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Brooks Pickwick linen bag review

12 Sep 2018
Verdict:

A bag of two halves. Great aesthetics and surprisingly spacious yet expensive and not great in all weather

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£188
For 
• Aesthetically beautiful • Fits more than expected
Against 
• Linen, as a material, struggles with varied weather • Mighty expensive

As you go through life, you realise that there will be many things that you want to enjoy but fundamentally come to have major issues with.

For example, I want to love the fluid tika-taka football of Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Barcelona team from 2008 to 2012 but I struggle to accept the blatant cheating of Sergio Busquets.

I want to enjoy sunbathing on a beach but I'm always left seething at the sand that finds its way into my socks.

I also want to enjoy the pies you get from traditional pie and mash shops but cannot help but think they really just taste of salty rubber.

Buy the Brooks Pickwick linen bag from Evans Cycles

The Brooks Pickwick linen bag has unfortunately joined Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Barcelona team, pies and sandy beaches on this list. I want to love it but realistically I just cannot. 

I want to love this bag because ultimately, I love the way it looks. 

The simple rolltop gives a neat close while the tan canvas straps contrast the blue linen perfectly. You can also plump for a fetching red or tan if you're adventurous, or brown or black if more reserved; a good variety I'd say.

Brooks has also made linen cool again despite the best efforts of Michael Portillo during his whistlestop great railways journeys around North America, using it to give a relaxed, chic appeal that had me immediately thirstay for an Aperol Spritz.

The bag looks compact enough not to resemble a kid's bloated bag on the first day of secondary school but also big enough not to resemble their miniature Nike Just Do It that they finished Year 11 with.

The metal fastener across the chest is also neatly finished and offers a contrast to the well-finished leather panels. 

More than looks, the bag is also much more spacious than it looks at first glance. 

Brooks claims that the bag has a capacity of 12L, which seems modest, but having used to commute for the past few months it's quite clear it can fit much more.

You can comfortably store all you need on your commute. A change of clothes, laptop, wallet, deodorant, spare lights fits easily without the bag looking bloated or becoming awkward to wear.

The bag has a separate padded 13-inch sleeve for a laptop that proved handy for carrying around my laptop and the latest issue of Cyclist magazine.

It also has three smaller compartments, one of which of zipped, which also helps you keep tabs on your smaller items rather than them being loose in the bag.

I also like the small additional pocket in the bottom of the bag that's perfectly sized to store a spare inner tube, some tyre levers and even a small hand pump.

Brooks has also been smart in the adding metal fasteners at the top of the bag which helps with the closure. It pulls in the excess material, meaning that when done up, there is less chance of water getting in and things falling out.

While the straps don't look comfortable, they actually are. They are wide which helps distribute the weight of the bag evenly and the soft canvas is not intrusive on the skin.

With all this, you may be thinking, well what's the problem? Fundamentally, it comes down to two substantial issues, price and durability.

At £188, the Brooks Pickwick bag costs about the same as a week-long all-inclusive holiday in Gran Canaria, give or take a few quid.

This will probably come as no surprise if you're aware of the price of Brooks' saddles and other bags. When compared to the world of high fashion, it could even be considered reasonable. 

Yet, realistically, commuting cyclists do not want to be spending large sums of money on something that's going to get beaten up and bashed around.

There will be some, of course, the wealthy for which this isn't a large amount of money, but for most, it will.

What also makes the price tag harder to swallow is that this bag will not survive a 12-month year.

It's made of linen and, after years of working in a suit shop, I can categorically guarantee you that linen does not do well in any weather conditions other than wall-to-wall sunshine.

Buy the Brooks Pickwick linen bag from Evans Cycles

Brooks promises that the Pickwick linen is water-resistant thanks to a PU coating which can handle a light spattering of drizzle but is no match for a proper English shower, as I came to realise recently having arrived home from my commute with a bag filled with soggy clothes.

I have no doubt that this bag will do all you need it to during a long, hot summer in somewhere beautiful such as the Amalfi Coast or the Costa Brava but it probably will not for 12 long months in dreary Dartford, Darlington or Derby.