The Vaude Newport II is a pannier bag disguised as a satchel. It has some nifty features such as a detachable rail which fits on to your bike rack when in pannier mode and snaps off to be easily stowed when walking about town. At £75 for one bag the Vaude Newport II is significantly pricier than near-competitiors.
The Newport II here is the medium size, which claims an 11 litre volume and measures up at 26 x 38 x 14cm. It comfortably takes A4 files and will fit a 13 inch laptop although unlike its larger brother there is no dedicated laptop compartment. It does have one large internal zipped pocket which is useful for my phone, wallet and keys.
There's an additional mesh pocket, external to the bag but covered by the top flap, which is about the right size for a mini pump. As this pocket is covered when the bag was zipped shut, it isn't as handy as it could be. To access the pocket you need to unclip the two external buckles and undo the zip. I found that the mesh kept getting caught in the bag's zip.
The bag itself is made of polyester tarpaulin with a polyester lining. The only internal padding is a piece of foam at the back, inside a velcro-closed compartment that looks like a laptop slot but isn't. Although the tarpaulin is very weather resistant, the seams are reinforced but not sealed, so a waterproof nylon overbag is also supplied for heavy rain. The raincover is stored in its own minibag, a bit like a kagoule case, which is in turn clipped to the inside of the main bag.
There is a detachable, adjustable shoulder strap which has an (also detachable) shoulder pad with a ventilated mesh backing for comfort when warm. The sturdy plastic clips have a metal gate which looks like it would be more durable than a plastic equivalent. The rings on the bag served well for bike light clips too as well as for their intended use with the shoulder strap.
The bag amounts on your rack with Vaude's QMR attachment system. There is a handle which pulls up to release the catches, and these then lock down neatly on to rack bars up to 16mm in diameter. Unlike the equivalent Ortleib bags, the catches actually lock in place (with a little bit of wiggling sometimes). This prevents the bag from swinging around even when off the road.
The catches themselves can be independently moved along the the bar, which means that you can vary the position of the bag on the rack. If you tend to catch the pannier with your heel you can slide it back. The movable catches also mean that you can choose where on your pannier rack to attach it, thus accommodating any horizontal bar placement or other accoutrements which may get in the way.
The adjustable rail removes completely, leaving the back of the bag smooth so it's comfortable to carry, unlike most other panniers. When you click the rail back on, there is a choice of three positions. As well as running the bar horizontally, it can be tilted at roughly a 30 degree angle to give greater heel clearance, whether it's on the left or the right hand side of the bike.
The overall styling of the bag is sporty, and it has minimalist reflective strips along the front and sides for visibility. The orange colouring is bright but not high-vis, and has neat black stitched details with a thicker black bottom panel for increased durability. With a zip fastening and two additional clip straps for security, I felt that even when filled over-capacity, the bag wasn't going to come apart whilst riding.
£75 is a lot of money to pay for a single 11 litre bag, but having had bruises from carrying around panniers with non-removable rack mounts I can see why Vaude have put money into developing this system. It is a sturdy bag with lots to like, especially its non-traditional styling, but the price is excessive.
Sturdy, well-made bag that handily converts to a shoulder bag, but expensive.
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Make and model: Vaude Newport II M
Size tested: Medium Orange
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?
I AM a bike bag. You might not notice it at first, but take a second look and you'll discover a combination of a stylish shoulder bag with detachable slide rail for the rear rack. Ideal for everyday biking in the city with space for A4 documents. Bike-specific extras: reflective elements and a rain cover.
Totally comfortable bag transport: we've developed a sophisticated yet simple adjustable slide rail feature for this bag. When you want to use the bike bag as a shoulder bag, just slip it off the slide-rail with two simple steps.
I think it meets its vision perfectly and I would use it for short commutes where I'm going to be on and off the bike frequently.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Detachable QMR-hook rail
Inner mesh pocket
Main pocket with zip
Removable shoulder strap with slide-stop shoulder padding
QMR is a top quality, technically advanced attachment system that can be quickly mounted and removed. Built to fit rack struts up to 16 mm, and with optional adaptor pieces can also be used on 8-10 mm struts.
A sturdy, well made bag.
It was easy and quick to clip on and off my bike.
The raincover means it can be out in all weathers, the taped seams give me confidence that they will last and the plastic elements are thick and sturdy.
The shoulder strap is well padded and the clip off side bar means no more bruises when carrying it out of pannier mode.
For £75 I could get two Ortleib bags, or change from a Thule equivalent.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - it was useful to be able to position the bag wherever I wanted on the rack, and at an angle to avoid contact with my heels.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The easy way everything clipped on and off.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not keen on the orange, but it does come in black as well.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at the current price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 36 Height: 5'7 Weight: size 16
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure