Funny name, nice bags 🙂 Ok, I had to get that out of my system.
I like saddle bags because they add function to your bike (you can carry stuff). It also doesn’t hurt when you can find a saddlebag that doesn’t look ugly on your bike. Most bags today are made of some sort of nylon-poly-plastic blend which is fine, if you’re into that. But if you want something that doesn’t look so techy and modern then it’s usually slim pickin’s.
Enter Minnehaha. I have before me their “small” saddlebag. While it is small relative to their medium saddlebag, it’s pretty friggin huge compared to modern standards.
This is a good thing.
Obviously the modern saddlebag has the weight-weenie in mind who is determined to only carry a spare tube, exactly one key, a CO2 cartridge and half a GU-thingy and nothing more. The “small” saddlebag can carry those things and a whole heck of a lot more.
In my test load, I was able to fit comfortably a Pearl Izumi jacket, full multi-tool, tire levers, spare tube in a box and Flip camera. There was room to spare. I could have thrown in 3 energy bars, my wallet, keys, cell-phone and a small Casio Exlim if I were so inclined. Take that weight-weenie bag!
In addition, I tested out another important attribute in all bike luggage – “over-stuffability.” Loosely defined as the ability for said bag to carry more than intended volume (either by design or accident). For a small saddlebag, this has great over-stuffability! I was able to roll up a pretty thick Earth Wind Rider bike polo jersey and fit it under the flap!
The bag also has a nice small interior pocket to separate a few frequently accessed things. Like say a patch kit, your wallet or keys (note key clip).
So what’s there not to love? Well, for me, I wish the leather strap that attaches to the saddle rails were designed to go through the Brooks seat loops. Let’s face it, I don’t think your typical Fizik Arione rider is going to rock one of these, but you better believe someone with a Brooks will dig it.
How’s it compare to a Carradice? Considering the price, it fares pretty well. My feeling is that it is 80% of the bag for about 50% of the price, which is pretty darned good. I will say that the material they use is a hair thinner and floppier. If that translates to less durable, I don’t know. Just saying. The Carradice stuff is waxed and has a stiffer feel. The Minnehaha bags are soft (they feel great actually) and don’t hold their form as readily.
Also, I wish they used a little beefier leather straps for attaching it to the rails and seat post. Those parts wear pretty fast and need some fat to them.
All things considered, the Minnehaha is a great buy for the money. And if you’re tired of plastic wunderkind bike luggage, this will certainly fit the bill and won’t break the bank either!