Road Test | Bagaboo Workhorse
Johnson lives on his bike. From work to gigs to art school and back again, it’s 2 wheels and some panting all the way. So when Richard from Urban Hunter sent us a Bagaboo Workhorse, it was kinda obvious who should test it.
So here is Johnson, giving his thoughts on a messenger that our UK cyclists will probably know well…
In case you haven’t noticed, cycling is going through something of a renaissance. And with bike messengers representing the most core cyclists, their bags have formed the blueprint for loads of companies to imitate (along with the EXPLOSION in street geared track bikes). There has been so many of these bag companies popping up that it’s hard to keep up with them all. But as we see it, they fall into two major categories: 1) Larger mass production companies, and 2) Smaller handmade boutique companies.
Bagaboo feels more like one of the latter. Bagaboo is a handmade bag company based out of Hungary that has a sizey range of bags with a number of customizable options, helping the purchaser select and create a bag that is right for them. This is a major difference between the larger, mass production and smaller, boutique brands. Larger brands tend to release high volumes of the same model of product which you have to make do with, whereas the smaller brands let you pick what will work best for you and help you create something dialed in to you.
In this Road Test, Carryology was given the chance to put a medium sized Workhorse through its paces. This is the smallest model in the Workhorse range, but that’s not to stay it isn’t big on the features. The Workhorse’s all come standard with options that are generally seen as extras by most manufactures big and small -like an X section clip, second shoulder pad, secure zipped pockets, back padding, and compression straps from the main shoulder strap to the bag.
The Workhorse runs with a Cordura outer, giving a water resistant and really durable skin around their REALLY water-resistant inner tarpaulin lining. It’s nice to see Bagaboo going straight to the top shelf when picking materials to create their bags.
When the bag is loaded to capacity, it fits a heap and might leave you wondering if the bag will shut. Rest assured the flap is still able to cover the cargo securely. On the front of the bag, there is a light attachment that’s quite unique, with a piece of webbing folded over and separated. While the design works well for a shoulder bag sitting on the left shoulder, the design lets a light sit horizontally on the pack. Not sure if the webbing is flipped for right shoulder bags…
The seconding shoulder strap, which helps with balancing heavier loads over both shoulders, has an attached point which makes for a great handle when picking the bag up. Following the strap over the top, you find the attachment point for it via a carbineer if you wish to remove the strap entirely.
On the underside of the bag there is a reflective strip spanning the length of the bag. Safety first.
Finally on the outside, there is the back pad. This feature is great as it helps to soften the blow of pointy and odd shaped objects that are in your bag hitting you in the back. The downside to this is its shape, the lower corner of the pad is placed right on the corner of the bag construction making it extremely stiff. This corner would poke me constantly when walking around with the pack on. A little bit annoying.
The main shoulder strap is thick and nicely padded which is excellent for heavy loads. The buckle section is designed to have an attachment placed around it making it usable, while giving you attachment points for the stabilizer strap and second shoulder strap. The strap-to-bag compression is a great touch to help get the bag feeling right. While these features are great in principle, its downfall is the angles. I found the bag sat a little awkwardly on my back when riding and walking.
I’ll go out on a limb here and throw out some reasoning on the straps and the back pad issues. The medium size is the smallest in the Workhorse range, which makes me think it wasn’t the first of its range. I feel that it may be a scaled down version of the larger bag, which had been tested and developed to have the angles and scales dialed right in. When scaled down the angles were kept the same, thus almost over correction the set up but I’ll leave this open for Bagaboo to correct me on this suggestion…
Under The Flap
Next up are the outer pockets. There are three of them, with a secure zipped pocket on a slip pocket on the main expanding outer pocket (phew, did that make sense? Maybe just look at the photos). All these pocket’s are a great size for organizing smaller odds and ends like pens, USB sticks, your wallet and phone. The expanding pocket was great for an A4 sized sketch pad or a pair of shoes which I find quite helpful when riding with my road bike shoes.
The main compartment is lined with truck tarpaulin and has a high mouth which is still rare for a flap style single strap bag. Normally this design tends to get scrapped in favor of easier compartment access, but it works for this bag. It’s high enough to create folded corners on the mouth to help prevent rain coming in and low enough to make it comfortable and quick to access.
Inside the bag is pretty bare bones (which is great for a working bag) but with the inclusion of three pockets. One is centered with a Velcro seal and two drop pockets either side. The reason I say “great for a working bag” is that bag couriers need to be quick, and the less places there are for a package/binder/brief/envelope to get caught on the main compartment the better. The liner is a good colour also to help make any items in there stand out (pet hate: black interiors).
Beyond the daily rounds, this bag got up to a little adventure in my time using it, in which I traveled to Far North Queensland where I used it as a day back for the time away. It was a perfect size for a carry on bag for planes, use on tour buses and didn’t leak once in the large number of times I got caught up in the rain that seemed never ending in Cairns. I also lived out of it for a few days on the Whitsundays where I was only allowed a single small bag on a sailing trip.
Best Suited To
This bag would be better suited to the commuter looking for a messenger bag that can be tweaked a little more than you average single strap. The reason I say this is that the bag is designed for the working courier in mind. Its size is a little on the small size (for the medium that is) which would mean couriers would generally steer clear of it unless they only handle small parcels, letters and A4 folders.
Least Suited To
People who don’t ride bikes. This bag isn’t designed to be an accessory to just catch public transport with. It will be frustrating if you are just walking around with it on your back all day without getting into a saddle.
I am still enjoying my Mission Workshop Rummy and I kinda missed it while using the Workhorse. This bag is in between the simpleness of a Chrome single strap and the clean cut, compartmentalized Incase messenger bags. Its hard to judge something on the same level as it.
Overall, this bag is tough and reliable. Bagaboo have a big following amongst London messengers, having earned respect through years of resisting abuse. However this formula does seem better suited to the larger Workhorse bags, as it can feel a little awkward and uncomfortable in this medium size. The materials used are excellent and work well with the bag design.
So the Workhorse doesn’t do anything to reinvent the category, it just forms a solid contender backed by a great company in the handmade boutique bike bag space.