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The Cobags Bikezac 2.0 is a novel idea – turning a reusable shopping bag into a pannier. It has a capacity of around 20 litres, and I could fit eight tins and three boxes of cereal in it to fill it up. Although it has a weight limit of 8kg, realistically it's aimed at carrying a light shop; I wasn't happy to trust heavy goods to the bag based on its construction.
The bags are made from post-consumption rice sacks, collected from the streets in Southeast Asia, so good eco credentials. There's an interesting back story to the bag's development, too, with the company focusing solely on providing a solution to people hanging bags for life from their handlebars.
The Bikezac can be folded flat and was easy to store under the elastic straps of my bike rack, ready for unexpected shopping trips. It was also useful when I wanted to carry stuff but not leave an expensive pannier on my bike all day – for example, using it to carry a coat and snacks to the station car park, where I would then be leaving my bike and going into London with said coat and snacks, and not having to carry a pannier around with me all day.
The pannier hooks fit racks with rails of 10-20mm in diameter or 30-63mm in circumference. The hooks are 220mm apart from the outer edges with a 190mm gap measured between the inner edge of each hook. It is designed to fit on bikes with a rack and classic full mudguard with stays, to stop the bag from knocking into the wheel. The pannier doesn't have any internal strengthening such as a backplate, so can't be used without these elements in place on the bike.
The lack of a backplate also means it can only be used when it is more than half full (based on capacity not weight) as the contents are needed to give the pannier some internal support. These are pretty big limitations on its usage.
In use, there's a simple elastic strap that attaches across the top of the bag, but the bag remains open to the elements. This also means you need to pack carefully to prevent light items from bouncing out on uneven road surfaces. A flap to cover the top of the bag would be a welcome improvement, enabling it to be used in inclement weather or over the badly maintained shared-use pathway that runs from my village to the local supermarket.
I really didn't get on with the mechanism designed to pull the hooks off the rail. I found that the hooks stayed on however hard I pulled because the plastic isn't rigid enough, so bent as I pulled upwards. However, it did give me some reassurance that the hooks wouldn't easily detach while riding along, which has happened to me with other hook-on panniers.
There aren't many comparable products on the market, in terms of design or cost. One of the cheapest panniers we've tested recently on road.cc is Oxford's £39.99 Aqua V20, which is nearly three times the price of the Bikezac, though 'cheap as chips' double panniers can be found on Amazon for under £25.
In her review of the Altura Anywhere Drybag, Emma mentioned its usefulness as something to tuck away in a back pocket and use when needed, attaching it directly to the bike, but it's not something you'd want to carry tins of beans in – and it's £35.
Although the Bikezac 2.0 is super cheap compared with traditional panniers, it's over 10 times the cost of a typical supermarket reusable bag of similar quality and capacity (£1.25 at Tesco). It's neither guaranteed to last for a lifetime of riding nor cheap enough to be replaceable without thinking about it, and I'm not sure the mark-up fully justifies the small amount of extra plastic used to make the hooks and bag closure mechanism.
I do think it would be fantastic if the manufacturer could reduce the price to enable it to be sold in supermarkets as an impulse purchase, the same as the current reusable bags are available for shoppers who are walking or using their car.
Useful extra bag to keep on the bike for unexpected (dry) shopping trips
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cobags Bikezac 2.0 Simply Blue Pannier Bag For Life
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?
This foldable open shopper takes the reusable supermarket bag idea and allows it to be carried on a pannier.
The manufacturer says, "Bikezac 2.0 is Cobag's second generation of environmentally friendly, safe, durable and convenient shopping bags designed specifically for bicycles. The bags makes it easier to for you to choose the CO2 friendly option when going shopping.
"The Simply Blue is part of our Simple product family. These bags are designed to be simple and stylish. No logo. No shine. Just simple, timeless design.
"Made from 100% recycled woven PP and just like the other bags in the COBAGS family it is very durable and easily attaches to the luggage rack. So grab summer by the handle for that Extra Space on the Go."
It's a useful idea that allows you to make unexpected shopping trips with ease, and meets the 'extra space on the go' aim of the manufacturer.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Made from durable and 100% recycled woven polypropylene.
- Black handles.
- White elastic band for easy closing.
- COBAGS new rail system in black.
- Carry Capacity 8 kg.
- The bag should be minimum half full when mounted on the bikes luggage carrier.
- Suitable for all standard bicycle luggage carriers
- Angled corners for extra heel space.
- Stable design allowing the bag to stand on its own.
- Making it easy to fill and empty.
When flat: H40xW47xL1 cm
When filled: H40xW29xL18 cm
When folded: H10xW29xL3 cm
The bag has a very similar construction to supermarket reusable bags - one up from the plastic 'bag for life' bags but the same as the polypropylene bags on sale for £1.25 or similar in Tesco. The lack of a backplate limits its use to bikes that have a traditional mudguard and stays.
The bag performed as expected, providing basic extra occasional storage capacity for unplanned shopping trips or those where leaving an expensive pannier on my bike was a bad idea and I didn't want to carry a pannier around with me.
Cobags states: "The new T-shaped handle on the rail system allows for easy detachment using only two fingers, meaning no more need for using the strap to detach the bags." Try as I might, I could not make this happen and so needed to unhook each one manually.
It was important not to overload the bag, which is tested up to 8kg. With the lack of additional protection on the bottom corners it's likely to start to wear through with regular use, but it was reasonably durable under short-term testing conditions.
The bag is extremely light at 109g; you won't notice it either folded flat and strapped to your rack for transportation or popped into another pannier as overflow storage.
The handles are made of woven nylon without additional padding so if you load this bag to the maximum 8kg they do cut into your hand when carrying it. On the bike the bag's size meant it didn't get in the way of my heels when riding.
This is super cheap compared with traditional panniers, but over 10 times the cost of a supermarket reusable bag of the same quality and capacity (£1.25 at Tesco). It is neither guaranteed to last for a lifetime of riding nor cheap enough to be replaceable without thinking about it. I'm not sure that the mark-up fully justifies the small amount of extra plastic used to make the hooks and bag closure mechanism.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It was a useful addition to my pannier collection as it could easily be folded and left on the top of the rack without adding noticeable weight and is less prone to theft than a pricier pannier. It isn't suitable for use in the rain as it's open to the elements.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The light weight and foldability. The recycled materials used.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of a weatherproof lid or flap.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There aren't many comparable products on the market as the idea of a 'bag for life' turned into a pannier is novel to Cobags. The cheapest pannier we've tested recently on road.cc is Oxford's £39.99 Aqua V20, which is nearly three times the price of the Bikezac. However, 'cheap as chips' double panniers can be found on Amazon for under £25.
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 overall score
This is a basic product at a cheap price and it has great eco credentials, but the lack of ability to close it and keep items dry in even a shower limits the overall score.
About the tester
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure