For over a decade I’ve used the same messenger bag for my daily commute and just about everything other occasion which demands I carry more than the load my pockets can bear. It’s miles from the best bag on the market but the two of us have become strangely inseparable. I knew it’s flaws and it has moulded to the inadequacies of my awkward body shape. We’ve done thousands of miles together, it has nearly been left in dozens of cake shops and despite all of its inadequacies and trust me there are loads, we have something of a deep and inseparable tie.
While some people renew their choice of bag with the same frequency as their toothpaste I have the same relationship to my bag as I do to my bank. I really should change it but I probably wont.
When the guys from ILE approached us about reviewing one of their bags I was therefore in no way eager to jump on this particular opportunity. Their request struck me as much more of a inconvenience than an opportunity.
Something about the ILE brand did however have me at least a little curious; maybe it was their guarantee of being U.S. hand made with U.S sourced materials and thus sweat shop free, or their being a small organic company rooted in the needs of real cyclists, or the fact that what ever I see with an ILE badge on it my reaction tends to be the same, ‘How damn cool is that?!!?!?!’
The ILE Race Bag arrived and first impressions were that this is some serious kit with a ridiculous level of attention to detail and capable of meeting some serious demands. Great fabric clearly capable of much abuse, a lightweight construction meaning you’re carrying the bare minimum in additional weight and the kind of design which immediately leaves you calling out phrases like, ‘Ah that’s clever’, ‘I like that’ and ‘mmmm neat’.
Before we go any further let’s acknowledge a few important facts.
Firstly; the perfect bag is as elusive as the perfect bike. It’s perfection lies only in its ability to perfectly meet your particular needs. No bag can do everything, no bag should be expected to do everything. If anything claims to do everything it almost certainly does nothing very well. Only monkeys take their gym bag into the office and their suitcase for the weekly shop. My criteria were clear; a bag capable of carrying my day kit to and through a variety of circumstances with comfort and ease on and off the saddle.
Secondly, my use of the aforementioned bag is almost certainly more aggressive than many people. We covered just under three hundred miles on the saddle together, over a dozen train journeys including a very late and very hot trip to Red Hook Crit and a random assortment of non race related content was forced in and out of this bag.
5 Things I Love About The ILE Race Day Bag
- The brilliant mesh pouch designed to hold your helmet when you’re not riding; leaving your hands free for things like . . . life, while enabling easy access when you do need your helmet.
- The extreme comfort which comes from combining great ergonomic design and a careful choice of materials (XPAC Sail Cloth) including a near perfectly padded mesh back. There are few bags I would willingly use to carry my kit across busy London streets for hour after hour but this one easily met such a requirement leaving me comfortable and content.
- The ability to open the entire front of the bag via two parallel zips. This neat design is the bags defining feature and what separates it from the Apex or the Apex Mini. It’s called the race bag for a reason. The simple idea behind this bag is that if you ride in such a way that it demands a complete change of clothes footwear etc then this bag enables that transition with ease. Because the entire front opens you can wave goodbye to desperately searching for your shades somewhere between your jersey and your race cape. Unzip both sides release both buckles and suddenly your belonging are before you as neatly as you first packed them.
- The sleek minimal design. No unnecessary add ons which just leave you wondering ‘what the heck is that for?’
- Being asked, ‘excuse me where did you get your bag?’ and being able to smugly reply ‘It's available at www.urbancycles.org.uk/shop
The One And Only Thing I Really Didn’t Like:
The Race Bag contains a laptop sleeve with draw strings. To be clear; ILE claim this is in fact a compartment for dirty laundry although I would bet my life that it is far more commonly used as a lap top sleeve than a laundry bag. Such an addition appears to have become almost mandatory to any back pack. Sadly the guys at ILE haven’t quite worked out that if your main bag opening and your laptop sleeve/laundry bag are in two opposing directions you have a problem. Removing only your lap top/dirty socks is annoyingly awkward. My hope is that in time the guys at ILE resolve this by placing two short zips along either side of the top panel making the aforementioned panel an alternative opening for such a time as this. Such an addition would make this bag virtually unbeatable.
Dear Mr Bank Manager there’s something you should know. . .
Goodbye messenger bag!
The ILE Race Day Bag is vailable in Red, Black or Grey BUY NOW