it’s now three days to go until i embark on a short cycle-tour. it’s a proper old-schoolsaddlebag and youth hostel shindig. if you’re not camping or going really far then it’s perfectly feasible to tour with a real minimum of kit. in this respect, i’m a huge fan of the carradice saddlebag. they’re made in the peak district and each one has the signature on the label of the lady who made it.
they do a range of different sizes. belle has the ‘junior’, which is ideal for a day ride. i have two, the nelson, which is the quintessential commuting bag and i’ve used it pretty much all winter, and i also am now the proud owner of a ‘carradice super C’. i cannot stress how enormous this bag is. it reminds me of the opening sequence of ‘you only live twice’.
it swallowed up the nelson without even blinking, and the nelson is a fairly whopping 15 litres. this new beast is a staggering 23 litres, with side pockets and some extra inner deluxe compartments inside. i think this means i won’t need to take a bar bag and can instead put everything in the super C. meanwhile, the nelson will continue with commuting duties. i’m beginning to think dangerous pipe-and-slippers thoughts, namely, ‘you can never have too many saddlebags’, or ‘tired of saddlebags, tired of life’. here’s the nelson:
the principle reason for using a saddlebag is convenience when you haven’t got a tonne of stuff to carry. there’s no need for a rack and the geometry of the bike doesn’t change. more importantly, it keeps stuff off your back so stops you getting all sweaty and horrid. i’ve tried a rack and a saddlebag, and definitely prefer the latter. it looks lovely on the mercian with the brooks saddle.after two fatigue-ridden days commuting, i’ve decided to rest now until the weekend, so i washed the bike this evening and started to get a few things together. i built the mercian up this year to take on both commuting duties and some light touring. it’s slightly tweaked version of the ‘king of mercia’ frame, with rack bosses and marginally more relaxed geometry to make it a real mile-eater. the tubing is reynolds 531c and it has beautifully elongated spearpoint lugs with heart-shaped windows, it’s a really lovely frame and testament to the quality of Mercian cycles, a historic and significant british marque.
I’ve been riding it for the past week or so to get used to it again after lots of uber-carbon tomfoolery. it has a brooks pro saddle and slightly mismatched campagnolo groupset, a bit centaur and a bit veloce. i can’t wait to take it out on the open road and gently undulate through the lanes of somerset, devon and cornwall.