Velomacchi Speedway Backpack 40L Review
Based in the great Pacific Northwest, Velomacchi (pronounced “velo-makki”) is a play on two Italian words, Velocità Macchina, which roughly translated means “Velocity Machine.” They make backpacks and other accessories intended for motorcycling, but two wheels is two wheels. PEZ got our hands on their 40-liter Speedway Backpack to try while pedalling rather than twisting a throttle.
Although it has a relatively slim profile, for commuting, the Speedway 40L (40 litre capacity) is large enough to carry what you need to the office in the main large compartment. I was able to comfortably fit a pair of shoes, socks, underwear, pants, belt, a shirt, tie, and a rolled up blazer (I work in a coat-and-tie environment) — as well as essential toiletries. The main compartment seals with a magnetic roll top closure that makes it water-tight. A zippered compartment is just big enough for my 15-inch MacBook Pro. And a secondary external compartment with some organizer pockets and a key ring holder uses toggle closures and has room for charging cords, keys, wallet, and any other miscellaneous small stuff – as well as my small U/cable-lock.
A nice little touch is that Velomacchi put two little slits at the base of the 40L to attach a clip-on blinkey light. A small side pocket is big enough to carry a spare tube, tire levers, CO2 cartridge, and a mini-tool. And there’s a clip you can attach your helmet to when you’re off the bike.
The back panel is quilted and somewhat padded. It also has a sleeve compartment intended to fit a hydration bladder as large as 3-liters. If you’re not worried about them getting a little wrinkled, you could put files or other office paperwork in here.
The Speedway 40L is constructed with 1000 dernier 66 nylon fabric with a TPU lamination that has a more rigid feel than your typical backpack or messenger bag. Velomacchi says it is “water tight” but not necessarily waterproof, per se. The material has a very “ballistic” feel to it so – especially since it was designed for motorcycle riding – should also hold up if you take a spill (but hopefully not).
What sets the Speedway 40L apart from the rest of the backpack pack is its rotating magnetic sternum coupler. You put your arms through the shoulder straps like a regular backpack, but then clip the harness together with the magnetic coupler. It will stay connected until you twist the round knob to unlock it. This is a unique design based on the demands of motorcycle riding that holds the bag securely and close to the body while distributing weight off your shoulders. It feels a lot like a 4-point seat belt you’d wear in a race car. The result is adjustability and a comfort level that can’t be achieved with the more typical alpine harness. Also, the adjustment straps tuck away so they don’t flap in the wind (probably more important at motorcycle speeds, but still appreciated riding a bicycle).
Because the harness is more substantial than a typical backpack (or the strap on a messenger bag), it covers more of your chest (it kind of looks like you should be wearing a jet pack) so results in less air flow on your chest. As such, it’s probably a little bit warmer than a regular backpack or messenger bag. But once the temps hit 90F (as they are wont to do in summertime in DC), I don’t know that the difference is all that meaningful. And I’ve always found that the bag on my back is what seems to make me sweat.
It’s not cheap at $299, but the Velomacchi Speedway Backpack 40L is a well thought out, purpose-built, form follows function backpack. It’s a serious piece of kit built for motorcycling but equally at home riding a bicycle.
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PEZ contributor Chuck Peña is a former weekend warrior racer who now just rides for fun, but every once in a while manages to prove Fausto Coppi’s adage true: Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. He lives in Arlington, VA with his wife (who is his favorite riding partner), his daughter (who takes great joy in beating him at golf all the time, but at least he’s still faster on a bike), and their dogs (who are always there to greet him when he comes home from a ride). You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.