Velo Orange Mixte Commutes & the Search for the Ideal Bags

Lately I’ve been on a mission to ride all of my bikes more often. This is partially due to needing to clean the Surly LHT as well as change out a tube, but also because if I’m going to own multiple bikes I feel should make the effort to ride them all.

Velo Orange Mixte and Berthoud

The past couple weeks, I’ve commuted almost exclusively on my Velo Orange Mixte, built up from a frame set I purchased over two years ago.

The Velo Orange is a great town bike. Reasonably priced and built up primarily with existing parts in the Dining Room Bike Shop (most of them coming off of my old commuter, a Novara Randonnee), I’m happy to be riding it again.

Me on the Velo Orange Mixte

I do not have the Velo Orange set up with a rear rack at all so I have been messing around with my bag system in order to have enough carrying capacity to haul my stuff to and from the office and give me a little extra room in case I stop for something on the way home.

Initially, I had the bike set up with a front Berthoud bag (a lovely gift from Felkerino) and a rear Acorn saddle bag that I purchased several years ago. Acorn has recently brought these saddle bags back and I think they are beautiful.

When I rode the mixte like this I was in bag heaven, as these are the two most aesthetically pleasing bags that I own. However, I found the carrying capacity to be insufficient. While the Berthoud bag fit my purse perfectly, the Acorn saddle bag did not provide enough space for the other things I wanted to carry.

Velo Orange Mixte and Acorn

The Acorn is designed to accommodate 5.5 liters or so.Even though I keep my work clothes and shoes at the office, I carry gym clothes and a U-lock every day as well as other essentials, and frequently stop at the grocery store on the way home. So as much as I loved the Acorn bag it became a situation analogous to wearing shoes that hurt my feet, but that I still kept wearing because they looked so awesome.

Last week I removed the Acorn and installed a more industrial black Carradice Nelson longflap we had in stock in the Dining Room Bike Shop bag department. According to the Carradice site, the Nelson can carry 18 liters.

Velo Orange Mixte and Carradice

The Nelson’s size was much better for commuting. I strapped the bag on to my bike using the tabs on my Brooks saddle and affixing another strap to my seatpost. I did not use a Bagman because I don’t like them.

Initially I worried that the Carradice Nelson would be too large for the bike and that it would rub on the fender, making the fender in turn rub my tire, but that has not happened so far. The bag nestles cozily in between the fender and my saddle and has been working out great. As I said, it’s not as stylish as the Acorn, but functionality wins the day on my commute.

Velo Orange Mixte

I love the Berthoud front bag, but I have also been thinking about switching it out because I would be so upset if it was stolen. It is secured tightly to the bike, but given that it is on a bike I use to run errands and sometimes sits outside locked to a rack (poor bike), it might make more sense to move it onto another bike. Any thoughts? Am I overthinking its value? Use what you already own and all that?

I have other plans for the Acorn so it will not linger long in the Dining Room Bike Shop bag department. In the meantime, the Berthoud and Carradice Nelson make for a good urban commute setup on the Velo Orange Mixte.

19 responses to “Velo Orange Mixte Commutes & the Search for the Ideal Bags

  1. @velowanderingdc

    I have the cheap handlebar bag from VO because I didn’t want a more expensive bag for thieves to steal. I think they call it the Campagne. I didn’t like it at first as it flopped around but since I don’t take the bag off the bike I replaced the bottom strap with extra heavy duty zip ties. Its all good now. Good cheap alternative.

  2. You could ziptie a small Wald basket to your front rack like Derrick does.
    http://family-bike-words.blogspot.com/2013/03/basket-case.html

    It would allow versatile load carrying ability.

    • A basket is a great alternative. Thanks for the idea!

    • Plus one or whatever the kids call it to this idea. The basket itself goes for $20 and you don’t have to worry about it when you get off your bike. It’s what I do on my Raleigh Crested Butte.

      • I think I have an solution, at least for the interim… BUT the basket is still something I am considering. I did look at the Velo Orange bag and had the same reaction as you. It seemed expensive for what the bag offers.

  3. Any thoughts on a saddle bag about the size of the Nelson that has a decent shoulder strap option for carrying when off the bike. True nerd question, I know, but looking for something carry-on size that I can actually carry comfortably, then strap onto a Brompton and pedal away from the airport. I have the small Brompton bag in the front and am looking for the saddle complement but it has to work off the bike too.

    • Hi, Shane. I can’t think of anything off-hand, but if I come across a bag that fits that description, I’ll let you know.

  4. In a slightly spooky coincidence, my girlfriend recently got her Velo Orange Mixte back from the powdercoater, where it became a lovely shade of green. Now she’s in the thick of the same “how do I carry stuff” dilemma that you are. Even stranger… the latest piece of the solution is a Carradice Nelson Longflap! You can read a little about it and find a link to photos here: http://www.spokesofawheel.blogspot.com/2013/05/velo-orange-mixte.html

    • I saw that bike in your photostream, and it’s what inspired me to put on the Carradice (although I thought you had put a Camper on it)! Size-wise, I think the current setup is perfect, but now I am seriously considering the basket idea…

  5. I’ve been looking at that small rickshaw bag you have on the front of some of your bikes. I mean the reaaaaly small one. Do you think it would work well on my Tikit? I ask, as I know you have one too.

  6. Zip tie the bag on the rack. Not foolproof but they’d have to have something to cut the ties with, you can put several, and they’re cheap.

  7. Meant to ask, any thoughts comparing the Camper long flap with the Nelson long flap? I know the former’s a little bigger. Also, though not traditional, a tangle bag ( go here https://www.revelatedesigns.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=store.catalog&CategoryID=1&ProductID=5) is a good addition. I’ve been using one for the commute on my HILLBORNE.

    • I like those Revelate bags, though have not purchased one myself. With regard to comparing the Camper to the Nelson… Felkerino and I will use the Camper for winter rides on the tandem and the Nelson for spring brevets, as the Camper its bulkier things.

      On my singles, I have liked the Nelsons or even the Pendles for tooling around town because the Camper seems a little too much saddle bag for commuting.

  8. Didn’t I see some post on doing a brevet on a Bike Friday? Have you done one? I’ve done several 200 k’s, but was having trouble responding to the thread on my BBerry. If you want to start a response, I’ll be glad to chime in.

    Leslie
    Sent via phone

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