Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Minnehaha Saddlebag: a Splendid Bargain

Riled up by the discussion in the comments section of this post, we caved in and bought a Minnehaha medium saddlebag from that place where it is on clearance [link removed since the item is no longer sold there].

The Co-Habitant attached it to his Raleigh DL-1 Roadster and it is a perfect match. Black canvas with tan leather straps - a simple, classic design. Those light strips are our own CatEye lights; they do not come with the bag.

We do not have pictures of the bag before the lights were attached, but above you can see it on our friend somervillain's beautiful Shogun (which I will be writing about soon). The Minnehaha looks as good on a stately 3-speed as it does on a regal randonneur.

The bag originally came with two reflective strips of fabric, attached to the leather straps via cords that resemble hair elastics (these are pictured above). The Co-Habitant removed these when he attached the lights, and now I will use them as actual reflective hair elastics when I cycle at night.

Side view of the Minnehaha on the Roadster. As you can see, the leather straps attach to the two saddle loops and to the seat post. If you prefer, the strap around the seat post could instead be secured to a rear rack, placing the bag at an upright angle.

The bag is voluminous. Dimensions are 11"W x 9"D x 9"H and it has a 10L capacity. A wooden support (visible inside, along the top) ensures that it will keep its shape. There is only one large compartment, which can be loosened or tightened via the cord shown in the picture.

The design is not complicated. It is basically a large, versatile bag that can be stuffed to the brim and will still look good. We have filled it with clothing, food, purchases, bottles of water, etc., and it has behaved very well. Attached in the manner shown, the bag is extremely stable and does not dangle. It also keeps its form even when empty.

One aspect of this bag worth noting, is that both the canvas and the leather come "unfinished", which some who purchase it may not realise. When treated with a water-repellent conditioner, the leather will turn a dark chestnut brown. So if you prefer that look over the black and tan, keep in mind that the bag will look that way once you treat it. We will probably do this eventually, but haven't had time yet.

As others have noted, the main drawback of the Minnehaha medium saddlebag is the location of its closure - which is so low that it's almost underneath the bag. One must either lean over or kneel in order to access it, and it's hard to see the buckles from either of those positions. The Co-Habitant also reports that he found it difficult to fasten the buckles at first, as the fit wasn't perfect - but over time everything stretched out and softened up and this difficulty subsided.

The final verdict on the Minnehaha medium saddlebag: We are very glad that we got it at the bargain price, and I highly doubt that anybody would regret that purchase. As for the retail price? Well, I still think it is a good value - simply because all bicycle bags are expensive nowadays, regardless of looks or quality, and even at full retail it is still less expensive than most. The Minnehaha bag is large, classic, and matches practically any bike. You can learn more about their full line-up here.

19 comments:

  1. The Cateye light were attached using Cateye brand belt clips that can be purchased as accessory items in bike shops that stock Cateye tidbits. These belt clips are designed to attach a rear Cateye blinky to your belt when jogging or walking. The clip goes around the leather strap of the bag, so the attachment idea is not at all unique to this bag and could work on a number of different bags. I've attached Cateye rear lights in this manner to Carradice bags, Zimbale bags and so on. You don't strictly need tape. The function of the electrical tape is minimal, limited to a small application to increase tension on the belt clip so that it grips the bag tightly. The Cateye quick-release system still functions and it all looks very "factory" when finished.

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  2. Thanks for the tip-off on the sale price! I've been wanting a bag like this for a while but haven't been able to drop that much dough.

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  3. Great looking bag at an AMAZING price. Dang.

    Somervillain's blue beauty is gorgeous. Can't wait to read more about it.

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  4. I appear to have snoozed...."that store" shows them as sold out.

    Oops.

    CK

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  5. Wow, that must have just happened. When I was publishing the post they were still available.

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  6. i managed to grab two of them a couple months back and love them! Especially for the price.

    I have been trying to figure out a way to attach my blinky to it, since the seat post is now obscured, and it never occurred to me to look into some new blinkies! thanks for the tip (also to MDI, above, who provided some mounting specifics!)

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  7. JPTwins - These CatEye strips are especially good for mounting to saddlebags in this manner. The length ensures that the lights will be visible without distracting "bobbing" effects even when the bike goes over bumps and the saddlebag vibrates a bit.

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  8. Kind of mean to post them after they're sold out! :)
    I wonder if there was a run on them after you posted!
    There might be a couple lurking in stores. Worth a call anyway.

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  9. Sorry that they got sold out!

    We were joking a few days ago about how they will go out of stock the moment we post this. It's not even due to this post, I'm sure, just bad timing... Seems it always happens that way.

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  10. Sorry! They are still being sold, just not at that price. VO sells them, as well as Calhoun Cycle.

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  11. Very attractive and elegant. I love classic style.

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  12. I was just teasing- plus I'm not really a saddlebag girl- I'm more into baskets and rack mounted bags. :)

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  13. Hi--I have a non-bag-related, newbie-type question. What kind of tires are these on the roadster? I have a 1948 Sports and the front tire just disintegrated over the weekend and I suspect the rear one is on the verge, so I'm looking to replace them, love the sharp contrast of the black paint and pale tires. Recs? I'm in Jamaica Plain, still trying to get a feel for all the local bike places. thanks!

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  14. Sarah - They are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream, my favourite tire for commuting. See here for a post about them. For a Sports you need 26" tires, and Harris Cyclery in W Newton usually carries them.

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  15. thank you! I'll have a look. Haven't been to Harris yet, but clearly it's the Raleigh Mecca around here so I'm dying to go.

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  16. Sarah, the 26" Delta Cruisers have been tough to get locally. We were told that the distributor is out of stock. Some online places have them (as of now).

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  17. Darn! I missed that sale! I've been eying the Minnehaha bags for awhile now and even if I have to pay retail I think I'll order one.

    Thanks for the review

    Fiona

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  18. I managed to snag one right after reading this post, and I got to try it out on my grocery run last night. It was great! I have a lot less space between my seat and rack, so it actually sits on its side a little bit, which eliminates the issue of the closing buckles being on the underside of the bag. I'm also wondering if I could attach it to one side of my rack when I'm not using my panniers, since the straps are pretty versatile.

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  19. They're not sold out for any Australian readers out there! CycleStyle has them in store and you'll save on the international postage...

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