I’m still grounded, so I haven’t used it yet, but Basil now has a Mini O bag as part of his burgeoning luggage collection. (This is not as insane as it seems: I do a variety of different kinds of bicycling, and what’s suitable for one type is often all wrong for another. )
At any rate, what I haven’t had was a bag that was truly waterproof. This Ortlieb bag claims to be, within reason. (Don’t dip it into a stream!) It’s also small enough that using it for long rides is probably feasible; the largest Brompton bags are like wind sails, and not really suitable for 30 mile/48.2 km trips, unless you’re touring and have no choice. The Mini O has a much smaller profile.
The Mini O’s mounting plate is integrated into the bag. It’s big (and relatively heavy), but also supports the bag well, and I can report that it clips on and off the Brompton block quite easily, just as you’d expect.
There’s a Brompton logo at the upper corner, which is a nice touch — and a useful identification tool, as I think Ortlieb also makes a similar bag with a different attachment device. (The logo is on the right, above, next to the peak of the mounting plate.)
Here’s the back view, and the side facing the cyclist. This is also the side of the front flap that opens: Those little tabs to the right and left sides are what you grab to pop the snaps. (You can just barely make out the round snap caps behind the tabs.)
The flap falls back toward the front of bag and bike, and this is what the rider sees. There’s a zipper pouch attached to the inside front, and a key fob (to the left, attached to the pouch) inside, and a surprising amount of room inside.
I was dubious about those snaps, but I needn’t have been: The upper edge of the frame is completely rigid, and getting the snaps to connect and close is not a problem. Nor does the frame flex when closing the flap. The snaps are sturdy metal, not molded plastic.
The inside bottom of the bag is supported by thin plastic sheeting, rather cleverly slotted into place. This seems quite sufficient, especially as the rest of the bag is so well -crafted.
Off the bicycle, the bag is supported on two sturdy feet and the back plate. It stands on its own, and is so well-balanced that it does not tend to tip even when the top flap is open.
On each side, there is a button to which the shoulder strap attaches. The top flap is designed to rest on this button, rather than to cover it. That’s a bit counter-intuitive, but probably adds to the waterproof aspect of the bag. I find that I automatically want to pull the flap over the button when closing the bag, but expect that this inclination will diminish over time.
A shoulder strap (supplied) clips — with a satisfying click — onto these buttons. Once clipped in place, the strap will rotate, but not disconnect. I find that I like this connection better than a snap hook, probably because, although the buttons stand out from the side of the bag quite a bit, the clip itself is flat and less obtrusive than a snap hook.
Its other virtues aside, this bag feels a bit odd when worn; that may not matter, as it will primarily be attached directly to my Brompton. I must remember to wear it with the front next to my body: The back plate is not a nice thing when pressed against a human waist! The unyielding nature of the bag — an advantage on the bike — is no such thing on a human.
Too, the bag is a bit awkward to use on a counter, rather than on a bicycle, as it is light weight and opens the “wrong” way. There’s no ballast to hold the bag in place once it’s off the bike, so pulling a wallet or whatever out of it in other circumstances can be clumsy.
There’s one last feature: The Brompton logo, and the trim on the handle, are reflective, which is always a nice touch.
I usually buy my Brompton gear from NYCeWheels in New York city, who give great service, but they were sold out of this black-on-black Mini O. I found mine at Portapedal Bike in Tempe, Arizona. I phoned to confirm that the bag really was there, and Al sent it out to me immediately: I had it by the end of the week. (Hint: want an out-of-stock waterproof bag? Go to the desert!)
That’s all I know so far. I took this new Mini O (and Basil) to the doctor’s office when I got my stitches removed, thinking, all-too-optimistically, that I’d be able to ride immediately, which let me report on what wearing it is like. Soon, I hope, I’ll be able to report on what it’s like to use it on Basil.