Michaux cycling bags don’t look functional at all – they look gorgeous and trendy but this is confusing and rare. Technical and street style don’t usually go together, at least not commonly where women’s cycling is concerned. Rachel, who founded the company, lent me one of the roll-top messenger-style rucksacks to trial and people won’t stop complimenting it. It’s a tough life. Read on if you’d like your ‘bag lady’ look to become more like stealthy ‘Mary Poppins’ vibes.
You wouldn’t know Michaux bags are ‘functional’ cycling bags until you have to cycle in the pouring rain or carry a bulky item. Then you’ll know very well. And you’ll realise how beautiful and totally on-point they are because you keep getting compliments. Which is a breath of fresh air as you stagger in from the pouring rain armed with more items than Mary Poppins. It’s kind of the slick baglady bag that you also feel proud of wearing in smart places. It shouldn’t be a surprise: that’s basically how the bag is described on the site. But the reality is that most brands don’t manage that. When I interviewed Rachel about her company at the start of the year I expected something that looked good but nothing quite as solidly brilliant as what she’s made. I’d almost come expecting a fashion brand that was aimed at ‘female cyclists’ because so few brands get it really right. What I didn’t expect was to find a roll-up bag that was so insanely slick. So whilst she talked about taking inspiration from messenger bags, I not-so-quietly celebrated a brand that was doing it right.
She lent me the ARA bag to try. Here’s why you should take a look at it:
Why this product, and why you?
I’ve taken it everywhere for two months solidly and have subsequently lost my old Scandinavian rucksack god knows where. It’s exactly what it wants to be: a gorgeous, fashionable messenger bag. I never look like a cyclist with it. Not that I mind that, but it’s nice to have kit that straddles style and practicality properly. It’s carried my laptop, gym kit, lunch and a few extra bits and bobs around easily. I wanted a bag that was big enough to fit all of this but was stylish; that I wasn’t tempted to leave at home if there was a day I wasn’t cycling around (a rarity). I’d previously carried a super swish Scandi-looking Sandqvist which looked super nordic but wasn’t waterproof. I’m sure it rains in Sweden, though. This bag is waterproof, and looks just as awesome with it.
When did the bag come in most handy?
It’s gone everywhere with me. I’ve climbed mountains with it, cycling around other cities, and pedalled it every day around London, too. Here’s a variety of photos of it on my back in different cities because it’s followed me solidly around for two months.
Did you experience any particularly enlightening moments while testing our bag? Did you find yourself in a particularly interesting or exciting place?
I found myself up a Norwegian mountain in Bergen, a place known for its rain. It’s called the City of Rain or the Seattle of Europe, apparently. I was hiking about, with the padding on the back being pretty light (whatever that material is, it’s great) and pleased as heck that it was really waterproof.
What’s your favourite feature?
I love the way it rolls so neatly up and down, so I can go from having a small bag to Mary Poppins style instantly. It’s way bigger than it looks – it goes from a small satchel-sized thing to a giant sack. The popper system that lets you have it in one of three sizes just works.
What needs improvement?
One of the shoulder straps has crumpled a bit whilst using so it doesn’t sit as flat as it once did – it folds in more. It isn’t really a problem but doesn’t feel as new as it once did. It’s not too noticeable though.
You get the gist: I think it’s bloody brilliant. I wouldnt write about it if I didnt, which I think should be a general rule with reviews, really. We’ve reached peak messenger bag style, let’s all just go home now.
Disclaimer: Rachel lent it to me to try and I liked it so much I bought it off her.