Over the past three years of bicycle commuting, I’ve experimented with panniers (front- and rear-mounted), backpacks, and traverse-style saddlebags for carrying daily necessities (clothing, lunch, repair kit, wallet, cell phone). Many thousands of miles later, the British-style saddlebag has proven to be my luggage of choice.
Traditional saddlebags are not for everyone, though. Most require a saddle with bag loops, and larger-capacity bags benefit greatly from the addition of a secondary support (or a conventional rear rack). These limitations became glaringly apparent when testing new saddles for an upcoming article. Between the lack of bag loops, and rails that wouldn’t accommodate a bolt-on support, I began searching for an alternative to my Carradice/Bagman combo.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to search far–the Carradice SQR line of saddlebags don’t require saddles with bag loops, or any additional supports. Instead, the company’s SQR bags utilize an integrated frame that attaches to a seatpost-mounted receptor. The included clamps are compatible with seatposts up to 32mm in diameter, and larger clamps are available for seatposts up to 40mm. Installation only requires a 5mm hex key.
Once the SQR bracket is installed, attaching or removing the bag is quick and easy (and doesn’t require any fiddling with straps, etc). That convenience doesn’t come at the expense of security. I rode over many miles bumpy singletrack (and broken pavement), and even with a full load, the bag (or bracket) never once budged.
Carradice provided GRAVELBIKE with samples of their SQR Slim and SQR Tour bags. Both feature a 16 litre capacity, and have a max load rating of 10kg. Like their more-traditional saddlebags, the Slim and Tour are constructed from waterproof cotton duck. A mudguard strip on the underside offers additional protection. If you’re wondering just how weatherproof cotton can be, my gear remained dry during rain so heavy that it took three days for my shoes to dry completely.
The Slim and Tour share the same total capacity, but differ in form factor. As the name implies, the Slim has a more compact profile, which improves clearance on smaller bikes. My Vaya’s saddle height is 73cm, and while there was sufficient room for either bag, I found that the Slim was easier to attach and remove. For sheer convenience, however, I preferred the Tour’s external, quick-release pockets (both bags are equipped with an interior, envelope-style pocket for wallet, keys, or phone).
To avoid the “droop” often encountered with Carradice’s traverse-style bags, the SQR line features internal stiffeners that help maintain the bags’ profile even when empty. Instead of leather straps and traditional buckles, the SQR bags utilize nylon straps with quick-release buckles. Reflective logo badges offer additional visibility, and LED blinky lights can be attached to the lid via nylon straps.
How do the SQR bags compare to Carradice’s traverse-style saddlebags? Heavy loads have less of an effect on handling than a conventional saddlebag and (Bagman) support. I did detect some contact between the SQR bags and the backs of my thighs, but it was still less than with a conventional saddlebag attached without a support. Weight-wise, you save approximately 100g over a Carradice Nelson and original (steel) Bagman.
The SQR Slim has a suggested retail price of £75.00, and the SQR Tour retails for £79.00. Additional SQR mounts are available for £14.00. Note that all prices include VAT.
Disclosure: Carradice provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.