Mass Obsession

Whilst I primarily see cycling as a mode of transport, there are many for whom it is more of a sporting or leisure pursuit. Plenty of cyclists use their bikes primarily for transportation purposes, typically commuting, where the bicycle offers them a time advantage over driving, walking or public transport during peak hours. As sport-cycling is currently the dominant image of cycling sold by bike shops in the UK, it is common to see people riding for a wide variety of purposes on a narrow selection of bikes, typically racing (or road) bikes, mountain bikes, or the horrific merging of the two; the hybrid.
Anyone who gets on a bike to get around is a part of the solution, regardless of the type of bike they choose. After all, even a jump bike with a single low gear and no provision for fitting a saddle is still a more suitable method of getting around town than a single person driving a car designed to carry five. However, at times I do find certain behaviours of other cyclists a bit baffling.
Obsessing over the mass of your bike, also referred to as being a “Weight weenie,” is particularly baffling when taken to extremes, especially on a bike ridden as a mode of transport. I can understand not wanting to carry a significant amount of extra weight unnecessarily, but I cannot fathom why anyone would choose not to have a rack on the bike they ride to work, just to save a tiny bit of weight. Often this means carrying a rucksack on your back instead of a pannier on your bike, the discomfort and inefficiency of carrying your luggage this way is a pretty poor trade-off compared to the tiny bit of extra weight a rear rack adds. Mudguards are another bicycle component which many choose to do without, the need for a change of clothes after even a shortest ride on a wet road, (even after the rain has stopped) to save the added mass of a pair of mudguards seems utterly baffling.
Another seldom-considered factor is what I’d like to call “Weight compensation.” Common cycle wisdom states that less weight gives the potential for a higher speeds, but it also allows the rider to achieve the same speed with a little bit less effort. Safety interventions such as seat-belts and ABS are supposed to make people safer, but often end up subconsciously encouraging people to take greater risks because of the increase in perceived safety. reducing the mass of your bike will probably just end up making you use less effort to travel at the same speed. The body is a dynamic thing, and it won’t take long for it to adapt to the reduced demands placed on it; take off that bike rack and eventually you become that tiny bit more feeble as you settle back to the pace you were travelling at before, losing the muscle strength you once had. I’ve seen this realisation on the faces of many a roadie when I’m out on the Yuba Mundo. The bike alone weighs in excess of three times as much as a good racing bike, but as they slowly overtake me they see I’m only travelling a few km/h slower than they are, on a huge bike which puts the rider in an upright position to boot.
The rider matters a lot more than the ride.

Vaude Cycle 25

I bought this pannier over a year ago but I neglected to write about it at the time. It has quietly served its purpose every day since then. You might expect that a pannier which changes into a backpack is an obvious idea serving an obvious need, but this is the only bag on the market I have found which does this at an acceptable price.

Cycle25

The styling of the bag suggests it is aimed at the sporting end of the market. This worried me, as leisure cyclists are not likely to clip and unclip the bag from the rack several times each day. Luckily, other than a few scuffs and bruises, the bag seems to have held up reasonably well to daily use.

rear

The Good:

  • Fairly quick conversion between backpack and pannier
  • Comfortable enough when used as backpack
  • Includes rain-cover
  • Includes clip-on helmet holder (which can also be used for more useful things)
  • Side pockets
  • Laptop compartment
  • Includes two sets of clips to cover a range of rack tube diameters up to 20 mm (as on the V1 Yuba Mundo and the Kona Africa Bike)
  • Clips adjustable to ensure a snug fit

The Bad:

  • Main clips are not directly replaceable
  • Lower clip is of minimal benefit, fiddly to use and prone to getting caught in spokes and snapping (mine is somewhere in the canal between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden)

CIMG2363

Here is the back of mine after over a year of daily use.

CIMG2364

The bag straps unzip from behind the pannier clips.

CIMG2365

Laptop compartment (laptop not included).

Overall, I’d still recommend this bag, despite the loss of the lower clip. The upper clips are not directly replaceable, but like many things you could come up with your own solution if necessary. Wearing a backpack whilst cycling is uncomfortable, and carrying a pannier whilst walking is uncomfortable. The Cycle 25 is one of the only bags out there to solve this problem, at a reasonable price and with reasonable durability when used every day.