The Carradice City Classics Kelbrook Satchel brings together a classic look with modern considerations. It also has impressive waterproofing and the styling suits use both on and off the bike.
Many cycling-specific bags today fall into the form over function category, but Carradice is one of a handful of brands continuing to create luggage that performs well on the bike as well as looking great too.
The Kelbrook looks great, deliberately old school with no plastic clips or rollovers anywhere to be found. Instead, Carradice has opted for leather straps, waxed cotton, and metal poppers. It really works, looking like an expensive satchel that you could imagine somebody using 50 years ago. The only way to tell that it's specifically for cyclists is through a couple of subtle nods.
One is the small leather tag on the flap – designed to hold a backlight for cycling in low light conditions. The other is the one additional strap that stops the bag from sliding around while riding but can be kept out of the way if necessary. This essentially works by connecting the bottom right corner of the bag to the shoulder strap through a leather tab and two poppers. It's a simple design, but it works really effectively, stopping the bag from sliding on my shoulder.
It has some well thought out features too, such as the waterproofing. On the day I received the pack it was 24 hours of rain bouncing off the pavement outside, so a cloth satchel with a flap that had no zip had me a little concerned that I would end up with a load of soggy work clothes by the time I got in. However, it was incredibly waterproof, keeping everything dry inside even in apocalyptic downpours. That said, one element I would change is the straps, because although the bag itself sheds water well, the straps soak it up. So after a day at work having commuted in in the rain, the bag was dry but the straps were still wet.
The bag itself has a capacity of 17L, which was more than adequate for everything I needed for the day. It also comes with a removal laptop sleeve that is simply added or removed through two poppers and two straps. It also has an internal zipped pocket and a popper pocket on the rear and front of the bag. It meant I could keep everything separated and easy to find, not being forced to put my phone and keys in the same pocket only to open up the bag and find that they'd had a battle mid-ride.
The closure system is in the form of two straps with buckles and five holes on one end and a larger hole at the other. These dictate the length (so if you want it to have a tighter hold you shorten the straps) and the larger hole fits over a stud on the flap of the bag to keep everything in place. Initially, they were difficult to use, but after around 10 uses the leather had softened up and it was considerably easier to open/close.
All of this quality does come with a bit of a weight penalty, with it weighing in at 1,440g. It means it is very much a commuter bag and not the kind of thing you would want to be lugging around on longer, hillier rides.
Its RRP of £130 may sound steep, but given the quality of materials used I think it is actually a fairly good price. The bag is handmade – by Emma in Nelson, England, I can see thanks to the handwritten label. Every buckle and strap is leather or metal, and the materials are thick and robust. So although it's a big investment, I can see this bag lasting for a very long time.
Overall, the design of the Kelbrook is testament to the team at Carradice who have managed to create a cycling-specific bag that doesn't look out of place whether you're heading to a board meeting or a track session. It looks great, is incredibly well made, and performs admirably too.
A good looking, high quality messenger bag that is likely to last for years
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Carradice City Classics Kelbrook Satchel
Size tested: Capacity: 17 Litres Dimensions: 39cm wide x 32cm high x 12cm deep
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 a classical looking, high-quality durable messenger bag designed for commuting.
Carradice says: 'This bag is perfect for the commute to work with enough room to fit daily essentials and like all Carradice bags, they're made out of our waxed waterproof Cotton Duck which means everything will be dry when you get to work.'
It is waterproof, it fitted everything in that I needed and it looks good. So this is fairly accurate.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Carradice lists these features:
Handcrafted using high quality materials and fixings.
Thick vegetable tan leather straps
Military spec cotton webbing shoulder strap included
Padded laptop pouch (37cm x 4cm x 28cm) makes it the perfect for the commute to work.
Leather protective base
No corners have been cut in the quality of the bag, with strong stitching, thick metal used for all buckles, and strong leather for all straps.
Performed well, fitted in everything I needed with minimal fuss.
I can see this lasting for years.
Sits comfortably on the shoulder.
It's expensive, but then again it's unlikely to rip and will last for a long time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, comfortable on the shoulder, fitted everything in that I needed, and looks good too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quality of construction is fantastic – this thing is likely to last for years.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The straps soak up water, it would be good if they were waterproof or at least quicker drying.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a very good high quality bag that fits in everything I need on a commute and looks good both on and off the bike.
About the tester
I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.