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In this small size, the Vel Waterproof Saddlebag is a superlight and compact option for carrying essentials on a ride. It's capable, well made and decent value, though an LED light loop would be handy, and the Velcro seatpost strap can be annoying.
Rather than stuffing your tools into a jersey pocket, a seatpost-mounted pouch makes a good alternative for taking your essentials along on a ride. The Vel measures 12.5cm long, 6.5cm wide and 4.5cm deep and has a capacity of 0.45l, in a single compartment. It's designed to take a road inner tube, CO2 gubbins and tyre levers. (It comes in a large size, 0.8l, too, for £25.)
The bag is well made from waterproof fabric, complete with welded waterproof seams and a water-resistant zip. It does keep everything nice and dry, even though it's sitting in prime road-spray position, and the long zip-pull is handy for use with long-fingered gloves, though the soft nature of the bag means it's a two-handed job to do it up again.
It fastens to the seatpost with a Velcro strap, with another strap attaching it to the saddle rails. It's incredibly straightforward to fit, and thanks to the two-strap design it should fit pretty much any seatpost/saddle configuration.
The seatpost strap is fixed to the bag, unlike the strap for the saddle rails. This does cause some issues with there being a lot of excess strap that can't be re-threaded back through to keep it out of the way.
Unfortunately, it's also the hook portion of the hook and loop fabric strap that is left flapping in the region of delicate Lycra shorts. You can cut the excess off, but that seems a less than perfect solution.
I found this small a good size, capable of taking the bits it's designed to as well as a gel or small bar. Given how soft and pliable it is, with no padding at all, I was inclined to wrap tools and bits in a microfibre tube scarf or similar to pad it out a little. It's always useful to have one of those along anyway. However, if you don't mind a bit of rattle, that's not really necessary, and the saddle strap does let you cinch it in a bit.
One thing I'd like to have seen is some sort of LED light loop. It's an incredibly lightweight and soft bag, so it might be that a light would struggle to sit upright enough anyway, but it's always useful on a seatpack nonetheless. The reflective logos are a nice touch, but not quite as visible as a light would be.
At £20 it's not bad value – only £2.99 less than the Fizik Saddle Bag (up £1 since Anna tested it), which has a slightly stiffened construction and single broad strap attachment, both of which address some of the problems of the Vel. The Vel, however, is nearly half the weight of the stiffened Fizik!
It's also lighter than the Blackburn Grid Small Seatbag at £19.99, and the even cheaper £14.99 Lomo Bike Saddle Bag. It's even 6g lighter than the already impressively low weight and slightly smaller 42g Evoc Seat Bag.
Overall, it's a good quality bag that attaches easily to the bike and will carry most of the essentials for a road ride, keeping them dry and accessible. The seatpost strap could do with being more adjustable or shorter, though, and the soft construction does allow for things to rattle about a bit. In an ideal world I'd also like an LED light loop. That said, weight-weenies will love its pared-down minimalist design.
Well made and very weatherproof, but a few niggles make it less than perfectly practical
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Waterproof Saddle Bag Small
Size tested: 0.45 litres
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?
Sigma says, 'The Small Waterproof Saddle Bag from Vel is incredibly light and discrete, yet still provides enough space for a spare tube, CO2 and tyre levers. The waterproof fabric and welded seams ensure that the contents are kept protected from the elements and road spray, with the water-resistant zip also having an extra long puller for ease of use when wearing gloves. Two Velcro straps secure the bag to the saddle rails and seatpost and also clamp the bag down so that the contents don't move or rattle. After dark, the reflective details add some extra visibility and safety."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Capacity: 0.45 litres
Dual fitment system which includes a seat post strap that is suitable for aero seat posts
Rear and side reflective details for increased visibility
Water-resistant zip with long zip pull cord for easy opening when wearing gloves
Dimensions: L 12.5cm x W 6.5cm x H 4.5cm
Weight - 36g
Good quality materials and nicely constructed. The seatpost strap could do with being adjustable or shorter though.
Performed very well, apart from the excess Velcro of the seatpost strap being a bit of a hazard.
High quality materials, well made and very little to go wrong.
Not a bad price, comparable to quite a few others. Much lighter than most but also some issues associated with that, so comparable value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well apart from the excess seatpost strap being a problem, and some rattling of contents.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Super lightweight, fits easily, not a bad price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Long seatpost strap, no LED light loop, kit can rattle a bit.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's £2.99 less than the Fizik Saddle Bag which has a slightly stiffened construction and single broad strap attachment, both of which address some of the problems of the Vel. The Vel, however, is nearly half the weight... It's also lighter than the Blackburn Grid Small Seatbag at £19.99 and the cheaper Lomo Bike Saddle Bag at £14.99. It's even 6g lighter than the already impressively low weight (42g) and smaller (0.3l) Evoc Seat Bag. For a well-made and high-quality bag it's not a bad price, and weight-weenies will love that pared-down construction.
Did you enjoy using the product? It was fine.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? One who was obsessed with weight.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's pretty good: it's well made and nice looking but does have a few niggles, with the seatpost strap being too long/not adjustable and the lack of a light loop. It feels like ultimate practicality has been slightly sacrificed in the name of weight saving.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.