As much as our cycling kit makes a statement, consider how we dress our bikes. Like everything else, seat bags make a statement, too. Ask yourself if the statement is consistent with the quality of your ride. As you take a look at our friend to the left, question the purity of your motives. Do you represent the world-wide fraternity of road cyclists, or do you consider yourself special…or DIFFERENT?
There’s a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. The premise is this: the butterfly beats its wings in New Jersey and there’s a tsunami on Easter Island 6 months later. The point is everything is connected. Brothers and sisters, our fashion choices have dire global consequences.
The Rasta Bag
This is the every-little-thing’s-gonna-be-all-right choice. If you can’t fit all your stuff in the three pockets so cleverly included in your jersey, it may just as well be something so colorful that it can’t escape notice. Chances are you ride with ear buds, so you won’t hear the colorful comments of other riders. Neither will you hear approaching semi trucks. You might be able to justify your fashion sense by pointing out that 2 of the 3 colors are in the Italian flag.
The Gravity Sucks Bag
All of us are prone to gravity. Sooner or later our bodies begin to drift south. This seat pack is a testimony to this compelling and often confusing stage of life. This is an okay choice if you ride a comfort bike with a step-thru frame. If you pedal aboard a racing frame, you should seriously consider a lower volume stealth model in black. When mounted to the saddle rails, it should become one with the bike – parallel with the top tube rather than pointing the way to China.
The Retro Bag
If you were smitten by Indiana Jones and the wave of quasi-authentic explorer gear knock-off’s sold by Eddie Bauer, you’ll like this. With authenticity comes extra work: no zippers on this baby. It has a larger capacity to make room for your bull whip, and it’s guaranteed to leak so you can toughen up while eating a soggy PB & J sandwich. Note the worn and scuffed Brooks saddle that completes the ensemble. The good news is that you won’t need to spend money on water bottle cages, because you carry your canteen bandoleer-style across your body. You know the one: roughly the same diameter as a Frisbee with southwest motif mystery-fabric cover? You can have rugged, or you can have aerodynamic – but not both at the same time.
The Kitchen Sink Bag
This bag is so big that it requires supporting scaffolding. It gives credence to the old saying, IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT, YOU DON’T NEED IT. With a bag this size there’s not much risk of being unprepared. Warm clothes? No problem! Wine, cheese, loaf of bread, blanket? Just add your date! When stuffed to capacity, your date can ride on the back with their arms wrapped around your waist while you pedal. [moving the weight of two people will make you a total beast] The reflector is a good idea especially if your date constitutes a WIDE LOAD. Flashers are recommended for really wide loads.
The Honorable Tradition
The tradition of cycling bids us to use our jersey pockets or a seat pack so unobtrusive that it is hardly noticed. [NOTE: in the picture to the left we see inspired use of the jersey pockets, but also a retro bag…and FENDERS. Oh well.] Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the subject in the photo is in the midst of a 200K ride: hard efforts always trump fashion.
The founding fathers used old socks to store spare inner tubes or tires, and lashed them to the saddle rails. A modern seat pack needs only enough room to carry a multi-tool, patch kit, CO2 canisters and head, a spare inner tube and tire levers. You’d be surprised how small a package that can be – and the aerodynamic advantage will cause you to fly up hills while your friends suffer.
Dress your bike well and ye shall reap a reward in due time. Amen.