This is the review of the City Classics Kelbrook Satchel from road.cc
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