Review: Basil Urban Fold Bike Bag

Basil Urban Fold Double Bag
Basil Urban Fold Double Bag. David Fiedler

Dutch bike bag company Basil is known for its practical, minimalist design. With bike bags that are designed to both look good and function well, Basil's products have been well-received by cyclists in Europe and beyond. Basil's collection includes a variety of styles of bike bags, including traditional panniers as well as seat and handlebar-mounted bags plus others designed to be worn on the body.

Basil even has a line of pet carrier baskets so you can take your favorite furry friend along with you on the bike. (And they don't even have to run alongside!)

We had the chance to check out some bags from Basil's Urban Fold collection, which includes the Urban Fold Cross-Body Bag, the Messenger Bag and the Urban Fold Double Bag.

What is most notable about these bags is the attention that has been clearly paid to design and function. When empty, the bags stay flat, pressed sleekly against the side of the rack mount not even extending wider than the rider's pedals. This is in contrast to some other panniers we've reviewed, which while impressively durable and large in capacity, aren't exactly subtle, even when completely empty. Then when it's time to carry some cargo, the Urban Fold bags extend outward, transforming magically almost into a deceptively large capacity bag, all the while managing to present an impressively boxy appearance, classic in design.

The smart design continues in other aspects of the bags as well.  In the case of the Urban Fold Double Bag, durable straps support the bag across a rack, allowing the two pannier bags to hang down on either side. A nifty strap and buckle system on the underside of the straps, on both left and right sides, front and back allows the bag to fit virtually any size rack set-up, with flexibility to adjust positioning for maximum stability and to avoid the dreaded heel-strike, which is where the bag sits too far forward in its mounting on the rack and your feet continually bang into the bags on the rearward part of the pedal stroke.

Made from Recycled Canvas

The bags - even new - come with a comfortable, weathered appearance, almost like your favorite pair of jeans. Made with a water-repellent (note: not waterproof) recycled canvas and paired inner lining, the Urban Fold Double Bag has a innovative Velcro closure that allows the bag to be closed neatly regardless of the actual amount of stuff you have inside, offering protection that will keep your cargo dry in all but the most mighty downpours.

The Urban Fold Double Bag offers 42 liter capacity when folded and a full 55 liter capacity when open. Also when open, the bags reveal reflective graphics to help increase your visibility when you're out in low-level light conditions.

Pricing

Pricing on the Urban Fold Double Bag is about $70 currently plus shipping through Amazon and it comes in either black (a lightly faded black, mind you) or denim blue.  For the messenger bag, it naturally has a smaller capacity than the Double Bag, holding 16-20 liters depending on if it is folded or unfolded. Pricing there is also about $75-80 on Amazon.  The slightly bigger Urban Fold Cross-Body bag has a capacity of 20-25 liters, (folded vs unfolded) and carries handles in addition to a detachable shoulder strap.

In design and appearance it looks and functions much like a large, soft-sided briefcase.  It runs $75 and up.

All in all, these Basil Urban Fold bags are sleek when folded, yet still manage gracefully to expand to carry some pretty sizeable loads without appearing bulky.  They are smartly made as you might expect from the Dutch who are pretty much the masters of practical and comfortable urban cycling.  And with remarkably low pricing given value of the construction -- in particular for our cyclist readers in the United States due in large part to the present exchange rate and the position of the US dollar vs the world -- this is a high-end piece of bike gear you can afford. It's well-made and you won't be disappointed.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.