The Japanese component giant has done a nice job of creating a stylish backpack with an urban vibe that is full of surprises
The Shimano Tokyo 23 has a capacity of 23 litres inside its water-resistant ballistic nylon outer. With its roll top – which may have been inspired by Ortlieb – extended, you could pack in even more, and it boasts a choice of four closure loops for its top buckle to fasten into, depending on how extended the top is, compared to Ortlieb’s three.
And it has more zips than the King’s Road circa 1976. If you want to access the pack’s contents without operating the roll top buckle you can simply pull a long zip on the left and you’re in. On the right-hand side another long zip opens to reveal a padded laptop compartment that’s completely separate from the rest of the bag.
There’s also a front zipped compartment and a side one, plus one at the tough, tarpaulin-like base that stores a hi-viz rain cover.
Three Velcro straps with reflective trim across the front are intended to keep a helmet secure. There’s more reflectivity just above the base plus strips on both sides and on the fronts of the straps.
The back of the Shimano Tokyo 23 is stiffened and padded with raised blocks of foam to promote ventilation but, as anyone who uses their commute as a training ride will know, sweaty back syndrome is unavoidable if you’re putting in any kind of effort, and this mesh-covered foam will without a doubt get smelly in time.
The straps are wide and padded and felt comfortable supporting a 4.6kg load of standard commuting luggage including a MacBook, a pair of jeans, shoes, a towel and the usual other bits and pieces.
There’s an adjustable chest strap, which sits fairly low, but the lack of proper waist strap seems like a glaring omission. On the bike it’s absolutely essential to have a backpack secured around the waist unless you’re just pottering. As it is the Tokyo 23, loaded up, can swing and list and even worse ride up toward the back of the neck when you’re on the drops.
Shimano has got everything right with the Urban Daypack except speccing a waist strap, and it’s such a shame because it could have been a test winner otherwise. As it stands, it’s very expensive for what is designed to be a cycling-specific backpack but that lacks a crucial element.