With the gloomy weather outside, this seemed like a good time to feature the most unusual pannier I have been asked to review so far: the Grass Shopper from Marsupial Bicycle Bags.
The Grass Shopper is available with a variety of (faux) flower attachments and matching inner linings. I chose the poppies with the red lining. The bag arrived with the flowers in a little packet inside, and an envelope full of green zipties, requiring a bit of DIY. I felt like a kindergartener engaged in an arts and crafts project as I sat on the floor with my housemate arranging the poppies and attaching them to the bag. The nice thing about doing this yourself, is that you can spread the flowers into any configuration you want and every bag will look a bit different.
The Grass Shopper is available in one of three configurations: as a pannier with hook attachments (the version I got), as a pannier with strap attachments, or as a KlikFix compatible front basket. The hooks on my version are plastic and very similar to the ones Basil uses. Some racks' tubing diameter will be too thick for these, so be aware.
Inside the bag is an expandable waterproof lining that can be pulled closed with a drawcord. There are no compartments, as it's intended as a shopper. The interior was spacious enough to swallow my workbag whole with room to spare.
An optional shoulder strap attaches via plastic hooks. A leather tab in the rear can serve as a tail light attachment.
To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure how to "review" this bag. It is obviously meant to be a fun item, for those who are into colourful and quirky accessories. In that respect, it certainly succeeds. Me, I prefer a more classic style, but I know plenty of women who'd love it. From the standpoint of functionality, the choice of materials actually makes a great deal of sense: The bag is waterproof and durable. However, as a bag intended to be a shopper, I felt it was missing handles. The shoulder strap didn't quite do it for me, as it would start to slide out of adjustment and expand (lengthen) when the bag got too heavy. I would also suggest replacing the currently offered hooks with the R&K KlikFix system, which is compatible with a wider range of bicycle racks.
When I rode around Vienna with the Grass Shopper, it was a great hit with the cycling ladies, and before I left I gave it away to a local reader who fell in love with it. Marsupial Bicycle Bags are a fairly new business and I wish them the best of luck with these fun and cheerful bags. The choice of flowers and the attachment customisation options are nice, allowing the owner to put a personal touch on their bag. It's difficult for me to judge whether these are too wild to appeal on a large scale, but they will certainly brighten up a gloomy day in an instant. Not a bad idea for long urban winters.