Brooks England is one of the oldest manufacturers of cycling related accessories that is still active – and they are very proud of it.
I don’t intend to write much more about their history because that would be too long and it would not do them the same amount of justice that the History section on their website BrooksEngland.com does.
One fact, though, is worth pointing out – in the 1950’s, they satisfied 50% of the world’s demand for bicycle saddles!
> Selection of Brooks 1866 Products
Brooks started with saddles back in 1888 when bicycle saddles were one of the most uncomfortable parts on a bike. Today, they offer a wide range of products under categories such as:
- Cycle Bags
– Backpacks, Saddles, Panniers, Tool bags, etc.
- Bike Saddles
– Stylish leather saddles.
– On and off-bike garments.
– Helmets, Grips, Bar Tapes, Lights, Wallets, Multi-Tools, and more.
They are pretty much leather (and cycling) oriented; so, they use it to make whatever is possible out of it.
The Brooks Sparkhill
The Brooks Sparkhill is meant for urban riders, who like to carry a laptop and other essentials they might need. It’s made of waterproof materials (Coated nylon and Cordura) and uses coated Aquaguard Zips to stop water from penetrating in.
At first glance, it seems very minimalistic, but you’d be wrong to think that. It is not minimalistic at all since it offers lots of storage area and lots of packing options. However, I have mixed feelings about it because I’m used to seeing bags that are entirely different.
Functionality & Pockets
I have the 22-Litre version that nicely fits my 15” laptop, plus other accessories I might need for my day-to-day commute to work.
The Brooks Sparkhill comes with:
– Full-size padded main compartment for carrying your laptop (accessible from the top);
– Elastic front compartment (accessible from the front), including two zip compartments and a hook to attach your helmet;
– Full-size rear compartment (accessible from on the right-hand side), suitable for carrying documents;
– One small compartment for keys (accessible from the bottom left);
– One compartment for carrying a water bottle (accessible from the bottom right).
The front area might be hard to use, especially when you need to get something from the very bottom. Laying the bag down might be the solution, but it’s not a very fast, nor a very easy one.
The bag also has a top carry handle riveted to the bag. It appears to be tough and sturdy, so you can trust it to carry the entire weight of the bad. It does not seem like it will ever come apart. There is also another hidden pocket under the carrying handle, which you can use to carry your sunglasses or a wallet.
Finally, reflective coating is included on the lower front panel, which makes itself apparent once you point a source of light at it and makes you visible when riding at night.
I am a big fan of waist adjustment straps; however, this bag doesn’t have them. After all, when I think about it, they might not be necessary since this is an urban bag. What it does have are the length and height-adjustable chest straps, which can come in very handy.
However, in the bottommost position, the length of the straps can be too short. It did work for me, but it was quite tight when I was walking. During cycling, there was plenty of room.
On the other hand, shoulder straps are definitely long enough. In my opinion, they could have easily been made shorter.
Brooks use premium materials to achieve the best quality. Riding in all weather conditions is a sign of a real cyclist, so the materials have to be durable and waterproof.
For the lining, they use 100% post-consumer recycled PET bottles.
The worst thing about carrying a backpack when cycling is that it makes you sweat – a lot! For that reason, the back panel is one of the most critical parts of a bag. I approached the Brooks Sparkhill with prejudices because I haven’t seen “the perfect” solution so far.
I took it on a 15-mile ride, and it performed quite well. I prepared myself for the worst, but the outcome was not that bad. The backpack kept my back and my shoulders ventilated and relatively dry – so, well done Brooks!
The metal pieces on the backpack are well-built, though they sometimes make tiny clicking noises when cycling. However, instead of being annoying, these can be quite calming.
- The adjustable chest straps can be too short when in the lowest position.
- Fine materials easily get dirty.
- Quite pricey.
- Plenty of storage room.
- Great minimalistic design.
- Solid weatherproof zippers.
Brooks has made a bag that is not too fancy and retains the old-style design, that we all know, never dies. The Brooks Sparkhill is perfect for those who do not want to draw too much attention to themselves, but still, want to get noticed by people who care about well-built bags.
So, to wrap it up, if you liked the bag from what you learned about it – buy it! You will not be disappointed one bit!
Brooks England Sparkhill (22LT)
Selection of colors and sizes7.0/10
- Lots of nice and fine details
- High-quality aqua-proof materials
- One of the best minimalistic bags on the market
- The fine materials easily get dirty
- Chest straps can be too short in the bottom position