Component giant Shimano is entering the bags market with an innovative range that covers everything from urban riding to mountain biking.
There will be four different designs in the line-up, three of them available in different size options. The designers have focused on keeping the weight low but they’ve still incorporated plenty of adjustability and other features to improve the comfort.
First up, this is the Tsukinist (below) – we’re told that the name comes from the word ‘tsukin’, which is Japanese for ‘commuting’, and cyclist. Just a bit of added information for you. Take it or leave it.
This bag has compartments and pockets all over the place for storing everything you need for a day at work, including a soft-lined sleeve for a laptop (up to 15in). There’s a phone pocket on one of the straps plus external pockets for other stuff you might need in a hurry.
The central compartment is large so you’ll have no problems getting a pair of shoes, for example, in there. The Tsukinist comes in two different sizes: 20L (£79.99) and 30L (£89.99). Compression straps allow you to tighten the bag against your back if any of the space is unfilled while a waist strap and a sternum strap provide more stability.
The main fabric, which is used across the range, is stretchy so it’s expandable and it’s waterproof too although the seams aren’t tapedso rain could work its way in. For that reason, Shimano provide a rain cover that’s zipped away in the base.
There’s lightweight padding on the back which is raised in different areas to let airflow through, a grab handle, a loop for fitting a rear LED, an attachment for carrying a U-lock… oh, a zillion little features. It seems really well thought-out to us. We didn’t have the road.cc Scales of Justice with us to check but Shimano quote a weight of just 860g for the 20L version. Considering what you get here, that’s really light.
The messenger bag in the range is called the Osaka, which is the city where Shimano is based. You get many similar features to the Tsukinist including a laptop pocket that’s both lined and padded, lightweight 3D padding on the back, and plenty of different storage options.
One of the most useful features is the quick adjustment strap. You pull one loop to tighten it, another to loosen it off instantly. We’ve seen similar designs on other messenger bags but it still impresses us. You get a good amount of padding on the shoulder strap too, and a chest strap if you need extra stability.
We like the fact that you get a stash pocket on the outside with a key holder inside, meaning you don’t have to take the bag off to get at your keys. It just makes life that little bit easier.
The Osaka will be available in 25L (£79.99) and 35L (£89.99) versions.
The Rokko – named after a mountain range, if you’re interested in such things – is designed as an all-rounder: town riding, mountain biking, whatever. It’s a daypack, basically, and it’s the only bag in the range that’s available in just one size: 12L (£49.99).
You don’t get a laptop pocket in here but you do get a smaller felt-lined pocket for your sunglasses or whatever else you want to stash in there. It’s hydration-system ready too. You don’t get a reservoir as part of the deal but Shimano will be selling them separately (we’ve no price on those yet).
As well as 3D padding on the back, the shoulder straps are padded and you get waist and sternum belts for holding the Rokko in place.
Finally, there’s the Unzen hydration pack – Unzen is a mountain in Japan; we know you’re massively interested in the derivation. We’ve left this one until last because it’s really aimed at mountain bikers but there’s no reason why you can’t use it on the road.
The strap system is really well designed. Shimano call this their Rider Fit Cross Harness, the straps coming right over to the middle of your chest. Why do they do this? Shimano reckon that it causes less restriction to your upper body movement. Plus, with a sternum strap linking the two shoulder straps, there’s no need for a waist belt. On top of that, this design moves the straps away from your armpits where they can cause you to get sweaty. And finally, Shimano say the design works as well for women as it does for men.
Another clever feature of the strap design is that it’s height adjustable. You open up a pocket in the side and move the attachment point for the whole harness. It’s just a matter or setting the position of a wide Velcro strip. Once you’ve done it, youdon’t need to touch it again.
The Unzen boasts most of the impressive features of the other bags in the range – the channeled padding of the back panel looks particularly good – as well as easy-access side pockets for coins, gels and stuff, and a hydration reservoir from Hydrapack.
The Unzen will come in four different sizes: 6L with a 2L reservoir (£74.99), 10L with a 2L reservoir (£84.99), 10L with a 3L reservoir (£89.99) and 15L with a 3L reservoir £99.99. The size of the reservoir doesn’t eat into the volume of the bag quoted; in other words, even if you have the 2L reservoir filled up, you still have 6L of storage space in the smallest bag.
All of these bags will be available later in the year; UK importers Madison reckon you’re looking at September.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.