The downside of having panniers is that it is not easily transferable to another bike, unless the other bike has a rear rack that is compatible. Also, a pannier such as the Ortlieb Front Roller Classic weighs something like 800 grams even when empty, which can add up to a rather heavy load if you use dual panniers.
This is why I decided to give myself more options for carrying stuff when cycling. By getting a good cycling back pack, I will be able to carry stuff without using panniers. This makes it much more convenient, as I currently only have rear racks on my Dahon Boardwalk and Avanti Inc 3. When riding other bikes, I would be able to use the back pack for carrying stuff.
There are so many different types of cycling back packs available, but I decided to try the new Shimano Cycling Bag. I chose the Unzen 10L as it offers a good balance between capacity and size. It should be sufficient for me to put a set of clothes and some other small stuff.
Here is how it looks!
Unzen 10L bag in Charcoal/Electric Green colour
The carrying straps are designed differently, which will be elaborated on later on.
The height and length of the straps are fully adjustable, so that you can set the height and length of the straps depending on each individual's body size.
New harness design that supposedly fits everybody well and offers good ventilation.
The cross harness system is held together by just one clip at the front.
Bag comes with a 3 litre water bag, but I took it out as I don't need it.
Main body of the bag is made of stretchy material, which allows you to stuff in more items if required.
Side zippers makes it easy to access the items in the bag just by un-slinging one side of the bag.
The other features of this cycling back pack
Stretchy material! It is also water resistant.
Side zipper opens up all the way from top to bottom. This creates a large opening that makes it very easy to put or remove things from the bag.
The side zippers are available on both the left and right side, making it super convenient to access the bag's contents.
Since both side zippers can be opened, you can actually stuff something across both sides of the bag. An example would be a rolled up sleeping bag or something similar that does not fit completely in the bag.
At the top of the bag, there is a felt-lined compartment for storing small items. This nice and soft lining prevents delicate items from scratches or damage.
At the bottom of the bag, there is an external compartment for storing other small items. Tools and other spare equipment would fit nicely here.
The inside of the main compartment. It is actually more spacious than it looks, thanks to the stretchy material of the bag which allows you to over stuff the bag. The netting compartments are very useful for keeping items such as hand pumps.
There is another side zipper on the bag that opens up to reveal a compartment for the water bag. Since I am not using the water bag, this compartment is used to carry magazines or newspapers. The size is perfect for A4 sized documents too.
The adjustable harness system can be found in the water bag compartment. Together with the height table showing the recommended settings, these scaled markings make it easy to set the correct harness height.
The adjustable harness system can be easily adjusted with velcro. Just stick the adjustable strap on the velcro at the desired setting and it is done!
Here is how the Unzen 10L bag looks when in use. It conforms nicely to the back of the cyclist.
There are some good and bad points about this bag. I will just list down the best 3 features and also 3 downsides to this bag.
Best 3 Features:
1) Side zippers that open fully to allow easy access to the items in the bag.
2) Cross harness system which makes it easy to tighten the bag around the body before riding, without fiddling with multiple clips and loose hanging straps.
3) Water bag compartment provides a separate compartment that is suitably sized for carrying A4 sized documents which is very useful.
1) Stretchy material can be damaged if the items inside are relatively sharp. The corners of boxes or books can poke a hole in the fabric if not arranged properly in the bag.
2) Straps can loosen itself over time as it is only held in place by friction, like most other bags.
3) The space in the main compartment is actually shared with the felt-lined compartment at the top. If the felt-lined compartment is full, this actually uses up the space in the main compartment.
In summary, I would say that this bag is a pretty innovative bag that redesigns the cycling bag from scratch. Some new features such as the adjustable harness and side zippers make it really useful and convenient to use. I use it mainly as a commuting bag, and I find it very good as it is a good size most of the time.