While bike culture in the U.S. is quickly changing, in some cities you still might be more likely to see a cyclist in spandex, or dressed like a bike messenger, than in a dress and heels. So maybe it’s not surprising that when apparel designer Ava Carmichael bought a bike, she couldn’t find a cycling bag she actually wanted to use.
“I couldn’t find anything that was feminine and classy and durable, so I just decided to make my own,” she says. “I wanted something that was kind of a reflection of my personal style, too, not just a plain black rip-stop backpack.”
Carmichael’s “Amsterdam” bag, now up on Kickstarter, hooks over handlebars so it can act like a temporary bike basket as you ride. Off the bike, the simple waterproof canvas bag can be worn across the body.
Part of her inspiration actually came from the much-maligned fanny pack. “The fanny pack’s a highly functional bag for travel,” Carmichael says. “Your hands are free, and it’s a great alternative when you don’t want to lose things or have heavy bags hanging from you.”
With a simple strap and lightweight materials, she says her bag acts a little like the fanny pack. And if anyone wants to look like an old-school tourist, they can take the strap off the bag, and hook it on a belt.
The bag isn’t big, but it has enough space to stash small items like a phone, wallet, a tablet, or some bike tools. And the small size makes it easier to lug around when you get wherever you’re going, unlike panniers that might be tempting to leave on a bike despite the risk of theft.
Even though Carmichael began designing something feminine, the bag ended up unisex. “I was curious if it would work for men as much as for women,” she says. “Whenever I did a study with guys, they said they’d wear it. The strap isn’t too thin, and it doesn’t look like a purse. I was able to keep it clean and simple.”