Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Which I Sing the Praises of Cloth Bags

Well, musettes really. I posted this on Cyclechat.co.uk a while back, and having done another post run using my musette at the start of the year, thought it might bear repeating here.


Small lightweight cotton shoulder bag, used for containing food and drink given to riders in a feed zone during a cycle race. The bag is designed so that it can be easily grabbed by a moving rider. The shoulder strap is placed over the head and one shoulder, the contents are then removed and placed into jersey pockets or bottles (bidons) are placed into bottle cages. The bag is then discarded.

I'm quite sure this is old news to those of you who've been riding for a while, but the musette (bonk bag, feed bag) is a great piece of kit for when you have things to carry that amount to too much to stuff in jersey pockets, yet not quite enough to warrant grabbing a messenger bag/backpack or panniers.

One of the things I quite often do on my Sunday ride is taking the post for the people who used to live in our house up to their new place. I can stuff the envelopes, catalogues etc into the musette, drop it all off, then the musette rolls up small for the onward journey - as any cyclist knows, half the fun of a "little errand" is figuring out what mileage you can add on after the fact. The musette is also small enough and light enough to take along on a ride where you might decide to stop off at the bakery on the way home, or similar, very handy for someone whose saddle bag and top tube bag are full of tools &c. (And I'd never get a loaf in either of those anyway...)

The musette itself can be the simple cotton bag described above, and there is, somewhere on the web, a guide to making them from old sheets - I couldn't find that for the purposes of this post, but did turn up this rather lovely page in which a lady had made one for her husband. If you're not up to making one yourself, the excellent Prendas Ciclismo sell a couple of styles of traditional cotton musettes for £6, whilst for slightly more, Urban Hunter offer a modern styled nylon musette, made by Banjo Bros for £6.95, and also sell traditionally styled cotton musettes emblazoned with manufacturer logos for £12.95.

The ne plus ultra of musettes is probably the Rapha Ultimate musette, which retails for a heady £60, and is as far from the simple cotton musette as today's carbon superbikes are from the bikes of cycling's early years. If you can afford to discard this one after emptying it, you probably have a team car to carry your stuff for you anyway.

I'm currently using LPR Brakes and Team High Road musettes, as these were what was available on eBay at the time I bought mine. Look to pay from around £3, depending on the team featured on the bag.

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