Monday, April 6, 2015

Goodordering: a Simple Handlebar Bag from London

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
Browsing the collection of colourful bicycle bags from the London-based Goodordering, I couldn't shake the feeling they reminded me of something. Something from childhood perhaps? At last it came to me: They reminded me of the schoolbag I used to own in grade school. I believe it was a Czechoslovakian take on a then-popular Japanese style, and it was bright peach, with white trim ...which was all well and good, except that I'd wanted the green one - a colour the shops were sold out of. Recollecting this nostalgically I scrolled down the company's product list, and sure enough - they offered almost the exact colour my 8-year old self had coveted!

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
Exploring the manufacturer's site further, I saw that my association with their aesthetic was not unfounded. Goodordering describes their products as "inspired by Japanese school bags and 80s retro travel bags," with sprinklings of "Scandinavia, the late 70s and 80s, block colours and Velcro." Cute, though a bit too kitsch for my present taste, to be honest. However, the industry background of designer Jacqui Ma encouraged me to take a closer look. So when Goodordering asked me to try one of their bags, I opted for the handlebar bag - naturally, in forest green.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
The Goodordering handlebar bag does not require a front rack. It affixes easily to the handlebars of most transportation bicycles. It is especially versatile in that it accommodates both swept back and drop handlebars (provided the drop bars are not narrower than 38mm).

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
On the back of the bag, two straps with plastic buckle closures simply slide over the bars. While this method of attachment is not recommended for performance cycling, I have found that for casual and utility riding it keeps this bag (and others I've used in a similar manner) reasonably stable.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
To be sure, there is a small amount of side-to-side sliding the rider needs to feel comfortable with. When proceeding at a utility cycling pace over tame terrain, I personally find that acceptable. In general, I appreciate handlebar bags with this attachment mechanism as they provide an easy and versatile solution for bicycles not equipped with front carriers.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
When not in use on the bike, the bag's attachment straps can be unhooked from the bag looks and connected to each other, creating a short arm strap.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
This brings me to my main criticism of the bag, which is that resultant strap is too short to go over the shoulder - thereby making it kind of extraneous, since the bag is already equipped with a built-in carry handle.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
A second, long detachable and adjustable strap is then provided for those who wish to carry the bag over the shoulder, resulting in a total of 3 possible handles/straps - to my eye, cluttering what is otherwise a minimalist and elegant design. What I'm wondering is, could the bag's main attachment straps not be made adjustable in length instead of resorting to this 2-strap method?

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
Aside from my issue with the overabundance of straps, I should perhaps point out that the lovely white trim of this bag gets dirty very easily - especially if you ride an old, not impeccably clean bicycle. Not sure how well you can see this in the above photo, but after using this bag just a handful of times there is already some mild staining on the lowermost portion of the trim, as well as on the wide strip under the carry handle.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
Otherwise, I do not have much in the way of nitpicking here. Obviously, the aesthetic is very particular, and you either like it or don't. But as far as functionality, the design is versatile, practical and simple. The flap closes securely with velcro, not buckles - making it easy to open and close on the go. While the bag is not wide enough to fit a 13" laptop, it will fit an 11" laptop and most tablet devices. An inner compartment and zip pocket provide additional storage options, as does the front zip pocket.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
The side pockets are roomy enough for most smart phones. The bags are described as waterproof and machine washable.

Goodordering Handlebar Bag
Designed in London, Goodordering bags are made "with care" (this is on the label) in Shenzhen, China - which you can read more about here. In addition to the handlebar bag pictured in this post, a variety of panniers, shoppers and backpacks are also available in a range of bright colours. Note that some of these are compatible with folding bicycles, including Bromptons and Moultons. The cost for a handlebar bag is 40£ (roughly $60 USD at the moment). Goodordering is a small independent company, funded via kickstarter, and you can take a look at their current campaign here.

If you are a resident of Ireland or the UK and would like to have my sample Goodordering handlebar bag, please say so in the comments and I will pick a recipient at random by Wednesday (recipient has now been found, thank you everyone). Note that this is not an official (manufacturer-requested) give-away, and that the bag, as pointed out earlier, is a wee bit stained - which, on the bright side, will allow you to test its claimed machine washability. With thanks to Goodordering for the opportunity to try their product, I wish them the best of luck!

27 comments:

  1. Oh that's a beautiful bag! If it's going, that'd be lovely :)

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    1. You got it Ellen. Check your email and send me your mailing address!

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  2. I would love this bag for my bike!

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  3. There's more and more of "designed here but made (insert kind/environmentally friendly/human rights happy word) in China" these days. This is a cute bag, but I'll always choose a product that's not only designed but made locally (relative to the company that's selling it or to my location). I'm not saying that the factory in Shenzhen isn't nice or caring or whatnot; I'd like companies to employ people locally. I'm willing to pay more for it.

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    1. Funny, the bicycle modeling in this post is also named Claudia. No relation I assume.

      Most of my bags now are made as locally as can be: by my friend Emily, who works 10 minutes from where I used to live back in Boston.

      The choice for a small company to produce locally vs outsource is a complicated, and a rather interesting one. I will talk about this more when I write about my factory visit to See.Sense lights in Northern Ireland.

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  4. Oh no. Back to bag reviews.

    So you've complained forever about ergos of modern brifters...now you're setting up your brakes in a forced-dropped position that you'd have to open up your entire hand to reach the lever, rendering bar control sketchy, not to mention bare metal, unwrapped, cold and pinchy.

    I'm sure that's much better than Dura Ace.

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    1. Oh yes. There is even a backpack coming up. You'll love it.

      The drop position on this bicycle is sacred and cannot be changed. I hated it as soon as I tried it. But even more disturbingly, it starts to makes sense once the bike gets going for a good bit.

      Dura Ace & brifters, not exactly. At some point (pre 2012?) I could not use modern Shimano brake levers. But they've since done something to change the design and I can now use the newer ones just fine, even the low-end models. I still prefer Campagnolo and SRAM, in that order, but there's nothing to complain about with Shimano brifters either.

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    2. They shaved, like, 2mm off the hood and micro - changed the pivot point and effort. Just call it holy and suddenly all sorts of justifications for poor ergos manifest.

      You hated SRAM too, but then again you weren't a real rider. Amazing how miles cures everything (GRJ, ~ 1856 AD).

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    3. Definition of a 'real rider' would be a great topic for debate. Heard of Tommy Godwin? Wondered whether he would meet your criteria for a real rider? Check out his website. Don't even think it was an April Fool. Just saying. (Tommy Godwin 1912-1975)

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  5. I'm actually on the hunt for some double panniers and will take a look at these guys. Though, like Claudia mentioned above, I would prefer locally made also. Always welcome your reviews, however.

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  6. It's hard to tell by the photos but this doesn't look like it'd do well in a rainstorm. Lot's of openings . Also, not sure about the direction the top flap opens. If one is riding it seems like the contents would be more accessible if it opened from the other side. Is there any reflective material on it? That would be nice feature, too.

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    1. No reflective material. On the outside there are 2 open side pockets and one front zip pocket. My understanding is, the bag is meant for shortish distance commuting and casual riding. It has similar features to a handbag, except you can also attach it to your bike. Not sure about a proper rainstorm, but it remained waterproof after a 40 minute rainy ride.

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    2. Yes, it looks more like a handbag one can attach to a bike rather than a proper handlebar bag one can also carry. A little longer strap and one could just carry it over the shoulder instead of hanging it from the bike.

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  7. Hmm, what model bike is Claudia? Looks to me like a Raleigh (or subsidiary) product of some kind ... pre 1960s maybe? What a beauty.

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    1. Claud Butler mixte circa 1936 or so.

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  8. Yes, I could make use of this bag...happy to wash it. too.

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  9. I never use handlebar bags - I like the handlebars uncluttered and to have a clear view where the wheel contacts the road/trail, however I imagine that for those who do like handlebar bags the one shown is quite functional and attractive - though the white trim is perhaps not very practical.

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  10. Nice bag. Might look nice on my old Pashley I'm restoring.

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  11. As a follower of this blog I'm not at all interested in product reviews. Take those conversations to a different place. When you speak of your search and your experience on a bike, it rings true, and I'm interested. When you evaluate a product sent your way, it detracts. Sorry, I guess I don't get what sponsored blogs are all about.

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    1. Whether a blog features product reviews is a separate matter from whether it is sponsored. There are unsponsored blogs that focus solely on reviews. There are sponsored blogs that never feature a single review.

      Product reviews were a part of Lovely Bicycle from its earliest days. I especially like introducing readers to small companies whose work I find interesting, and to products they might not otherwise come across. Because the content of this blog is so varied, it’s only to be expected that not everything will be to everyone’s taste. But I enjoy writing reviews and the majority of my readers enjoy reading them; reviews will always be a part of this site.

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    2. I always enjoy your product reviews, sort of a Consumer Reports for discerning cyclists. My all-time favorite, however, was the broom with the custom rack.

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  12. Emerald green for the Emerald Isle, how appropriate! I am not a massive fan of front bags, but oh how I wish you were giving away the shopper :))

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  13. I live in Boston and would be interested in your local bag makers offerings

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    1. Dill Pickle Gear - see here for more about Emily's work. Oh and she is now in Somerville, not Medford. And she's added handlebar bags to her line-up.

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  14. I've been looking for a bigger pannier that will fit my Pilen rear rack (I recently ordered the Po Campo loop pannier based on your review and I love it! Thanks!), and I think the Goodorder pannier would work. Will definitively consider getting one as I think the design is fantastic.

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