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The Bailey Works Super Pro Ultimate Facemelter Review

by Nick


The black model for review
Disclaimer:
As a product reviewer for Commute By Bike, I am providing my unbiased opinion of any products provided to us by any company. I do not posses any type of relationship with the product’s company or parent companies. Companies that send in their goods to be reviewed do not compensate me in any way.

Product: Bailey Works Super Pro Courier Bag
Cost: $139.00 – $179.00
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL

My Background: I am 5″9″, 155 lbs, and I have perfect hair. I ride an IRO Mark V fixed gear between Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, for everything from commuting to bar hopping.

Testing Grounds: The dirty streets of New York.

Overview:
Okay, I love this bag. Absolutely love it. So much so that I couldn’t bear to part with the test model and bought my own.

Mine. Not yours.
The Bailey Works SuperPro is a workhorse. It is designed for constant use under extreme conditions – it’s designed for professional couriers. So, I’m not a courier – why would I need one, and why a size large?

It’s the sort of thing where you don’t know you needed something until you have it. I try to use my bicycle as my sole means of transportation as much as possible, and sometimes, I have to move things from point A to point B. Sometimes these things are large and unwieldy, like, say a snare drum and stand, or a case of beer. This bag makes it easy.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself that it couldn’t possibly be convenient to carry around such a huge bag all the time, but brilliant design lends a hand here. The bag flattens when empty, and curves against your back nicely, feeling almost like a very small cape.

Full vs. Empty (and check out those reflectors)
Size:
I think RL established that the Bailey can handle large size loads when he put his daughter in the bag – and that was a size Medium (1300 cubic inches). I have a size Large (1800 cubic inches). Bailey Works takes a page from the book of fast food restaurants with its sizing, which ranges from Small to XX-Large (3020 cubic inches!). To put that into perspective, RL was carrying his daughter in a bag that is a 2 out of 5 on Bailey Works’ scale. I can’t compete with that, at least not without facing kidnapping charges.

Size Large


About 19 inches wide at the mouth

Weight:
Now, I don’t own a scale, so I can’t give you a figure, but the bag handles weight well. The heaviest load I’ve carried was a load of my wife’s oversized art books after an afternoon at the Strand, and it was as much weight as I’d be comfortable carrying. For loads above 50 lbs, it’s not the most comfortable option, but I ride a track bike with a rock-hard racing saddle – comfort is not my concern. Function is, and with this amount of weight, the bag held up just fine. Not even a hint of stretching in the seams. I regularly use it to carry groceries home, which usually includes a half gallon each of milk, orange juice and seltzer, occasionally a tub of yogurt, and past that, items of negligible weight, like cereal. I’ve never had a problem with this, but I recommend placing the orange juice and milk in the rear center of the bag on a hot day. It doesn’t make a difference for the bag or the groceries, but when the temperature is high, the cool liquids feel great against a hot back.

There’s room for more, if you know how to pack
I’m pretty confident that my own strength will fail before Bailey Works’ workmanship.

Quality seams.
Waterproofing:
The Super Pro is lined with a garish yellow rubbery material with seams only down the sides. You may not be crazy about the color, and it gets grimy over time, but the bright yellow helps you find small objects in the bottom of the bag, and I’m sure I could take some dish soap if I cared about the grime, but I don’t.

I considered hopping in the shower with the bag on, but for the sake of modesty, just take my word for it. I ride rain or shine, and when it rains, I bring a complete change of clothes to work in this bag. The contents of my bag have never gotten wet, even in downpours that fill the streets with so much water so fast that my pedals are dragging through it. I’ve ridden in weather that has soaked me from head to toe, the kind where you have to wring out your socks and your shoes take two days to dry, and still, nothing in the bag was wet.

The Shoulder Strap:

Strapped in
When I decided to buy myself a large messenger bag, the two brands I was considering were Bailey Works and Chrome. Chrome makes a fine bag by all standards, but the design of the shoulder strap on the Super Pro was what tipped the scales in my case. What distinguishes the Super Pro shoulder strap from that of almost every other messenger bag is that you can switch the shoulder on which the bag rests in under a minute. This means I don’t have to order a specially made lefty bag that sits on the right shoulder (which Chrome does make), but it also means that I can switch if my right shoulder gets tired or injured. All you have to do to switch is unthread the strap from the clasps on each side of the strap, turn it around, and re-thread. The generous padding is sewn into the bag, and the strap attaches just outside of it.

The brilliant rethreadable clasp


This buckle splits the strap in half

The shoulder strap also has a large, heavy duty clip high on the chest which allows you to disconnect the strap rather than pulling the strap over your head – a must-have for carrying large loads. Incorporated into this buckle system is a great one-handed tighten-and-loosen mechanism, which you’ll also find on other pro model courier bags. In short, there are two large D-rings along the strap. Pulling and releasing the top one loosens the strap, and pulling the lower ring tightens it. While you can tighten with one hard pull, it’s better to loosen the strap in smaller steps, since you don’t want it falling around your ankles. It’s complicated to explain how this works, so here’s a video of the strap in action:

two pulls on the top ring loosen the strap,
and one pull on the lower ring tightens it up.

Pockets:
On the outside under the flap, you get two cargo pockets on the front, both of which hold my hefty U-Lock, and a single diagonal pocket to the right, which is great for a water bottle. Inside the right cargo pocket is a small divider with some pen sleeves, perfect for your wallet. On the inside is a wide flap with diagonal pockets on each side of a large, always-open pocket, which I use for papers, tools, my iPod – anything I need to grab quickly. In front of this pocket is another of the same size, with a zipper. The rest of the bag is wide open.

Open, with exterior pockets


The cargo pockets – large enough for my U-lock

There are also two reflective stripes on the bag – one just above the lip of the flap, and another on the bottom. There is a small strap next to the top stripe that’s meant to hold a blinker, and I keep one permanently attached.

NH stencil is reviewer’s own addition
Underneath the bag you’ll find two dangling female-end clips, which, when used with the straps that normally clip to the flap, allow you to strap a long tube across the bottom of the bag, though items attached this way do tend to slip over time. The flap, by the way, stays closed fine with velcro. You only really need those straps when the bag is overloaded.

As you can see, I got my bag in camo, but it’s available in a range of colors that would get a nod from Martha Stewart.

Get one to match any outfit
You might see some people wearing messenger bags slung low around their hips or even over their bum. That’s fine for walking around, but if you try wear your bag that low on a bike with any sort of forward posture, your day is going to get interesting fast. These bags are meant to be worn high on the back and as tight as possible, with a stabilizer strap attaching to the front from underneath the arm. This keeps your load in place on your back, and it is the correct way to wear the bag.

So why use a giant bag like this? Why not panniers? For me, it’s a personal preference, and I have used both. For one, panniers affect a bike’s handling, and weight that is on my back is weight that I can control, weight that I can shift in a swerve. Secondly, if it’s strapped to my back, it’s one less thing to detach when locking my bike on the street. You may like panniers, and I would certainly use them for touring, but for day to day tasks, this bag’s for me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve covered every aspect of the bag, but if you have any questions, lay ‘em on me.

In closing, I’d like to point out that Bailey Works is based in my hometown of Portsmouth, NH. I’d walked past their storefront countless times, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York that I bought one. Did this bias my review in any way? Maybe.

 
Burley nomad 229

32 Responses to “The Bailey Works Super Pro Ultimate Facemelter Review”

  1. RL Policar says:

    Wow Nick, you were very thorough!

  2. Dan says:

    It’s funny to see a cammo bag with a big reflective stripe!

    Great review.

  3. Jay says:

    I don’t think there was enough info on this review, needs more pics and at least 3 videos too. SHEESH!

  4. A few Days ago, Nick sent over the Bailey Bag he was testing. So far I would have to agree 110% with what Nick states. This is a well crafted heavy duty bag.

  5. Nick says:

    Randy: Have you tried switching the strap? It’s set up for a southpaw.

  6. I’ve always carried a bag over my right shoulder. It’s just more comfortable for me that way. I didn’t know that there was a right hand and left hand way to carry it. Do you think it would make a difference?

  7. Nick says:

    Randy: the logic is that, with the strap over your right shoulder, you tighten and loosen the strap with your left hand, and when you swing the bag around to the front, your left hand has access to the bag’s contents. Obviously, you should go with what’s comfortable.

  8. Great Review Nick! I love that the bag keeps everything dry…the rain would be one of my deterrents from riding….but no excuses with that bag.

  9. I’ll switch them around and see how it feels.

  10. I was wondering why you didn’t show a picture of your perfect hair.

  11. Nick says:

    I didn’t want to distract from the content.

  12. Steve says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how the cat’s nose got clipped to the bag in the first pic.

  13. JB says:

    Great review!
    The entire Bailey Works product range is great!
    I’ve been rockin the original 253 bag for more then 10 years and I can’t kill the thing. After this stellar review I might upgrade to the Super Pro even though my other bag is still working great!

  14. Zach says:

    I use a chrome bag. (www.chromebags.com). They’re a bit less expensive, with all the nice features. Every picture someone’s taken of me you can barely see me because the reflective material is super bright. Everything is double and triple stiched – just like the baileys. I happen to like the “look” of the chrome bag, and also that the buckle on front is a seatbelt buckle (in chrome, no less) which is pretty awesome.

  15. [...] But which one? Nick convinced me.  That and my LBS had it for last year’s price and they’re a (more or less) local company. [...]

  16. [...] A scavenger hunt race on bikes. And it’s all done for charity. Awesome idea! This sounds like it would be a blast! You would definately need something like the Bailey Works Bag for this. Nick just did a facemelter review on it. Check it out. “Cranksgiving,” a sort of scavenger hunt on two wheels that has established itself in major cities throughout the country, will kick off its inaugural Des Moines event at noon Saturday from the parking lot of Mars Cafe, 2318 University Ave. [...]

  17. stella says:

    I own a superpro, size large–I’m short (about 5ft 3in on a tall day) and the large stays stable on my back–when full AND when empty. it is, by far, the most comfortable bag I have used.

  18. miranda says:

    I have been on the prowl for “the perfect bag” and have yet to find it. I just ordered my Bailey Works Super Pro size medium today…great review…I will keep you posted!

  19. adam says:

    i’ve had a forest green medium super pro for a few years now, haven’t had a single problem with it, even the medium is more than enough for me. it’s my favorite bag in the entire world. keep in mind i’m not a courier but a student that rides fixed gear through boston, MA. i now can’t ride my bike without this bag, even empty, attached my back.

  20. Andy says:

    Thanks for the very informative review!

    I am from SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. Ordered a yellow superpro online last week. It will take a while to get here, but I am so excited!!

    I am not a courier, in fact I don’t even ride a fixie. I ride a 10speed TREK 1400 around Sydney. Kind silly I know, but every man woman child and granny seems to have a camelbak or some kind of backpack, I needed to be different! At first I bought a crumpler barney rustle blanket messenger bag last month. It’s a beautiful bag, and very well made. However for cycling it really doesn’t cut it. The padding on the main strap keeps sliding around when you ride. In addition, the bag doesn’t really “sit” on your back when riding.

    Can’t wait for my bailey bag to arrive. Jan from bailey works was great in replying to my enquiries and order. Very prompt replies!

  21. Jo says:

    anyone looking for a trade? i have a medium super pro, and LOVE IT. but i’m a very small lady, and am looking for a small bailey works super pro. let me know…

  22. Paulo says:

    Jo! I know it’s a few months later, but I have a light blue small BaileyWorks Super Pro, and I’m looking to trade up to a medium… I’m not a very small guy (!), but I thought the small would work for me… and it does… but when fully loaded for commuting, I have no slack to fit much else in the bag, and I would *love* to trade it for a medium! email me… paulo at alum.mit.edu Thanks!

  23. mark says:

    Great review. You posted that the medium size has a volume of 1300 cu in and your reviewed large a volume of 1800 cu in, but on the Bailey Works website they list the super pro medium volume as 2106 cu. in and large of 2340. Did they recently change the sizing?

  24. Jenna says:

    A+ review

    I own the superPRO LARGE and been trashing it constantly the last four months.
    OFF/ON NY courier, this bag is a true workhorse, sisters with Chrome metropolis

    Get it! You won’t regret

  25. John says:

    Where did you get your blinker, or really any info on the blinker. I’m haveing problems finding a good one and yours looks nice. The bag too, but its all about the blinker.

  26. Rob says:

    Another anecdote about the quality of this bag:
    I bought a BaileyWorks courier bag eight years ago. I used it daily on bike and foot.
    I still use it daily now. The bag has held up great. The clasp hasn’t slipped, the seams haven’t pulled, the velcro still sticks, and the rubber lining is still completely waterproof.
    This is easily the best bag I’ve ever owned. It’s well worth the money.

  27. Kathryn says:

    Thanks so much for the review- I’ve been wanting to buy a Bailey for some time now but wanted to see a few more pictures. I have a bit of a silly question. As a female student who trucks heavy books to and fro classes, I often find that my Timbuk2 bag’s strap cuts into my front, almost ‘framing’ the ladies, shall we say. While it’s still relatively comfortable, the stares I get from fellow students and drivers leaves me looking for another alternative. While I’m just an A cup on a good day, I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem/issue. Any ladies to weigh in on how Bailey bags hold up/fit? I also want to upgrade soon because this new semester has classes with TONS of HEAVY books! My old TB2 isn’t cutting it anymore in size!

  28. Bryan says:

    To John. Get the planet bike super flash. it is by far one of the brightest taillights out there that doesn’t use a batterypack. Check them out for yourself. I’ve got plenty of complaints from drivers for it annoying them. Better safe than sorry :)

    Ordered a medium superpro. cant wait!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I just got my baileyworks superpro bag in the mail – I live in South Korea. When my brother sent me the bag, he removed all price tags and reciepts so I wouldn’t have to pay the 40% tax. I’m not sure if there was any kind of an instruction manual on how to use the straps, but anyway, the video is kind of short and doesn’t really walk you through anything – having never owned this kind of bag before, and being an old fart (40) – I feel like I need a walkthrough on how you did that part where you pull the strap to tighten the bag on your shoulder. I’m not sure how to do that…any chance you could email me some info?

    peter dot nibi at gmail dot com

    Thanks Nick

  30. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I got it now. I think I was a little excited to get my new bag and a little overwhelmed by all the straps – excellent bag :-0

  31. Mag Delana says:

    He sure was and I’m sold. Anyone know the dimensions of the Super Pro XL?

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