Frost+Sekers Quick-Lock Mount and Saddlebag Review
For those who favour traditional saddlebags to carry their cargo but find fitting and removing them a pain, Frost and Sekers’ stainless steel mounting system adds a classic aesthetic and genuine practicality to your ride, be it for commuting or weekends away. Cass Gilbert took it out on the UK’s Purbeck Bimble and bounced around Mexico’s dirt roads for this review…
When I was last in the UK – that would be pre-pandemic – I had the opportunity to try out a Frost+Sekers’ Quick-Lock with an accompanying Otis saddlebag. Note that the pictures taken in the UK feature the version with the wooden handle, which has since been replaced by a less costly fabric cover. But the original beech one – as sanded and oiled by a carpenter in Bristol, no less – is still available as a special order. More recently, I tried out Frost and Sekers’ updated mount, with its waxed cotton cover handle, and the smaller Marvin saddlebag – as per the images from Mexico.
Traditional saddlebags – think the venerable Carradice Camper Longflap as a prime example – have stood the test of time for good reason. Their top-loading design and easy-to-pack shape make them supremely practical. They’re repairable and solidly made. They soften up, fade, and weather well. On a more emotive level, they tell a story, as evidenced by the patches their owners love to sew on them.
But compared to panniers and certain seat packs, saddlebags can’t claim to be especially easy to remove from your bicycle’s saddle rails. And on the topic of saddles, they also require a model with special eyelets, like the Brooks series or those from Selle Anatomica. Various devices exist to tackle the lack of saddle eyelet saddle issue (see our Saddlebag Index for examples) but London-based Frost+Sekers’ Quick-Lock uses a system that makes attaching these bags and taking them off a lot more straightforward, too.
The Quick-Lock mount sandwiches between the rails of your saddle and the clamps of your seat post, with a slot that cantilevers out to accommodate its handle. Two extra-long M6 bolts and one longer M8 are provided, covering the majority of generic seatposts that use a vertical bolt clamping mechanism. There are plenty of seatposts on the market that will work and whilst I didn’t find one with the bolt size and clamping style immediately, it wasn’t long before I tracked a suitable seatpost down in one of my local shops for around $20. If you’re a Brompton devotee, there’s a specific model available, too.
In use, the Quick-Lock works very well. There’s a reassuring ca-clunk as the handle locks into place. “Basically, the mechanism is a cantilever with an interference fit, when you slide the handle into the mechanism the handle’s U-bend passes over a spring head which holds the handle in place. Once the luggage is locked in it’s super secure. The handle only comes out if you pull it at the right angle. It doesn’t rattle and it’s not going to fall out because the handle is under constant pressure from the spring. For extra security we also provide a seat-post strap in our kits too,” says Charlie Seker, one of its designers.
And it’s solidly made too. The stainless steel used in its construction is the same material that’s found in boats, so is very resistant to corrosion. No stranger to rain, London-based Frost+Sekers see their product as appealing to all-year cyclists, rather than just the fair-weather kind.
Indeed, with its steel build and chunky handle, the Quick-Lock can’t claim to be the lightest option on the market; weight weenies need not apply. But it makes up for its heft with a very satisfying, tactile feel. The handle feels good in the palm (especially the beech version) and the stainless steel mount is very solid. Here in Oaxaca, it’s seen time bouncing around the potholed dirt roads of my local day loops, conditions that rarely fail to jettison gear that isn’t properly attached.
Aside from day-to-day use, I’ve also taken it on overnighter bikepacking trips, across all kinds of terrain – from old-fashioned English bridleways to rocky, roughstuff descents – and there was never a question that it wouldn’t stay put. With its simple, overbuilt construction, I’m confident in saying it should last many a year, too.
Downsides? Fitting the Quick-Lock is a very fiddly affair, best performed by three hands or a dozen dextrous fingers. I found it easiest to remove the seatpost and stand the saddle upside down. It’s something of a balancing act to keep everything in place, so bear in mind that it won’t be something you’ll want to fit and remove too often.
As a general note, remember too that saddlebags rub against thighs whilst you’re riding, especially when fully packed. This can drive some people nuts, whilst others don’t seem to care at all. If it does bother you and you intend to fill your bag to its gunnels, you’re probably best served by fitting a small supporting rack to create some space between your thighs and to help support its weight. Otherwise, you can make do as I did with a series of Andrew the Maker’s foam spacer blocks stacked up like casino chips, which created enough space for it no longer to be an annoyance. Without a rack, the Quick-Lock is officially designed to carry up to 5kg. In reality I expect it’s capable of hauling more, at least on well-graded forest roads, though a modest load would likely fatigue the saddle rails less.
Frost+Sekers also offer two saddlebags. The 700g, 16L Otis is relatively simple in design. It’s made from water-resistant, waxed cotton duck canvas and features leather straps and nickel-plated brass buckles, with much more of a premium feel than the less costly Carradice Barley Bag I also own. For the most part, the Otis is free of gubbins, which means no extra webbing, side pockets, or ‘Longflap’ design, as can be seen on models like the Fabio’s Chest and BXB Goldback. However, it’s a simple, good-looking bag that’s a very practical size. I was able to fit in most of my camping gear, like a summer quilt, shelter, waterproof, and sleeping mat.
When it comes to closing the bag, the Otis goes for the traditional leather strap approach. I’m more of a fan of plastic buckles or metal hooks for speed of access, but at least those on the Otis are big and chunky, which makes them easy to use with gloved hands. The bag includes a chunky shoulder strap (150g) that clips into place.
At 12L in capacity, the Marvin is a little smaller. It’s also heavier (850g) thanks to its rigid structure, a zippered compartment, key fobs, and a couple of internal dividers – all of which makes it feel especially well suited to commuters. Unlike the Otis, which uses a more traditional wooden dowel design like a Carradice, the Marvin favours a metal rod that’s more awkward to get access to, making removing the handle a complicated process. Granted, the handle manages not to dig into your hips when the bag is worn over the shoulder, so there’s no real reason not to leave it in place.
The terrain here in Mexico is rarely forgiving and I did notice that the webbing that holds the handle in place has a tendency to loosen over time. This can cause the bag to sway slightly on bumpy dirt roads, though it’s nothing too chaotic or noticeable when riding. Again, the saddlebag includes a heavy, chunky shoulder strap (150g) that’s more commuter in vibe – instantly transforming into a very fetching shoulder bag that wouldn’t be out of place in a third wave coffee shop. Note that the Marvin also includes a leather strap to anchor it to your seatpost. Unfortunately, mine was lost in the Mexican mail system so I replaced it with a Voile Nano strap. The modern aesthetics may look a little out of quilter with the rest of the bag, but Nano straps are just great!
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from fitting the Quick-Lock to other brands of saddlebags, too, or even one you’ve made yourself. I tried the mounting system with my BXB Goldback, which you can see below. Due to the fact that the dowel is on the outside of the bag, I had to loosen off the Voile Nano straps a little to allow the handle to fully engage and lock into place with the mounting piece. But overall, it works well.
The Quick-Lock is available in various guises, be it as the mounting system alone (£52) or as part of a saddlebag kit – £199 (€237) for the Otis and £219 (€260) for the Marvin bundle, though conversion rates are subject to change. Otherwise, it’s £184 for the 12L Marvin by itself and £169 for the 16L Otis. The saddlebags are made in the UK and are available in a number of finishes. The beech handle is £42 and there are spares listed too – like the spring clip, which could eventually be subject to fatigue – as well as a second standard steel handle (£25) for another bag. There’s free shipping for worldwide orders over £70. In terms of saddle rails to tyre clearances, Frost+Sekers recommend 27 – 30cm for both of their saddlebags.
Lastly – and worthy of a special mention – is the fact that the Quick-lock comes in plastic-free packaging. Earlier models came in recyclable and unbleached cardboard. But the Frost + Sekers founders didn’t feel this was enough of an effort to help them sleep at night, so they shifted to a reusable (and very useful) tool wrap instead. Bravo!
- Very solid and well made
- Really quick to fit and remove
- Great for shopping and mellow campouts alike
- Good value
- Fits most generic seat posts (but not all)
- Wide range of spares and accessories
- Includes a tool roll in lieu of packaging
- Fiddly to fit
- Some saddle rub without a supporting rack or some foam spacers
- Lowers the saddlebag slightly – so take this into account with tyre to saddlebag clearance
- On the heavy side
- Saddlebags are relatively expensive (compared to Carradice)
- Model: Quick-Lock
- Weight: 356g
- Load Capacity: 5kg
- Material: Stainless steel
- Place of Manufacture: UK
- Price: £56/€62
- Manufacturer’s Details: Frost + Sekers
The Quick-Lock was designed initially for commuting rather than than camping. Happily, however, it successfully crosses over into the local overnighter and weekend foray realm, whether you’re exploring the Dorset coast or bouncing down the rural terracerías of Oaxaca.
At over 350g in weight – and given its choice of natural fabrics like waxed cotton duck canvas – it’s unlikely to appeal to the ultralight bikepacker. Nor would I recommend the Quick-Lock – or Frost+Sekers’ premium saddlebags – for techy singletrack routes. But for those who favour a carrying solution that suits their day-to-day needs as much as their exploratory weekend outings, I expect it could well strike a harmonious chord. As a good looking baggage carrying solution that straddles day-to-day commutes, shopping, and weekend campouts alike, it’s certainly a very interesting and unique addition to what is currently available – and one which makes your luggage as easy to remove and stow in your tent as it is to go carry into the grocery store, leveraging as much as you can out of the same equipment.
I especially admire Frost + Sekers’ desire to create and sell a made-in-the-UK product that’s simple, robust, and repairable enough not to end up in the landfill, along with their choice of include reusable packaging – as well as a general desire to source materials that are as gentle on the planet as any new piece of gear can hope to be.
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