In Part 1 we covered the saddles and items they like to call 'etc' in their range from the Brooks picnic launch earlier this week.
In Part 2, we'll spend some time on their bag range which has, to be honest, passed us by up until now. Partly because Brooks started small and low key while for us there was always plenty of highly-technical and very well-established cycling luggage to talk about.
Mainly, though, because Brooks transparently pitched themselves at the 'stylish' part of the bike luggage world and like all self-respecting bike snobs we were genetically intolerant of anything obviously looking 'stylish'.
Well, we've had to have a rethink as the last couple of years have shown that we do like to get to work sometimes looking like something other than an extra from Dr Who. Assos and Ortlieb is all very well, thank you, but just tooling around in town and hopping on and off the bike among terrestrial lifeforms might just mean an extra set of performance criteria to live by.
Brooks love their natural materials but the downside of leather or cotton canvas, even if it's waxed, is that it cannot be quite as waterproof as multi-coated ballistic nylon. But then again, it's breathable and feels nice. It's the same choice as wearing a North Face jacket vs a Belstaff. Only buyers can decide which they're more likely to need and plenty of enthusiasts will end up with both to choose for the occassion.
Meanwhile the existing Brooks bag range has slowly gathered momentum with now a dozen or so items including two kinds of panniers, several saddle bags, a basket and a handlebar bag as sales have grown. Which is as good a time as any to admit that we should have written "Brooks re-started small..." because a handlebar bag first appeared in the Brooks catalogue in the 1890s and what we would now call a messenger bag in 1910. It's only because their bags fell by the wayside in the post-war cycling slump that we now think of Brooks as a saddle company. Anyway, now there are five new items.
Soho vertical leather bag. Big enough to take a 13" laptop or the inevitable iPad, small enough to treat as a classic 'handbag' but stout to take a cyclist's daily urban beating. £239.99
Barbican bike shoulder bag in leather. A fully leather version of the existing canvas Barbican. Hefty and with a detachable inner stuff-tidy; you can think of this as a cyclist's professional brief case that takes a 17" laptop and all your papers. £325.00
Islington Rucksack in distressed waxed cotton canvas and leather with carabiner clips which allow either a casual backpack fit or a crossover, super-secure mode. Highly expandable for shopping. £249.99
Hampstead Sport Holdhall in distressed waxed cotton canvas with chunky carabiner-style clips which either firmly attach this to your rear rack or rearrange to haul as an overnight grip or shoulder-bag. £269.99
Brixton Casual Commuting Satchel. Yes, it's a satchel in distressed waxed cotton canvas but with a clever feature that allows conversion into a tote shopper for that last half mile from M&S. £179.99