Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mistaken Identity

I've been putting my Zimbale saddlebag to good use during my daily work commute and weekend errands. At 18 liters (1,098 cu. inches), it has replaced a shoulder bag I've been schlepping around for the longest time. The main compartment is large enough for most of what I need: lunch, water bottle, paperback book, light jacket. The side pockets also come in handy for small essentials like extra tube, mini pump, tire levers. The only advantage a shoulder bag has is the ability to carry paperwork without folding or getting them wrinkled.

But I'm not complaining. I gladly trade doing without paperwork for the freedom from strapping something around my torso. It's also a great excuse to keep my work at work. "Sorry, boss. That report just won't fit into my bag."

The Zimbale bag has also been getting it's share of compliments. However, the few people who have asked me about it have also mistaken it for a Carradice. In fact, I considered purchasing a Carradice as I was shopping around. Ultimately, the Zimbale won out with a lower price tag and similar features compared to the Carradice Nelson Longflap. Additionally, the Zimbale has a wooden dowel across the inside to prevent the bag from drooping. While I haven't owned other large saddlebags, I imagine that the bag could lose its shape when fully loaded.

Because of its long width, I was worried that the bag would swing laterally or sag along the sides that don't have any support from the rear rack. I was very pleased that neither of my concerns came to light. In fact, the bag is strapped in nicely via a pair of leather straps that remind me of toeclip straps during their heyday. I also didn't have any issues with bumping the back of my thighs into the bag, as I had read about with other riders.

Zimbale or Carradice, you can't go wrong with either. And who can tell the difference? Apparently, not even the people in the biking community. Let's face it: neither brand are anywhere close to being mainstream. And isn't that the point? Giant saddlebags are neither "cool" nor aerodynamic. You would be hard-pressed to walk into your local bike shop and find one to purchase. Still, I can't help but think that these types of bags would sell quite well if they were more readily available.

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