Known first and foremost for their game changing slim wallets, Bellroy is synonymous with slick and stylish carry goods. Based out of Melbourne, Australia, Bellroy now brings even more to the table, with everything from backpacks to innovative phone cases. We also owe thanks to Bellroy for funding the fantastic content creators at Carryology, which I’m sure many of us read daily. Bellroy not only carefully considers their goods, but the carry community as a whole.
This specific bag, the MAAP Shift, is the latest collaboration between Bellroy and Melbourne-based cycling company MAAP. These two companies have a history of collaborating to tailor some of Bellroy’s original offerings for the cycling community. If that’s your thing (or even if it’s not), the collaborations are absolutely worth checking out.
|Capacity||1343 cu. in.||22L|
Quality and Comfort
As expected from Bellroy, the quality of materials and workmanship on the MAAP Shift are second to none. Unlike many other cycling focused bags, it’s got touches of luxury all over. And coming from Bellroy, it only makes sense to have leather accents at every turn.
Outside of the accents and hardware, the entire bag is made of a weather-resistant material called Venture Weave. The material is focused on supplying some of the best abrasion-resistance on the market for its weight.
According to James Jeffrey, Bellroy’s lead designer for this bag, in-house abrasion testing shows that it even outperforms Cordura in equivalent deniers. It’s a great looking and feeling material that should last a good long time.
The main closure has almost all of the benefits of a roll-top without the downsides. The custom designed hardware and closure mechanism keeps it simple and secure without having to fumble around for zippers, and the fold-over keeps water and moisture out. It’s especially glove and cold-hand friendly. The padded leather trim is more than just for looks and helps with handling and manipulation.
Unlike zipper closures, but similar to a roll-top, the design still allows for you to over-stuff your bag a bit, or carry those awkwardly sized items from your stop at the market on the ride home. As you can see in the photograph above, the MAAP Shift has five points of adjustment backed by a nice strip of black leather. The closure is one of my absolute favorite features on this bag.
I’m not the biggest fan of airmesh style back-panels, but this one’s different. Airmesh is often a little rough, and can tend to degrade clothing at points of contact. The airmesh on the MAAP Shift is both incredibly soft and breathable. I can’t yet speak to long-term durability over typical, harsher airmesh, but I don’t foresee it being an issue. That all said, this is the best airmesh back-panel I’ve had the pleasure of wearing on my body. There’s also an air-gap between the frame sheet and the main bag allowing for even better airflow for those mid Summer rides. This airmesh is unique to the MAAP collaboration, with the standard Shift having a smooth, padded back-panel.
The straps are slightly contoured and well padded with the same material as the back-panel. The body curve aware attachment of the straps lets you bring this pack up higher on your back, while still being comfortable, which is essential while riding. Poorly designed straps can kill a pack, and I think Bellroy did everything right here.
While the straps are great, the sternum strap has been a bit of a point of contention for me. The height can’t be adjusted without completely removing the strap. You can’t tell from the photographs, but the channel isn’t really a channel. It has stitching every inch or so which keeps the sternum strap from moving vertically. I’m not sure if this is a feature or not, but based on my use I don’t think there would be an issue with slippage if the stitching wasn’t there.
I’m not sure I how I feel about it yet, but I did want to comment on the sternum strap’s somewhat unique clasp. It sits somewhere between the usability of a standard buckle and a Fidlock buckle. You can definitely one-hand it, but it’s not quite as easy or intuitive as a Fidlock. I am happy, however, that they went with a magnet based closure. For what it’s worth, I didn’t like it at first, but it becomes easier to use the longer you spend time with it.
The bottom panel of the bag has a wrap around reflective strip topped with a loop where you can attach a rear bike light. I would have liked to have seen a slightly larger reflective area, sacrificing some form for function as cyclists are already difficult to see on the road. However, it’s a nice addition and works as advertised.
The MAAP Shift has a single external, weather-resistant pocket on one side of the main compartment. There’s a high-viz lanyard inside with a small plastic clip. It’s useful for keeping your keys tamed or for anything you might not want to lose to the bottom of the compartment. The quick-access pocket is more than big enough to fit your phone and a few other goodies.
The opposite side of the bag has side-zip access into the main compartment. This makes it easy to grab and stow your lock or a set of gloves. Not having to undo the main flap of a bag is a nice feature, one I really enjoyed on the Courier 15, but I do wish Bellroy had shifted this design a slight bit in order for the user to be able to access some of the internal organization. As it currently stands, the internal pockets are situated too high in the bag to be able to grab your water bottle or sunglasses via side-access. A slight adjustment to the height and position of the zipper, as well as the internal pouches, might have helped a bit in this regard. You can see the side-access zipper on the left hand side of the below photograph.
On the inside we have five nicely accented pockets. The orange pull tabs help with manipulation inside of the bag and make the individual slots easy to spot. On respective sides of the above photograph we have a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket, and a slightly larger bottle pocket that will hold typical cycling or similarly sized bottles.
On the back facing side is a padded and raised laptop sleeve, which will fit up to a 15″ laptop. There’s also another document / tablet sleeve in front of that, which I was able to comfortably store a 14″ laptop in alongside another 15″ in the main sleeve. We don’t all carry multiple laptops or devices, but it’s nice to know that you can.
The front facing side of the bag has a 6″ x 7″ zippered compartment flanked by a single slot for a pen. I wish this slot had been made accessible from the side, since as it is, the only thing you can access via the side zipper is the bottom of the main compartment.
I really like the provided internal organization. Where most cycling-centric bags tend to be a bit of a black hole, Bellroy has found a great middle-ground with just enough organization to keep anyone happy, while still leaving room for bulkier items like jackets and shoes.
- The look, feel, and styling – it’s a pretty bag and never feels too big or too small
- The unique airmesh back-panel is breathable and comfortable without being harsh on clothing
- The straps are well designed and comfortable
- The cycling specific tweaks for this collaboration are well thought out
- The slide hook closure system is a great departure from typical roll top bags
- The internal organization is everything you need and nothing you don’t – like the padded, raised laptop sleeve and the fleece pocket
- It would be nice to be able to access any of the internal organization from the side-access zipper, like your sunglasses or water bottle
- The real estate of the reflective strip should be larger – the entire bottom of the bag or more
- The sternum strap is good but not great due to the clasp and the inability to easily adjust the height
After using this bag on some short coffee shop commutes this summer, I immediately noticed a flaw while on the bike – the square top of the bag blocks your view of traffic. This might be less of a problem for taller folk, I’m 5’7″, but it was definitely an issue for me with how high I like my bags to ride while on the bike. Bellroy should attempt to fix this in future versions if they want to stick with the bike-focused nature.
As a small disclaimer, I didn’t get to test this bag on the road, only walking around and on my bike trainer. Sue me, it was 4°F outside.
I’ve gone through more cycling bags than any other style, and I think this might be the first I’m going to keep for a while. For only a difference of $20, the upgrade from the standard Shift to the MAAP Shift is more than worth it, unless you’re vehemently against airmesh back-panels. From the slick colorway and leather trim to the slide hook and suspension, you can tell this bag was designed with a love and passion for both carry goods and cycling.
If you’re in the market for a new commuting bag, or even if you’re not, I can’t do anything but overwhelming recommend this bag. The Bellroy x MAAP Shift retails for $240 and is currently available in Ink Blue.
Disclaimer: The Shift was provided by Bellroy as a sample for review purposes, the content of this review was not shared with Bellroy before publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy.