I am very pleased with my bag. The sailcloth material is great for a durable waterproof bag. I bought a matching 13" laptop sleeve and a strap pad. Everything matches perfectly and feels great when carried. A lot of the little details make this bag great. The locking clasp on the strap makes it easy to adjust the strap. There is a long strip of Velcro, so the bag's flap can be secured whether the bag is stuffed or mostly empty. There are multiple D-rings on the bag for various straps or key rings. The velcro inside is great for Rickshaw's drop pockets and your own custom accessories. The bag has enough space for my Asus Zenbook, iPad, accessories, and a few days' worth of clothes for short trips.
You should consider buying the $10 strap pad for the bag. The strap is comfortable on its own, but the pad really helps. It should be included with the bag. I do not fault Rickshaw for this, though. If you don't care about a pad, it's an easy way to save $10. Letting you decide to purchase it separately goes along with the other customization options.
The sail cloth is rigid and flat at first, but as you use it the diamond texture comes out especially after use in the rain.
I ordered the Graphite Tweed Medium Zero Messenger, with a burgundy interior. A disclaimer to this review: I've been using it as a combination purse/rucksack, and not really for its intended purpose as a 'bicycle' messenger bag. :)
First off, it's a nice bag, and VERY spacious -- once I'd started putting things into it, it expanded. A lot. It was much larger than I had anticipated when viewing it online, even with the measurements.
It makes a great duffel-substitute; it will easily fit a laptop, bag lunch, bottle of water and a light jacket. It’s a bit large to use on casual trips to the store or for a brief outing, but it's going to be great, next time I have to take a flight. ("What? Just one carry-on allowed? No, no, this is my PURSE!")
However, be careful if you're wearing a sweater or similar fuzzy or knitted fabric. Unless you fold the top under, I learned the hard way that the velcro WILL catch on your clothes -- I snagged one of my sweaters that way. It can be a little awkward, if you're trying to hurriedly reach into the bag and still avoid the velcro at the same time. Some people may not have issues with it, but I always do, perhaps due to the fact that during winter I wear mostly wool and (oh no!) chenille. An option to replace the Velcro with a buckle or snaps instead would be great.
One last semi-complaint is about the tweed. It's mostly my fault; I neglected to scotch-gard it. I am beginning to notice a few snags and a ‘fuzziness’ to it, which will happen if you rub against a woven fabric long enough, or when it scrapes up against things. I'm very hard on my bags, dropping them on the ground, and hanging them wherever, and I should have considered this before purchasing 'spot-clean-only' tweed. It does, however, give it a very nice, polished (dare I say professional?) look.
All in all, I would buy it again, although in retrospect I should have thought more carefully about the fabric and size. The next Rickshaw bag I get will probably be nylon, and I'll retire the tweed to just make an appearance on dressier occasions. :)
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
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.