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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The side pockets are roomy enough for most smart phones. The bags are described as waterproof and machine washable.
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,