A little while back we posted a picture on Facebook that caused a little bit of a stir. The picture was of the Union 34 bike bag. It got a lot of likes and I was looking forward to testing out this new, innovative product.
Is it a backpack? Is it a pannier? Is it a plane?
It’s a all of the above, apart from perhaps a plane.
The bag solves an issue most cyclists have. They like to carry more things than they probably need to. In most cases, this ends up in a rucksack on your back. The solution works, but it’s a much nicer feeling to have your shoulders free and no weight on your back.
Not quite a pannier
You can attach the Union 34 bag using the Seatpost fixing system (£26.99, Amazon). The first time I tried to attach it to my seatpost, it took me 23 minutes. That’s because one of the rubber shims, that allow you to adapt the bag to your seatpost diameter, was too small and the other was too big.
However, after having a better read through the instructions, I realised you could use an Allen key to adjust the quick release.
Now that I know what I’m doing, I can attach and remove the seatpost fixing system in a couple of minutes.
With the seatpost fixing system in place, the bag slides and snaps in to position. I found this a little fiddly. Especially because I was using the included waterproof bag cover. This generally kept getting caught in awkward places. It was one of those scenarios where you wished you had three arms. One arm to hold the bike upright, the other to press the button that allows you to slide on the bag and a final one to hold up the bag. Unfortunately, having not been blessed with a third arm, I settled with leaning my bike against the nearest post.
Ultimately, after practise you should be able to get this on in about 30 seconds. However, I did find myself wishing it was a little less fiddly.
With the Union 34 bag in place, I took it off to on a test ride to the recent Street Talk.
At first, I was a little worried it would be wobbly and cause problems with the centre of gravity on my bike. However, these proved completely unfounded. I barely noticed the bag was there. What I did notice was the lack of weight on my shoulders, which felt very refreshing.
The bag had a position was fixing my rear bike light and it shone brightly through the waterproof bag cover.
And now it’s a backpack
Once I reached my destination (after noting a few envious glares from fellow cyclists), I locked up my bike. Then, I quickly unclipped the bag and brought the straps round so I could turn it in to a backpack.
It works great as a backpack and looks really good. The part that slides on to the seatpost fixing system is not noticeable and there is an attachment for you to cover it up if you are that way inclined.
Room for your laptop
The bag inside is very well thought out with a striking orange interior. The wide opening angle means you can easily organise and access your gear. There’s zipped pockets as well as a separate case for keeping your laptop protected. There’s also a quick access pocket at the front, with separate compartments and a space to store any loose change.
In all, it’s clear a lot of though has gone in to the bag and it should be excellent for commuters. The 30L capacity is enough for your bike locks, laptop and office clothes.
7 kg max weight
The Union 34 bag has a 7 kg (15.4 lbs) weight limit. To put that in perspective, your laptop probably weighs around 3.5 kg and a strong D-Lock weighs around 1 kg. If you know you’ll be carrying something heavy, you’d be better off with the bag on your back.
It makes sense to have this weight limit, as most seat posts have a limit to how much weight they can carry.
The bag isn’t suitable for those with carbon seat posts.
Who this bag is for
- Cyclists who would like to take the weight of their bags off their back
- Cyclists who don’t already have a pannier
- Cyclists who likes the idea of a bag that can be used as a backpack and can also be attached to your bike
- Anyone searching for a smart looking bag
Who this bag isn’t for
- Anyone who regularly carries more than 7kg on their back
- Cyclists with carbon seat posts
- If you have less than 6cm of clearance on your seat post for the fixing system
Overall, I’ve been really impressed by the Union 34 bike bag. It’s a great feeling to finally remove any weight off my back and the mount feels sturdy and secure. It’s not the cheapest of bags, but its certainly very well thought out. It would make an incredible Christmas gift for a lucky cyclist.
For more information on the Union 34 products see their Facebook page.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.