Review for Medium Zero Messenger Bag | Black
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.