Ortlieb Office-Bag QL2.1
A bicycle commuters best friend?
Many years ago I bought a briefcase that can be mounted on the rear rack of a bicycle at a flea market for 2.50 euro. Since then I have used it for many years, and has worn out in many ways. The latest annoyance was the fact that I could not secure it onto my rear rack with gloves on. It's just too finicky, and the Velcro sticks to my gloves. Other problems are heel strike, a bent zipper and wear hole sin the fabric on the back.
After getting the Ortlieb Back & Front Roller Plus I tried to use one of them to bring my laptop and lunch to work. The bag had no compartments and does not hold it shape when it is not stuffed. The laptop would move around inside, the bag would fall over when set down, opening and closing it required a lot of rolling, and the shoulder strap was in the way.
The Ortlieb Office-Bag addresses most of these issues. It's available with the QL2, QL2.1 and QL3 mounting system, it comes in various colors/materials and in the sizes medium (13 liters) and large (21 liters). Like most other Ortlieb bags it is completely waterproof.
The QL3 mounting system is the lightest, but it requires special mounting hardware to be permanently installed on the bicycle, which means you cannot mount the bag on any other bicycle. For this reason I chose the large, black QL2 version, but at the end of 2014 it was out of stock and I received one that is new for 2015 with the QL2.1 mounting system.
I weighed the bag to be 1568 grams, which is lighter than the specifications of the previous models. This could be due to the combination of the lighter PS36C material with the QL2.1 system.
- Office-Bag QL2.1
- Briefcase for bicycle
- PS36C (PU-coated Cordura)
- 1568 g (measured)
- 21 liters
- 40 × 30 × 17 cm
The bag came inside a cardboard box with all the other things inside the bag itself. The first thing to do was to install the insert that provides structural support on the bottom and sides, and helps the bag keep its shape and protect the contents.
The shoulder strap has to be attached diagonally, the padding on it has some very effective anti slip material on it that keeps it on your shoulder.
It came with 3 different diameter adjustment inserts, I installed the 10 mm ones. This was kind of hard to press them in, but I am confident that they will stay in.
To prevent heel strike the Office-Bag is mounted at an angle. This means it only fits properly on one side of the bicycle. By the default this is the left side. Since I have always have my bag on the right side, and this is easier to attach it when the bicycle is parked in the hallway I moved the mounting system to the right position.
Adjusting the mounting system was not difficult, but a bit finicky. The process requires a flathead/torx screwdriver and a 4 mm hex key, which was badly represented in the minimalistic instructions provided by Ortlieb.
The Bag has a lot of different pockets that allow you to organize your things inside the bag. The organizers are colored light gray, which helps you to see things. My previous bag was black on the inside and I would not be able to see black things floating around the bottom.
On the back (that attaches to the bicycle) there is a compartment for a laptop. It should fit a 15.4" laptop or smaller. The width is adjustable with Velcro straps so that small and big laptops both fit snugly without moving around. There is no soft padding here, you need to bring your own sleeve. Ortlieb sells them, but any laptop sleeve will fit. My sleeve has a zipper on top, and I leave it in the Office-Bag all the time and just pull the laptop out.
On the outside of the panel there are many pockets, of different sizes. There are bunch of open ones for business cards, but also bigger sizes, I keep my passport in one of them. There is also a plastic hook for keys and 3 pen holders. One compartment seems intended for a bulky mobile phone that were common 10 years ago. I put a multi tool in there.
On the other side there are two larger pockets with a full ize flat pocket begind it. I keep a small bicycle pump and towel in one and my laptop's charger in the other. In between there is plenty of space for a packed lunch and various other items that you might need at the office.
The stiff insert does not provide much padding, but does keep your things from getting squashed.
Quick Lock 2.1 mounting system
The QL2.1 system is very similar to the QL2 system that I have for the Back & Front Rollers. It has the following changes:
New diameter adjustment inserts. QL2 comes with inserts for 8 and 11 mm racks, the problem is that they they can fall out to easily. I have not had this problem myself, but many others have. With the QL2.1 system they are more secure and will not fall out. Additionally they come in the size 8, 10 and 12 mm, which I do like, because my rear rack, and many others has a diameter of 10 mm, which makes it fit just a little bit better.
Another change is that the contact points have a different kind of plastic that Ortlieb claims is anti-scratch material. The paint on my rear rack has already been worn off from the other bags, but maybe this is an improvement.
The other change is that the lid that secures the bag at the bottom now can be changed to wider position (from 10 to 13 mm) so that it can fit around thicker tubing, but I have no need for that.
The closing system works by rolling the top and clicking in the insert buckles on the sides. Two or three folds are enough to close the bag.
The QL2.1 mounting system provides a secure fit, you do need to verify if everything is secured, but even with gloves on it is no problem.
My only complaint is the shoulder strap. It dangles on the bag and can get stuck in the wheel. Ortlieb recommends you detach it and keep it inside the bag, but that is too much of a hassle, as that would require opening and closing the bag right before and after each ride. Right now I loop the should strap around my seat post, which also prevents anybody from lifting off the bag while riding. A better solution would have been a way to secure the shoulder strap on the outside, a little pocket to stuff it in for example.
The top handle is solid plastic, but ergonomically shaped, so it is relatively comfortable to carry a heavy bag with one hand.
Because the bag is mounted at an angle heel strike is no longer a problem. I can position my feet any way I want on the pedal without touching the bag.
The Ortlieb Office-Bag fixes all the major annoyances I had with my previous bag. I like the internal organization features more than I expected. There is plenty of space inside to make it versatile enough to pick up some groceries as well on the way back from the office. The only thing that annoys me is the shoulder strap, while riding the bicycle, but I can learn to live with that.