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The VeloPac Musette Blue Ice is a good choice for carting a minimal amount of stuff about on a bike, come sun or rain, but it could be a little wider.
The traditional musette (not to be confused with the small bagpipe played with a bellows, common in the French court in the 17th and 18th centuries) is a disposable cotton bag handed to racing cyclists in the feed zone, upon receipt of which the rider sits up and spends a few seconds stashing the contents about his or her person before discarding in the direction of a grasping roadside fan.
Designed to throw quickly over one shoulder and be accessed from the front with one hand, the USP of a musette is quintessentially fleeting. Fortunately, just as discarding chains after a few hundred kilometres of use is not the norm for your common-or-garden cyclist, it is perfectly acceptable to purloin a bit of cycling's historic usefulness for permanent everyday duty – particularly if it works from a biomechanical standpoint.
Made in the UK, VeloPac's design places the Musette central on the back, held high enough to clear the hips and thighs, keeping it stable and not inclined to slip forward when you're bent over the bars, a common fault with shoulderbags when cycling. And when off the bike, the strap can be lengthened quickly to sit lower about the waist for easy access.
Material and finishing is of a high class – the waterproof tarpaulin fabric and double-reinforced stitching will almost certainly outlast you. There's a waterproof zip with a winter-glove-friendly pull-tag, and the strap is stitched at an angle to spread the load across the width of the strap-bag interface and to ensure it sits just so.
VeloPac positions the Musette as 'perfect to transport your favourite cycling publication back from the newsagents' – so long as your publication is no bigger than A4 size and not thicker than maybe 100 pages, cover included. I found it to just fit a slim A4 mag, a single A4 sheet slipping in square-on with 5mm to spare. A 200-page A4 softback revision book borrowed from a passing teenager simply would not fit at any angle.
For the café-surfing Fixie-Guardianista set, it fails that test too – under no circumstances would my copy fit in any way without emerging a crumpled shambles of eco-hairshirtery and pompous middleclassification (other ad hominem derogatory media stereotypes are available). And if you do have a hefty ream onboard, forget stashing that boutique leather-chrome must-have accessory just purchased form the pop-up artisanal cycling outlet at the farmer's market en route.
From empty, there's space enough to stash a Moleskine-size diary, wallet, keys and sunglasses case – but any more than that, you're getting overstuffed and it won't sit right on your back.
But maybe the above is a little unfair – this is a simple design that's not purporting to be a load-lugger. If your thing is café-surfing of a Saturday's am, sans bulging pockets and with no major purchasing intent, the VeloPac Musette will do you right. And if your bent tends towards leaving your chosen publication jaunting out the top in a deliberately-casual manner, this is your bag, baby.
Minimalist, weatherproof and robust storage for small amounts of stuff when out on the bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: VeloPac Musette Blue Ice
Size tested: 36cm x 26cm
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?
It's for carrying minimal amounts of stuff on a bike, and keeping it dry.
VeloPac says: "This is our NEW 2016 musette upgraded to a durable, waterproof Tarp fabric. This fabric is used for heavy duty applications including truck side curtains, marquees, vehicle covers, banners etc where durablity and water protection is vital.
"Gone are the traditional press stud closures & in it's place a water resistant zip to ensure the contents are kept dry & not lost mid-ride. It's sized to accept an A4 document so perfect to transport your favourite cycling publication back from the newsagents!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Key design Features
Simple & elegant design
Durable 550D Tarp fabric
Reinforced double stitched seams
Adjustable 38mm wide webbing strap
Water resistant zip closure
VeloPac zip puller
VeloPac label on side panel
Accepts A4 size documents
Dimensions 36cm x 26cm
Made in Britain
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well, so long as you don't try to overload it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The attention to construction.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The measurements – if it were a cm or so wider, it could fit a much wider range of documents/publications.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For minimalist cartage, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
It was a bit annoying that A4-size publications thicker than about 100 pages were impossible to store. An increase in zip opening of maybe a cm would be almost indistinguishable and would greatly increase ability to store thicker fare.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling