“What makes a good allroad/gravel cycling bag/pack?”
That was the question @cycling.cub asked me when we set out to collaborate. It was raining that night; we were sitting on a café, talking about what each of us could bring to the table—and what we could offer to the market.
To me, the pack should offer distinct and clear value instead of just another pack of another brand, which competes only through low price and discount. It should be optimized to perform its core functions well, instead of being loaded with list of gimmicks. Based on my personal experience, I came up with five basic principles: practicality, versatility, durability, stability, and—of course—aesthetic.
It was an honor, and a pleasure, that @cycling.cub gave me full freedom to design our packs.
So, today, allow me to introduce the first fruit of our collaboration: Pedalling//Coasting X Cyclingcub Essentials Seat Pack—a saddle bag focused on performing its essential functions to carry essential tools and spares for your rides.
Working on The Design
With durability principle taken care by @cycling.cub’s material and seaming work, I brought my focus on the pack’s design. As I had alluded before, I was somewhat drawn to the minimalist, industrial aesthetic of a tool-roll style seat pack. While it ticks aesthetic point easily, however, it doesn’t work well from practicality and versatility point of view.
Here’s the thing: tool-rolls work best with minimalist tools and spares. Mount it with inner tube for 700 x 40 or 650b x 47—popular sizes for gravel grinding—and it readily turns into ugly blob of mess. It is possible to work around this versatility issue by using a single compartment instead of separate pockets. It, however, still requires almost twice amount of excess material compared to standard saddle pack, which means excess weight and cost. It doesn’t solve tool-roll’s practicality issue, too: one still needs to take it off the saddle before unfolding the pack and accessing the items; and pack-up, fold, and mount it back to the saddle before riding again—the kind of complication you don’t want to deal with when you’re in a rush but stuck with mechanical problem in the middle of nowhere!
Thus, I decided to go with the simplest design: a single compartment with a velcro closure. With oversized YKK velcro strap ensuring super-secure mounting to the saddle, it only requires two small steps to access the tools and spares inside: loosen the strap and open the velcro closure. With large opening, pulling out or putting back items is a breeze! Conversely, once you’re done, you can simply close the compartment, tighten the strap, and you’re good to go.
To help with versatility and aesthetic, I designed the pack to be compressible. The 0.6 L volume means it’s easy to swallow a 29er MTB tube with few spares and tools. Yet when loaded with smaller/fewer items, it can be compressed into slimmer profile, so it won’t turn into saggy, bouncy mess. In another words, regardless of its content volume, the pack will remain just as compact—it will sit just as secure under the saddle and look just as right.
As someone who strives to sell you his product, it might look counterintuitive for me to point out its limitations. As a fellow cyclist myself, however, I’m compelled to give you complete picture, so you can make informed decision.
First, about waterproofness. The pack is made from water-repellent fabric and will deal with road spray just fine. The design, however, didn’t allow it to be fully waterproof. After making tens of designs, I found that I had to choose either practicality + versatility or waterproofness; I just couldn’t have them both at the same time. I deliberately preferred practicality + versatility-focused design, not only because they’re part of my basic design principles, but also because any packs of any design can be made waterproof by wrapping the items inside with plastic bag; in fact, the hack is often more effective than waterproof-claimed packs. On the other hand, it’s impossible to improve practicality and versatility of a waterproof-oriented design. For ultimate inherent waterproofness, a seat pack with roll-closure works best; who knows, maybe we will create one ourselves one day—no promises though.
Second, gimmicks—the seat pack has no separate compartments, reflective tabs, taillight mount, etc. This was a deliberate choice, too: they add complexity and cost while providing little added value. Separate compartments make sense for a kitchen-sink backpack, but become nuisance for a small pack, as it limits versatility and freedom to organize things. Other gimmicks, I found them rarely used, if ever. It’s good to see other seat pack manufacturers began focusing on optimizing core functions instead of throwing off load of gimmicks, and we’re definitely following this trend. After all, that’s why we named the pack “essentials”.
Will our Essentials Seat Pack suit you well? There’s no denying the fact that our product—just like everything else in existence—is not for everyone. I hope this little story about the product development can help you to decide; or better yet, to convince you to get one yourself.
If plain black doesn’t suit your taste, our seat pack comes with 4 other sublime colors: green, brown, red, and blue. You can go grab yours from @cycling.cub‘s online store—just follow the link provided in their account to the marketplace of your preference (Tokopedia, Shopee, or Bukalapak).
Last, but not the least, if you had purchased our pack and used it out on the road/gravel, be sure to tag and tell us what you think! It’ll be nice to hear from you, and learn a thing or two from fellow cyclists perspective.
Now go ride and have some fun!