Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Response to LovelyBicycle's review of Swift Industries Polaris Porteur Bag

LovelyBicycle is a well-written bicycle/cycling-centered blog that I peruse some times. Today the author posted a thoughtful review on the Polaris porteur bag made by Swift Industries. Since I have had some experience in the last two years with two different porteur racks and two different porteur bags (including Polaris's predecessor, the Pelican), and I use my Kogswell Porteur almost daily. I thought I would comment on her post to add a perspective from someone with extended experience with the porteur bag set up. Here is what I posted on the blogpost:

Handlebar Panda
Accessibility of content during riding
Also, bag can stay open w/o obstructing view
"HI, nice review. I have used porteur rack/bag extensively for the last two years. The bike is a Kogswell P/R with a low-trail fork, which is designed to carry heavy load up front. I have used two different porteur racks--VO and a Roseland rack specifically designed for the Kogswell Fork. I used Polaris's predecessor Pelican for a while before switching to a custom bag made by Ely Rodriguez of Ruth Works. Though the Pelican is of very high quality, some of the issues you mentioned in your review--inaccessibility of content while riding or even standing over the bike, for example--led me to have Ely make a custom bag.

Now the Ruth Works bag attaches to my front rack with an ortlieb pannier hooks and two velcro straps in the front-bottom, and I have a kryptonite thin lock cable attached to it so I can lock it to the bike when I go run my errands. I typically carry a thin/light grocery bag in the porteur bag so I can take it out for shopping. When I am done, I simply drop the entire grocery bag with the content in the porteur bag and begin riding.

The bag opens toward me, and I can access the content while riding much like a boxy handlebar bag. The ortlieb pannier hooks are quick-release and taking the bag off and putting it on is pretty easy, though carry a boxy bag off the bike is not easy so the bag stays on the bike virtually all the time. The bag can stay open, and the lid simply folds down to the front of the bag and doesn't obstruct my view

Besides being a daily workhorse carrying up to 50lbs of grocery (I have carried a 20lbs bag of brown rice AND 30 lbs of grocery from farmers' market once), I have also done a 200k brevet on it once and toured with bag filled up with stuff twice now. Because the bike is designed to carry a moderate to heavy load up-front, the bike stays extremely stable at speed, even as I descended the winding roads of the Santa Cruz mountains this past weekend (with a full load in the bag).

My wife carries all her stuff on her 1982 Trek 720 in panniers on a Tubus Logo rear rack, as the Trek 720 has extremely long chainstays and is designed to be very stable with heavy rear load. I agree with many folks who have already posted here, bike designs matter the most when deciding where to carry the load. I do think that I appreciate some of the design element of my Ruth Works bag more than the Swift, such as content accessibility during riding or standing over bike, and the fact that the bag can stay open when big content overflows and I can still ride. But the Polaris looks like a great bag for the right use."

Bike and view
On the ridge, ready to descend, carry a full load up front and stable through corners

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