[wprebay kw=”aluminum+panniers” num=”22″ ebcat=”-1″]
Arkel Bug Vs Vaude Cycle 25
Image by Ibán
Inside of the Arkel Bug. Pretty Spartan, no pad or cushion whatsoever, in fact the back of the rucksack is a rigid piece of hard plastic. No dedicated space for a laptop.
A much anticipated comparison between two pannier/rucksac products from two of the leading brands (a pity Ortlieb hasn’t come out with a good solution yet).
So I got the Arkel Bug a couple of years ago, and was extremely disappointed with the result. The fitting hooks did not fit my Zefal rack (one of the most widely available brands in France and Spain), so I had to replace the rack. Then I discovered that the aluminium hooks were so sharp that they literally destroyed the metal part of the rack on the contact point.
As a rucksack is not very comfortable either, the metal hook that attaches the bag to the bottom part of the bike rack is always on the way (that’s on your back); you got two clunky bits of aluminium up your neck (the bag is really tall), there’s no chest strap, and to make things worse, the bottom of the bag is shaped as a wedge, so the bag is never ever going to stand, it just falls (ok for a pannier that you are not going to be putting anywhere but on your bike rack…but not very clever for a rucksack that you are to take with you anywhere, librarly, class, office, sports centre, etc).
On the fabric/material side comes the only plus of the bag. The entire product oozes quality (at 179 $ / 100 GBP is the least you can get); for the ridiculously high price you don’t even get a rain cover. Result: I haven’t used the bag for 2 years. The inside of the bag is “Spartan” to say the least. The back is not padded and there is no pocket/keyring/pen holder of any kind.
Same goes for the outer pocket (there is an extra hidden pocket that is supposed to house the raincover). So it seems that they took a pannier and tried to double it as a rucksack adding some features; a complete fail (since it simply doesn’t work), obviously in my opinion.
So last month I bought a Vaude Cycle 25, another pannier/rucksack combo I had been looking at for years (after wasting a lot of cash on the Arkel Bug, I didn’t exactly felt like spending more on another bag, so I stuck to my Ortlieb panniers until now). So I got the Vaude. What a nice surprise.
The bag is almost 400 gram lighter that it’s Canadian counterpart (which is nearly 50% of its weight). The bag comes with plastic hooks that fit into my Tubus rack AND it comes with an extra pair of hooks for thicker tubed racks (say a Zefal or a German/Dutch bike). The fitting on the bike is fast with a black adjustable rubber band. The fabric not the Vaude is not as sturdy as the Arkel’s Cordura, but it’s tons lighter AND comes with a raincover, that it’s neatly stowed on a lower compartment. This same compartment houses the “pannier system” ; you simply undo the zip, and the pannier hooks disappear of sight under the bag leaving you with a proper rucksack (way more comfortable than the Arkel), a bag that no one would actually suspects is a pannier.
The inside of the bag looks also like a proper rucksack, there is a padded compartment for a laptop/books, a keyring hanger, and the outer pocket has lots of little pockets for coins, mobile phone, etc.
The Vaude comes with an extra flexible attachment to carry a helmet. All in all, a really well made bag, light, comfortable and nice. But most of all, a product that delivers (at a reasonable price, you could actually buy more than 2 Vaude for the price of the Arkel).
Arkel Bug: 1365 gr (3 Lb): 179 $ (100 GBP)
Vaude Cycle 25: 980 gr (2 Lb 2 Oz): 45 GBP
A review of someone who likes the Arkel Bug: EcoVelo
A review of someone who does not like the Arkel Bug: Why I hate my Arkel Bug