Brooks England Suffolk Rear Review
Cons: Not fully waterproof, doesn't come in a pair
Manufacturer: Brooks England
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Our testers all agree that the Brooks England Suffolk Rear Pannier is one of the best-looking bags in our line up with its classic Brooks style. Its simple design with three external pockets and a large main storage compartment is very effective and easy to use, and its modern top-of-the-line mounting systems is one of the best we've tested. This model scores well across the board and does so in style.
The Suffolk Rear Pannier has a hook-and-latch style mounting system that is typically found on touring panniers. The handle you use to lift the pannier off the rack will release the latches when you grasp it, allowing for effortless loading and unloading. This mounting system also has quite a bit of adjustability, where the upper hooks can slide along a track, and the lower hook can slide and rotate. This provides a very secure attachment, even on bumpy terrain.
The Suffolk comes with additional sizing clips that can be inserted into the mounting hooks to achieve a perfectly snug fit on your bike rack. While sorting through the different sizes of clips and attaching the right size is a slightly tedious task at first, no further adjustment is required once you dial in the perfect fit.
This bag has excellent storage capabilities, and one of the best and most simple storage systems out of all the commuting style panniers that we tested. We were able to fit a 15-inch laptop and power adapter, notebook, hardcover book, a change of clothes, extra shoes, sunglasses, raincoat, insulated coffee mug, and bike pump inside with room to spare. In addition to the main storage compartment, this pannier also has a large external pocket on the front and two four-way stretch pockets on the sides. These pockets are convenient for holding snacks, keys, or raingear easily accessible as you cruise down the street. While an internal laptop sleeve would be a nice addition for commuters, we were still impressed with how much storage volume this bag has.
Brooks is well-regarded for making high-quality products that last, and the Suffolk is no exception with its heavy-duty materials and construction. During our testing, the treated canvas material was burly enough to withstand several loads of split firewood and kindling - a feat we wouldn't trust many other panniers with. We are also impressed by the robust mounting system with its high-end materials and modern design, and we also appreciate some classic Brooks touches like metal hardware and leather accents.
Our only concern for the longevity of this bag is with the four-way stretch pockets found on its sides. Like most stretchy materials, this fabric is susceptible to punctures, tears, and wear from over-packing. However, if you're mindful of what objects you cram into these pockets, we suspect that you won't encounter any issues.
Unfortunately, this is the only rating metric where the Suffolk struggles a bit. On the manufacturer's website, the bag's material is described as waterproof in one section and water-resistant in another section. It is clear that the bag is definitely treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating that makes water bead up and roll off, which is enough to keep the internal contents dry during light rain or inclement weather, but the roll-top closure doesn't provide as tight of a seal as other models, and the side pockets and external pouch are susceptible to moisture accumulation.
Ease of Use & Versatility
With its simple design, easily accessible storage pockets and main storage compartment, and top-of-the-line mounting system, this bag is very easy to use. We were drawn to the natural fabric, comfortable handle, and stylish color combination as soon as we laid eyes on it. Packing, mounting, and dismounting the bag are an absolute breeze, and beyond the functionality, it feels good in the hand while doing so.
We would have scored the Suffolk a bit higher in this metric if there weren't a few small details missing. Although there are three external pockets for organizing gear, we wish there was an internal laptop sleeve and a pocket or sleeve to help keep office or school supplies more secure. We are also frustrated that a shoulder strap has to be purchased separately from the pannier itself.
The Suffolk is one of the most expensive panniers in this review. For folks looking to purchase a pair of panniers, this would certainly not be a cost-effective option, as other high-quality offerings come in a pair for a similar or just slightly higher price. However, the high-end Brooks style normally fetches a premium price for very high-quality products. Riders intent on having the Brooks design will find this a suitable value, while others looking for more bang for the buck can likely find similar utility in a less expensive package.
You can feel the quality of this pannier as you pack it up, roll it down, and toss it on your rack. It's easy to use and provides plenty of storage, and is a very functional option for folks who use their bike daily. While it's a little on the expensive side, there's no denying the classic style of Brooks products. Whether you bike to work, school, or the weekly farmer's market, you'll look and feel good using the Brooks Suffolk Rear Pannier.
— Nick Bruckbauer
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