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Brooks Barbican shoulder bag review

31 Oct 2016

The Barbican is an attractive shoulder bag for the fashion-conscious casual commuter.

Brooks’ trendy bag is a great piece of stealth cycling gear, but better suited to casual riding than a tough kit-stuffed daily commute

Brooks England, famed for its iconic leather saddles, treads the thin line between being a cycling component manufacturer and a fashion brand. And no single product embodies that more than the Barbican shoulder bag.

With European tanned leather trimmings and a fine cotton canvas body, the Barbican seems on the surface to be a simple trendy man-bag. But on closer inspection there are some nice features for cyclists too.

The elegant, understated strap feeds through two tastefully set metal hinges on either side of the bag. The ends of the strap can then be pulled through the hinges to form a waist strap for riding.

Fittingly this relates to one of Brooks founder John Boultbee’s original patents for a cycling satchel. Given the simple mechanics of the strap, it grips the body with a surprising level of comfort – spreading the load of the bag fairly evenly.

When cycling, the leather pads on the rear of the bag also create some nice cushioning but also some much needed space between the bag and the rider’s back.

Keep it casual

While the bag has a handsome classical look that will suit casual use off the bike, it’s not suited to the harder demands of road riding.

The rigid vertical strap attachment means that where normal courier bags will tend to hug your body with a large load, the Barbican begins to stick out awkwardly when completely filled.

This, importantly, is a bag best suited to a fixie or town bike, for carrying essential personals. Separated into two compartments and four pockets on the front, the Barbican’s 13-litre volume is partitioned at the centre making it ideal for a laptop and books but a little tight for any clothing or kit.

The front pockets offer two slots for pens and a phone compartment, behind which sits a zippable interior pocket, ideal for storing a wallet, or a phone if it’s raining.

There is also a zippable pocket between the two main compartments, which is best put to use storing papers and documents.

The outer is comprised of a water resistant cotton canvas that works surprisingly well at keeping the contents dry in wet conditions – I was caught in the rain several times and never saw the contents become damp.

The Barbican is probably best described as a very fetching bag with a cycling theme, rather than a bag purely for use on a bike. That said, for casual urban riding I found this bag to be a perfect partner.

Verdict: Brooks’ trendy bag is a great piece of stealth cycling gear, but better suited to casual riding than a tough kit-stuffed daily commute.

£235 /


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