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We had a brief look at Apidura luggage a couple of months ago and since then it’s been put through its paces carrying various amounts of gear up, down and across the glorious Welsh countryside … here’s how it got on.

If you were to sit down right now, crayon in hand and try to design a set of bikepacking luggage, my guess would be that no matter what you came up with, it would have already been done by someone else, somewhere else. Lets face it, there’s only so much you can do with a bag and a bike. What you need to think about before you get down to your best colouring in, is how you can make your stuff stand out from the rest? Are there any little details you could add to make your designs different? 

I like to think Apidura took this approach when they set about designing their range … The first and most obvious thing is the colour. I know it’s possible to get custom luggage made in a vast array of colours but these bags aren’t custom, this is standard ‘off the shelf’ issue and I think it makes a nice alternative to black. Although it’s still subtle enough not to clash with half the bikes in the country, it does brighten things up a little, especially with the white and yellow hi-viz detailing.

Bar bag attachments, simple and effective.

The ‘overflow luggage’ elastics, although not unique are another welcome touch for those – it’s raining, no it isn’t, yes it is, days when you need somewhere close at hand to stash your waterproof. Something I haven’t come across before are the light mounts, simple but very effective … the saddle pack actually has two, so one is (nearly) always usable / visible regardless of how full the pack is. 

The accessory pack fitted to the bar bag.

Up front.
It’s obvious that the front accessory pack was conceived at the same time as the bar bag because the female ends of the quick release fittings are an integral part of the handlebar harness. In one respect that design trait is great as it allows you to fit and remove the bag in just a few seconds but on the other hand it does mean that the weight of the bag (and more importantly, its contents) are only supported by the bar bag and in turn the straps securing that to the bars. I did wonder whether this might cause the bar bag to ‘sag’ but in use it didn’t cause any issues … maybe just me over thinking things. The inside of the accessory pack features a single mesh pocket to help organise the contents and the now almost universal ‘easy find’ yellow interior. The opening gets a ‘waterproof’ zip and an aforementioned light mount on the front. It’s pretty spacious in there, with a capacity of around 5L it’ll hold most of those ‘might need them on the move’ items like tools, camera, money, phone, etc.

Clips for accessory pack are permanent fixtures.

The bar bag is a mixture of harness and drybag … think harness with an integral double ended ‘drybag’. It fits to the bike via 3 points, the 2 main attachments are webbing straps that fit over the bars and are secured by substantial, non quick release buckles. The third attachment is another webbing strap that wraps round the headtube and tightens with another buckle. The placement of the third strap is adjustable by means of a ‘daisy chain’ on the rear of the harness but I always found that I had to put the strap round the headtube below the downtube rather than between the headtube and downtube. This resulted in never being able to get the strap fully tight, however this didn’t seem to cause any problems or allow the bag to move around unduly … I’m sure a larger frame with a longer headtube would behave quite differently. Although the ‘drybag’ part looks like a drybag, remember that it isn’t actually waterproof, very water resistant certainly but untaped seams mean that sooner or later water will find its way in … so pack your stuff accordingly.

In use the bar bag feels pretty secure, there’s very little ‘bounce’ on rough trails but just be aware that the design means it’s likely to rest against your bikes headtube. The areas of the bag that are most likely to rub are well armoured, so your bike is likely to come off worse in a battle between bag and frame … invest in some quality frame tape!

If you need more room, hitch the trailer up.

Out Back.
Apidura produce 3 different sizes of seatpack ranging in size from 11L to 17.5L, this one is the 17.5L version which Apidura call ‘regular’. It fits in the usual way … straps round the seatpost and straps over the saddle rails. A second pair of straps hold the roll-top closure secure once you’ve stuffed your worldly goods inside. As I mentioned earlier, the seatpack has 2 light mounts and a shockcord web for those times when you really need a bit more space.

Now, this thing is a whopper, if you make full use of the entire 17.5L then you might need to add a ‘Long Vehicle’ sticker to the rear … it really is big. Not only is it long, it’s also pretty deep, you’ll need at least 8″ of seatpost showing to prevent any tyre / bag contact and if you’ve got rear suspension, I’d add another few inches to that to be on the safe side. 
If you are going to use something of this size (and fill it), then it will make its presence felt. Even if the contents are light, the attachment points are a looong way towards the front, so the thing will certainly swing about especially with some spirited stood up pedalling. It might be a big bag but the proportions are still correct, with the nose tapering down nicely towards the front, so it doesn’t interfere with your legs when you’re pedalling.

The construction is similar to the other bags, there’s plenty of reinforcement in any areas prone to rubbing, the buckles are the right size to use with gloved hands and the straps aren’t too long or too short … as long as the bag is filled somewhere above half full. 

Long vehicle!

If you really do need a lot of carrying capacity then the 17L version could be just the thing but think carefully about how much room you really need before deciding … I can quite easily fit everything I need for 2 nights out in this one bag. Obviously you don’t have to fill the thing but it does work best if it’s at least half full and better still if it’s 3/4 or more. Below half full you won’t be able to use the light mounts and it will become trickier to get the straps tight enough to hold the bag as firmly as you might like. So, unless you really do need all that capacity, you might find you’ll be better served by one of the smaller versions.

Apidura haven’t re-invented the wheel with their range of luggage but it’s obvious that they’ve tried to increase the usability by paying attention to the details … the light mounts are a great example – simple and effective. The choice of materials seems to largely echo industry standards and the quality of construction means they should last a good while – as long as they don’t get savaged by a rat, like this seat pack did.

Apidura is available in the UK from Keep Pedalling and Unity Cycleworks


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