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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 08-07-07, 12:38 AM   #1
BikeNinjagirl
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Staying the course

Hey guys i'm thinking of replacing my backpack with a messenger bag. Can i get some opinions ? I'm a roundtrip 20 mile commuter and i need to haul my clothes and shoes and various other articles...i'm in Florida so rain is a constant. Timbuk looks good but so does chrome. I've been limping along with this backpack until i was sure i was going to stick with bicycling but it's been 3 years now...so i guess i'm staying the course Anyone here car free in West Palm Beach area?
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Old 08-07-07, 01:16 AM   #2
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If you're going to use a messenger bag, you might as well keep using a backpack; it's the same same thing, only a backpack is less likely to slide around while you're riding. A big messenger bag can usually hold a lot more than the average day pack, though. If you want a messenger bag, Timbuk is good, as is Ortlieb. Ortlieb is probably more waterproof, but it's not very stylish. In fact, Ortlieb is ugly as hell. But it'll keep your stuff dry. It depends on your priorities.
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Old 08-07-07, 02:04 AM   #3
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My fiancee bought a Reebok messenger bag, I tried it out for a few commutes but as bragi said the fact that it slides around is annoying. I went back to the "Jansport" backpack I bought nearly 10 years ago for college. The good points about the messenger bag were that it was easier to take off and I also like the way it wears more, but the sliding around issue trumped those two positives. The messenger bag would be better for walking around though. What is it about your backpack that you don't like? Mine has been working out quite well. I don't understand all of the commotion for messenger bags here.

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Old 08-07-07, 06:59 AM   #4
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I would stick with a backpack . They dont slide around on your back and they distribute the weight evenly. Banjo Brothers makes a great commuter backpack that is waterproof and can hold a good amount of stuff. Review of Banjo Brothers Bag
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Old 08-07-07, 07:31 AM   #5
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A Reebok Messenger Bag is not a messenger bag! These companies that throw a single strap on a duffle and call it a messenger bag are leading people astray.

I'll go ahead an contradict everyone else: BUY THE CHROME! (or the seagull black bag if you are feeling snazzy)

The messenger bags properly attached don't slide around on your back AND distribute weight evenly. They are easier to access frequently and virtually waterproof. Plus they are designed to be on your back at a 45 degree angle (like when you ride) where back packs can fall forward if you lean to far up. I ride with the Chrome Metropolis when I'm not using my panniers or Timbuk2 and I have to say it is awesome. That said, everyone and their mom now owns one so it has diminished the cool factor that my Chrome once had. If you are looking for original, the black bag from Seagull bags is a well designed, less known messenger bag that works just as well if not better than the Chrome.
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Old 08-07-07, 08:17 AM   #6
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I am care free in Fort Lauderdale.

I use a 5 year old EastSport backpack.

it is NOT waterproof and my stuff gets wet easily ..

I keep a large garbage bag folded up into a tiny wad inside for those surprise rainshowers.. I popped some holes into the sides and one on the top to stick my arms / head through.. it goes down all the way past the backpack and it is ultra-light and does not take up any room in the bag...

works for me. I carry my work clothes in it daily.


I have considered finding a waterproof backpack, but nothing yet..
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Old 08-07-07, 09:33 AM   #7
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In my opinion, a messenger bag is only a tiny step up from a backpack. They stay in place very well if you have a proper one with the side strap, they allow you to easily see around your shoulder, and they are easy to take on and off. However, if i were you, instead of spending so much money on a messenger bag you should look into panniers. You can get a nice set of panniers for the price of that chrome bag!

Personally i have just jumped on the pannier bandwagon, and now i am convinced it is the best way to carry something on a bike. You back does not get sweaty, you can still get in and out of it easily (depends on brand), you can carry very heavy items, like beer, with ease, and you just feel free without something on your back. The first time i rode with the pannier and no messenger bag i felt like i wasn't wearing my seatbelt or something, but soon that passed, and now i can't imagine carrying a lot of bulky or heavy items with a messenger or backpack.
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Old 08-07-07, 10:05 AM   #8
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I'll second the pannier > bags thing. It's the best way to carry your stuff around on a bike, and your back will come out much dryer.
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Old 08-07-07, 06:28 PM   #9
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I'll second the pannier > bags thing. It's the best way to carry your stuff around on a bike, and your back will come out much dryer.


+3 on the pannier thing too,......unfortunately its not an option for me, as there's no way in hell I'm going to strap anything like that to my bike. Messenger bags are out too, as I dont want anything sliding around and being held up by only a single strap (its like wearing a big woman's purse). For years I 've worn a cheap 'eastsport' backpack on my commute, and it sucked too (being its designed for college students walking around on campus), but was the only option for me to be able to ride my bike and carry all my commuter essentials I have to carry.

Recently I bought a more bike specific backpack, well actually a "daypack" made by 'Timbuk2' off eBay. Think its called the 'bucket' daypack and have to say that as far as backpacks go, this one is the sh't. I still get a sweaty back, but the big padded straps and the way it sits lower on your back makes it very bike friendly. Its also very well made with its ballistic nylon construction, rubber bottom and big zippers. It also has the neat little strap on the rear to attach a "blinkie" light.

Like I said, as far as backpacks go, this one is great IMO.
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Old 08-07-07, 08:17 PM   #10
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+3 on the pannier thing too,.......
I have been tempted to buy panniers, but I received a bag with shoulder strap at a conference a few years ago. It doesn't have a solid back, but is solid enough when filled and I used a couple of key ring clips from Lowe's to attach it to the bike.



This bag fits a hefty lunch, clothes for the day, small pump, rain jacket, town, water bottle and miscellaneous items. It weighs about 10 pounds with all this aboard.

If I were going to buy bike-specific bags (and I may when this one wears out), I would go for a single pannier like the Arkel bug. http://www.arkel-od.com/panniers/bac...asp?fl=1&site=
This thing is both a pannier and has a should strap. This is convenient for dragging the bag from the bike rack to my cube.


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Old 08-07-07, 11:46 PM   #11
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I'm going to put my vote in for the Chrome (I have the Kremlin). The reason I like it is pretty much because I enjoy being a marsupial. I like that I can wear it pretty much all the time and gain access to it without having to take it off. They work well for me but I must admit if I didn't have to park my bike in the city I would totally go for panniers.
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Old 08-08-07, 02:35 AM   #12
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I use panniers myself, and, like other posters above, I really like not having a sweaty back and being able to carry quite a bit of sh*t. The practicality comes at a price, though: just try to lean hard into a high-speed turn with a pair of panniers full of beer, and see what happens. I think the main argument against panniers, though, is that they're not the LEAST bit cool. In fact, they're kind of dorky, which is too bad, because they're way better than messenger bags. To Mofopotomus: a good set of panniers will go on and off the rack pretty much instantly. There's no need to leave them on the bike at all.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:26 AM   #13
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Buy a Freight backpack. It is so worth it. Travis works out of SF and I think it's the last bag I'm ever going to buy (seriously). I can load it up to 30 or 40 pounds and not really feel it.

I used messenger bags for two years and hated them. They were uncomfortable and the weight distribution was crappy.
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Old 08-08-07, 11:22 AM   #14
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I switched to a backpack from a messenger. Backpacks are better for your spine, they hold more, and they don't slide around constantly. I don't know why I ever wore a messenger bag, oh wait, I wanted to look cool...
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Old 08-08-07, 12:25 PM   #15
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I switched to a backpack from a messenger. Backpacks are better for your spine, they hold more, and they don't slide around constantly. I don't know why I ever wore a messenger bag, oh wait, I wanted to look cool...
Yep. Messenger bags are made for....well....messengering and a slightly (sometimes greatly) more upright riding position. If you have any curve/slant (=speed) to your riding style, the backpack is the way to go....IF you are against panniers. Having zero weight on your back, but on the bike, is ideal.
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Old 08-08-07, 04:23 PM   #16
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+3 on the pannier thing too,......unfortunately its not an option for me, as there's no way in hell I'm going to strap anything like that to my bike.
Why not? Do you fear looking like a nerd? Actually, i think that panniers look cool, and they give the bike a sexy look because it says "hey i'm not just good looking, i get used for practical purposes". Kind of like how my girlfriend looks way sexier when she is cooking me dinner, she has a practical purpose (kidding)

Panniers separate those who are riding a bike to look cool and those who do it as their main transport and utility vehicle. I am not saying everyone without panniers rides to be cool, but you can feel the distinction around SF me thinks.
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Old 08-08-07, 06:42 PM   #17
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If you go the messenger bag route, I'm casting my vote for Chrome. The buckle may seem insignificant until you want to hoist the bag over your noggin and you've got a helmet on.

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Old 08-09-07, 12:32 AM   #18
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I love my Crumpler Complete Seed messenger bag. Crumpler messengers have a quick release strap that stops them from sliding around on your back with you ride. Anything that's too big or too much for the Complete Seed goes in the trailer.
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Old 08-09-07, 09:04 AM   #19
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If you go the messenger bag route, I'm casting my vote for Chrome. The buckle may seem insignificant until you want to hoist the bag over your noggin and you've got a helmet on.

Yeah, the buckle gives the bag a cool look, and it is how you can easily spot a chrome bag from a mile away, but why use such a heavy buckle? You could use some high density plastic and it would be just as tough but lighter. Not to mention that you can easily make someone's bag fall off of them by simply pressing that button.

My kenter messenger bag has the plastic buckle, and i like the way that it functions and looks just fine.
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