In November 2016 we shipped out Aster Beta backpacks to 50 Beta testers across 18 countries. Since then, Aster has been rigorously tested in all conditions from peak Australian summers to sub-zero Swedish winters. Over the next few weeks, we will se these backers’ stories and experiences with you.
In our first interview of the series, here’s what Seth Pollack has say about his Aster.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What bike do you ride?
I work in digital sports media with Vox Media in Washington, DC. I live in Rockville, Maryland about 20 miles from our office. Primarily, I ride a Volagi Viaje Ti “adventure” bike which is basically just a road bike with room for wider tires and a more relaxed geometry. I also have an old mountain bike that my son uses to ride to school and a Volagi Liscio road bike for weekend road rides.
Tell us about a little about your commutes and why you thought Aster would be a good fit for you?
I commute into the office 3 or 4 times per week about 20 miles each way. We have a shower at the office and I don’t generally need to haul my laptop so I’m typically just carrying a change of clothes and few smaller items so I don’t need a huge bag. From about October until April my evening commute is almost entirely in the dark. About 8 miles is on a paved bike/ped only trail but the rest is either in heavy Washington, D.C. traffic or on suburban roads with fast moving cars. I’m always looking for ways to make myself more visible so I can stay safe. The Aster bag adds more rear-facing lights but the big thing I like is the side profile and front lights.
Lets talk a little about your experience with the Aster? What were your first impressions when you opened your parcel?
The packaging was great. I was very impressed with the unique design and color scheme. There’s times I really enjoy the way the bag opens but also at times it makes things a bit more complicated to access items compared to a traditional bag. The extra side and outside pockets are great. The bag is very comfortable to wear and fits well.
In our videos, it was a little difficult to communicate the exact brightness of the lights. What did you think about the brightness of the rear and front lights when you took it out on the road?
I am very pleased with the brightness of the rear and side lights. I was concerned that the front white lights would be too bright and a distraction for my eyes but that’s not been the case at all. They are both visible to others without bothering me as the rider.
Can you tell us if there was a difference in the way motorists looked at you on the road with the Aster on?
It’s really hard to say how how they look at me but I definitely feel safer wearing the bag in the dark or on cloudy or rainy days.
What did your friends/ co-workers think of the bag when you showed it to them?
Everyone seems to like it. I’ve not yet had a chance to bring it to our weekly bike coffee club and show it off to other hard core cyclists and bike commuters.
You’ve been testing for over a few rides now? What do you think we could improve, to give you a smoother experience with Aster?
As we’ve discussed, the sidekick design is the biggest issue. I’m very pleased with the bag itself although the ability to turn it off and on w/o the Sidekick or the app would be great. I did have one of the pull strings that adjust the position of the front shoulder strap lights come off.
Thank you for contributing your time and giving us incredibly detailed feedback from your field-testing. Would you recommend this product to your friends?
I think we are on track for that if the redesigned Sidekick catches up with the bag itself.
If you have a question about Aster that you would like to ask our Beta Backers, do leave us a message on Facebook, Twitter, or in our comments, and we’ll try to include it in our next interview.