The nice, clean lines of a saddle and seat post are a sight to behold but there’s no denying how useful a good saddle bag is for your riding experience. Knowing that all your tools are on the bike at the start of each ride prevents those days where you find you haven’t brought a CO2 cartridge or a tube out with you. In the extremes of hot and cold weather, having all your tools in the back pockets of your jersey never feels particularly comfortable. Anything you can off-load for the bike to carry is more comfortable for you, especially on an all-day ride like an audax.
I’ve stayed away from the larger saddlebags that are suitable for bike touring here. The focus is on the everyday saddle bag where you can put a small amount of basic kit in, rather than for multiple days of riding.
Topeak Aero Wedge
A bit of a classic of the genre is the Topeak Aero Wedge. It’s been around for seemingly forever but just kinda works. Clipped to the rails and the seatpost, that means relatively less swinging of the bag compared to those just clipped onto the saddle rails. Its shape allows for a surprising amount of kit to go in it. All of the basic side-of-the-road tools you can think of will fit in there nicely.
The Lezyne Caddy has a similar design, attaching itself to your bike via the rails and seatpost. Some will prefer its more boxy shape though, maybe not lookswise but for practicality. If you’re putting tyre levels or allen keys in a saddle bag then ideally you want them flat and not at an angle stabbing things. The underside pocket is useful for that extra emergency £5 note, tyre boots and small things like a quick link.
Evoc Seat Bag
The halfway house between the two saddlebags above is the Evoc Seat Bag. Gone is the boxiness of the Caddy and the shape is more consistent than the Wedge and so everything can be placed in nicely. The downward angle also helps your tools stay in the bag when you open up the zip as well. The majority of saddlebags seem to come in black or grey so a bright orange is quite a change of pace as well.
Scicon Elan 210 Saddle Bag
If you want minimalism, then the Scicon Elan 210 saddle bag is a great option. It holds just enough to be practical without being too small. It fits snuggly onto the saddle rails and sits well away from your legs. If you want to take a few things out of our jersey pockets and store them on the bike so you’ve always got them to hand, this saddle bag will do a small but effective job.
Restrap Saddle Bag
In contrast to the minimalist saddle bag is the overkill bag from Restrap. More akin to backpacking, you can fit absolutely everything in the Restrap saddle bag. If you’re doing a long Audax or the Dunwich Dynamo then something like this with enough room to carry some extra layers for the night or standing around parts of the ride (and getting home). You can feasibly pack any and every tool in this saddle bag.