Canadian tourer turned bikepacker, mountain biker and all-round bike fanatic, Taylor Doyle has had the Shazam! saddle bag from Wizard Works on test this autumn, checking out this roomy bikepacking alternative for day rides, commuting, and even the rare 2020 overnighter.
I was pleased to discover Wizard Works, run by creative duo V and Harry, out of Peckham in London. I automatically developed a soft spot for this charming brand with whimsical product names alluding to magical spells. Wizard Works make a range of unique and durable bags for carrying all things on a bike, and also offer a repair service that I especially admire.
Everything they make themselves has a lifetime warranty, but they are also open for business when it comes to pre-loved broken bits, bags, backpacks, and bike luggage that you already own. A true antithesis to today’s throwaway culture and a pathway towards greater sustainability.
My first impression of the Shazam! was that this was the kind of generous cargo size I could appreciate. I like a wide load, I like to carry a lot of stuff. Before experimenting with bikepacking, I came into cycling from a 4-pannier, multi-day touring setup. My friends like to joke that I basically ‘car camp’ with a bicycle.
I don’t much care for weight-weeny sleekness, and even have wariness about the pursuit for completely rackless bikepacking, unless I’m doing a day trip, an ultra distance race or more technical off-roading. At what point do a multitude of small tumorous bags strapped to every crevice of a bicycle frame just amount to a pannier or single larger vessel? I won’t rant about that here though…
I really love a middle ground, and the Shazam! is just that. Perhaps in that way, it lends itself well to gravel; the middle ground between road and mountain biking. It certainly helps me fit in better with my cool bikepacking friends without sacrificing load volume.
The classic design borrows from traditional audax and randonneuring saddle bags that have been used and refined over decades and throughout cycling history. This really gets me and my inclination towards a vintage aesthetic, without, of course, compromising on modern technology.
More important than how awesome the bag looks though, is how well it functions in the wild. So this autumn I tested it for a range of activities including day trips, overnighters, and commuting.
The Shazam! consists of one main large chamber, capable of holding between 10.8 and 22.5 litres, as well as two smaller pockets on either side clocking in at 0.5 L each, for a total maximum holding capacity of 23.5 litres. The main chamber opens with a roll flap, closes at the top with easy-access velcro, and is secured in place with a generous flap, held down with 2 plastic squeeze buckles at the front.
The bag adapts to whatever capacity it is dealing with at the time, with the flap folding in half and held back by snaps when the extra girth is not needed. The bag comes with two Voile straps to loop around each saddle rail underneath your seat, and a velcro and camlock strap to secure the bag to the rack.
Wizard Works recommend using a bag support with this bag; the Carradice Bagman Expedition (£34, also available in quick-release), and I second this recommendation. Some happily use the Shazam! as a handlebar bag as well.
People with smaller bikes, such as myself, might have to put a little more thought and care into the setup. I ride a Brother Cycles Big Bro in size small, and using this bag without a support as both a saddle bag and handlebar bag is impossible.
The Carradice Bagman support solved this issue, which I was delighted about, with a very slight tip of my saddle angle forwards for the bag to clear the back tyre. The required clearance for the Carradice support from saddle rails to just above the rear wheel is approximately 21 cm, and I was just about there. I was worried about sag and subsequent rub but a sewn-in sheet of stiff plastic curves in a horseshoe-like shape, forming the bag and keeping a true shape.
I did experiment with the slightly smaller model of the support (by about 2 cm in height), the Carradice Bagman Sport, to see if I could score a little more clearance, but their recommendation reigned true and the Sport was an awkward fit, compromising the use of the bag in a way I wasn’t willing to put up with.
If you’re not using a support, Wizard Works recommend a minimum 25-26cm of tyre clearance.
Wizard Works use only weatherproof fabrics, and the body, flap, and pockets are all customisable for maximum colour combination possibilities, with your choice of Cordura and ‘X-pac’ material respectively. The Shazam! includes a very pleasing bright yellow Nylon floating liner, increasing its wet weather durability. I found the bag to keep its contents dry and clean even amidst rain and the inevitable mud splatter from knobby tyres.
On an overnighter I used the full capacity of the bag, managing to fit my sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and bivvy bag with hoop poles, among other smaller bits of kit in the side pockets (deceivingly spacious!) such as a compact folding stove, lighter, inflatable pillow, patch kit, flint, spork, candy, whistle, and other items. This had the bag at its limits, while not interfering with functionality and still closing and packing properly.
This level of cargo space meant that packing for a day trip was even easier too. It was the only bag that I needed to have on my bike for an outing and this keeps things simple. The extendable roll meant that getting groceries on the way home wasn’t a problem either. We all know that panicked feeling of realising we have run out of space for our goods.
Unlike most panniers or bikepacking bags, the Shazam! is also easy to carry around once you take it off of your bike. With the optional shoulder strap (£7.50), it looks like a casual bag you can sling over your shoulder and go. This especially made it ideal for commuting when I would normally exhibit a sweaty back from wearing a large backpack.
Last month, the Shazam! Mini came out and, you guessed it, it’s an exact smaller version of the Shazam! original, with a capacity of 8.3L – 16.6L. Though this would successfully give me more clearance, I would miss the wondrous expanse of space that the Shazam! original gets me so excited about in the first place.
I appreciate this bag for its carrying capacity, combined with its sturdiness. It is a bonus that it looks so rad and that it is customisable in design to people’s tastes. For best results definitely use a bag support, and measure your clearance before purchasing.
At a shade shy of £200, this isn’t a budget option, but with a lifetime warranty on the bag, it’s great to know that V and Harry have your back when it comes to any future repairs.
Wizard Works are doing last calls on their batch orders before Christmas, so if you want to get your hands on some Wizard Works wares now is your chance.
Shazam! Saddle Bag£199 approx $262 €220
Last modified: 17th November 2020
Thanks for the write up Taylor. I have a couple of Wizard works bags and really like them. One thing I didn’t see mentioned in your review was any mention of stability during riding. Is there much movement using that bag support?