Carradice bags have been made in England since the 1930s using traditional designs and methods. The bags in the traditional series are hand-sewn, with the name of the person who made each bag written on an inside label. Ours were made by Christine. I find the Carradice Barley ideal for daily use, because it is classic, attractive, durable, compact, and versatile.
Classic and Attractive
When buying a classic bicycle or restoring a vintage one, it is difficult to find a suitable saddlebag. The timeless elegance of the Carradice Barley makes it perfect for this purpose. With its traditional construction and subdued colour schemes (available in black or olive-green), it is beautifully understated. The Barley looks as great on a sleek and minimalist diamond-frame roadbike, as it does on an exuberant loop-frame lady's bike, as it does on a mixte. It will match any frame colour and will complement any set-up without overwhelming it. It does not sag when empty, and does not bulge when overstuffed.
The bag is made of strong, waterproof cotton duck with leather straps and reinforcements, a light wooden attachment plank under the lid, and a protective double layer of cotton duck on the bottom. The materials and craftsmanship are of high quality.
One thing I love about the Barley, is that it is small enough to use as a daily saddlebag without feeling bulky or looking like you are touring, and at the same time it is extremely roomy. The smallest saddlebag from Carradice's traditional "Originals" line, it measures 8" vertically, 8" horizontally, and 16" across including pockets -- and has a 7 liter capacity. (If you are looking for a larger bag, the next steps up are the Nelson and the Nelson Longflap; those are for proper touring.)
Inside the bag as pictured on this photo, I have: a rolled-up cable lock, a rain poncho, a saddle-cover, a hat, a cardigan, a pair of flip-flops, sunscreen, baby powder, bandaging tape, a paperback book, an apple, a small bottle of mineral water, 2 small packets of peanut butter, a digital camera, a set of keys, and a mobile phone. The side pockets are especially convenient for storing the mobile phone and camera when I am on my roadbike (which has no front basket) for easy access without getting off the bike. A small waterbottle and candybar will fit in the pockets as well.
The Barley allows two different attachment methods (the photo above shows them both). If your saddle is adjusted fairly low and you have a rear rack, you can install the bag so that it sits horizontally on your rack. To do this, the leather straps at the top are connected to the bag loops at the back of the saddle, and the strap on the bottom is connected to the rack.
Here is the attachment to the bag-loops at the back of the saddle.
And here is the attachment to the rack.
If your saddle is raised fairly high and/or if you do not have a rear rack, the bag can also be installed at an angle, where the top straps connect to the bag-loops at the back of the saddle, and the bottom strap wraps around the seating post, as shown on the photo above. The bag is designed to accommodate either method and looks great either way.
My only cautionary note, is that the light attachment loop (the black strip of material under the Carradice logo) is awkwardly placed: When the bag is installed in the horizontal position, it points too far up, while in the angled position, it points too far down. So instead, we attach our tail light to the leather placket above the black loop. That serves as the perfect attachment point; the angle is just right.
Where to Buy
You can also buy online from a variety of shops or from Carradice directly. Stock can be limited at times, but hunting these bags down is worth the effort.