Written by Melanie Glass
As a recent Portland transplant from California, I have decided to make a few changes in my life AKA sell my car, dust off my bike, and carry everything I own on my back as I go to and fro. This requires one of these guys:
What you see before you is the Timbuk2 Custom Laptop Messenger bag. Every bike commuter needs some way to transport their belongings with them, whether that means saddle bags, side car or messenger bag. I opted for the messenger bag. (A sidecar seemed a bit bulky…)
When you visit the Timbuk2 website, the first thing you will notice, aside from the bright colors and classy fonts, is how many effing options there are. For practical purposes, I chose to create my own laptop messenger bag as it gives you the most options, (size, colors, reflector tails, etc.) and I want to transport my laptop with me as I venture to new trendy Portland coffee shops in my new hipster life.
After the arduous task of choosing what colors will best compliment every outfit I will ever wear ever, including the binding, logo, and liner colors (sometimes the logo color makes all the difference!), I clicked Add to Cart and ordered my bag. My only tip for this process is NOT TO ORDER THE SMALL SIZE. You will regret it. Thankfully I polled my friends before doing so. As it is, my laptop barely fits. And when I am feeling self conscious about bag size, there are handy buckles that can cinch my bag size down. I opted out of the accessories as well (shoulder pad, reflector tails…) The defaults seemed sufficient.
Within a week, my bag arrived. Initially I was very pleased with the product I had created. It was just lovely.
In practice though, I felt differently.
First off, there are no external pockets. No easy way to access keys, chap stick, cell phone–the things you want at a moments notice. There is also no water bottle sleeve. There goes all hopes of hydration–unless you want to take the bag off your shoulder, open the flap, pull out your water bottle, unscrew the top…which sounds like I am making a big deal out of nothing, but trust me, it’s time consuming.
I think the other big problem is how cumbersome the bag is. While biking, you want the bag high up on your bag, close to your body. Unfortunately, the buckle tightening method Timbuk2 has come up with to help you get your bag on and off is not as easy as it looks.
Check this out to see what I mean:
Notice how she takes all of the heavy stuff OUT of the bag before cinching the cam buckle? Ya, what about when you load up the bag to go somewhere, put it on and THEN need to cinch the cam buckle for your ride? Talk about upper body strength and contorted arm positions.
And lastly, I checked my bag on a plane trip and the strap buckles came back broken. This was no doubt a result of it getting caught in the conveyer belt they use to load the plane, but the point is that when I called Timbuk2 customer service to see if they would make good on their “Lifetime Guarantee,” I could not get through. I emailed them, and they did not email back. So now I have a broken messenger bag sitting in my room collecting dust.
- You get to express yourself by creating it
- You can legitimately fit a LOT of stuff in there
- It is waterproof! (I know I did not mention this earlier, but it is, and that is awesome)
- No outside pockets for easy access
- No water bottle sleeve
- Difficult to adjust the shoulder strap before a bike commute
- Customer service seems unreliable
In conclusion, I love the company, they advertise themselves as witty, fun and full of options, but their product was a bit of a let down. I honestly think there could be a better bag out there for the bike commuter.
In the future I would try a bag by Columbia or Chrome, or any other outdoor sporting goods brand. Just make sure it has all the features you want before you buy it!