Kring met with Eliska & Simon, the 2 founders of Braasi. Check their whole collection out!
Kring : Could you guide us through your brand? How did you start making backpacks for cyclists?
Braasi : When we started out with Braasi…we were actually looking on making the kind of bag we would buy ourselves, our main objective was to make the bag both urban proof and practical to use. We didn’t specifically target cyclist but wanted out bags to be bicycle proof, as well as fit for a series of other occasion, whether it be in a city environment or on a walking trip in the country. Obviously for our Webbing and Wicker series, we had the city cyclist in mind. The webbing on both bags are fit to attach locks or stack other items that need to be ‘for grabs’ quickly, without having to open the bags.
Kring : How do the Braasi backpacks differ from other brands, such as Chrome?
Braasi : One of the biggest differences between us two is the product focus. Whereas Chrome has grown into a general apparel provider (bags, clothing, shoes, etc), we at Braasi are sticking to our core business, which are (rolltop) backpacks. Furthermore, Chrome’s focus and communication strategy is also very much aimed at the more hardcore single speed, bike-messenger-type cyclist… whereas we at Braasi tend to aim at the city dweller in general whether they are on their bikes or in any other situation. We’re probably not as much focused on tattoos J. Design-wise, our intention is to keep our bags as ‘clean’ as possible, deprived from any abundancy like too many zipper, clips, etc. Our initial bags didn’t have any zippers on top … merely a buckle to close when rolled. I guess it’s our architectural background that ‘forces’ us to keep things clean and simple…and I believe that’s where we stand out.
Kring : What about the fabric? The Cordura material is a real added value?
Braasi : In general we have 2 types of bags, first we have the ‘canvas series’ and on the other hand we have a series of bags which are more ‘heavy duty’ and that are made out of Cordura. Cordura has proven its use over the years (thanks to its characteristics, the material is also used in workwear and military gear). Not only is it a fast drying and lightweight material, the polyester yarn makes it very abrasion resistant, washable and water repellent. Especially when being used in very demanding environments (bike messenger, etc.) Cordura proves it’s worth the extra costs.
Kring : You have a studio in Prague. How is the cycling life there? Is the city bike-friendly?
Braasi : Prague has an ever-growing cycling community. Each year more and more people take up cycling to school, to work, to shopping, to leisure, wherever. Sadly however, politicians only slowly realize that cycling can only be supported and encouraged by improving cycling infrastructure. Prague does not offer cyclists many cycle paths or lanes. In fact, a lot or cyclists in Prague inappropriately use sidewalks for their commute. While damaging to the image of cyclists, this fact serves as the ultimate argument for more cycle paths—because people want to ride. And if you don’t build more cycle paths, they will still ride. On the sidewalks. Or on dangerous roads.
Currently the quota of cyclists in Prague is at about two percent, which is stunningly low given that the Czechs are a cycling-crazy nation. Most Czechs have an expensive mountain bike at home, which they strap to the roof of their cars on a weekend to go for rides in the gorgeous countryside. This also means that for many years the city administration has invested primarily in bike paths at the edge of town.
Luckily, more and more bike lanes are being painted on the roads of Prague every year, and the city has gems to offer to cyclists: the bike lanes along the Vltava river, which makes for a particularly beautiful ride, especially in the morning hours, and a cycle-highway, complete with a tunnel for cyclists. This ultramodern bit of cycling infrastructure, constructed on the site of an abandoned railway track, can serve as an example of how easily bike paths could be created.
Kring : I saw a Facebook post back in April about a wool beanie that you were planning on selling. Is that the future of Braasi? Product diversification?
Braasi : Our initial idea when we started Braasi was to grow into offering a full line of urban – proof apparel. Fortunately the popularity of our bags grew intensely resulting in our other ideas being put on a sidetrack for a while. However, the beanies we indeed designed and produced and we take them with us to the various trade shows we visit annually. One of them being the Berlin bike show. You can always check through our shops or distributors if and which models of beanies we have on stock.
Kring : Kring is a concept-store revolving aroung urban mobility and cycling as a sport, centered on a nice and cozy coffee place. Do you have such shops in Prague? And furthermore, do you think such concepts are part of the future of cycling?
Braasi : As said earlier, cycling in Prague is still in full development and on top of that we don’t yet have the ‘cycling – coffee – shop’ concept yet as it was introduced by Rapha several years ago. However, we do have some very nice initiatives popping up, like the shop Bicycle Café. Again, its focus is on performance riding (MTB and racebikes), but they do serve you a cup of coffee if you want J. Bicycle Café offers bikes in the high-end segment.
For projects around ‘non – motorized’ urban mobility, we have a lobby group called AUTO*MAT. Their goal is to promote alternative ways of roaming around the city. They provide workshops, educate kids and promote alternative ways to commute to/from work.
Kring : A last question that everyone gets: what bike do you ride on?
Braasi : I initially had a restored old steel racebike with a bull handlebar, but recently switched to a ‘normal’ sit – up – straight ‘grandma ‘ bike, for practical reasons. Like lots Czech, we also own a set of mountainbikes for some offroad fun.
Photo : DR