Altura’s Urban 17 briefcase pannier is yet another of those clever ideas that demolishes the image of the sweaty disorganised commuter cyclist. So called because it comfortably swallows the larger 17- inch laptops, it marries a host of bike and office friendly features in a smart, practical fashion.
The Urban is made from P-tec. The clue is in the title, it’s hardwearing waterproof polyester with drawstring dry liners to keep the elements firmly at bay. Directly aiming a garden hose at it for five minutes saturates the Codura-like outer but inside – so long as the lining’s drawn tight – everything should remain bone dry. A sturdy plastic bag should be a permanent feature though, as nothing’s 100% waterproof in my experience. Night vision reflectives are liberally yet tastefully featured in the key areas and although there’s no dedicated LED tab, the shoulder strap clips make good substitutes.
The cleverly offset Rixen Kaul Klick Fix mounts grip most diameter of carrier rod like a Doberman on a burglar’s leg and also provide excellent heel clearance but you’ll need a good, sturdy rack. Ignore the rules of weight distribution at your peril: you mightn’t notice when sauntering along at sedate speeds but out of the saddle sprints for the lights certainly affected the handling of an otherwise very dependable tourer.
Take a closer look and aside from the very well padded, removable laptop sleeve there's a capacious front pouch which is great for the A5 pads, envelopes and other generic stationary. It’s really handy for holding lights, computers, mini pumps and other goodies that passing opportunist thieves love to take. Then we’ve the seemingly obligatory, yet extremely useful pen and marker pouch with a handy key tidy too.
The main compartment will take a change of clothes. Unless you’re a meticulously neat packer, this may preclude the laptop but to be frank, even allowing for the substantial padding, subjecting computers and other sensitive technology to vibration from poorly surfaced roads and byways always seems a bad idea; in my book they're better carried over the shoulder in a messenger bag.
Smart, practical commuter satchel that works best with a sturdy rack.
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Make and model: Altura Urban Dryline 17 briefcase 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?
"The urban range of cycling luggage is perfect for city use combining function, style and performance".
A statement I'd broadly agree with.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Hard-wearing Ptec (Waterproof Polyester construction) Rixen & Kaul fixings, internal lap-top compartment/sleeve, night visuion reflectives, shoulder strap, internal lining with draw-string closure.
A sturdy 1800g
Medium dennsity padded shoulder strap and carry handle seem up to the job-even over longer periods.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performance is generally impressive, rugged polyester construction should cope with everyday carelessness very well and keep the elements firmly at bay (Ours passed my five minute garden hose test with no obvious chinks in its armour).Rixen Kaul fixings are fantastic-easy on/off and slanted design means acres of very welcome heel clearance. However, load carefully as the slanted positioning can negatively affect handling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well designed with good weather protection and great looks on and off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, although I'm not convinced rack mounted bags are the best means of transporting laptops.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, so long as they had a solid rack.
Age: 36 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)