Product review: Carradice SQR Tour saddlebag

For nearly two years I’ve been commuting to work. In this time I’ve experimented with several different ways of carrying my stuff and have found none of them ideal. At first I had a mountain bike with panniers, but I found them too big, heavy and not suited for long rides. Then I moved onto a road bike and started carrying a small backpack. I only needed enough space for a change of clothes, my diary, lunch and some bike tools. This worked fairly well but I hated the way my backpack would leave me with pools of sweat across my back. For a while I’ve been looking for a large saddlebag but couldn’t find anything suitable in various bike shops. In desperation, I finally went online and decided to order a Carradice SQR Tour saddlebag. I’ve quickly become a big fan and have already had several people asking me about where to get them.

Carradice is one of few companies that specialises in just making saddlebags and panniers. SQR tour is one of the largest saddlebags that they make. It is designed primarily for long day trips, light touring and in my case commuting. The SQR stands for Seatpost Quick Release, which is the product specific mounting system that attaches to your seatpost. One of the critical issues with this product is making sure that the mount has the appropriate clearance to fit on your bike. If you have a small frame and/or a low seatpost height, this product may not fit. I found the SQR Tour fitted snugly between my saddle and the rear wheel. I had to experiment with the mount to find the optimal place to position on the seatpost to attach it. The SQR mount is very easy to assemble. It uses a clever hook mechanism with a simple latch that connects it to saddlebags external frame. It took me a little while to get the knack for attaching the saddlebag, but when on, it is a very study mount.

The saddlebag did not sway across ways, even when I was climbing out of the saddle. Importantly, the SQR Tour did not interfere with my leg on the downward pedal stroke. The position of the saddlebag was also good in terms of weight distribution on the bike and aero-dynamics.
Internally the SRQ Tour is built around a metal frame and hard plastic shell that is covered by duck cotton. This material is said to be waterproof but I haven’t had chance to see how it would perform in heavy rain. The saddlebag is built very much like a camping rucksack with one main compartment with a drawstring top and a flap secure it.

Inside the saddlebag, there is only one small pouch that is useful for small things like a wallet, keys and mobile phone. On the outside there are two small pouches that are ideally used for things such as spare tubes, tools, food or a camera. One concern with these pouches is that they are not really waterproof and could easily be affected by heavy rain. The SQR Tour also has three reflective squares painted on each side of the bag. On the rear side, there is also a well-positioned strap that allows for the easy attachment of a rear light.

At $165AU including postage and handling the SQR Tour is not a super cheap bargain but it is good value. It is a great choice for the commuter who wants to travel light but in comfort. It is also a great choice for the cyclist who wants to go out and explore new places on long weekend rides.

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Comment by DamianM on January 5, 2008 at 12:42pm
Thanks for the review Adrian, that looks like a very interesting product. I haven't seen them before.
It's interesting that you didn't find it moving around, it looks like it would do all sorts of nasty things to the feel and balance of the bike, so it must be a good design to be stable.
The only thing remotely like it I've seen is the Topeak rack trunks, but you do (obviously) need a rack to mount them on.
Comment by Paul on January 5, 2008 at 3:25pm
That looks good Adrian. Is there anything about using them with carbon seatposts? I know thats a problem with some attachments.
Comment by Adrian on January 5, 2008 at 3:40pm
Hi Paul, the fitting instructions don't say that you can't use it on a carbon seatpost but I'd check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Comment by Marianne on January 7, 2008 at 1:29pm
Thanks for this - I have always commuted to work with a backpack and am similarly frustrated with getting sweaty back...Nice to know there are better options out there...

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