No one but actual, honest-to-God bicycle messengers had the authority to wield a Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you were an iron-assed hard case living life on a bike, you’d probably earned the right; though you might still have found yourself the target of diluted messenger disgust.
That was the pervading vibe 15 years ago when I bought my first Timbuk2 bag, a Bolo (back then, each size had a name; the Bolo was the large version). Make no mistake, these were Messenger Bags: simple, voluminous, virtually indestructible black holes, able to swallow an inordinate amount of awkwardly dimensioned deliverables, specially stabilized for use on the bike exclusively. The only grudging nods to civility were a couple of pockets sown onto the outside of the bag and an optional padded shoulder strap.
And apart from a few minor changes, it’s stayed that way. Like the coelacanth, the Classic Messenger has remained a living fossil, unchanged, while other Timbuk2 species have evolved and developed around it. Until now.
The changes are subtle-ish, and on paper the Classic Messenger 2014 looks like it remains essentially Classic Messenger — a good thing. The bag gets a needed laptop/document sleeve, twin interior water bottle pockets and a top grab handle; everything is low profile, which should allow the new features to remain as unobtrusive as possible. The bag also gets a new, more sophisticated buckle and small corner wings under the main flap, which should go a long way to keeping the interior drier in a downpour. The biggest surprise is that the Classic Messenger’s exterior returns to its roots, with Cordura, one of the two original exterior materials (the original messenger was also available in waxed canvas, which isn’t coming back) replacing the more recent Ballistic nylon. Timbuk2 says this will make the bag both lighter and more water-resistant.
My license to ride with a Timbuk2 was that I more or less lived on my bike (and had cultivated glutes at least as hard as the consistency of potter’s clay). On the other hand, Cult of Mac’s storied fearless leader, Leander Kahney, was one of those actual, honest-to-God bike messengers — and he’ll be strapping one of the new Classic Messengers to his back to test evolution’s result. Watch for his assessment.