What is a saddle bag?
A saddle bag is a small bag that attaches to the back of your bike's seat, often used for carrying tools and other accessories.
Types of saddle bags
Saddle bags come in many different shapes and sizes. Some of the most common include:
Classic (rectangular): These are taller than they are wide, giving them a boxy look. Usually quite small (4-10 liters).
Cargo (rectangular): Very similar to classic saddlebags but larger at around 10-25L. They often have pockets on the sides to allow for extra storage space.
Becker or ammo bag: This is more square-shaped than rectangular, with curved corners. It's usually bigger than the cargo-style saddlebag, coming in at 20-35L.
Utility pannier: The most versatile of all the styles of travel bag, allowing you to attach it either directly over your back wheel or at the side.
There are also different materials to choose from:
Cordura: This is a type of weather-proof ballistic nylon that makes your saddle bag very durable and able to withstand almost anything. It's more expensive than other materials but it will last you for years.
Leather: Leather saddlebags can be extremely luxurious and classy, with some even coming with their own rain covers! They do come at a price though, as a good quality leather one costs a lot more than a synthetic material one would.
The durability of both types depends on how well they're made – this is something that varies from brand to brand – so make sure you do some research before buying.
How should I know what size saddle bag to get?
If you do not already own a saddle, consider what items you need to carry with you on the road. Talk with other experienced cyclists about how large your supply kit should be so you can refill it at any time. Once you have determined this, purchase a travel bag that is slightly smaller than the amount of space you believe will be required.
You can always add or remove things from the contents later once the ride has begun. When in doubt, err on the side of excess storage space rather than lack thereof; supplies such as spare tubes and tools are cheap, but they can save you from a serious headache if you have them on hand.
How does the size of the saddle bag affect?
In general, larger bags are more versatile and can hold more supplies. They also sit further from the ground when in use, decreasing your risk of hitting them if you have to quickly change direction in traffic. A larger bag is not always practical because it might block your view of what's in front of you or get caught on other bikes
Smaller bags tend to feel more secure when attached to the seat since they keep their contents close, but typically won't have as much room inside. A smaller bag will allow you to access the contents more quickly since it can be easily removed, but it may have fewer compartments for better organization.
There aren't any hard rules about what size is best; the only way to figure out which kind will work best for you is to try riding with different kinds of saddlebags yourself!
Are there advantages to being able to carry large amounts of stuff with me?
Of course! However, keep in mind that carrying too much can have its downsides. Over-packing a bike is likely to make riding difficult and uncomfortable; if the weight distribution isn't right, it could also place unwanted stress upon the bike's components. You will learn how much you really need when practicing cycling techniques at home.
Otherwise, one way to avoid overstuffing your saddle bag is to buy a single multi-purpose tool that can do several jobs at once.
Inside the saddle bag
Saddle bags are often divided into sections to make it easier to store small items. There are generally compartments for carrying wallets, phones, tools, spare tubes, water bottles, and snacks. Zippers may be used to seal the compartments shut when they aren't in use, or you can opt for a bag that has no compartments at all. Again, this will depend on what kind of supplies you want available during your ride!
How do I attach it to the back of my saddle?
Most travel bags will come equipped with adjustable straps that allow you to secure the bag around the back of your seat so it doesn't move around while riding. If this is not the case or you would rather not use straps, there are clips available for purchase that allow riders to hang their bags on their handlebars instead of their seats. How should I decide what size strap works best for me?
Two different kinds of bag straps are common among cyclists: buckle-style and hook-and-loop (a generic term for Velcro). Buckle style straps typically come in one size and are adjusted for length by adding or subtracting the plastic buckles along their length.
They tend to be more secure than other straps and can also hold a bit more weight, but they cannot always attach the bag as tightly against your seat as hook-and-loop straps can.
A downside of buckle style straps is that if they're not attached properly, riders may end up with either too little or too much strap material between the buckle and strap at their disposal; this means that their bags will either move around awkwardly on long rides or risk breaking under the excess strain.
Hook-and-loop straps often come in both short and long sizes; riders select the size which best fits them and cut off any excess (which can be used elsewhere, such as inside the travel bag to hold tools if desired). These straps typically attach more snugly than buckle style straps and do not need any additional adjusting once they are attached (except for those who choose to shorten them after purchase).
What else should I consider when purchasing a saddle bag?
When selecting a new bag, consider what you need it for: Is this a commuter's tool kit or the supply of someone on their first touring trip? Once you've figured out your needs and general size requirements, find the most stylish and durable pack available.
If you're just starting out on your cycling journey, look into travel bags made by more experienced manufacturers such as Extrawheel that will come with features such as pockets for spare tubes and multi-tools, and a guarantee against breakage.
Will I still need to carry an additional bag?
Even with a large saddle bag, most riders will find that they need the space in another form of luggage for carrying food or clothing along their route. Consider how you will be using your bike if you are looking for a simple, streamlined saddlebag; a large touring pack may not be suitable for long commutes through city traffic.
While saddlebags are a simple, convenient way of storing your essentials while riding, they can still be very different from one model to another. Consider what kind of cycling you will be doing the most before making a purchase. If this doesn't help you make a decision, look at some reviews for various bags and see which fits your needs best!