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The Hill & Ellis Chestnut Brown Leather Saddle Bag is beautifully made and great looking – whether attached to a saddle or handlebar.
Hill & Ellis describes this saddle bag as artisan and handcrafted. It is very much designed with quality and looks at the forefront, and is available in a variety of colours.
The first thing you notice about the bag when you unpack it is the lovely smell from the Italian and Belgium leather used. The leather is nice and thick but still supple enough to allow it to sit open and close easily. The stitching is also high quality though there's not much of it, with the construction being three pieces of leather: one continuous piece that wraps over itself and two side panels.
It's opened and closed with a popper on the front which needs to be lifted from the latch rather than just pulled open, so you are unlikely to open it by accident. This does make it a little more involved when using thicker winter gloves – in fact I found I needed to remove my gloves to grip it enough to open.
Though not the biggest saddle bag, I could fit a useful amount of stuff in there – phone, wallet, keys, and puncture repair kit. I could fit a rain coat in there too if I needed to. It does only have one large compartment, and if you exclusively put hard things in there, they can jangle about a bit.
Attachment to the bike is simply done using two straps with buckles. It can be used as a saddle bag if you have the right loops, as found on Brooks saddles, or as a handlebar bag.
The straps run through an O ring to create a firm and stable attachment. I tested it on a handlebar and saddle, and it sat safely and securely on both.
Given its quality leather, the bag has good water resistance, but if you get caught in an apocalyptic downpour then a little water can get in. Hill & Ellis recommends that you reproof the leather every six months in for it to maintain this level of waterproofing.
The Hill & Ellis bag has an rrp of £80, which isn't cheap, but nor is it bad value for a high quality, handmade leather bag. Brooks' leather Challenge saddle bag is £90 for the large (1.5 litres, slightly larger than the H&E's 1.2L), while the small (0.5L) is £85.
Overall I was very impressed with this bag. It might not be cheap, but in return you're getting quality workmanship and aesthetics – and it smells great when you open it.
High quality, beautifully made and classy looking – on a saddle or handlebar
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hill and Ellis Chestnut Brown Leather Saddle Bag
Size tested: 21cm (W) 10cm (H) 6cm (D)
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?
Hill & Ellis says: "Crafted in striking full grain Italian chestnut brown leather, this saddle bag / scooter bag is classic, striking and is perfectly designed for carrying the essentials for a day ride, or a commute to work."
This broadly matches what I found – it is beautiful, well made, and carries the essentials well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Hill & Ellis lists:
British Made in Italian & Belgium high quality leather with hand-embossed logo.
Made with materials sourced as close to the London workshop as possible to reduce its effect on the environment.
The bag attaches to the saddle or the bicycle or scooter handlebars with adjustable buckle straps, that feed through an O-ring to reduce swinging.
Metal closure is British made and originally designed for to deal with life on a yacht.
Full grain Italian leather on all straps for greater durability.
1 year Guarantee.
Small batch produced and individually checked.
To protect the leather we advise using a water-proofing spray once every 6 months.
Very well made with strong hand stitching and excellent material choice.
It attaches securely to the bike and is big enough to carry most day-to-day cycling essentials, just pack carefully to stop things rattling.
The leather is thick and supple – with the right care this could last for as long as you want it to.
Not cheap, but it's £10 less than the Brooks equivalent.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed very well, it sits comfortably on the bike and carries all the everyday essentials you could need.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The quality of construction is excellent – and I love the leather smell when you first open the box.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major, but it can be a little tricky to open in thick winter gloves.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Brooks' leather Challenge saddle bag is £90 for the large (1.5 litres), while the small (0.5L) is £85. The Hill & Ellis is 1.2L.
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
Beautifully made, high-quality bag that does everything it needs to and looks good while doing it. It's cheaper than some, too. If you're in the market for a leather saddle bag (which can also be a handlebar bag), this is very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 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, mtb,
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.