Cycling in sustainable style

This article was published in 2022, in Magazine 154.

Local cyclist and maker Lottie Seaborn shares the inspiration behind her Cambridge cycling bag business Pedal and Brass.

Lottie Seaborn with a Pedal and Brass bag on her bikeFor years in my former career as a lawyer, I’d sit in a Cambridge traffic jam watching many a cyclist whizz past, beating the traffic and enjoying the fresh air and freedom that cycle commuting brings. ‘Right, I can do this’, I thought, so I embarked on commuting to work by bike. Fortunately for me, the Addenbrooke’s DNA path provided a direct route to the office so I had no excuses when it came to the route! But being new to the cycling game, what I hadn’t factored in was how I was going to transport my laptop, files and shoes (I don’t recommend cycling in heels!) or how dishevelled I might look upon arriving at the office. First I tried ‘the rucksack approach’ until realising that (a) rocking up to professional networking events with a tatty old rucksack is not a good look and (b) there was no way I could conquer the Addenbrooke’s bridge without getting ‘rucksack sweaty back’. Next I tried panniers. ‘Great’, I thought, no more rucksack sweaty back and ample room for my belongings. But this still didn’t resolve the problem of what to do with the pannier upon arriving at the office and then subsequently heading out to meetings or events. I didn’t want to compromise on style or looking professional when at work or work events.

When I took a career break a few years ago the cycling versus style dilemma continued far beyond the office doors. A couple of years ago I cycled to meet a friend in the city for a bit of lunch and shopping. I didn’t want to lug my pannier around, but neither did I want to leave it on my bike. What I needed was a handbag that in every respect had the style and luxury of a gorgeous bag but the functionality of a pannier. It was then that Pedal & Brass was born – to cater for the style-conscious person wanting to cycle to work, out to dinner or wherever their journey takes them.

A Pedal and Brass leather bagWe design and handcraft beautiful leather bike bags for every occasion, with names inspired by the Cambridge Colleges (our Trinity ‘chuck it all in and go’ bag is the one I wish I had back in the day when pedalling over the Addenbrooke’s bridge with my shoes and files in tow!). Limited edition bags are created using surplus leather from the footwear and leather industries which might otherwise go to waste and potentially end up in landfill, and all our bags are very much designed for the bike. The bags use one of the best German pannier clip systems and provide extra security whilst in transit by enabling you to lock the bags to your bike with a cable travel lock. All the bags are capable of being locked shut, either with a key or a cable travel lock so there’s no need to worry about the opportunistic thief at traffic lights or your confidential papers flying out! Rain shouldn’t be a problem either. Our bike bags have a leather waterproofing spray applied to protect them from rain showers and reflective rain covers keep them dry in the heaviest of downpours.

It’s lovely to hear from customers that not only have our bags resolved the cycling versus style dilemma, but many people have been inspired to cycle more. One customer said ‘after years of avoiding cycling to work with a heavy rucksack or bulky pannier, I’ve finally found a reason to jump on my bike … Thank you for my gorgeous bag and for making me fall in love with my bike!’ So having put to bed the cycling versus style predicament, does anyone know how to tackle ‘helmet hair’?!