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Unless you are going a very short distance on your bike it’s usually a good idea to carry some kind of object that you can transport some cycling essentials. Now who you are will depend on what you truly decide as essential but for me, a pump and a puncture repair kit is probably the bear minimum you would need, oh and some tyre irons. Probably a multi-tool (that’s kind of like the cyclists swiss army knife – check them out here) and a spare tube or 2. Oh and lightweight, easily rolled up rain jacket. Jeez it builds up doesn’t it.
So a backpack then, yes, great… Well is it? Let’s stop and take a think here. There are a lot of bags out there some have really been well designed and looked into for maximum functionality and great looking style at the same time. If, however, you’re looking for something with a dash of class, a touch of style and just a well made, simple, highly functional bag then the musette’s from (Il) Soigneur are just what you’re looking for. Proudly made in Bristol, Bedminster Born and Bred.
History time – A musette is a small cotton bag that cyclists would be given during a race packed full of treats and sweets, or rather more to the point food for whilst they’re partaking in quite a grueling competition. The musette was designed to quickly and easily be given to a cyclist who then pops it over and empty’s the contents of the bag into various pockets or bottle cages and then summarily dumps the small bag onto the road. This little bit of bike trivia helps to explain the design and basis that (Il) Soigneur musette’s are based on.
The musette’s DC got to try out where the Harris Tweed and Wax Cotton versions. Both with a different type of strap on each bag. They reflect the true origins of the musette in their look as they are small messenger style bags that have 3 metal poppers to close the bag along the top. They will certainly carry the essentials, pump et al and a small lock plus a meal (as was it’s original purpose). I used mine to carry repair kit and a book and it did so with ease. Certainly if you only need to carry a certain amount of odds and sods then these bags are the perfect way to do so.
The tweed musette had an adjustable strap which I thought gave it a wonderful dual role. It also fits quite comfortably as an everyday bag for work or around town. It’s got a quintessential style to it that just fits the urban discerning cyclist and the quality of construction, oh yes…
Both bags are so, so well made. To date, these are the best made bags I’ve come across. Strongly sewn down each side from a single piece of tweed or wax cotton and then reinforced to ensure they would need quite a demolition team to wreck the bag beyond repair. It doesn’t just end with the single piece of cloth, an inner lining is added to help protect the innards of the bag escape any water damage from the outside, in this case I’m referring to rain but I suspect a spilage over the bag would be kept at bay. The top of the musette is sewn over the inner lining to give an extra guard from outside and also completes the strong and seemless look from the one piece of cloth.
(Il) Soigneur are so confident of the build of these bags they come with a lifetime guarantee. Which says it all really.
The cotton musette has the wax coating which helps it be a breathable water resistant number. A different feel, obviously, to the tweed it’s still got the exact same build qualities and functionality although this is a bit more casual looking than the harris so wouldn’t exactly fit everyday use off the bike as much but if you carry yourself right you’re bound to get away with it. The strap on the wax cotton bag wasn’t adjustable (further homage to it’s ancestors) but for cycling I actually preferred this option, It perfect sat on my lower back without any shifting whereas I had to adjust the tweed slightly to get the best spot. Certainly a major case of six of one half a dozen of the other in relation to which strap is best. It all depends on what is best for you.
The top of each bag is closed shut by the use of 3 poppers of good size and excellent quality so whilst a zip or flap would usually give you a little more peace of mind, really you can relax, I promise. The poppers need a firm tug to open them up. One possible draw back is a small gap either side of the outer poppers is formed when you close the bag which has the potential to allow water in. Perhaps not ideal for a long distance trip in torrential rain but the construction at the top of the musette will relax you slightly as it acts like a barrier between the outside and the contents of this smart cycling bag.
The final amazing plus about these charming cycling accessories is that you can choose from pre-made one’s or you can build your own. There are various different materials and cloths and finished with a range of different sizes and functions. Each part is avaiable for tinkering. Outer material, inner lining, the strap even the colour of the poppers. It doesn’t end this with the price hovering around £30. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more and for what you’re getting you can just not complain.
There’s detailing gone into these bags which is the final nod to a well crafted piece of fashionable and functional cycling accessory and just serves to absouletely enhance the brand of (Il) Soigneur as a company that is passionate and deeply cares about the musettes final result.
The stitching is strong and well finished and there is a branded (Il) Soigneur tags just inside and a blank one on the lower side along the seam of the bag on the outside that just give the musette it’s unique standing and define the (Il) Soigneur brand. Certainly, so far, I’ve seen nothing quite like them. The simple look and simple design can not help but to charm you into having something that you can be sure looks good and makes a statement as you ride. Plus quite importantly securely holds the things you have put in there for safe keeping.
It’s with a smile on my face that I finish this review of a very smart cycling accessory that such a fantastic product would be the first bag reviewed by the Discerning Cyclist. Classic.
Fit on shoulder: 8/10
Fit on back: 8/10
Value for Money: 8/10