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Seal Line Urban Backpack Review

Seal Line, the makers of dry bags and packs for watersports enthusiasts, have created an “Urban” line of waterproof bags (backpacks and cross-strap shoulder bags) aimed at bicycle commuters, messengers or anyone else needing a rugged way to carry items on a bike.

The Seal Line Urban Backpack

The good folks at Seal Line recently sent me a large backpack to review. I’ve worn it on a few bike rides and have tested it in my backyard laboratory and am quite impressed. Here’s the manufacturer’s quick description:

-Volume: 2270 cu. in./37 liters
-Size: 10 x 14.5 x 23 in./25 x 35.5 x 58 cm
-QuickClip Closure
-Modular Accessory Pocket™ System
-PVC-Free 300D PU-Coated Polyester and Scrim-Reinforced Urethane
-External Pocket and Carry Handle

This bag is pretty cavernous — a large single compartment underneath the roll-down flap closure and a smallish external pocket with a waterproof zipper and rainflap protecting it. There is no internal organizer system…neat-freaks who like to keep their goodies organized need not apply. Here’s a shot of the inside of the bag:
The inside of the bag -- a really large compartment for swallowing up your goodies!

The bag’s shoulder straps and back panel are made of a dense, perforated foam covered in rubberized mesh. Both of these features increase ventilation. In addition to the shoulder straps, there are both waist and sternum straps made of nylon webbing with quick-release buckles. The waist straps tuck away into hidden compartments when not needed. Finally, there is a built-in web carrying handle at the top of the harness.
The harness system -- padded and ventilated

I loaded up this bag with a pair of dress shoes, library books, a couple of large towels and a few other assorted items and took the bag for a couple 8-10 mile rides. I estimated the load weight somewhere around 20 lbs. Overall, the bag was surprisingly comfortable — the harness padding works fine and an internal stiff plastic sheet against the back wall prevents sharp corners from digging into the wearer’s back. The harness system keeps the bag from swaying or shifting as I rode, even under high RPMs. I can’t say that about my current messenger bag, which moves all over the place even with tight cross-straps!
20+ lbs of load handled quite comfortably!

Despite the perforated back padding, you WILL get a sweaty back from riding with this bag — it covers so much of a rider’s back that “SBS” (Sweaty Back Syndrome) is unavoidable. Thank the stars this bag is waterproof, right?

And just how waterproof is this bag? Seal Line rates it as “watertight” — able to withstand quick submersions and able to float if dropped in the water. The bag’s seal is really quite simple. It consists of a stiff plastic lip on one edge of the opening and an elasticized “Quick Clip” closure that holds the bag shut. A rider simply fills the bag, presses out any excess air, rolls the bag’s top two or three times and engages the quick clip to seal it. It is a quick, ingenious and foolproof method of closure, and it will SEAL this bag!!! I filled the backpack with newspapers and proceeded to direct a high-pressure jet of water directly at the rolled seal and other parts of the bag. The bag shrugged off this onslaught, and when I opened it to check the inside, everything was bone-dry. VERY impressive!

Durability over the long haul shouldn’t be a concern. The bag’s material is tough stuff, and the seams are all radio welded over a wide margin. The materials and construction of this bag are top notch: tight, even stitching on the harness system; no odd puckers or sloppy areas anywhere on the bag.

Really, the only negative mark I can give this bag is that it is too big for my personal commuting needs –I just don’t carry enough stuff to justify such a large bag. This bag is probably better suited for high-mileage commuters and bicycle couriers who need a high-capacity bag — folks who have to carry a lot of stuff and be sure that it arrives safe, clean and dry.

Oh, did I mention this bag is B-I-G?
My handsome assistant -- 37 lbs. of love!

Check out Seal Line’s complete lineup…I am sure there’s a bag solution for almost every rider!

Seal Line “Urban Series” commuter backpack Preview

Wow, we’ve sure been covering carry options today on Bikecommuters.com!

The other day, I received a very unique and waterproof backpack from Seal Line, the makers of dry bags for canoe and kayak enthusiasts.

The backpack came a bit late to test in Florida’s recent tropical storm (“Barry”, for you BeeGees fans out there), but I will give this bag a shakedown for you in the coming week. My initial impression of the bag is pretty favorable, though. The bag looks and feels like it is pretty tough — and the harness system is easy to adjust and quite comfortable.
The shoulder harness -- padded and ventilated!

Stay tuned for a more complete review in the next week or so — I’ll take this bag riding, pack it full of stuff and see just how waterproof it is and all the other fun and maniacal stuff a product reviewer can do!

Nirve Ultraliner with Auto Shifting

I drove down to the Nirve Bicycles head quarters in Fountain Valley, Ca. to pick up their new Ultraliner. This bike has the similar components and design as the Shimano Coasting Group, but only better!

nirve ultraliner

Here are the specs:

# NEW AUTOMATIC SHIFTING TECHNOLOGYShifts automatically just like your car to always keep you in the right gear
# No more guessing which way to turn the shifter and ending up in the wrong gear
# Climb hills easier. Keep up with your friends with less effort
# Nirve 17” aluminum Sport Cruiser frame
# Lightweight & easy rolling alloy 700C wheels w/Stainless spokes
# SHIMANO 3 speed Automatic transmission for varied terrain conditions
# Upright alloy Nirve Sport Cruiser handlebars for comfortable cruising
# Nirve comfort saddle w/springs
# Tough impact resistant Polycarbonate fenders
# Alloy Kickstand
MSRP $529.99

I met up with Dan Bon, President/CEO of Nirve. He went into great detail about the Ultraliner. One of the features that stood out to me about this bike was that the Shimano Auto D CPU allows a rider plug in any generator light set to it. He explained how the Shimano Dynamo Hub acts as the generator and produces enough electricity power up a head light and tail light. The CPU even has a photo sensor that knows when it gets dark. So when the sun goes down, the lights will automatically come on! Cool eh?

I rode this bad boy around the neighborhood. Surprisingly this thing is quite fun! To me the Ultraliner is better than any of the Coasting bikes that Trek, Giant and Raleigh put out because it has subtle features on it that make it superior. Here’s a list of why I like the Nirve Ultraliner better than the other auto shifting bikes out there.

1.V-brake, not coaster brakes.
2.High pressure tires.
3.700c wheels, Coasting bikes have 26″ wheels
4.Light weight aluminum
5.It doesn’t look like a girls bike.
6.It rides really smooth, big wheels= faster and smoother ride.
7.CPU allows the rider to manually adjust the shift timing.
8.Sweet Nirve styling.
9.Comfy Seat
10.Fenders

So stay tuned as we review this bike and possibly make some upgrades to it and make it more commuter friendly.