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Carradice are a well-established British company with a long and noble history of supplying luggage hauling apparatus to gnarly tourists and beardy Audax types. On the assumption that these people must also have jobs they make this pannier bag specifically for the office based commuter and it's a high quality bag that should last for many years. It isn't cheap, at £65, but this kind of quality is worth paying for.
Initial impressions are that it looks like an old fashioned school satchel, complete with leather straps and clips. The Cotton Duck material that it's made from only reinforces the old-skool vibe. Don't be misled though, this bag is designed for a thoroughly modern commuter.
Firstly, it's more of a bag than a pannier, Rixen & Kaul fittings notwithstanding. Portability off the bike is a strong point and if you've ever struggled to carry a pannier by a single loop you will appreciate the handle and detachable shoulder strap on the Bureau. The 26 litre main compartment is deep and uncluttered, secured at the top by a drawsting stormflap. You also get a carrying strap for the separable laptop insert, which is padded and has external pockets for mouse, leads and other gubbins. Personally I don't need to carry a laptop to and from work but you could easily use it for other purposes. You also get two flat pockets on the outside of the bag. These are concealed when the bag is closed, which keeps them nice and secure but renders them less useful for carrying stuff like keys and small change. A particularly neat feature of this bag is the weather flap which covers the top of the bag while it's on the bike and folds back to keep the R&K mounts from bashing you while you're carrying the bag off it. This flap also has a waterproof pocket which you could use to keep soggy kit away from your precious papers.
Although you do get reflectives (one each on front back and sides) they are of the type that easily peels off. I'd have preferred to see some more robust sewn on patches. You don't get anywhere to put a light either, which is a major failing in my book. The extra width of a pannier makes it a great place to put a spare light, thus increasing your profile on the road. A simple loop would suffice. Carradice, please take note!
Cotton Duck, along with merino wool, is one of the original technical fabrics. It's hard wearing, almost completely waterproof and breathable. Incidentally, it's called 'duck' from the Dutch 'doek' meaning 'linen canvas'. The fact that water rolls off it like a duck's back is a happy coincidence.
Fitting is via standard Rixen & Kaul fittings, which click securely onto the rack. They are also fitted at an angle to give you extra heel clearance as this is a very long bag. You also need to be aware that Bureaus are right and left specific. The mountings are off-centre and putting the bag on the wrong side of the bike, combined with the angled mounts, will tilt the bag right into the path of your foot.
A very high quality bag and far superior to a standard pannier for commuting. Compromised by some niggling design flaws (no light fitting, no easily accessible external pocket) but a very nice bag nevertheless.
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Make and model: Carradice Bike Bureau pannier
Size tested: n/a
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?
According to Carradice it's "A bike pannier specifically designed to cope with the unique demands of the office based bike commuter" and you can't really argue with that. It does look like an old fashioned school satchel though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's made from their legendary Cotton-Duck material which is near as dammit waterproof while allowing the bag to breathe. Capacity is 26l. You get three small reflective patches.
Beautifully made. There is nothing flimsy or cheap about this bag. Carradice completists will be interested to know that this particular bag was made by Sue.
Overall it does the job very well but there are some compromises between its role as a briefcase for the office worker on the go and a practical piece of bike luggage.
When the day comes you should be able to pack up your gold watch and retirement card in this bag. Carradice luggage has a cast iron reputation for longevity and the feel of this bag reinforces that. They also offer a strong guarantee on their products.
That sturdy construction has to be paid for somehow. It's no lightweight, weighing in at almost 2kg (1880g to be precise) and you do feel the weight on the bike.
Although the satchel like design does give you a nice tidy handle on top of the bag it made my shoulder ache after only a few minutes. The shoulder strap is a nice touch and make the bag much more comfortable to carry. I also liked the flap which keeps the top of the bag clean in transit and which folds back over to protect you from the fittings when you're carrying it off the bike.
This is a high quality bag that should last you through the rest of your career. It isn't cheap, at £65, but this kind of quality is worth paying for. You also get some nice extras, like the padded laptop insert and the carrying strap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very good. It has plenty of space for office based commuting especially if you remove the internal laptop bag and because it is so wide and square in section it's ideal for carrying files and papers. Also helps to stop your nicely folded work clothes from getting crumpled.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lovely build quality. Retro styling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's very long and although the Rixen & Kaul mountings are angled, to give extra heel clearance, you might have trouble with this on a smaller frame. It can be a bit fiddly to use, with all those flaps and straps and there is nowhere to attach a light. I would also have liked an external pocket for things like keys and small change.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Practicality is slightly compromised with the fussy design and lack of things like light fittings and external pockets but it's a much better commuter option than a standard pannier.
Age: 39 Height: 5' 8" Weight: er....80kg
I usually ride: GT Rave - singlespeed conversion My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, fixed/singlespeed,