Carradice Super C A4 Pannier  £50.00

9/10

Made-in-Britain pannier that does what it says it will and is built to last.

Weight 750g   Contact  www.carradice.co.uk

by Iwein Dekoninck   September 26, 2013  

Carradice Super C pannier

Carradice luggage has a well deserved reputation among mile-eaters for being tough, no-nonsense and durable. Their Super C A4 pannier, specifically designed - as its name implies - to take A4 files and similarly shaped objects, certainly lives up to that.

As with everything in their Super C range, it's made from cotton duck, a traditional heavy, waterproof waxed cotton fabric. Cotton duck is incredibly hard-wearing and will keep your stuff dry for decades to come. It can be repaired easily by stitching or gluing, and can be reproofed with reproofing wax. A pretty good choice to make bike luggage out of then. It also gives Carradice bags an idiosyncratic retro-look which you either like or you don't. I'm a fan.

The pannier is shaped to take A4 files, and does so well. Unlike my Ortlieb front panniers, it has a flat surface internally for files to sit against and will easily swallow a laptop too. You can get a separate laptop pouch from Carradice.

The main compartment has a massive storm flap with drawcord closure underneath the main flap which closes with plastic backpack-style buckles. These sit quite high up the front of the pannier. On the one hand this means there's less range to strap the pannier down when there's not much in it (like you can do with similar style Ortlieb panniers), on the other hand, there's space for a small elasticated mesh pocket underneath these fixings for stowing the shoulder strap for example. This is no ordinary mesh by the way, it's super-duper plastic coated strong stuff.

On top of the main flap are two straps crossing each other which form the carrying handle. This looks slightly odd, but works well. The bag comes with a separate shoulder strap which attaches to the sides. This strap is rather utilitarian and is clearly intended to be used for short periods. The pannier can be used on either side of your rack and has reflectives on both sides. A strap to attach a rear light is missing, something we also remarked on when reviewing its bigger sibling the Bike Bureau.

Carradice use their own C-system fitting to attach the pannier to a rack. It consists of two hooks which are fastened into an aluminium rail, allowing them to be positioned horizontally exactly right for your rack. The hooks have clever little fasteners that you snap into place manually once positioned on the rack. This works well, though some might prefer Ortlieb's system that integrates the fasteners with the carry handle - I prefer this system.

The hooks are not installed in the aluminium rail out of the box, the instructions show you how to do this. It pays to be careful when you do, maybe even wear gloves: it's a tight fit and the edges of the aluminium rail are sharp. When the hooks are on, you cover those rail-ends with plastic blanks, so this is only an issue once. Why this doesn't come assembled, I don't know - it would certainly be better.

Lower down is a plastic clip, fastened into a horizontal, plastic rail. This clip can be rotated through 260 degrees and should be able to fit most racks. It's purpose, according to the instructions, is to stop the bag moving forwards; Carradice therefore advise you to point it forwards. The system is designed to fit rack tube diameters up to 13mm.

Verdict

It's clear that Carradice have an opinion on what a pannier should do and what it should be made of, and that those requirements to a certain extent drive what the pannier looks like. This no-nonsense approach works for me; I like stuff that works well and that's made to last. I also like that it's manufactured in Lancashire and hasn't travelled through more countries than I have before getting to me.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Carradice Super C A4 Pannier

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 say: "A tough no-nonsense bag ideal for commuting to college or work."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Range: Super C

Weight: 910 grams

Capacity: 18 Litres

Dimensions: 29cm wide x 44cm high x 14cm deep

Fixing system: C-system pannier fittings will fit racks up to 13mm diameter

Pockets: 1 mesh outer pocket for oddments

Materials: Cotton Duck

Other features: Single pannier shoulder bag which is shaped to take A4 files and documents.

Please note that reflectors/logo badges may vary.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

The legendary Carradice build is as solid as they come. There is even a tag inside with the name of the person who made the bag, in this case Janet made this bag with her own fair hands in the workshop in Nelson.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Performance is a funny concept for a pannier. This one definitely does what it says on the tin very well. I suppose you could fault the bag for not being quite as quick to attach to a rack as others, but then it does so more solidly. There are bags that are quicker to get into, but they'll probably let some rain in.

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

None of my other Carradice bags are showing any signs of wear. Sure, they've developed a bit of patina, but their expected lifespan is probably longer than mine. The internet is full of stories about Carradice's customer service in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong; they really stand by their products.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10

The bag comes in at 822 grams on my scales, with the detachable strap another 98 grams. Yes, that is a little heavier than other panniers, but that's to be expected given the construction quality and durability. It's certainly not so heavy to be an issue.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Overall the pannier is comfortable to use; it attaches to a rack securely and stays there. The crossed straps on the main closure flap look odd but work well. While the shoulder strap is a bit utilitarian, it works well for short periods of time (it is a pannier after all)

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

While on the face of it the pannier is more expensive than, say, a single Ortlieb, this is truly a bag for life that is made in England. Only you can decide what value you place on that kind of thing.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It swallows a laptop, lunch and sundries easily and attaches securely to the bike. It is waterproof, holds its shape and, off the bike, stands without falling over. It's reasonably comfortable to carry with the shoulder strap as long as you didn't pack the kitchen sink. No complaints from me.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

I know I can trust this bag to take my stuff where I'm going in one piece, dry. I like Carradice bags' idiosyncratic look, though obviously that's a bit subjective.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I didn't particularly dislike anything, though a little strap to attach a rear light and a more padded shoulder strap would make this bag even better.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

If it's the right size for your needs and you like the Carradice look, this is one of the best panniers money can buy - backed by exceptional customer service and made in England to boot.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: All of them!  My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I don't think Cotton Duck is waxed. In fact I'm pretty sure it isn't. A bit like Ventile it seals itself by the cotton swelling when wet to seal the holes in the weave, so is effectively waterproof in a near-as-dammit way rather than passing a formal hydrostatic head test. I know Carradice's page says "easily reproofed", but as they also note "no coatings" then clearly one of those is wrong, and I don't think it should need reproofing (web page also notes the natural seal means abrasion not really a problem...).

Glad to see they're back to C-System: for a while of late they seemed to be dallying with the same sort of R&K hooks that made me abandon my old Altura Orkneys in frustration.

While I do prefer Ortlieb's fixings the C-System works very well. One gotcha compared to Ortlieb is they won't go on racks with quite such oversized tubing (a non-issue for 99%+ of people, I think, but I'm one of the minority and with a recumbent full-sus tourer that has a choice of only one rack, which has oversize tubes, 13mm I think...)

Pete.

Pete Clinch
often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

posted by pjclinch [73 posts]
26th September 2013 - 8:52

6 Likes

pjclinch wrote:
Carradice's page says "easily reproofed", but as they also note "no coatings" then clearly one of those is wrong,

Not necessarily. If you think back to cheap rucsacs you had when you were a kid there was probably a polyeurathane (or something!) coating on the inside of the nylon which you could see when it started to degrade/rub off and you got bits of white crud falling off. That's one way to keep something waterproof. Another way to try and keep water out is to treat the fabric with some sort of proofing that needs to be redone occasionally , in the same sort of way you need to Nikwax your leather walking boots every so often.

With the renewable proofing approach it also means there's no lining or coating to get a hole in so Carradice can say that abrasion isn't so much of a problem.

posted by Chuck [435 posts]
26th September 2013 - 10:32

8 Likes

But a Nikwax etc. treatment is still a coating, though over individual fibres. Cotton duck is a closely woven canvas and it's properties are based on the swelling of cotton as it absorbs water. Treating it would prevent the cotton absorbing moisture, so it wouldn't swell up and fill the holes in the weave, so it may end up less waterproof as a result.

So it's not about renewable proofing, it's about the fabric sealing itself by virtue of not being proofed if I understand it properly. Descriptions of Ventile point out that it works by not being treated.

Probably worth having a word with Carradice about it...

Pete Clinch
often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

posted by pjclinch [73 posts]
26th September 2013 - 10:55

7 Likes

pjclinch wrote:
So it's not about renewable proofing, it's about the fabric sealing itself by virtue of not being proofed if I understand it properly. Descriptions of Ventile point out that it works by not being treated.
I own several Ventile products and can say that the fabric IS treated with a water repellent as a first barrier against becoming saturated. The fabric swells to seal out water from penetrating only after the water fails to bead, so the fabric remains dry unless you have hours of heavy rain. Ideally, you would want the water repellent to do its job without the last line of defense (fabric swelling) taking over.

Nic

posted by nbrus [286 posts]
26th September 2013 - 12:13

6 Likes

I did a bit of digging when I was sub-editing this, because Iwein also thought cotton duck was untreated and just got its water resistance from the fibres swelling.

According to Carradice themselves, not so:

http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=static&url=materialsinfo

"The fabric is pressure impregnated with Parrafin Wax to make it waterproof."

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [1249 posts]
26th September 2013 - 16:53

7 Likes

£50? That is flipping awesome value - I'd have given it more than 8/10. I reviewed a pair of seriously crappy made-in-china panniers that retail at £99 (http://road.cc/content/review/89463-avenir-sonic-welded-waterproof-panni...), so a made in britain classic that will last forever is a steal at £50.

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
27th September 2013 - 1:00

9 Likes

That's me learned something about CD and Ventile then!

Pete Clinch
often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

posted by pjclinch [73 posts]
29th September 2013 - 13:26

10 Likes

Just to add, I have two of these (one for each side, obviously).

The hooks and the stay can be easily adjusted using a cross-head screw on earlier models or a small allen bolt on later ones.

There is no lining at all. The idea is - as has been said - that the cotton duck expands (and gets really stiff) when it gets wet, and that stops water coming through. Its not perfect, and if you have something you really absolutely need to stay 100% bone-dry then I'd wrap it in something (the bottom corners of the bag wear first, and lose their waterproofness first).

I keep keys in the outside mesh pocket, and have only used the shoulder strap when I've gone to the supermarket and need another hand. Most of the time, I hang a little blinky off the rear strap-loop.

My typical day load is wallt and phone, a diary, a notebook, an Abus D-lock (the big X-plus one), a smaller Abus cable-lock, and my toolkit (levers, spare tube, multitool and a non-cycling multitool). Probably about five kilos, all in. The bag never feels like I've stuffed it (I haven't!), and the stays and locking hooks keep the whole thing pretty steady.

Its a bit boxy compared to other companies' offerings, but I like it and would (and have) recommended it to others.

My personal bugbear, is that the inside has no lining and so is just a tall, big, black hole. It can be difficult to find things in there - I spent what felt like ages rooting around in there this morning, trying to find the USB lights that I had decided I actually needed *on* the bike...

posted by brooksby [210 posts]
26th August 2014 - 15:59

1 Like

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