Jonathan Ip – Bicycles Network Australia The Top Australian Cycling Portal Fri, 25 May 2018 06:40:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Review: Zimbale 2.0 L Canvas Saddlebags Thu, 13 Oct 2011 22:02:43 +0000 The 2 Litre Zimbale Saddlebag can be mounted front or back. Jonathan Ip tests it for style and function.]]>

The humble traditional style saddlebag is making somewhat of a comeback in recent years, what was once de rigueur on English touring and town bikes is once again becoming commonplace. The simplicity of mounting, compactness and reasonable capacity make it very easily adaptable to almost any sort of bike; there is no need for any special braze on eyelets or racks, you only need saddlebag loops on your saddle and that’s about it.

The largest style saddlebags such as the Carradice Camper can fit up to a respectable 24L, the smallest saddlebags such as the Brooks D-shaped bag only fit some spares and a patch kit.

The most well known saddlebag manufacturer is of course Carradice of Nelson, England. They make the quintessential English saddlebag; although their product range now features lines which are modern and innovative, they still produce their Originals line which is effectively an unchanged design nearly a century old, I am the proud owner of two of their models myself.  There are many other makers of this style of saddlebag such as Gilles Berthoud, Ostrich and Minnehaha just to name a few.

The subject of this review is a relative newcomer to the market, Zimbale which is the brainchild of a group of South Korean cycling enthusiasts. Their bag, the 2.0L saddlebag is one of their smallest bags and can be used either in it’s orthodox position attached to the rear of the saddle or alternately on the front hanging off the handlebars.

Zimbale 2.0 Litre Saddlebag

The size of the bag is about right for a day trip, you could easily fit a wind jacket, some snacks, a tool kit and maybe a book or two. The construction of the bag is more or less the same as the traditional type; the bag is made from waxed canvas with leather buckles and a wooden dowel at the mounting point. The cylindrical shape is closed by a zipper with a flap which buttons over the top providing a more or less waterproof bag. Waxed cotton is a durable, waterproof material so this bag would be perfect for storing not so water friendly objects like phones and wallets during a ride in the event of a surprise downpour.

The face of the bag also features a reflective triangle just like the Carradice bags for safety. I tested the bag over the course of a week or two on both the front and back. When it was on the front, it was in concert with a Carradice Nelson mounted on the back. This provided a nice convenient place to put things like my phone or snacks which could be easily grabbed at hand. The width of the bag was just about perfect for my 42cm wide bars.

Zimbale 2.0 Litre Saddlebag

Installation is very straightforward if you have a saddle with bag loops on it already like most Brooks saddles have.  If not, you can get adaptor loops which clamp onto the saddle rails.  The bag itself doesn’t exhibit the tendency to sway because of the small size, unlike larger bags which require a secondary support underneath such as a rack or what Carradice sells called a Bagman. My only criticism is that the bag doesn’t hold it’s shape, which could lead to a problem with smaller bicycle frames or people with their saddle height set low; items in the bag can cause it to then sag and rub on the tyres. On this bike (see photo) it was not so much a problem because it tended to rest on the front mudguard.

Overall it is a nicely made and reasonably priced alternative to other saddlebags. The workmanship is top notch and installation was a breeze. Compared to the Carradice saddlebags, they are near identical in performance, design and construction, although there are some slight differences in the details such as the style of the buckle.  The style of the bag would particularly suit it to a vintage ride, however it is also available in a black version with brown buckles which would suit a more modern bike. Saddlebags are a very practical style of bicycle luggage that hit a sweet spot between bulk and compactness, the Zimbale 2.0L is on the smaller side but is perfect for day trips, it’s small enough to not have to have the issues of larger saddlebags but big enough to fit essentials.

Zimbale bicycle bags are imported into Australia by Joad Sportz Supplies and are stocked by Bicycle Shops Australia-wide. The zimbale 2.0L has a suggested retail price of $85 making this particularly affordable. You can enquire with Joad Sportz Supplies regarding your nearest dealer:

Review: BOgear Papermunkey messenger bag Wed, 17 Nov 2010 08:12:03 +0000 When I was a teenager in the mid 90’s I had an old MTB, back when V-brakes and front suspension had only trickled down to the mass market bikes. Back then, I thought bike couriers were uber-cool – the way to be uber cool like them in my mind was to have bags like them. They all had these super bright messenger bags made by Crumpler, so I went out and bought one.

Fast forward about a decade and a half to the present and I am still using this bag. Now, the subject of this review is a messenger bag by Australian company Brisbane Outdoor Gear.

Brisbane Outdoor Gear (BOgear) makes a range of messenger bags as well as toe straps and other accessories. Their messenger bags start at the hip pouch sized Love Handle and go up to the absolutely mammoth Elephantitus. The linings of the bags are recycled from old billboard signs and truck tarps, this gives each bag a unique print on the inside as well as making them waterproof. The outside is constructed of a black textured nylon with the straps made from recycled seatbelts and buckles. In fact, for all of their messenger bags, Brisbane Outdoor Gear incorporates parts using recycled materials.

BOgear Papermunkey Messenger Bag

The model I have tested over the past month is the mid range model, the Papermunky. It’s inside capacity is rated at 8 bottles of Bundy according to the website. This is about enough to fit a laptop, some clothes and books in the main compartment. Directly behind the flap there are little pockets for pens, wallets and other small items that would otherwise get lost in the main compartment. The flap is closed by velcro strips which run vertically on the bag, this means that even if it is stuffed full it’ll still be able to close securely, a nice feature. The flap also secures with a pair of buckles so you can be completely sure nothing will fall out whilst riding.

BOgear Papermunkey Contents

These buckles also feature little velcro tabs on the ends so once you have buckled the flap down tight and have cinched the straps you can velcro the ends onto the bag itself – this means you don’t have little straps flapping about when you ride.

BOgear Papermunkey Strap

The main strap is unpadded which is fine unless you’re holding something particularly heavy over a longer ride, the larger bags feature padded straps however I would probably prefer it padded on this model as well. Single shoulder strap bags typically rotate around the body whilst riding, typically this is a problem with the bent over position on racing style bikes. To prevent this the Papermunky has a second strap which wraps around the waist. This ensures the bag stays in place, even when fully loaded. The waist strap needs to be undone if you want to either take off the bag or rotate it around the front to get something out.

BOgear Papermunkey

The bag has some loops for attaching lights, the only suggestion I have is that maybe a few reflective stripes could be useful for visibility on the bag as well. During the review period I rode several times in the wet and my cargo remained bone dry. The secondary strap meant the bag always stayed in place whilst riding. The stitching is top notch and the quality of the material is also high quality, I generally get the feeling this thing will last a long time. This is great value for an Australian made and environmentally conscious bag, built for day-in day-out work.

The Papermunkey comes in a range of designs and retails for $125 direct from Brisbane Outdoor Gear. For $15 extra can be delivered throughout Australia, order online:

BOgear Papermunkey

Review: Gazelle Innergy electric assist bicycle Wed, 02 Jun 2010 20:38:24 +0000 The concept of the electric assist bike is somewhat new and unfamiliar to Australia, however sales in Europe and Asia have boomed over the past few years; one in eight bicycles sold in Holland are e-bikes. The success of the e-bike is due to its appeal to an untapped market segment, people who may not have the ability, fitness and/or confidence to cycle a conventional bike; This brings cycling to a larger audience which can only be a good thing.

What makes an e-bike different to a normal bike to ride? It’s no different, you jump on it, push the pedals and it goes just like a normal bike, except it helps you along.

First impressions
I was initially told that I was going to be given a commuting bike to review with a bit of a twist. Prior to this I had ridden almost every kind of bike, but never an e-bike. I gave myself the task of using the Gazelle Innergy for riding to work every day and running errands for a week, using it like a normal bike. On first sight it looked exactly like a normal bicycle, albeit a very Dutch looking one.  The only subtle clue that gives away the fact that it is an e-bike is the battery pack which tucks away very discretely under the rear rack. The electric motor is located in the front hub (i.e. front wheel drive) and combined with a Shimano roller brake, the remainder of the drivetrain uses standard Shimano Nexus parts.

Gazelle Innergy

My first ride was around the backstreets near my house, the electric assist only engages when it detects that you are pedalling.  When you are pedalling along it the electric assist makes pedaling feel effortless, you feel like you are gliding along only just barely pushing the pedals. The electric assist is so progressive that you don’t even notice it, from stationary to coasting along it is just perfectly smooth. You can only just feel the motor sometimes, around corners at slow speed you can feel a miniscule amount of torque steer and occasionally you can feel it if you are stopping and starting constantly. The assistance still makes you do some work though, I found myself with a very slight sweat at the end of my journey.

There are two modes of assist which you can choose in the built in display/controller, boost & eco mode. Boost will give you approximately 20-40km on a full charge, eco will give you a 40-70km, however this will vary depending on how much you pedal, how many hills and other environmental factors. The battery takes about 3 hours to charge completely, but because it is a Lithium-Ion battery you can charge it whenever you like and not have to worry about memory effect. The plug is located at the rear corner of the battery which is underneath the rear rack.  It can also be detached by unlocking it with the same key as the wheel lock, this allows you to bring it in to charge it indoors. The rear light is integrated into the battery and also acts as a battery charge indicator.

Gazelle Innergy Computer
The handlebar indicator shows current speed, battery charge and switches modes, lights and power.

The bicycle is built in the Netherlands and is built to European standards for e-bikes.  This means that from up to 22km/h you get full assistance, from there it decreases till there is no assistance above 25km/h.  However there is a 10% +/- tolerance so in reality you can start to feel the assistance decrease from about 27km/h.  It starts to get a bit difficult to pedal faster than 30km/h on flat ground, however it is very easy to maintain 25km/h which would be more than satisfactory for most people this bike is intended for.  The drivetrain is the ubiquitous Shimano Nexus system, it features an 8 speed rear hub and crankset which is connected to a twist shifter.  The overall gear range is quite wide and I never found that I ran out of gears.  A nice touch is that the chain is completely enclosed in a chaincase, no more greasy chain marks on your trousers and this cuts down on maintenance and increases the life of the chain several times over compared to a conventional derailleur geared bike with an exposed drivetrain.

What is it like to live with?
The difference between this bike and your average bike store bikes is that the Innergy is a complete system, it features integrated front and rear lights, rear rack & pannier – everything is integrated and has been thought through so you can ride it straight off the showroom floor.  I was impressed by the LED lights and the reflectors as they are completely integrated into the fork and the rear rack which mitigates the chance of theft.  The front uses a LED with an internal reflector which spreads out a wide beam and a reasonably bright spot ahead – this is plenty of light for city commuting.  The rear light is superbly bright, both lights have very good side on vision and the bike can be seen at night from almost any angle.  I own several bikes and share lights between them so I really appreciate the fact that you can just jump on the bike and go without having to bother with charging lights and swapping them around.

The rear rack houses the lithium-ion battery

The handling of the bike is not all that different to other bikes of this style, let me make this clear – this is not a race bike, it is however a serious transport bike.  The first thing I noticed was the weight, at 26.8kg (about average for an e-bike) this makes the bike somewhat cumbersome to move around the house, it’s harder to pick up the thing and manhandle it. The low speed handling also feels slightly unwieldly as well, however once moving at pace the ride is very predictable and safe, the wide tyres and forks make for a very smooth ride.

This was the first time I had tried Shimano’s roller brakes, I was quite impressed; even though the lever felt quite spongy yet it was very easy to modulate. In an emergency stop squeezing hard on the brake lever brings the bike to a predictable and sudden halt. Unlike rim brake bikes, the roller brake will work just as well in the wet and won’t cover the frame in brake dust nor will it need brake pads replaced periodically – again this is part of the overall integration of the bike, low maintenance and reliability. The wheels themselves are solidly built and are shod with equally solid Schwalbe Marathon tyres – these are the benchmark of dependable flat-resistant tyres. The tyres are the reflective version so at night, a car driver will see two large white halos when the tyres catch the headlight. Personally I think all tyres should be offered in reflective versions as they really give other road users a much better idea of the size of the bike at night.

The front electric motor hub with integrated Shimano roller brake

The review bike came with a Basil (a fellow Dutch brand) pannier which clips right onto the rear rack, this pannier was about the right size for picking up some groceries on the way home. There was also a compact bar bag which clipped onto a fitting on the stem and can be used to store your wallet and phone while you are riding. The stem itself uses a novel tool free adjustment system, you lift up a safety catch and then a latch which allows you to adjust the tilt and handlebar height. Strangely the seatpost however requires an allen key wrench to adjust it which could become a hassle if you are regularly sharing the bike with a shorter or taller person. The rear rack integrates a mini pump as well as a skirt guard and also features a traditional wheel lock which is secured by a key.  The wheel lock also features an attachment point for an accessory chain, you loop the chain around a pole and plug it into the attachment point then you lock the wheel lock, remove the key and go. This is quite nifty as it makes securely locking the bike a doddle.

The Gazelle Innergy Electric Assist Bicycle

As a bike that is used for transport the Gazelle Innergy succeeds, the design has been thoroughly thought out and integrated into one cohesive package. The electric assist is very smooth and barely noticeable, the integration of the whole bike is what makes it great. It is very easy to just jump on it and ride, other than charging it regularly it will require little maintenance due to it’s enclosed chain, roller brakes and flat proof tyres. At a RRP of $3950 the Innergy is not cheap, however it is evident that you get what you pay for – a refined and solidly built machine which is designed as a whole not as a kit of parts.