Carradice have been around for a long time, are beloved by bearded men on antique steel tourers and I have been warned that saying anything disparaging about this Super C would result in me being pursued to the ends of the earth by gnarly CTC types. That is to say, slowly and with frequent breaks for tea and cake.
Happily I came to love this bag, but it took a while...
Fitting the bag appears to be simplicity itself. Simply attach two leather straps to the bag loops on your Brooks (you *do* have a Brooks, don't you?) and secure the third strap around your seatpost. Having done this you can then admire what can only be described as the Carradice Sag as the bag sits, face down, on your back wheel. If you ride a huge frame then you might, just, get away with fitting the bag this way, but for a chap of average height like me it's pretty much inevitable that you're going to need a proprietary bag support as supplied by Carradice themselves. As I didn't have one to hand and I needed to use the bag for a planned day ride I had to improvise a support bracket with the spare parts I had to hand. It wasn't pretty but it worked, just.
The bag itself is pleasingly simple, with one main compartment and two side pockets. There is also a waterproof inner pocket, handily sized for maps and route sheets. Internal organisation is nicely straightforward and if you insist on carrying extra stuff there are loops on the lid to bungee it on. Cotton duck is water-resistant and breathable, which means that even if your stuff gets wet in a prolonged downpour it'll dry out eventually. Some modern bags might be completely waterproof, but if you put wet stuff into them, it'll stay wet, which isn't so great.
Any load carrying solution is going to be a compromise between convenience, comfort and capacity. Pick any two, as the old saying goes. The Super C scores for comfort (the load isn't on your body and doesn't affect bike handling) and capacity (23l is enough for a credit card mini-tour) but it loses points for convenience as it's not easy to remove from the bike. Commuters will struggle with this bag unless they have the luxury of storing their bike smack bang next to their desk.
The reflective strips down the back of the bag are of the proper, high-quality, stitched on variety. The light loop is also sturdy and tough.
It's an old design and you're almost certain to need a bag support (which bumps up the price) but as a way of carrying a medium sized load on day rides, audaxes or a mini tour, this bag is hard to beat.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Carradice Super C sadllebag
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?
Carradice pitch this as an expedition/touring bag but it's ideal for audaxing and long day rides too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
You get two of the oldest technical materials known to cycling humanity, breathable, water-resistant cotton-duck and leather, plus a length of wooden dowel. You also get some quality reflective strips, a light loop and a waterproof inner pocket. You'll need bag loops on your saddle, otherwise Carradice sell loops which bolt on to your saddle rails.
Hand made by Sue (every Carradice bag comes with the name of the person who made it) this is a very fine piece of kit. Like the Carradice Bike Bureau (http://road.cc/content/review/3820-carradice-bike-bureau-pannier) it feels like it's built to last.
Carries a decent amount of kit (23l, enough for a long audax or even a bare-bones credit card tour) with the minimum impact on bike handling.
Feels tough, resilient and should last for ages. Misses out on a ten only because testing it to destruction would take years....
Carradice list this at 880g, which feels about right. It's not a heavy bag, but you might want to factor in the weight of a support bracket (from 300g to 480g, depending on which bracket you go for).
Taking 'comfort' to mean the way that the bag feels on the bike, it's great. It's much better than a pannier of similar capacity because the weight is so close to the centre of gravity, which means you don't get the pendulum effect that a pannier and rack can create.
At 5p shy of £55 it's not cheap, but it's built to last and does the job superbly well. You'll need to consider the cost of a bag support though (from £13 - £39) which can bump up the cost considerably.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent. I usually rely on a backpack for long day rides and it was a real pleasure to have everything I needed packed away, off my back, in the Super-C.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
There's something about this bag that just feels *right*. The old-skool tech has never really been bettered and once you've got the thing fettled onto your bike it does the job brilliantly. Oh and the side pockets are easily accessible on the move, which is handy if you want to grab a cereal bar as you roll.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Fitting the bag onto the bike had me tearing my hair out in frustration. A proper Bagman support would have sorted me out in minutes, but that's another £20 at least. In the end I bodged an improvised 'hod' out of an old light bracket, drilled aluminium strips and some fibre-board.
The only real downside is that it's not designed to be easily removed from the bike. An SQR bracket will solve that problem, but that costs another £26 and it's not compatible with all bikes (you need at least 5cm of exposed seatpost PLUS clearance above and below). Carradice supplied one with our Super C but it wouldn't fit on any of the five bikes in our stable.
Did you enjoy using the product? Once I'd got it fitted properly, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but I'd have to buy a proper support bracket.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A classic design and hard to better, once you've worked out how to fit the thing onto your bike.
About the tester
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,