During the past two years of cycle commuting, I’ve relied on panniers for my carrying needs. When I sold my (former) dedicated commuter, I wanted a luggage system that could easily be transferred between my Rawland and Salsa. After a bit of research, I chose a traditional Carradice saddlebag. I’d used the company’s Nelson Longflap model twelve years prior, but relied on a Blackburn rack to keep the bag out of the way. Since I didn’t want to install racks on both of my present bikes, I decided to give Carradice’s Bagman support a try.
Traditional British-style saddlebags typically attach to “loops” on the saddle, and are secured by a third strap that wraps around the seatpost. This attachment method, while convenient, positions the bag such that it’s often prone to rubbing the backs of your thighs (when pedaling), and in some cases, the bag can interfere with the rear brake or tire.
Carradice’s Bagman support is a simple-yet-effective solution to interference and bag sway. With the Bagman in place, the saddlebag is better supported, and positioned at a more upright angle (which also reduces the chance items falling out). Installation is simple–you attach the Bagman’s clamp to your saddle’s rails (the clamp requires a section of saddle rail approximately 5/8″ long), and fasten the saddlebag’s straps as you normally would.
Carradice offers the Bagman in two sizes: Sport and Expedition. The former is recommended for the company’s Barley, Junior, Pendle, and Lowsaddle Longflap bags, and the Expedition (shown below) is for use with the Cadet, Nelson, Nelson Longflap, College, Camper Longflap, Super C, and Carradura saddlebags. Additionally, quick-release versions of both models are available. The Q/R supports have the added advantage of eliminating the need for bag loops on the saddle.
Both the Sport and Expedition have maximum load ratings of 10kg (22lbs). The Expedition is 20cm tall, so you’ll need more than 20cm between your saddle’s rails and the rear tire (my Vaya has 25cm clearance). For smaller frames or lower saddle heights, the shorter (17.5cm) Sport is a better choice. Weights range from 340g for the non-Q/R Sport, to 448g for the Q/R Expedition.
The Bagman is a perfect complement to Carradice’s saddlebags. Sway is eliminated, and there’s no contact or interference between the bag and my legs (or the bike). My saddlebag–no matter how full or empty–always remains secure, even on bumpy dirt roads and trails. Transferring the Bagman between bikes is a snap, and requires just a 6mm hex key (both of my bikes’ saddles have bag loops). After 300 miles of on- and off-road use, the fittings have remained tight, and there have been no annoying squeaks or creaking (I wish I could say the same thing about my knees).
For more information, see Carradice’s website.