The grace and power of pro riders in full flight are an impressive sight, and many amateur riders have sought to emulate them, at least in look if not in speed. For some, presentation is so important that it’s been codified: for example, (with tongue firmly in cheek) the set of rules by the Velominati. But imitation has its limits; the reality of the average rider clashes with that of the pro ideal, which makes some of the exhortations on the list particularly hilarious, such as Rule 29: prohibition against seat bags, or “European Posterior Man-Satchels”.

But still, the Velominati do have a point. Seat bags, in general, are not very esthetically pleasing. Worse, they often attached via hook-and-loops straps around the seatpost and slowly but surely destroy your bibs over time. But without a team follow car on your every ride (or let’s face it, any ride), seat bags are a necessity, until now.

Carl & Rose Bicycle Goods, a new startup out of Toronto, with their new tool roll, offers a stylish and functional alternative to the traditional seat bag. Tool rolls are simple in concept: wrap up your tools and spare tube, strap it securely to the underside of the saddle and voila. But as is so often with simple designs, the devil is in the details, and the Carl & Rose Tool Roll have a number of clever touches.

The hook-and-loop tab keeps the bundle from unraveling.

The hook-and-loop tab keeps the bundle from unraveling.

Chief among them is a small hook-and-loop tab that keeps the whole bundle tight after you’ve rolled it up, and keeps it from unraveling as you are securing it to the saddle, a common problem for other rolls. Crucially, the hook-and-loop tab is oriented toward the saddle and away from your bib shorts when the tool roll is installed.

The edges of the Carl & Rose tool roll are cut on a bias, keeping edges of the tool roll from sliding out as you roll it up. Finally, the interior is also stitched with a number of compartments, which keep the content from shifting around as you roll it up, ensuring a nice tight, compact package that sits tight against your saddle for the smallest possible profile.

The toe strap and clasp is functional, while adding a hint retro stylish touch.

The toe strap and clasp is functional, while adding a hint retro stylish touch.

The bottom is reinforced with a tough vinyl material, guarding against any wear from sharp or pointed tools over time. The material also adds a splash of colour for a dash of style. A leather toe strap, which threads through a sewn leather patch on the roll, secures the roll to your saddle; a nice nod to a bygone era of cycling when riders would strap a spare tubular to their saddles with a toe strap.

Beyond these touches, the Carl & Rose version retains the same benefits as other tool rolls. A tool roll expands and contracts in size depending on how much you stuff into it, unlike seat bags, which are fixed in size. If you are heading out for a big ride exploring dirt roads, you can stuff an extra tube and supplies in. For you daily riding, roll it up tight and compact for a sleek appearance.

Should an untimely flat occur, a tool roll also unfurls into a flat and clean surface to work from, keeping your levers or patch kit from being lost amongst the bushes and left behind accidentally.

Carl & Rose Bicycle Goods tool roll

Carl & Rose Bicycle Goods tool roll

Although Carl & Rose Bicycle Goods are a new brand, the principles behind its products are not new to cycling. Noah Rosen is better known as the man behind Vélocolour, widely recognized as one of the top custom painters in North America, while his partner Suzanne Carlsen is a skilled jewelry artisan, who has produced many of the custom head badges that have graced Vélocolour painted frames. As the duo tells it, the idea behind Carl & Rose grew out of their deep involvement in cycling. According to Noah Rosen, “As well as road riding and racing cyclocross, both of us commute year-round by bicycle and have for decades. All of these things are actually what brought us together initially and bike riding has played a huge role in our lives and lifestyles.”

As riders themselves, the pair were often frustrated by existing options, with products that lack in function or esthetics, often both. As Suzanne Carlsen explains, “When we choose to make a product, it is often based on a lack of interest in the current product options. Style, colour and overall design are a few of the factors that help us make choices for what direction to move in. There were just a lot of products we didn’t want to put on our bikes, so we started making the ones we wanted to use ourselves.”

Staying local is also an important focus for Carl & Rose, as Rosen and Carlsen tell it, “No matter what we are interested in design and producing, we wanted it at minimum to happen within North America but mostly we have been building a company that produces products almost exclusively in Toronto.”

The Carl & Rose tool roll is made in Canada, and retails for $55. It is available in black with five accent colours, from Carl & Rose online, as well as select retailers.

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