Saturday, January 9, 2010

Basil Bags - initial thoughts

I was a greedy pig over Christmas and bought myself not one but two Basil bike bags for Christmas.

I'd been taken with the super olive green design on the Postmenbag, but decided initially to get a Basil Mirte shopping bag (slightly bigger) in Rose, which Penelope Pashley is wearing below.

Having ordered that I then saw an olive green Postmenbag for a good price on eBay and splurged on that too. Both bags have arrived now and I have used the Postmenbag today for a very small shopping trip.

Initial thoughts are the quality is excellent. Well stitched, well lined. The white detachable strap on the Postmenbag offers lots of opportunities to get dirty, but I think could easily be cleaned by soaking it in Napisan or any other nappy wash product (no, I don't have kids, but these products are great stain removers). Cleaning the white binding around the bag, as it's bound to get dirty, would be a job for Orange Power upholstery cleaner. Only available in Australia at the moment but absolutely brilliant on fabrics as well as carpet and sofas. Digressing, my husband regularly drops chocolate on our white sofa and Orange Power gets rid of it in a flash.

My brother-in-law has used cycling as his preferred form of transport since a teen (doesn't and won't own a car), and has had experience with all manner of bags. Bearing in mind the comments on the interweb about the plastic clips breaking, he had this to say once I'd shown him photos of the bags: "Those clips look familiar, and should be good for a few years unless they get very cold. And they appear to be removable/replaceable. Karrimore used to use alloy clips and they broke with great ease. Their plastics were an improvement..."

Very cold isn't likely to happen where I'm living. And while the bags don't look huge, they do carry more than you think they might. I think loading them to the point where the clips would break would make for a slow cycle back home in my case. The hills would be murder. In short I can do grocery runs for two people a couple of times a week with these bags. Easy peasy.

Talking of the clips, they fit easily onto the Plescher rack of the Pashley. Top tip is to feed the velcro strap underneath first otherwise you fumble a bit trying to loop it around. I'm guessing the velcro is merely insurance, but did find it difficult to do it up tightly, ie to a point where I felt it could hold the bag on for a little while if the clips ever broke (just till I got off the bike and slung the bag over my shoulder).

On today's shopping trip I only had to get a kilo of Cat's Delight (yes, the local pet food shop guy actually calls it that) for They Who Have Claws, and a packet of tea, without which I will have trouble functioning. I popped the Postmenbag on Penelope and set off. The bag sits well on the rack, doesn't rattle, doesn't interfere with the spokes. Here's what my shopping looks like in the bag. You can see there is a ton of room still there in this 12 litre bag. The goodies rattle around near the bottom.

Laden with this little haul plus a full 750ml water bottle in the bag, I headed home and the bag stayed secure and didn't move on the rack. Unlike my rear basket which tends to slide towards the back of Penelope's rack!

The Postmenbag closes with a flap and a clip; the Mirte with a zipper. I can see it would be very easy to transport objects like celery and leeks in the Postmenbag. It's deep enough for them to go in at an angle with their tops sticking out, and not overbalance and fall out of the bag. Likewise with the Mirte you can zip them into an attention stance, again with their tops out of the bag unless you buy very small leeks.

As both my bikes have racks, I tried the bags on Petunia as well. She looks pretty funky with the green bag - surfer bike!

It fits nicely on her rack and rests against the struts with no danger that I can see of interfering with the wheel.

She looks a little strange with the Mirte bag though - it's definitely more a Pashley bag I think.
And for not only aesthetic reasons. Laden with full baskets, both bikes behave very differently. Petunia has a distinct unsteadiness, a slight wobble at slow speed that Penelope doesn't. However, I will try a shopping trip using both baskets to simulate a pannier situation and therefore lower centre of gravity with Petunia and see if the ride improves. After all she's a touring bike and built to carry panniers. Maybe it's the weight on top of the rack in the form of a full rear basket that makes her very twitchy. Penelope, on the other hand, with her weighty steel body and innate steadiness, handles laden baskets back and front with barely a shimmer.

More thoughts forthcoming after a bigger shopping trip using both bags. But initially I'm impressed with the quality and capacity of the bags.


  1. I've been looking at Basil bags but haven't actually committed to buying one yet. I'll be looking forward to your reviews.

  2. Yes, wait until I get a full load of meat, fruit and veg! :-)

  3. Awesome, you got them both!

    This is a great review and I am glad to read that the bags are both large and sturdy enough. I especially love that olive green. Oh, and thanks for the fabric cleaning tips!

  4. Thanks Filigree. They do seem to pack more in that you'd expect. Still to do a big food run with them, as the weather is too hot to go cycling for this little black duck. Have had to resort to the car and its aircon. Roll on autumn.