Finally we managed to find something from Malle we thought didn't exist - cool panniers. Not content with that we've bought you a classic collaboration between two great British brands Norton and Clarks, some turquoise gorgeousness from Bell, and a tough functional pack from Ally Cappelino. All in this week's Gear Guide.
PRODUCT REVIEW BY THE BIKE SHED'S VERY OWN NEARLY CANADIAN - TIMM WELLENS - MALLE JOHN TOOL BAG/PANNIER
There are loads of companies out there trying producing stuff for everyday punters with the intention of innovation and quality. Most of the stuff is dreamt up based on one man’s vision, but often only is intended for himself. The guys at Malle are doing something very special with what they create. Their thing is bags. Not handbags, but proper bags to carry stuff, inspired by trade hold-alls from an era gone by.
Based on a show they did with DeBolex in London, I got their John Tool Bag. It’s a good sized bag, not too big that it’s bulky, not too small that it only fits a pair of gloves. Like a Goldilocks bag one might say. On first impression the thing is amazing. It is made of a heavy waxed canvas with leather base and trim. Apparently the cotton lining is organic. So it’s got that going for it.
The big thing about it is the details. There are several pockets inside, in different sizes to carry various things. I use it for work, so it neatly stores my ipad, cables, notebook, pens and change of clothes. It fits everything neatly inside with easy access without having to remove half the contents to find your bloody pen. Some like the ‘one bag’ thing, I say life is too short for searching.
It has discrete straps that turn the bag into a pannier, simply by fastening to the rear sub-frame, so no longer do you need break your back carrying your crap to work. Another clever idea is that it goes from a backpack to a shoulder carrier by use of the same strap. Maybe this has been done before, but I haven’t seen it. And the part that gets me most is the opening. They have used the old doctors bag mechanism so you open the bag and it stays open. With the heavy duty construction and robust leather base you stand the bag up, open the top and go in grab what you need easily without struggling to try and keep it open. I like the way these guys think. They really have thought of everything. The bag comes in three different configurations.
If you are looking for a stylish, well thought out bag that is top quality, contact these guys. I am sure that you will be as happy me.
CLARKES NORTON ZIP BOOT
Two of the UK’s most iconic brands collaborate on an exciting new range of built for business mens biker-styled footwear. Clarks have been making shoes in the UK since 1825 and with their distinguished heritage in the art of shoemaking, benchmark innovations and a passion for cobbling, they have created enduring classic styles. Similarly, Norton have designed and engineered some of the most iconic and innovative machines in motorcycling history – the Manx, the Dominator and the legendary Commando. Given the ‘national treasure’ status of both brands and our their obsession with function and form, it was only natural that a fruitful collaboration should arise - and, what a stunning collaboration this is.
The Norton Zip is a classic high rise boot to be worn over jeans or leathers. They have a calf length over 4cm taller thantheir popular Norton Brass engineer style and are made from thick, hardwearing black leather with double buckle fastenings and a rear zip finishing the look. An Ortholite® footbed cushions and wicks away moisture, while reinforced gear change toe panel detailing and a Goodyear Welted construction enhance the engineered aesthetic.
These have a classic cafe racer look, but with a modern twist. They are a tough boot, and will look after you well through the bitter winter months.
REVIEW BY THE BIKE SHED LEGEND KNOWN AS 'LITTLE BIG NOISE' - AKA VIKKI VAN SOMEREN - ALLY CAPPELINO FRANK BAG
When I was asked if I'd be up for testing out a new bag (after moaning for months that I needed a new rucksack) I finally received my first Ally Capellino bag. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of them before and I looked at it thinking, "Umm nice bag, but way to square and big for my little back!
I really thought that it would be pretty useless for my small frame, I was giving Gareth the evil eye every time he came round showing of his slender version of the same bag.
I finally took it for a road test, well actually it was an over night trip to Paris to recce the BSMC venue. To mine and Dutch’s delight, I could fit all my crap in it: my overnight clothes, make up, spare trainers, laptop and cables! Yes fellas, it fits loads of stuff, but the real surprise was how comfortable it was on my back. Somehow, despite being wide and full of stuff, the load was spread evenly and easy to wear. I should know I lugged it around Paris for a day!
The bag also works well on the bike too, the straps are positioned perfectly, so it doesn't move around nor restrict movement. There are no straps to tuck away and again, despite being full with my laptop and gym kit, it was still comfy.
So a bit about the bag, it’s British, its called Frank and its waxed cotton – how ironic. With a quirky heritage dating back from the early 80’s and a renegade from the outset, founder Alison Lloyd’s debut collection of T-shirts based around the 1980 Moscow Olympics scandal caused a stir. Since then she has been a constant on the scene, working with Apple and The Ace Hotel… need I say more. The bag is well-built, soft to touch and has some really nice detail on it, like the leather base and bridal straps.
So if you’re in the market for a unisex bag, that fits loads of stuff, British made, comfortable on ya back and all in a smart little big’ish package, this is the bag for you.
BELL BULLITT RETRO BLUE HELMET
Those of you who know me are more than fully aware I'm partial to a bit of turquoise bling, so it is with was delight I discovered the limited edition Bullitt Retro Blue lid. The Bullitt was the hot lid of 2014, anticipated with baited breath, and as lovely as the design is, the initial colour-ways were a touch sombre. It's good to see that they've ramped it up with their limited runs. This is a lovely shade of seventies tinted turquoise, similar to the iconic and gorgeous Bianchi blue used on generations of racing pedal bikes.
The Bullitt is a special lid. It's lightweight and offers a wide field of view, great for hyper alert city riding and general all-around safety. It’s also highly adaptable—run it with the included straight clear shield or with one of many straight or bubble-shaped aftermarket shields. Plus, thanks to a slick leather-clad magnet tab, the shield can be cleanly removed and the helmet can be worn with glasses or goggles.
The Bullitt's features include three shell EPS system, ergonomic quick snap cheekpads, five metal mesh air intake vents, a five year warranty, luxurious leather interior and leather trim, a "Magnefusion" shield closure, a very low profile, and removable and washable comfort liner. There’s also a hidden switch inside the chinbar that toggles airflow on and off.
It's fully rated ECE 22.05 European Safety Rated.
Here's a lovely of bit trivia courtesy of Union Garage NYC: "The Bullitt has been on the drawing board since 2009. And it wasn’t Bell’s drawing board, but that of an industrial design student named Chad Hodge, who spent half a year developing the Bullitt as his senior thesis.
" Not a bad first design into production for Chad!
HELSTONS DOUGLASS LEATHER JACKET
If you're looking for a leather Trailmaster style jacket, but don't want to pay the Beckham brand prices, the Douglass from French bike wear brand Helstons is a great alternative. It's build quality is extremely high, and meets the same specifications their products have become renowned for.
It's manufactured from full grain cow leather 0.9/1.1mm thickness. It is vintage treated with oils for natural and supple finish, and has anti-abrasion lining in sleeves. It's been subjected to a wash treatment for a worn and aged finish. It has heavy duty traditional cotton lining and a removable thermal lining.
It features CE approved armour in the elbows, shoulders and back, and has a waterproof membrane, and a zip around the collar housing a lightweight, waterproof hood.
The 3/4 length style allows you to layer up with warm winter jumpers and fleeces, and at least give you half a chance of keeping your arse warm on a winter commute. It looks pretty good too once you get there.