SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
CARRADICE CARRADRY SQR BAG
The Carradice Carradry SQR bag is an excellent “beast of burden”. An obvious choice for Audax, extended club rides perhaps. However, its equally relevant for commuters who don’t like traditional panniers; or post mounted racks but still want their work smarts to arrive, organised and crease free.
Bombproof, and 10kilo pay load aside, the centre of gravity means it can be a handful when heavily laden. Not ideal for bike packing, or extended gravel duties.
Pros: Beautifully made, genuinely waterproof, huge capacity.
Cons: Requires a decent amount of exposed seat post, better suited to bulkier rather than heavier loads. Carry strap merits revision.
As I said in my opening paragraph, the bag is incredibly well made from reinforced, ultrasonically welded, glossy PVC. Draw string closures, a big, roll top flap and waterproof zips render it impervious.
Line the main compartment with a bin-bag, if you want to go the belt 'n’ braces route. There’s also a clear zippered compartment inside the lid and another zippered mesh design to keep valuables segregated. Two generous pockets riding shotgun are brilliant stash points, for multi tools, patch kits, CO2 cartridges, tubes, wallet, phone, keys and anything else you’ll want easy access to. Being genuinely waterproof, electroplated tooling won’t emerge freckled and tainted, the next time you need it.
Outside are generous straps, allowing easy expansion and will capture a ground mat/similar. Retro reflective detailing compliments the classy grey and the LED strap is similarly well positioned.
There’s also a carry strap for easy carrying, off the bike. Big resin D loops also cover the perimeter, offering scope for additional illumination, or a cargo net, should you really need more capacity.
Flip it over and you’ll find a sturdy steel frame, bolted into the solid base. This is what tethers with the SQR bracket finished in a hardy PVC dip coated paint.
Though you can literally bung it all in - tempting, after a long day at work, or in the saddle, it really pays to be organised. I’ve had no problems with a kilo of lock, moccasins, denims, boxer shorts, socks, shirt, and thin jumper, mini CSC camera (in padded bag), ten-inch tablet computer, and A5 notebook. Further expansion permitted milk and other, supermarket essentials, on top.
The SQR bracket is a quick release system, made from sturdy composites. It tethers to the post via two aluminium clips and 5mm Allen screws. These need to be carefully snugged down, especially the upper, otherwise it will impair the sprung lever’s travel. Its worth binding some old inner tube around the post to prevent scratch damage, too.
Spare brackets are also available separately, for easy porting between bikes. Fitting isn’t complex but requires careful alignment, to ensure the bag will lift on and off without hitch. This action is a little stiff to begin with - even if you’re familiar with the system, it's worth doing a few dry runs, so it becomes intuitive.
Post material and minimum extensions are two other crucial considerations. It should go without saying the metal/aluminium alloy, or titanium are the only options I would entertain. There also needs to be a reasonable amount of post exposed. This could be a deal-breaker, so pay attention. A 56cm frameset will need 60mm, a 53cm, 85mm, 51 cm 110mm, 48cm 135mm.
Otherwise, the bag won’t attach without fouling the mudguard, or rear wheel. A moot point with my 41cm Univega but I’ve had to remove my fixed gear winter trainer’s clip on guard to accommodate. Thankfully, in common with its SQR tour cousin (pictured below), which I have used for many years, the bag’s huge surface area doubles as a useful splash guard.
Slipped securely into its bracket, even when moderately laden, the whole system feels super solid. An extension of the bike, which isn’t my experience with quick release, post mounted racks.
That said, even lightly laden, the system’s additional 1.4 kilo is immediately apparent but quickly accustomed to. My Univega’s widely spaced cassette means I tend to remain seated and winch myself along the climbs, so minor sway was a moot point.
It had a modest effect upon handling, during the formative rides and tackling more technical single track. A 79inch fixed gear isn’t outlandish but demands greater periods, out of the saddle.
Charging away from the lights, or winching up 1in 7 climbs, again the sway was tangible but adapted to, given a few rides. It's also worth saying both machines have big, buxom handlebars, which undoubtedly helps keep everything under control.
Hustling along unmade roads, there’s no chatter from the bracket and complete silence - provided you’ve packed the contents carefully. Often LED tabs on bike luggage can seem like afterthoughts and/or only suited to lighter, compact models. This is better, although being picky, I’d still like a thicker material, to cater for bigger units, such as this Topeak (below).
I greased the SQR bracket’s stainless-steel fasteners during installation, allowing a tighter union. However, I’ve needed to snug them twice, during the test period.
Compartments are easily accessible, even wearing winter-weight gloves, although adding zip ties to the outer compartments made it easier still - welcome when tackling a temperamental mech by the roadside.
Post mounted luggage can impair dis/mounting. Despite the bag’s capacity, this hasn’t been an issue. I was quickly aware that my right buttock tended to nudge the bag. This was only when stationary - waiting at the lights etc.
It never interfered with a decent tempo. The narrow profile, compared with a pannier, is also a boon when slipping past stationary, rush hour traffic. Long steady mileages are similarly serene. With efficient packing, there’s enough scope for a weekend’s credit card/ B&B touring too.
Staying with loads a minute, though easily big enough for commutes, weight and its centre of gravity becomes more noticeable when carrying/shouldering bikes. This might prove a deal breaker, if your commute is mixed mode, or a location several floors up, with no lift.
Waterlogged roads and torrential rains have made no impression on the fabric, or contents, whatsoever. I left impacted salty, silty crud for a week, gave the bag a bike wash blow-over, agitated with a medium stiff brush and blasted the fabric at close range, using a high-pressure garden hose. Grot gone and fabric gleaming, opening the compartments confirmed contents were bone dry.
The Carradice Carradry SQR bag is extremely well made and should last a lifetime, with basic care. I’ve also done 50mile, mixed terrain outings with no problems. That said, its not suitable for everyone. Seatpost height and to some extent layback are considerations.
The Carradry is easily a match for the rough n’ tumble of gravel/bike packing. However, these audiences may prefer systems that distribute weight more evenly, across the bike. Ditto commuters who tackle stairs, or otherwise need to carry/shoulder their bikes any distance.
Verdict:3.75./5 Bomb proof alternative to panniers, for day rides and some commutes. However, check compatibility, first.
PUBLISHED MARCH 2019
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
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