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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review: SQR Saddlebag Quick Release System

 I've always used saddlebags by tying them to the saddlebag loops on my bike. I recently decided to try visiting the office, now that I'm fully vaccinated, and stuck my Macbook Pro 16 into my Carradice Camper Longflap, and then rode it. The Camper swallows everything I can throw at it, and the Macbook was no exception, but then what I discovered that the saddlebag then hits my thigh as I ride. (I'd previously never had the problem on tour, because I'd never stuck such a large flat, rigid object in the saddlebag before) And before you say it, yes, saddlepack systems like the Revelate Terrapin are all the rage for cycle touring, but none of those will ever fit a laptop of any size, let alone the giant-ass inconveniently designed Macbook Pro 16.

OK, let's try the SQR system. It retails for about $50 after shipping from England, and boasts the additional advantage of doubling as a quick release with a handle. It was worth a try. The device is a little tricky --- you have to remove the saddle and slide it on along with the spring and then position it facing directly backwards. But I installed it without a problem, and discovered that I had enough seatpost both before and after the offset part of my Thomson offset seatpost, so those of you with offset seatposts don't have to worry --- even if it doesn't fit below the kink, it will fit above the kink!

In the lowest position, the bag clears the rear wheel, and doesn't touch the thigh. But it turns out that you can lift it higher, to the offset section of the Thomson seat post with no problems. The problem is that unless you stuff the bag full of stuff (like on tour), it sags, so I had to do the cross-strap trick. But that made the radar unusable.

So I stole my wife's beautiful Sackville Bag, and lo and behold, no sag, no problem. It truly is a much better designed bag than the Carradice (as it ought to be, for $100 more!). It even clears the fender!

But as you can see, the Macbook sticks out like a tongue. And to be honest, the Sackville was so small that it didn't need the SQR block, which weighs 149g for the block, 248g for the frame, and 7g for the strap handle, adding nearly a pound to the bike. So I guess I'll steal the Sackville bag for summer riding, and go back to my Timbuk2 for rainy rides where I need to carry the Macbook, which are rare now that I'm in a drought. Or maybe I'll find a way to downgrade to a smaller laptop that doesn't stick out.


Fear rothar said...

In my humble opinion, the SQR "block" is designed bass-ackwards. The slot into which you initially insert the frame should be at the top of the block, instead of at the bottom. This would allow you just drop the frame into the slot, immediately relieving you of the weight of the bag.

The sprung latch should be moved to the bottom of the block, positioned such that the second contact point of the frame can just pivot into it. The latch is not weight bearing. It merely has to stop the lower part of the frame from pivoting outwards.

This configuration would also have the additional advantage of requiring less clearance over the rear wheel. You would no longer have to drop the bag down, onto a rear fender, say, before lifting it (awkwardly) up into the lower slot.

Piaw Na said...

I think the big problem is that the entire setup adds so much weight! I think the modern revelate style saddlebag is much better for touring if you're not carrying a laptop. And the Rivendell design is so much better if you do need to carry a laptop!

Fear rothar said...

Agreed regarding the weight. Regarding touring, I have used something of a hybrid on recent trips, a "bikepacking" style saddlebag from Arkel which uses a frame for stability and faster fitting and removal:

A laptop will definitely not fit, however!