I’m one of those who read reviews on the web before I go and buy a product at a local store but between the copied/pasted manufacturer description and the go-to-youtube-and-watch-me-open-the-box-of-this-brand-new-product-I-will-never-use-but-still-I-bought-it-because-I-am-cool-and-I-look-great-on-video there is not much room left for real reviews from real people who really have actually used the product.
Long story short I did not find a proper review of the Haglöfs Courier 15″ but I decided to buy it anyway because it looked nice, waterproof, solid and Haglöfs rarely failed me in the past. That was in August last year.
Not only did the bag looked waterproof but it actually is. I ride every day no matter what the weather is and trust me I reached the office completely soaked (as in “thoroughly wet or saturated by or as if by placing in liquid”) a couple of times last autumn and winter: the bag has always kept my clothes and other things dry.
It’s big enough to carry a fresh set of clothes, some tools for on-the-road repairs, a wallet and a mobile phone and I don’t think I have ever felt the need for a bigger bag. The front pocket comes in handy for storing things you need more often like a lock key or an access card to the bicycle parking facilities at the office.
The bag sits rather comfortably on the back but the waist belt (you have to use it in order to keep the bag from slipping to the side) is quite tricky to clip in when the bag is loaded: either you’re a 5th Dan in flexibility yoga master and you’ll manage on your own or you’ll need to ask your partner or a friend to help you with the strap.
The biggest issue I have with the Courier 15″ though is in the front pocket. To be fair to Haglöfs the internal key ring is a pretty idea but it was not really well executed. With the key ring too close to the zipper it gets stuck into it easily. I usually get mad, pull back and forth like a maniac until the pocket is closed: it did not take very long for the zip to break.
Do you have a Haglöfs Courier 15″? Have you experienced the key ring zipper battle too?
With the front pocket always open the bag is now a bit less attractive and practical and so I need a new bag. Only this time I’ll make sure I find a proper review before I swipe the credit card.
Eben Weiss is the blogger behind bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com, a massively popular cycling blog, so if you are a two-wheeled commuter (without an engine obviously) and haven’t heard about him yet you probably should pay a visit to his blog right now, read some and come back here when you’re done. You have 5 to 10 minutes (you don’t have to read back to 2007). I’ll wait for you here.
Now that you’ve formed your own opinion I can say I don’t really enjoy the blog myself. I actually don’t read it anymore as I find the posts too cluttered to even be readable. But Eben Weiss is not only a blogger but also a book writer and his books are just brilliant.
I read his first two books a couple of months ago and really enjoyed them despite the fact they picture life as a bike commuter in New York City (and in the U.S. in general) which sometimes (but not always) is pretty far from my local experience. And then comes the third book. The Bike Snob is going abroad and is visiting Sweden! Alright Eben Weiss did not actually spend time in Stockholm and went to Gothenburg instead but it still counts for something doesn’t it?
Long story short (I don’t want to spoil anyone) it was just very pleasant to read his experience as a father on parental leave who takes his young kid for rides. Since I plan to do exactly the same (take time off when I get a kid and take him or her for bike rides) Eben Weiss could not better describe the things I am very much looking forward to. His experiences in Gothenburg, London and Amsterdam are entertaining too and pretty close to mine.
Bike Snob Abroad: Strange Customs, Incredible Fiets, and the Quest for Cycling Paradise (see the cycling bicycle books page) is “a fierce and entertaining critic” (as The New York Times puts it) and I can only agree. Whether you are a bike commuter or not, you live in Sweden or not, it’s a book you should read but if you’re a bike commuter and live in Sweden, it’s a book you must read.
I doubt you will ever read this Mister Weiss but if you do this is an invitation to Stockholm for you and your little family. I can’t pay for the flights but would be happy to host, put some fun between your legs (it sounds scary I know but we’re actually talking bikes here) and give you a tour.
The previous books of the “trilogy” are Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling (also listed on the cycling books page) and The Enlightened Cyclist: Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled Transcendence (see also on the books about cycling bikes list).
If there is one pair of accessories a cyclist really does need it would be a front and rear lights set. Whether you are a daily all year round bike commuter or just a casual rider lights are an essential – required by law in many countries – element to both see the road and to be seen.
There are plenty of bicycle lights available on the market and one should carefully choose according to the riding conditions. In “the dazzling bike light epidemic” Andreas (the author behind londoncyclist.co.uk) writes about London’s cyclists using lights (mainly front lights) way too bright for night cycling in a city and the problems they may cause to fellow riders (but also car drivers). The issue is not limited to London and I have been blinded a couple of times by cyclists coming from the opposite direction here in Stockholm by devices that shone like stadium floodlights mounted on the handlebar.
I ride pretty much every day (winter, spring, summer & autumn) in this beautiful city and – even if the days are rather short half of the year – I must say I have never felt the need for a 1200 lumen front light in the city. Ever.
There are plenty of street lights in Stockholm, they work fine and the snow makes the streets even brighter most of the winter.
For my commuter bike I opted for a Blackburn Flea 2 front light (40 lumen) which is bright enough, has a descent runtime and is USB rechargeable (a USB rechargeable light is a must have if, like me, you ride an hour daily with the lights on). I have no complaint so far on the product and only regret that the hook loop strap must be removed in order to position the light on the USB charger.
All in all I’d like to repeat myself and say that a 40 lumen front light more than suffices in 90% of the situations and that number is probably very close to 100% in urban environments. If I were you I’d keep the MagicShine MJ-816E (1800 lumen) for dark rides in the forests around Nacka. Please.