Zimbale Leather and Canvas 11 Liter Saddle Bag

Zimbale is a small company in Korea making traditional canvas and leather bicycle bags. The founders are long-time bag and furniture industry people who also happen to be bicycle enthusiasts. Like a number of other new companies making old-timey bike bags, they’ve taken inspiration from Carradice, Brooks, and others. Zimbale makes their bags in small quantities for direct sale to dealers and distributors; in other words, these are not re-branded, mass-produced economy bags.

Zimbale recently sent me a few bags to try out, included among them the Leather and Canvas 11 Liter Saddle Bag. I’ve had this bag for about a month now.

Like Zimbale’s other bags, the 11 Liter is made with waterproof cotton canvas that is treated with wax on the outside and breathable polyurethane on the inside. The canvas has a nice feel; not overly stiff, but substantial enough that it should withstand years of daily abuse. The external straps and fittings are tanned leather and brass with nice detailing and clean construction.

The 11 Liter is similar to the Carridice Pendle but with a “longflap” that can be extended to carry bulky loads. It also has extra D-rings on the top, and quick release buckles on the main flap for easy access. The flap extension is held closed by internal snaps when not in use. The bag is held in place with the usual 3-point leather strap method and includes an internal wooden dowel to improve stability. The main compartment has a retractable nylon skirt to prevent water from sneaking in under the top flap. A pair of plastic D-rings under the top flap accept an optional shoulder strap. The overall design is well thought out and the attention to detail is impressive.

Knowing that I carry a camera with me on the bike, Zimbale sent along their optional Camera Protect Case (we’ll call it the CPC) insert. The CPC is a foam and velcro insert available in two sizes to fit their 11 or 18 Liter bags. Its construction is similar to the inserts typically found in camera bags and photographer’s backpacks. Sliding the CPC into the 11 Liter Saddle Bag turns a regular saddle bag into a good looking, saddle-mounted camera case with enough capacity to carry a prosumer-grade DSLR, an extra lens, and a strobe. This is a super option for people who want easy access to a large camera while on their bike, but prefer not to carry the weight on their back.

I’m impressed with Zimbale Bags. The construction methods and materials used in their manufacture are top notch. While not inexpensive, they successfully combine a traditional look and feel with high quality construction and updated details such as quick-release buckles and camera inserts. Highly recommended.

Specifications
Size: 18cm x 15cm x 30cm
Capacity: 11 Liter
Colors: Olive, Black
Retail Price: $109
Optional Camera Protect Case: $29.95

Where to Buy
Zimbale North America (U.S. Distributor) →
Harris Cyclery
VeloFred

Disclosure: Zimbale provided the bag for this review. You can view our review policy here.

19 Responses to “Zimbale Leather and Canvas 11 Liter Saddle Bag”

  • Sir Learnsalot says:

    I just put one of those on my Sam Hillborne and I’m madly in love with it.

  • Matt says:

    Man, I love the idea of the camera bag insert. I use a large Ortlieb handlebar bag with their insert but my larger cameras (Nikon D700 in particular) fill it right up and weigh a ton. It would be great to move them to the saddlebag! There would be at least some isolation from road shock, moreso than with a conventional camera bag in a rear rack-mounted basket. Mate it up with the Nitto quick release from Rivendell (I have one of these already) and it would be superb!

  • Seth Hoyt says:

    Alan — This product review for Zimbale (like all EcoVelo write-ups) is strong, useful, and engaging. Also, in case no one else comments on the quality and consistency of your photography: first rate. Nice job all the way around. Readers get quality product info in a professional manner, while manufacturers can count on having their new-to-market goods presented to an interested audience in a helpful way. Win-win.

  • Alan says:

    @Seth

    That’s awfully nice of you, Seth – thanks so much!

    Alan

  • Doug R. says:

    Alan good work on the Zimbale bags. I have been using them for a year or so, and I have to thank Gene at Velofred for his good prices and fast shipping! : ) Dougman.

  • Nick says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the review. I was already getting interested in these new bags and looking for more detail. Did the company give you one of their bags in the olive colour? I would love to see some high-quality photos of that material to get a good impression of the colour.

    Also, do you find the bag when full to be well supported by the usual three straps or do you think a rack sitting underneath would be helpful?

    Thanks again,

    Nick

  • Alan says:

    @Nick

    Hi Nick,

    I have a 2 Liter in green that I’ll be writing about within the next week or two.

    The 11 Liter rotates down and leans against the seatpost, so for me anyway, a rack doesn’t seem necessary. It’s hard to tell in the photos, but the bag is actually hanging a couple of inches above the Tubus rack.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Sished says:

    Nice quality bags but you don’t have to be a genius to see that the pattern was probably a deconstructed Carridice bag! In my personal opinion, this borders on a pirated copy.

  • Alan says:

    @Sished

    While this bag is similar to a Carradice, there are a number of other manufacturers who have been making similar bags for years. My point being that Carradice’ saddle bag design has been around so long that it’s become nearly generic and many manufacturers of saddle bags have borrowed from their designs (some more than others). At this point I’d hesitate to single out Zimbale as participating in piracy.

    Alan

  • Rod says:

    Hi Alan,

    Nice review, as usual. I ride a Surly LHT as well and was wondering if you found that
    the Zimbale bag interferes or contacts you during pedalling? I am contemplating using
    one for commuting purposes and wonder if it’s enough bag to hold my lunch and a change
    of clothes plus a few extra doo-dads?

  • Alan says:

    Hi Rod,

    While I’ve had saddle bags that brush the back of my legs, this particular bag, in combination with with my particular saddle, seatpost set-back, etc., does not brush my legs. I think any saddle bag has the potential to do so, (depending upon your particular bike build) but it’s never bothered me.

    I think this bag is plenty big for commuting, assuming you’re not carrying a laptop. The main compartment will hold a lunch, shirt, and pants, and if you need to carry an overcoat, the flap can be extended to hold the rolled coat on top of the bag. Shoes might be a bit much, but you can always leave a pair at work.

    I hope that helps..
    Alan

  • John says:

    I have a Carradice bag on my LHT that I love. This Zimbale seems to me to have made an improvement on the strap setup. On the Carradice, you’ve got to unbuckle the strap on the flap to get anything out. Zimbale has added the quick release design that allows you to quickly unstrap the flap–a big advantage if you want to get something out of the bag without having to take the time to unbuckle and rebuckle the straps.

  • Tim says:

    Fantastic review. Just wondering how you’d compare this to a Brooks Glenbrook? The prices are similar but this one seems to have more utility. What do you say about that?
    –Tim

  • Simon says:

    Great product review and pictures. I must say that Sished makes a valid point. Zimbale have clearly been ‘inspired’ by Carradice, although to to fair, they have added some nice touches of there own. It’s another example of why US/European manufactures must not rest on their laurels. Can anyone vouche for Zimbale’s labor conditions?

  • doug in seattle. says:

    I saw these in a local shop the other day. I was very interested. Now, with your review, I will be sure to get one for the day-touring road bike I am currently building up.

  • beth h says:

    @ Sished and Alan:

    Yes, it’s a Carradice knockoff. (A classy-looking knockoff, but a knockoff nonetheless.)

    This is, as has been previously observed, nothing new. Berthoud, Acorn, Baggins, Minnehaha and other saddlebag brands/models have also echoed the thread of interest that was sparked nearly fifteen years ago when Rivendell began importing Carradice saddlebags. When Rivendell brought Carradice into their catalog I ordered one. That was in 1997, and I was surprised at how useful and sturdy it was. Today that bag hangs off my saddle and is still sturdy and still mostly waterproof (I’ve yet to reproof it), and I wouldn’t dream of swapping it out. Why replace a bag that’s still going strong?

    One of the things I wrestle with more and more, both as a bike shop owner and as a bike enthusiast, is that one can own only so many bikes, and therefore only so many bags. While sales to new enthusiasts are always nice, how many different transverse saddlebags — or panniers, or racks, or lights, or whatever — does the market need? When a product proves its worth, why can’t it be held up as the standard, without a zillion other makers rushing to copy (and perhaps improve upon) the original. Some of those bags are made cheaply overseas, some are made in living-wage countries; the costs of making those things and shipping them all over is growing.

    The problem is that the market used to be a way to shake out the dross. Today it’s just The Market, an excuse to make and sell more stuff, period; and stuff doesn’t get shaken out as quickly or as thoroughly. So today we have transverse saddlebags made by over a dozen companies, and none of them are going away anytime soon.

    That’s a lot of stuff being generated and sent out into the world.

    While I do appreciate the depth and scope of these product reviews, it’s hard for me to read them without feeling a growing sense of excess about the enterprise. That’s why I can’t get excited about yet another bike bag.

  • Alan says:

    @BethH

    Hi Beth

    While it does seem that we bike commuters have an ever-increasing collection of accessories to choose from, I have faith the market will take care of itself and weed out the inferior products. I view this growth in the accessory market as a positive symptom of the growth in the number of people using their bikes for transportation.

    At EcoVelo, we see our role as simply reporting on what’s available. There are many new people trying out bike commuting, and I’d bet most don’t have nearly the bicycling experience of someone like yourself. I’d bet that if you quizzed a group of new commuters, most, if not all, have probably never heard of Carridice, Zimbale, or even Arkel or Ortlieb. As you know, it’s extremely important to have a way to carry your “stuff” when using your bike for transportation, and we feel this is one of the most confusing areas for newcomers to sort out. So as long as the manufacturers of high-quality bags continue to send them for us to try out, we’ll continue to give them a good workout and write about them if they pass muster.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • shawn says:

    I picked one of these up at Hyde Park in Boise last weekend for my Hillborne. It’s a quality piece of kit; well-constructed, attractive, and useful. Beth’s point is well taken, but I do believe that there is something to be said for variety, even when it’s subtle. I think I’d have a lot less fun at the bike rack if everybody rode the same handful of perfectly serviceable designs outfitted with a limited range of perfectly serviceable gear. Sometimes it’s the small differences that carry all the appeal. Ride on!

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Zimbale 2 Liter Saddle Bag says:

    […] bags Zimbale sent us to evaluate. The 2 Liter is essentially a smaller, simpler version of the 11 Liter Saddle Bag we reviewed earlier this month. Like its big brother, the 2 Liter is constructed of waterproof canvas, leather, and brass. The […]

 
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