The Big 2018 Saddlebag Review

I've used a good number of saddlebags over the years. They're a fairly abused part of the bike accessory family, having to endure all weathers and not getting their deserved attention when it comes to cleaning. It is however quite surprising how much they vary in terms of longevity. In fact, this review is inspired by one particularly bad saddlebag that didn't even last a season of cycling! See if you can spot which one it is...

Cannondale

cycling saddlebag Cannondale

cycling saddlebag Cannondale

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At 20 years old, this is the oldest one I have, and it is still in active use. It's made of tough fabric, and slots comfortably onto the saddle rails. A thick rubber band secures it to the seat post. Some of the stitching is coming away around the zip, but that's to be expected for a bag of this age.


Topeak clip-mounted

The clip-on Topeak saddlebag

The clip-on Topeak saddlebag

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I've had this bag for a year or so, and it's lasting well. Tough but flexible bag and with a very secure slide-in mount point. It's big enough for a couple of tubes, multi-tool, tyre lever and extra glue + patches.


Topeak strap-mounted

The Topeak saddlebag with frayed straps

The Topeak saddlebag with frayed straps

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This bag was only six months old in June this year, used for a thousand or so miles, when I noticed that the velcro straps holding it to the saddle were both fraying badly - to the point that they'd both almost worn the whole way through. The bag is quite large and heavy, with a tough plastic inner casing that actually makes it quite hard to pack things into it. I think that the extra size and weight of this bag is what caused the straps to wear through so quickly - but this is definitely a terrible design choice from a manufacturer that is renowned for producing durable cycling products.


Lezyne strap-mounted

The Lezyne saddlebag

The Lezyne saddlebag

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I've hardly used this bag. It's very small and flexible, with simple velcro straps. Easy to put on and swap between bikes, but it's usually too small to be useful for my requirements.


Specialized strap-mounted

The Specialized saddlebag

The Specialized saddlebag

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This bag is five years old and has covered a good 15000 miles - and almost flawlessly too. It's a bit on the small side, but is flexible when packing things into it. The only failure is the zip pull, so I'm struggling to unzip and zip up - until I get around to soldering a paper clip into place!


Altura clip-mounted

Bit of loose stitching on the Altura saddlebag

Bit of loose stitching on the Altura saddlebag

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The Altura saddlebag

The Altura saddlebag

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This bag was my commuting fixture for many years from around 2007, and has lasted very well indeed. The stitching has gone along one side of the zip, and I've mis-placed the mount point that you need to fix the bag to the saddle. It is also a bit big for my needs; otherwise I'd still be using it.



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