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Category Archives: Bicycle Bags & Panniers

Top tube bags, saddlebags and panniers for bicycles.

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX With Rigid Molded Panels

When I started cycling about twelve years ago, like many newbies, I carried a lot of gear with me that I didn’t really need. I am now a minimalist, i.e., I only carry gear that I absolutely need (a patch kit, spare tube and a compact set of tools). However, there are times when I really do need to carry more gear than will fit in my jersey pockets or seat bag—and that’s when I break out the Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX.

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX (note the 3M reflective stripe)

The Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX is a lightweight and spacious bag designed for mountain bikes. This bag is made with flexible 600 denier fabric and has rigid molded panels so it will keep its shape. The main interior compartment has an adjustable divider (you can remove the divider entirely if needed). There are also two mesh side compartments that close with zippers. While this bag has a Dupont Teflon coating for water resistance, you can also buy an optional rain cover. The rain cover comes in either white or yellow—I bought the yellow one because it makes it a lot easier for motorists to see you in the rain.

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX with Bungee Cords

The Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX weighs a bit over 1.5 pounds and measures 13.8″ long x 8.3″ wide x 7.5″ tall. This bag has a storage capacity of 480 cubic inches (8 L). There are adjustable bungee cords on the top of the bag so you can carry over-sized items, but I usually use it to carry a light rain jacket. This bag also has 3M reflective strips on the left and right sides—when car headlights shine on these strips it reflects the light back and makes you nearly impossible to miss. The back of the bag has a clip so yo can attach a taillight, like the Topeak RedLite II.

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX

Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX on the QuickTrack Rail

This bag slips on your bike with the Topeak QuickTrack system, a lightweight rail that attaches to your seat post. The QuickTrack rail accepts several different sizes of Topeak bags and baskets. The TrunkBag comes with a built-in carrying handle and a detachable shoulder strap (in case you need to do some shopping along the way).

I own five different Topeak bags (two for road bikes and three for mountain bikes). A couple of my Topeak bags are over ten years old and they still look like new. I bought the Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX about 18 months ago and one of the things I’ve noticed is how the Topeak bags have evolved during the past decade. The newer bags are more streamlined (aerodynamic) and lightweight than the older bags.

As with any bag or pannier you put on your bike, you need to try to spread the weight out, i.e., don’t put everything in the TrunkBag. Last year I put the TrunkBag on a mountain bike and went out into the woods to collect acorns (I enjoy feeding the squirrels in my backyard). Acorns weigh more than you might think and when the TrunkBag was full I could really feel it as I was going uphill.

The Topeak MTX TrunkBag EX retails for $70 and should be available from just about any bike shop. I always encourage people to buy from the local bike shop whenever possible, but if you are a bargain hunter you can buy this bag from Amazon.com for only $42.

 

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Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag (Product Review and Giveaway)

Every once in a while I come across a new bicycle product and my first though is, “Why didn’t someone think of this before?” That is exactly the way I felt when the folks at Nite Ize sent me one of their new SaddleLight LED Bike Bags for review. This product combines a weather-resistant bicycle saddle bag, a bright red LED taillight and plenty of reflective piping—and then they threw in a gear tie to make this bag incredibly easy to install.

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Saddle Bag

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag is made from a water-resistant fabric—this fabric is also UV resistant so it will not suffer damage due to exposure to the sun. This bag only comes in one size—I would call it a medium-sized bag (I own several saddle bags and this bag is neither the largest or smallest). The bag measures 3.6″ H x 3.3″ W x 7.4″ D (91mm x 83mm x 188mm), and weighs just 3.3 ounces (94 grams). This bag is big enough to hold a spare inner tube, patch kit and a couple of CO2 cartridges. There is also a small interior mesh pocket which serves as a great place to keep your cash. If you ever have to dig into this bag in a low-light situation you are going to appreciate the bag’s bright white interior—it makes it so much easier to find things!

Bright Red LED Taillight

Bright Red LED Taillight

Sewn into the back of this bag is a bright red LED taillight that runs on a pair of 2016 3V lithium batteries (one pair included with purchase). This light has both a “constant on” and a flashing mode. You should be able to get about 20 hours of use in the “constant on” mode and a few hours more in the flashing mode. Please be aware that cold weather has a negative impact on battery life.

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

Reflective Trim On The Nite Ize SaddleLight Bag

The sides of this bag are outlined with a thick strip of passive reflective trim. Since I spend a lot of time riding at night or in low-light situations I always appreciate reflective elements being incorporated into my cycling gear. Light bulbs burn out, batteries die and mounting brackets break—but reflective piping will always be there! This bag attaches under your saddle rails with a hook and loop strap and to your seat post with a re-useable Gear Tie Rubber Twist Tie.

The Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag retails for around $33 and is available from the Nite Ize Website. When you consider that you are really getting two products (a saddle bag and a taillight) the price seems very reasonable.

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new Nite Ize SaddleLight LED Bike Bag then leave a comment below telling me why you need this bag. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, April 19, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). If you don’t need this bag yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Serfas Speed Stem Bag (Product Review and Giveaway)

On the back of nearly every cycling jersey you will find three pockets and they are usually sufficient to carry a few carbohydrate gels and your cell phone. However, on longer rides you are going need more room to store extra gels, bars and drink mixes (unless you are one of those folks who stops at every convenience store they pass). My favorite way to add a little carrying space on my bike is with a top tube bag. Most of these bags attach to the bike with a couple of Velcro straps—one strap goes around the top tube and the other around the stem tube. I own several different styles of top tube bags and recently the folks at Serfas sent me a Serfas Speed Stem Bag to review and it quickly became one of my favorites!

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

The Serfas Speed Stem Bag is made of 100% polyester and only weighs 4.2 ounces (119 grams). The medium-sized bag (the one in the photo above) measures 8.75″X3.5″X2″ and has 61 cubic inches of storage space—enough space to hold a dozen packages of carbohydrate gels. If you don’t need this bag to carry your carbohydrate gels or bars, you could always use it to keep cell phone close at hand. The inside of this bag is lined with a soft Microfiber fabric and the top of the bag (the lid) is made of mesh so you can see inside the bag as you are riding. However, if you are going to be riding on a rainy day I would strongly suggest you keep your phone in a Ziplok bag to keep it dry.

Serfas Speed Stem Bag

Serfas Speed Stem Bag with Mesh Top

The most unique feature of this bag is the way it closes. This bag has a magnetic strip along the top and when you flip the lid to the closed position it automatically catches and seals itself shut—you could do it blindfolded! I’ve not had any trouble with this bag accidentally opening, but I would not recommend it to those of you who enjoy jumping your bike off of the roof of your house—I don’t imagine the magnetic strip could handle a jolt like that.

3M Scotchlite Reflective Material On The Sides

3M Scotchlite Reflective Material On The Sides

On the sides and back of this bag is a strip of 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material. When the headlights from a car hit this reflective material it bounces the light back and makes you extremely visible. I ride a lot in low-light situations and wish that all of my gear had a piece of reflective material like this!

The medium-sized Serfas Speed Stem Bag retails for $33 and is available from the Serfas Website, as well as most bike shops and Amazon.com. They also have a smaller bag (6.25″X3.5″X2″) with 42 cubic inches of space at it retails for $30. Both sizes of this bag are available in three different colors (Red, Black, or Grey). The only drawback of top tube bags is that it is possible they could get in the way when you stop if you have an extremely short-frame bike (I had no trouble at all).

The folks at Serfas gave this bag to me for review and I told them I would be having a contest to give it away when the review was finished. I now truly regret telling them that because I really like this bag. So, I am keeping the one they sent me, but I purchased (at full retail price) another one so I give it away to one of my readers.

If you would like a chance to win a brand-new medium-sized Serfas Speed Stem Bag then leave a comment below telling me why you need this bag. The contest ends at midnight (CST) on Friday, April 5, 2013. After the contest closes I will read through the comments and choose a winner based solely on my incredibly subjective mood at the time—however, humor in your entry is highly encouraged (just keep it clean). The last time I ran a contest like this several readers “donated” their entry to other contestants (something I had not planned on). So, if you don’t need this bag yourself you are free to comment on other entries. So I can remain impartial until the contest is over I will not be responding the comments. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. I will send this product to the winner via U.S. Mail at my expense. Good luck!

 

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Topeak Tri Waterproof DryBag (Top Tube Bag)

When I go on bike rides I usually have to carry all of my carbohydrate gels and bars with me since there are very few convenience stores once I hit the back roads of Wisconsin. On long rides all the food products I need will not fit in my jersey pockets so I carry them in a top tube bag. While there are many good top tube bags on the market, the Topeak Tri DryBag is the most compact and holds several hours worth of gels and bars in a waterproof bag with a great aerodynamic design.

Topeak Tri Waterproof DryBag

Topeak Tri Waterproof DryBag

The Topeak Tri DryBag quickly attaches to your bike frame with three Velcro straps—two straps go around the top tube and one goes around the head tube. This bag is made with both 420 and 840 denier nylon waterproof fabric with sonically welded seams and the main compartment is well padded. The Tri DryBag is fairly small (5.7 x 1.9 x 5.0″) and weighs on 2.3 ounces.

Topeak Tri Waterproof DryBag

Topeak Tri Waterproof DryBag Is Very Roomy!

The cover of the Topeak Tri DryBag is held in place with a strip of Velcro and is very easy to open or close with one hand while riding (triathletes will love this bag). If you don’t need this bag to carry your carbohydrate gels or bars, it is perfect for those folks who like to keep their compact camera or cell phone close at hand.

The Topeak Tri DryBag retails for around $25. Topeak makes several other top tube bags and not all of them are available for sale in the United States, so make sure you ask your local bike shop for the Topeak Tri DryBag.

 

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Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag

A few weeks ago a female friend of mine was looking for a top tube bag she could use at RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). She wanted to be able to reach her carbohydrate bars and gels as she was riding and it seemed like every top tube bag she could find got in the way when she got off the saddle. I happened to find the Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag at the local bike shop and thought it would be perfect for her—and it turns out I was right for a change! If you have a short-frame bike (most women do), or a bike with strange geometry (I have one), then you need to look at this bag.

Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag

Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag

The Axiom Double Power Bag 2 looks like a mini set of panniers—it slips over the top tube and is held in place by two Velcro straps (one goes around the top tube, and the other around the stem). This is actually three bags in one—it has two outer bags (6″ long, 2″ wide and 4″ tall each) and they are held together by a 2″ wide strap and on top of the strap is another compartment (only 4″ deep). The small compartment is really only big enough for a multitool, a set of keys or a couple of CO2 cartridges. The two main bags are large enough to carry a couple of Clif Bars or six Honey Stinger Waffles each.

Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag

Axiom Double Power Bag Has Two Main Pockets

Even though I am a big guy, I have one bike with weird geometry and I just can’t use a regular top tube bag with it. Fortunately, the Axiom Double Power Bag 2 works perfect for me. I only use this bag on rides of four hours or more—that way I don’t have to carry all of my food in my jersey pockets.

Axiom Double Power Bag 2 Top Tube Bag

Center Pouch On The Axiom Double Power Bag 2

This bag does have a couple of drawbacks, but no major problems. First, while the bag is made of high quality 600D water-resistant polyester it is not waterproof. The mesh cover over the left bag will obviously let rain into the bag, and the bag on the right has small openings on both ends. If you are going out on a rainy day you need to use Ziploc bags to keep everything dry. Second, it is possible that the bag could rub your legs if you have an extremely short-frame bike (I had no trouble at all). Third, this bag is not very aerodynamic—but then again, if you are in a race this is not the bag you want anyway.

The Axiom Double Power Bag 2 retails for around $20. If your local bike shop does not have this bag in stock they can easily get it for you (they can order it through Quality Bicycle Products). Axiom backs this bag with a “lifetime guarantee for the quality of fabrication and craftsmanship.”

 

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Revelate Designs Jerrycan Top Tube Bag

Revelate Designs is a company best known for the durable products they make for both winter and touring cyclists. However, the new Revelate Designs Jerrycan rear mount top tube bag is a product that even the most weight-conscious roadie can appreciate. The Jerrycan is a 2″ wide bag that attaches to your bike with two Veclro straps—one goes around the seat post and the other around the top tube. This bag is so narrow that your legs will not hit it, and it is aerodynamic enough that I doubt anyone could even tell it was on their bike.

Revelate Designs Jerrycan Bicycle Rear Mount Bag

Revelate Designs Jerrycan Rear Mount Top Tube Bag

I bought my first Jerrycan several months ago for use on my Pugsley during winter rides, but I have ended up using it for long rides on my road bike. On a six or seven hour ride I can’t store enough food in my jersey pockets for the entire ride and the few convenience stores you can find on country roads don’t offer much in the way of proper nutrition. My main road bike has a small seat bag that I use to keep a spare inner tube, tire levers, patch kit and multitool, but on long rides I need a bit more room to keep a few extra Clif Bars or Honey Stinger Waffles and the lightweight Jerrycan is the perfect way to carry these products.

The Jerrycan weighs a mere 2.6 ounces and measures 5″x2″x4″ (L,W,H). It is made with VX 21 fabric, has padded ballistics nylon along the tube sections and a yellow interior that makes it easier to find things inside the bag. It also has a water-resistant zipper.

Revelate Designs offers the Jerrycan in models: the Regular model will fit most bikes and the Bent model is for bikes with gusseted braces at the seat tube / top tube junction (like the Surly Pugsley). I liked the Jerrycan so much that I bought both models. The Jerrycan retails for $35 and is available from the Revelate Designs Website. These bags have a product warranty that covers any defects for life.

If you need more room than the Jerrycan offers, then you need to check out the Revelate Designs Gas Tank. If you are planning on a long tour (or a ride in the snow), then you should look at the Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag (I own them both and highly recommend them).

 

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Scicon Aeronaut Ultralight Bicycle Saddlebag

During the winter when I am riding my Surly Necromancer Pugsley in the snow I really don’t care about the weight of any gear I add to the bike—it’s a 42-pound bike and a few extra ounces (or even pounds) isn’t even noticeable. However, when the snow melts and I’m back on my carbon fiber Trek Madone I try to keep it as lightweight as possible—nothing goes on the bike that is not absolutely necessary. If you find yourself in a similar situation and are looking for an easy way to shave some weight off your gear then I would highly recommend the new Scicon Aeronaut Saddlebag. This saddlebag is not only lightweight, but it is the easiest and fastest way I’ve seen to get to your spare inner tube (something of special interest to triathletes and other competitive cyclists).

Scicon Aeronaut Ultralight Bicycle Saddlebag

Scicon Aeronaut Bicycle Saddlebag

A few weeks ago the folks at Scicon were kind enough to send me an Aeronaut Saddlebag for review purposes and as soon as I opened the package I was impressed! The hard shell body of Scicon Aeronaut Saddlebag is made of ultralight polymers (the black object in the photos) and weighs only 99 grams. Even though this is a very small case I was able to carry a spare inner tube, two tire levers, patch kit, a CO2 cartridge with a small air chuck, and a small multitool. Scicon includes a pair of red tire levers with the bag and they work as well as any other tire lever I’ve used. This bag is about 5.25 inches long wide by 3.25 inches wide.

Scicon Aeronaut Ultralight Bicycle Saddlebag

Aeronaut Saddlebag (cover, body and contents)

The Aeronaut bag easily attaches to the seat rails with Scicon’s unique Roller 2.1 Fitting System without the need of any tools. Since the bag does not have zippers or Velcro straps there is nothing to scratch your carbon fiber bike or ruin your cycling shorts. All you have to do to remove the bag from the rails is to twist it a quarter of a turn! The only easier way to carry a spare tube is to put one in your jersey pocket—of course, that is also the easiest way to ruin a new tube before you have a chance to use it.

The cover of the Scicon Aeronaut Saddlebag is made of stretchy silicone (the yellow piece in the photos) and is only available in two color choices (Black or Yellow Neon). This cover comes off easily, yet while riding it stays put—and since it is made of silicone it is easy to wash.

Scicon Aeronaut Saddlebag

SciconAeronaut Saddlebag loaded with tube and tire levers

Since the Aeronaut bag was designed with aerodynamics in mind it significantly reduces drag as compared to other cycling saddlebags. Scicon has been designing and manufacturing cycling bags for over 30 years and this product benefits from their years of research and development—there is absolutely no wasted space in this bag!

The Scicon Aeronaut Saddlebag retails for around $40 and if your local bike shop does not have it in stock they can order it for you. At the moment this product is not yet available on Amazon.com.

Scicon is the official supplier of bags to the Italian Cycling Federation and their products have been used by such pro cycling teams as Liquigas Cannondale, Team Saxobank, Garmin Cervelo, and Radio Shack Nissan Trek.

 

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