The question that always follows “are you still making saddle bags?” is without a doubt “will I need a support and what do you recommend?”. The answer to both is yes, and even with some shortcomings I still recommend the Carradice Bagman. It is one of the only supports of its kind that ties the base of the support to the saddle, there by keeping a constant distance between the bag loops and the support base over a wide range of saddle positions. The distance between a traditional rear luggage rack and the saddle loops is different on almost every bike, and can lead to a less than perfect fit for the bag. Things either end up a bit squished or stretched. Older models of the Bagman support were known to loosen up over time and you needed to keep an eye on the hardware periodically. Even with this shortcoming they can be made to perform reliably with a couple of simple modifications, and the newest incarnations of the support are further improved.
The unit above is the most recent to pass through my workshop, and is the Bagman Sport Quick Release. The plastic piece is a really nice addition to the kit. It zip ties to the outside of the saddlebag, opposite the internal dowel, and provides a quick and positive connection between the bag and support.
The quick release mechanism is similar to prior incarnations, pinching the two spring-loaded pins toward the center. Everything appears to be well made, and has less threaded parts to come loose during a ride.
The connection between the shaped support and the clamping mechanism has always been the weak point, and still is. The 7mm stainless rod is more than enough to support a well loaded bag, as is the aluminum clamping piece that joins the support to the saddle rails. The interface between the two is just plain disappointing.
In the past the round rod had flat spots keyed into it that are held fast by a set screw from each side. The provided set screws always fail, it is just a matter of when. This would result in the support sliding out of the clamp leaving the bag poorly supported at best. The new version partially addresses this issue. The flat spot on the tip of the rod has been replaced with a blind hole.
The set screws provided are still inadequate for the job. Button head allen screws do not provide enough support to be well torqued without stripping out the heads. I switch these out with a regular hex nut.
This allows the use of a regular 8mm wrench or socket to get the needed torque. Backing that up with a jam nut and some blue locktite we have a belt and suspenders solution that will hold up for a good long time.
I have a couple of other ideas in the bank for a complete re-design, but these newest versions of the bagman are well enough made for me to keep the project on the back burner. If you have any other ideas to keep these well made supports working even better please let me know.