I have a review posted of the Small edition which is my go-to, EDC bag. In that review, basically, I extolled the well-designed "simplicity" of the Zero line of bags - the fact that they don't have secret compartments, pouches, zipper slots up the wazoo like that "other" messenger bag maker (T2, if you must know). I especially like the fact that since the Rickshaw organizing accessory pouches attach by Velcro, I can own more than one Rickshaw bag and moving my junk from one bag to another isn't that hard - the slots are all in the same place, and the accessory pouch just rips out and easily relocates to the other bag (including another Zero in a different size!).
If you get a Zero with XPac as the exterior material, you never have to worry about collecting dust or smudges, or footprints from your kidlings dangling their feet on it, because it doesn't soak up dust or dirt and readily wipes down with a damp cloth. Also, the XPac is superlight! My XPac version in Small is my favorite.
But I also like black cordura exterior on steel (very dark gray) interior with black edges - call me old fashioned, but I like any color so long as it is black, and I like monochrome matching, not brightly contrasting, interiors. That is one of the reason you almost always want to order one of these online, instead of purchasing a pre-made bag, just so you can customize it, at NO SURCHARGE, to your heart's content.
Keep in mind that if you use T2 bags as a reference point, each bag in the Rickshaw line is CURRENTLY about 1/2 size down from the corresponding T2 bag - the "Small" Zero is more comparable to the Extra Small T2, the "Medium" to the Small T2. However, when I transferred contents from my Extra Small T2 to my Small Zero, I actually had some space left over, so while the Small is smaller based on eyeball and measurements, it is laid out differently and seems to hold more.
Also keep in mind that the Medium feels like a "size" larger than the Small, but the Large feels like only a HALF size larger than the Medium - that's because the bags are based on the fabric roll sizes - 15", 20", and 23", and the jump from Small to Medium is proportionately greater than from Medium to Large.
Thanks to the lack of built-in flaps, pockets, etc. and the use of a Cordura instead of tarp liner and the use of thinner (not narrower!) body straps and lighter buckles, the Rickshaw bags are THE lightweight champs of the messenger world. This is better for my shoulder and back, BUT if you plan on carrying a quart Sigg bottle or a six-pack AND a 15" or 17" laptop - and some books! - you might be better served with a Chrome messenger bag, which although it probably weighs twice as much as the Zero just by itself, has that huge shoulder strap with tons of padding. Mean, I've learned how to go lighter and simpler, the iPod Touch is MY iPad AND my reading library AND my netbook; and I use Platypus pinter bottles for water, so my needs are lighter and different. I'm not being paid to haul someone else's junk around in a commercial bike messenger bag, why should my messenger bag be overbuilt like theirs?
So why did I get one in Small and one in Medium for EDC? Simply for seasonal adjustment. The Small is my summer/cool season bag, and the Medium is my rainy/cold season bag - the contents are identical, but the Medium will hold a puff jacket, compressed down, or a fleece. Is the Medium big enough for a gym bag? Maybe, if you don't carry all the EDC junk I do. Otherwise, look to the Large for a gym bag or slick carryon luggage piece.
A note on the strap: Props to the designer for having the guts to use a thinner, easier to "clamp buckle adjust" strap than the massive, stiff, heavy straps used on other messenger bags. At first I had my doubts, but now I really like the buckle system.
A note on buckles: if you intend to use your Rickshaw as carryon luggage, I strongly recommend the accessory strap/buckle system on at least the Large version.
Two suggestions to Rickshaw:
1. Change the brown, fabric patterned background on the reviews - makes them very hard to read.
2. Start a "lending library" program where customers can "borrow and try" some bags to make sure they are getting the right size - maybe take a credit card and charge a flat $10 shipping and let customers have them for a couple of weeks to try them out. What you are doing, in terms of bag design, is so different that buying them blind is a tough call.
Brian in Boston – Verified Buyer
I wanted a smaller bag for riding on my bike, when I'm not carrying my laptop. This is that bag!
Combined with the cross strap, this thing sits solidly on my back while I'm hopping curbs around town.
The solid materials, build quality, and excellent design make this a great functional bag for on the bike or over the shoulder for a train commute. I am looking forward to picking up a larger Ricshaw bag for everyday laptop carry to replace my Bihn, which is starting to fray around the edges.
And check out that orange line--it's a perfect highlight on the solid black.
It's a little too small for my 15" Macbook Pro, but would probably fit your Macbook Air just fine.
Ronald Schoedel – Verified Buyer
I've been wanting a nice messenger bag pretty much forever. I knew the Rickshaw Zero was "the one" as soon as I saw it. It is lightweight, durable, and so attractive. I love that I was able to customise my colours and fabric. I chose the performance tweed, which is quite brilliant. I've had many positive comments on my bag when I'm out and about with it. I know it'll last a long time, too: it has a feeling of absolute quality that you can tell just by picking it up and touching it. It's is a well-constructed bag that will go with me on all my travels henceforth, and I have every confidence its ability to perform.
Geoffrey Stein – Verified Buyer
I ended up buying a large to haul stuff. The med. was just to small for a computer, gym stuff and lunch ...
What about adding a newspaper sleeve to the back?
Neal Galloway – Verified Buyer
For the most part this bag is awesome. It was a blast getting to design it, and the online customizer really gives you a good idea what your bag is going to look like, as my bag arrived and looked just as I had imagined (in a great way!). All of the seams are clean and seem strong and one of my favorite parts is the easy-adjust strap. There is this solid clip mechanism on the strap that makes adjusting the length easy, fast, and secure. The velcro system is also ingenious. I got the Deluxe Drop pocket and it is absolutely perfect for this bag. I recommend it.
I have a couple of complaints however. The two large front pockets are great for organizing your things, but the way they are sewn they don't stick out from the main body of the bag but rather take up space from the main compartment. So if you put much in these pockets it reduces the capacity of the main compartment. I also carry a water bottle around with me where ever I go, and my previous messenger bags always had a pocket that was good for holding one, on the side or front. This bag has no good place for a water bottle. If you put it in the outside pockets, as I said above it takes up space from the main compartment and becomes bulky. And if you put the bottle in the main compartment it shifts around and you have to worry about condensation getting on your books and papers. It's far from a deal-breaker but worth mentioning.
All around solid bag and I give it a confident 4-stars. If there was a good place for a water bottle it would be an easy five.