I’ve been using an Arkel Bug convertible backpack/pannier on my daily commute for about a year now and it has become an indispensable piece of equipment for me. I’ve owned a number of other Arkel bags over the years and they’ve all been excellent as well, so when Arkel asked me to try out their new Metropolitan pannier, I jumped at the chance.
As its name implies, the “Metro” is designed primarily for city use. The design is such that it can be used as a grocery pannier, briefcase, or simply a waterproof, catch-all bag for daily car-free living in the city. The look is part tote bag, part briefcase, with a little messenger bag thrown in for good measure. I like the look; it’s a sharp bag.
The overall layout of the Metro is relatively simple, with one main compartment measuring approximately 14″x14″x9″, an external slip pocket for magazines, bus passes, etc., and a smaller front pocket with a Velcroed flap for keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.
The Metro rides higher on the bike than most touring panniers, providing good heel and curb clearance for boarding transit, hopping curbs, etc. It has a flat bottom and stiff, padded sides so it sits upright on its own — a nice feature for grocery shopping or meetings at the office.
The removable, waterproof liner is quite clever. It’s held in place with Velcro and can be removed in seconds. It’s machine washable for those inevitable spills and leaks from grocery runs and leftovers. The top of the liner extends beyond the structure of the main bag providing additional space for overstuffing with extra clothing, etc.
The Metro uses Arkel’s time-tested “Cam-Lock” attachment system. In my opinion, this is the best attachment system on the market. Attaching or removing the bag is a one-handed operation that takes just a second, yet the bag is perfectly secure on the bike no matter how overloaded. A nylon panel covers the attachments when not in use.
The Metro comes supplied with a pair of short carry handles and a shoulder strap. The carry handles are about the length of the handles on a reusable shopping bag and stow away inside the main compartment when not in use. The padded shoulder strap is removable but can be left on the bag and stowed inside the front slip pocket if so desired.
The shoulder strap brings up the one issue I had with the Metro. My commute involves a bike ride, a train ride, a bus ride, and a fair amount of walking; my Arkel Bug, which converts into a backpack, is ideal for this kind of multi-modal commute. With its single strap, I found the Metro to be less comfortable and convenient for the amount of walking and transit hopping that I do. This is only going to be a problem for someone with a long multi-modal commute, otherwise it’s a non-issue.
The Metropolitan is a nearly perfect everyday city pannier, combining the convenience of a simple grocery pannier with some of the best properties of a touring pannier including waterproofing, heavy-duty construction, and a best-of-breed attachment system. As always, Arkel uses the best materials throughout including heavy-duty Cordura nylon and waterproof #10 YYK zippers. Their bags aren’t cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for; I use their bags everyday and they are 100% reliable and an important component of my car-lite lifestyle.
Capacity: 1400 cu. in.
Dimensions: 14″x14″x 9″
Weight: 2.45 lbs.
Color: Charcoal w/Black