The humble saddle bag is one of the most unassuming yet essential pieces of gear that you’ll have with you on a ride. We’ve definitely had more than one ride where someone in the group gets a puncture or broken chain, and having a spare tube, patch kit or multi-tool coming out of the saddle bag makes all the difference.
With that said, pretty much any saddle bag will do. As long as you are able to fit a spare tube and a multi-tool, you are pretty much covered for any day ride. But if I had to pick one and just one saddle bag, that choice goes to the beautifully crafted Silca Premio Seat Roll.
The Silca Premio Seat Roll is one of the pricier choices of saddle bags out there, but the quality of the craftsmanship clearly shows. From the clever integration of the Boa dial closure to the thick waxed canvas construction with reflective stitching, this is one fantastic piece of kit that is equally beautiful and highly functional.
Keep on reading for a more in-depth review.
Saddle bag considerations
After trying out a few different saddle bags at length over the past few years, I’ve made a list of considerations when looking for what I consider the ideal saddle bag.
Contact with the seatpost. Some saddle bags have a clamp that is either attached to the seatpost through a rigid fastener, or through a clasp that wraps around the seatpost. For the most part, either of these aren’t too bad, except if you have a nice carbon or titanium seatpost and you don’t want it to get scratched up from any plastic or metal clamps from prolonged contact. For example, I love the period looks of the Brooks Isle of Wight saddle bags, but the metal clasp has scratched one too many seatposts. Saddle bags which use Velcro straps are much better in this regard, but over time the nylon strap itself can wear out and get torn.
Rattle-free and secure attachment. Unless you are going for a certain *ahem* effect, a swaying bag underneath the saddle pretty much looks like a sack of nuts. And not of the legume variety either. Also, any unwanted motion makes your pedaling a bit less efficient as you’ve got weight wagging around underneath. The wagging sack will also cause the contents to rattle around and annoy you when you are trying to listen to the early morning birdsong. A saddle bag that attaches firmly to the saddle will obviously minimize this effect, so finding a design that is able to be firmly attached to the rails of the saddle is key. Keep that swaying swagger to a minimum if you can. Keep it tight!
Ease of attachment and removal. For folks who have only one bike, this isn’t something to worry about too much as you can just leave the saddle bag permanently attached. But if you have more than one bike, you’ll most likely want to transfer the saddle bag from one bike to another when you go out for a ride. For example, Topeak has an easy to use clip-on system that makes attaching and removing saddle bags easy, but you need to install the clip-on clamp to all your bikes for this to work.
Just enough room for the essentials. Most important of all, the size of the saddle bag needs to be just right – not too small, and not too big either. When I first started thinking about saddle bags, I started out with the large sized Brooks Isle of Wight saddle bag and it could swallow everything and then some. What started initially as a “just in case” bag for essentials eventually became an excuse to throw everything in there, including things you don’t need for day rides. And as the bag gets heavier, it also means that the straps and clamps require more force to stay attached, which unfortunately resulted in the metal clamp scratching the seatpost, and one incident where one of the metal eyelets popped out. The lesson learned here is that choosing a saddle bag that is the right size encourages you to be smart about what to bring and helps to keep the weight in check.
When I first spotted the Silca Premio Seat Roll, my gut instincts told me that the design of this saddle bag met all of my key considerations. So I decided to get one and try it out for myself!
Using the Silca Premio Seat Roll
The Silca Premio Seat Roll as its name implies, is a compartmentalized tool roll design that has three pockets for storage. There is just enough room for the bare essentials, which in my case is a spare 700c tube, two tire levers, a small patch kit, and a multi-tool that has a built-in chain tool. If you have a folding bike with 16”, 18” or 20” wheels, you could actually fit two tubes in the pocket easily. There is also just enough extra space for a CO2 cartridge and inflator, although it's a bit of a tight squeeze but still doable.
If you are looking to stuff a packable rain jacket or gilet, energy bars and other goodies, then you’ll need to look for something far bigger.
Folding up the Premio closed for the first time took a bit of practice, as the placement of your various goodies inside the roll is key to getting the perfect fit. The tube is always best placed in the center pocket with the multi-tool and other goodies in the side pockets.
Try to leave about 10mm at the edges of the side pockets so that when you wrap everything up, there’s space for the elastic strap to hold the flaps closed neatly. Once I got the folding pattern down, it took me just a few seconds to pack, fold and secure.
Attaching the Premio to the saddle is a quick and efficient affair. With the stitching pattern of the Premio facing rearwards, loop the Boa cord through the rear saddle rails and hook it to the fastening end, ensuring that the rail guard along the Boa wires are centered against the saddle rails. Push the Boa dial in and turn clockwise to ratchet it up until it feels nice and snug. The classic stitching pattern that's been sewn in just happens to use reflective threading, which is quite a clever touch for an additional bit of road visibility.
Detaching the Premio from the saddle is an even faster affair. Simply pop the Boa dial to immediately release all the tension on the strap, unhook the fastener and pop off the tab, and off goes the Premio.
Once it’s secured, it stays secured
It’s amazing how a single strap with a Boa dial can keep the entire package nice and snug against the saddle. As the Premio’s fold forms an organic shape, tightening the Boa dial nestles the contents of the roll between the saddle rails with natural tension. As with any mechanical securing system, I try my best not to overtighten it to avoid prematurely damaging the Boa dial. The same principle of overdoing torque on a bolt applies here as well.
The goal is to dial in just the right amount of tension so that the Premio is snug enough to not rattle – no more, no less.
Riding on smooth tarmac is never a problem for any saddle bag. The real test is riding on less than ideal roads – broken surfaces, potholes, rough bitumen and all the random dips and bumps thrown in. Add might as well add gravel roads and hard packed dirt roads to make it all complete! In all of those rough road scenarios, not once did the Premio come undone or had to be re-tightened. And best of all is the absence of rattling sounds!
As far as saddle bags go, the Premio just disappears underneath, and you forget that it’s there at all. Ideally, that’s exactly how it should be as a minimalist saddle bag until someone in your riding group gets a puncture or a broken chain. At which point, your ride buddies will admire your saddle bag while waiting for roadside duties to complete.
The Silca Premio Seat Roll is the ultimate minimalist saddle storage solution. The quality and attention to detail is the best I have ever seen in a saddle bag. It is lightweight at only 109g and is extremely easy to attach and remove from one bike to another. The waxed heavy-duty canvas material looks like it can take a beating and also has a bit of water resistance. If you require additional waterproofing, a bit more waxing or spraying on a DWR coating is all it takes.
In use during a ride, the Premio takes a bit more time to access in comparison to a zip-up bag, but the overall design and snugness of the attachment more than makes up for it. Recently, I was on a ride to test a new saddle, so there were quite a few adjustments that had to be made to dial in the right saddle settings. Retrieving the multi-tool from the Premio was actually quite straightforward in practice, and it also gave me immediate access to my saddle rails since there was nothing in the way to block the bolts when the Premio was detached.
Although it takes a bit of extra time to open up the Premio to retrieve its contents, I'd much rather have this highly secure storage system than anything else. Opening and closing it is a very structured process that you are very conscious about, which is a good thing. Previously when using zip-up bags, there were times where I forgot to zip the closure completely and ended up losing tire levers and other random goodies. Never again!
Silca also makes a slightly bigger Grande Americano Seat Roll which can fit a larger MTB tube or two 700c sized tubes.
I’ll check back in another year to report how it goes for the longer term. But so far, so good. Four and a half stars, and depending on how the longer term usage goes, we'll see how that half star pans out.