London brand Vel-Oh has been on the British bike scene since early 2014, but is only now getting the full recognition it deserves for the high quality products it produces.
The company was set up by Zulfi and Greta, a husband and wife team of urban cyclists. They’ve worked to bring edgy city focused style to their selection of commuter’s bags, without overlooking durability, form or function. Their very first design, the simple Commuter Bag comes in a range of colours, including the gorgeously bright sunshine style that we decided to take for a spin on our own morning cycle to work.
Thanks to interchangeable straps, the bag can be used as a backpack, or as a tote. Costing £185, we were expecting something pretty impressive - and we weren't disappointed.
The first thing you notice about the Vel-Oh Sunshine commuter bag is how well made it is and the incredible quality of its materials.
The baby blue British Millerain waxed cotton is simultaneously soft and sturdy and the yellow leather straps give the design a pop that makes the bag stand out from most commuting backpacks of its kind. Opening the bag, it’s a nice surprise to find a separate, polka dot pattern in the lining, made with equally smart material. This is definitely not a bag that you only buy for practicality, it can give most fashion satchels a run for their money when it comes to looks also.
This bag is much more than a pretty face however. Hidden within its good looks, the Sunshine Commuter Bag has a lot of clever technology. At the front you’ll find a secret external magnetised front pouch to keep your phone and purse handy and at the bottom you’ll find a studded base, for ease when taking on and off as you chain up your bike. Furthermore, at the back you’ll find a padded section, to keep your back protected and inside there's a hand cut, concealed carbon fibre support. Pretty nifty, ey?
The backpack features 'interchangeable strap technology' - it can be transformed from a backpack to a tote bag and uses magnets at the opening to keep it closed in either formation.
When laid out on a table, the straps fit under each other perfectly, to make the bag securely closed and ready to put on your back. When it comes to actually putting it on however, it’s a little more difficult to make it stay closed and fitted.
This is a bag that needs a little practice to get right. I found that as the straps were interconnected, picking up the bag with one side sometimes caused the other side to pull up, making the bag collapse. Sat on your back however, the straps work perfectly and the pack leans perfectly against the middle of your back.
The clever part of this bag is how it can be transformed to suit your use at the time, with no effort whatsoever. Simply undo the straps and pull them up, to create a smart everyday bag for when you’re out and about, then loop them back around when you’re on your bike. Does it take a few goes to get it right? Yes. Is it worth putting in the practice? Definitely.
If you were impressed with how this bag looks, wait until you take it for a ride. The yellow straps that could easily be passed off as a style feature are designed perfectly to adapt to the size of your back and keep the bag in place.
Over a ride of an hour and a quarter through a busy city, the bag did not once shift position on my back, or dig into my shoulders or sides.
One point worth mentioning, is that the magnets at the top have to be closed carefully, to be sure that they bag is secure. If you miss the positioning of the magnets, it is possible for the top of the bag to slowly open over a long ride.
The best thing about riding with the Sunshine Commuter Bag however, is the weight. For the sturdiness and size of this commuter bag, it’s insanely light and soft. When it has nothing inside, it barely weighs anything at all! However, with carbon fibre used inside, and a price tag that reflects the attention to detail - we're hardly surprised.
We think the Vel-Oh Sunshine Commuter Bag does a great job of combining function and style and exceed themselves in achieving a chic urban vibe in their products.
The bag isn’t the simplest in its technology, but that fact is easily forgivable because of the amazing ingenuity that goes into all areas of its construction. The symbiotic approach that the company has taken to create a product that can keep up with the needs of a city cyclist, makes you feel like you’re buying a product from a company that truly understands your needs.
If you want a bag that is made for cycling, but don’t want to lose any of the stylishness of a cool day bag, this is the look for you.
See it here, for £185.