included an external mesh pocket on the bag which it says is 'for storing damp items' but there's not room in it for much more than a Buff. Quite why this is fitted with a waterproof zip beats me, especially as the bigger pocket behind it, which is made of waterproof material, closes with a Velcro fastener!
Oxford sent us the fluoro yellow and black version of the Aqua T50; there's also a grey/black and both have plenty of reflective bits and bobs for night visibility. The yellow got grubby quite easily, and while mud wipes off with a damp cloth, I soon found it had picked up some more stubborn scuffs and marks.
However, if you are using this bag for touring, camping or other rugged activity you will certainly find the Aqua T50 tough and waterproof. It does a similar job to the Ortlieb Duffle 60 Jez tested, without the rucksack conversion, at around half the price.
Judging by the pictures on Oxford's website, the latest incarnation of this bag addresses some of the issues raised in this review and should be even better.
Considering it's actually for motorcycle touring, it's a surprisingly versatile bag for a range of cycling-related uses
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford AQUA T-50 Roll Bag - Black/Fluo
Size tested: Approx size when filled: 33 x 64 x 36cm (HxWxD)
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is actually a motorcycle product, designed to sit on the pillion seat and fasten with straps, but Oxford makes no particular point out of this, making it "Point 11" of its 11-point Technical Aspect list. Since it sent it to us for testing, I've looked at it from a cycling point of view and, while I wouldn't want to use it as a courier-style bag, as a waterproof kit-bag it's turned out to be really pretty useful.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the Oxford website, and the product ticket:
Easy grab carry handles
Waterproof roll top closure
External and internal pockets for small items
Wipe-clean, waterproof construction with welded seams
Padded shoulder strap for added comfort
Front mesh pocket for storing damp items
Unique attachment system for motorcycles with underseat security strap
Reflective detailing for improved visibility
Compression straps for maximum stability
Suitable for use on motorcycles
Approx size when filled:
33 x 64 x 36cm (HxWxD)
Made in China
It seems strong enough but some of the stitching on the webbing looks a bit rough and ready.
Completely waterproof, easy to pack and the roll-down top means everything is held firmly in place, even if the bag isn't full. It's certainly waterproof. Some of the strap fastenings were a bit puzzling.
All the waterproof welding is very tough, as is the bag material itself. Some of the webbing stitching could be better, though none of it has failed so far.
It's hard to see how it could be made any lighter without compromising its function.
Over the shoulder, the padded strap is fine but the curious strap attachment points made it move about a bit. The top handle is quite short so if you have wide hands you may find your little finger rubbed by the non-padded bit of the webbing.
Plenty of functionality for your money here. Some of the detail betrays the build-to-a-budget.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It lived up to its 100% waterproof billing (discounting the outer mesh pocket). It holds lots of kit, packs down well and holds its shape. Good for a variety of purposes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's waterproof. The roll-top closure is good for several reasons. Tough and versatile.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Some of the strap and handle details could be better sorted – and they may well be on the latest version of this bag, going by the Oxford website.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Oxford sent us this bag for review even though it's part of the motorcycle range. Actually, it's measured up pretty well as a bike bag, too. Maybe a bit big for all but the most laden touring, but certainly useful for general cycling-related activity. I liked the roll-down top and the way it keeps the bag in shape even when it isn't full.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking