Altura Morph - Road cc - July 2014

- 08/07/2014 -

I generally subscribe to the view that bikes should play packhorse. The Altura Morph Versa gives you the option of carrying gear on your back or the bike, so you can choose according to the length of your trip and more easily carry the bag when you get there.

The Altura Morph is a reversible pannier-cum-rucksack. It looks like a conventional rucksack but unclip the front panel and hey presto - carrier mounts!

The 16-litre capacity is spread over three compartments, the first featuring two sleeves for laptop or tablet computers, leaving room for A4 pad, diary etc. I've been inclined to pop patch kit, multi-tools, CO2 inflator, mini pump et al inside a pencil case in this section with a spare tube or two riding shotgun either side since the third features pen ports and key hook. A generously padded and relatively spacious fleece pocket for smart phones/glasses is thoughtfully sandwiched inbetween.

Intelligent loading between first and third compartments will just permit a change of carefully folded clothes, thin-soled street shoes and long-shackle U lock. There's a further two mesh 'hammocks' sewn into another thin zippered sleeve, adjacent to the external wall. Frankly, the latter smacks of afterthought since the aluminium mounting hardware 'shares' this space but it proved useful parking for its elasticated hi-viz rain cover and some A5 letters/envelopes.

In pannier mode the bag mounts on Rixen & Kaul hardware. It's intuitive to use and rock steady, especially on thicker 6mm, 8mm or even 10mm rack tubing. Compact and semi-compact geometry bikes with bigger luggage can create heel clearance headaches, so Altura have altered the mounting kit slightly. Successfully too, if my Univega RTB (mid 90s cross country mtb frameset with frisky, 16 inch chainstays) couldn't create mischief.

The phthalate-free tarpaulin fabric appears both tough and weather repellent, resisting provocative close range blasts from the garden hose and rain of biblical proportions. That said, its rain cover comes in handy for misty conditions and just protecting the fabric from generic spatter.

Load distribution is pretty good when rider mounted on account of broad shoulder and two little chest straps minimising sway. However, it weighs close to 2 kilos unladen, so even with 'airmesh' panels. Everyday payloads quickly become intrusive leading to a decidedly sweaty back on commutes exceeding six miles.

Want to see how it switches between modes? Here's a video from distributor Zyro showing just that.