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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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Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag

In the summer when I’m on my road bike I don’t carry much with me—just a few energy bars in my jersey pockets and a spare inner tube and CO2 pump in a small seat bag. However, when I ride off-road or in the rain I tend a carry a bit more with me and often need a place to store some of my rain gear when it is not needed. This past winter I purchased a Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag and it is one of the best pieces of cycling equipment I’ve ever purchased.

Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag

Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag

As the name suggests, the Tangle Frame Bag is a bag that fits on your bike frame—this one attaches to the top tube with reinforced Velcro straps. It also has adjustable webbing straps for the down tube and seat tube and low profile camlock buckles with strap keepers. I bought this bag for use on my winter bikes, but I think any commuter or distance cyclist would really benefit from it as well.

This bag is very well designed and thought out. It is divided into two pockets—the thinner pocket on the left hand side holds smaller items like maps, chemical hand warmers, and cell phones. The pocket on the right hand side is much larger and can easily hold vests, jackets, tools or enough energy bars for a 24-hour ride. Or, since the main compartment has an exit port at the front of the bag, you can use the larger pocket to hold a hydration pack. You could also use the larger compartment to hold the battery for your headlight and run the wire through the exit port (and still have a lot of room to spare).

The Tangle Frame Bag is made of Dimension Polyant Xpac 400 Denier Fabric (also known as sail loft). I own a lot of seat, saddle and storage bags and this is the sturdiest soft-sided bag I’ve ever seen. The zippers on this bag are water-resistant and the inside of the bag is lined with a bright yellow fabric so you can see the contents even in low-light situations.

Inside the Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag

Interior Of The Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag

This bag is available in three sizes. The smallest bag is 17″ long by 4″ tall and is designed for 15″–18″ mountain bikes. The medium bag is 19.5″ long by 4.5″ tall is designed for 17″–20″ MTB frames. The largest bag is 21″ long by 6″ tall and fits 20″ (or larger) MTB frames. These bags also fit road, touring and commuting bikes—just check the Revelate Designs Website for additional sizing information.

I used the medium-sized bag this past winter on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and had to buy shorter water bottles to fit in the bottle cages. Another alternative is to buy side entering cages.

Revelate Designs is located in Anchorage, Alaska and I’ve purchased several of their products and every one of them has been of the highest quality. These bags have a product warranty that covers any defects for life. The Tangle Frame Bag retails for $68 to $70 (based on size) and is available from the Revelate Designs Website.

 

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Revelate Designs Gas Tank

One of the most useful accessories I’ve purchased for my Fat Bike (a Surly Necromancer Pugsley) is the Revelate Designs Gas Tank. The Gas Tank is a small zippered bag that mounts on the top tube of your bike and allows for one-handed access while riding. This bag is made of high-tech outdoor weight sailcloth and is lined with a bright yellow fabric so you can see the contents even in low-light situations. The Gas Tank is fully padded with closed cell foam and has a hook and loop interior divider so you can arrange the contents of the bag as you want.

Revelate Designs Gas Tank for Fat Bikes

Revelate Designs Gas Tank

You might wonder why I would use a photo of the Gas Tank covered with mud. Well, last week I was out for a ride in the mud and when I finished I was covered with mud from head to toe and it took me over an hour to clean my bike (but it was worth it). Unfortunately, this bike had a new seat bag from a leading cycling manufacturer and even after a thorough cleaning I couldn’t get the zippers on that bag to open any more. On a brighter note, the Gas Tank has water-resistant zippers with dual nickel sliders and the mud didn’t bother it at all—after I rinsed it off it looked as good as new.

The Revelate Designs Gas Tank is extremely lightweight—it only weighs 3.5 ounces. As for dimensions, the standard bag is 9″ long and at the stem it is 5″ high by 3″ wide, and it tapers down in the back to 2.5″ tall by 1.5″ wide along the top tube.

Interior of the limited edition Gas Tank, winter version

Gas Tank interior (limited edition)

A couple of times a year Revelate Designs offers a limited edition winter version of the Gas Tank (see photo above). The limited edition Gas Tank is wider and has interior netting for holding smaller items. I have found this item extremely useful for holding a couple of chemical hand warmers in the bag to keep my energy bars from freezing.

Revelate Designs (formerly Epic Designs) is located in Anchorage, Alaska and owned by Eric Parsons. I’ve purchased several of their products and every one of them has been of the highest quality. Their bags have a product warranty that covers any defects for life. The Gas Tank retails for $55 and is available from the Revelate Designs Website.

 

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Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

Blackburn VIP Zip Bag

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag is a durable cell phone holder that will you will find useful if you like traveling light. While no cell phone case is going to suit everyone, I believe this product will appeal to a wide-range of cyclists.

There is no way possible to do justice to this case with just a photograph, so let me describe what it offers. First, it has a water-resistant ID holder that remains visible when the case is closed. Inside you will find three small storage pockets that are labeled for a compact bike tool, tire levers and tire patches. There is also a clear zippered sleeve for cash and a credit card with plenty of room left to fit in an iPhone (even if it has a thin protective case). This wallet has a headphone port so you can can listen to your tunes while your phone (or MP3 player) is safely secured in the water-resistant case. The case closes with a water-resistant zipper.

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag is constructed of 400 denier fabric and is extremely well made. This bag will easily fit into your back jersey pocket. Blackburn products have a generous lifetime warranty materials and workmanship.

The Blackburn VIP Zip Bag retails for $20. If you can’t find it at a local bike shop, Amazon.com has it for $18 (plus postage).

 

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Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool with Neoprene Bag

We all make compromises while cycling. We have to balance our desire to travel as light as possible with our fear of being stuck on a country road 30 miles away from home with a broken bike. For me, the Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool is the perfect of combination of weight and size for my road bikes.

Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool

Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool

The Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool is incredably small (2.6 x 1.2 x 0.8 in), yet has all the Allen wrenches I need for my Trek road bikes (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm, all of hardened steel). This multitool also includes two tire levers (one plastic, one hardened steel) and a #2 Phillips screwdriver. The body of the Mini 9 is made of a high-strength forged alloy. All of this fits in the included neoprene case and weighs only 2.57 ounces (73g).

The Topeak Mini 9 Pro Multitool retails for $22.00, but is available on Amazon.com for under $17.00. This tool is available in three colors (gold, silver, and black). Topeak offers a 2-year warranty on all mechanical components against manufacturer defects.

 

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CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag

The CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag has something I’ve always though other bags should have, i.e., a highly reflective case. I have several saddle bags with small reflective strips, but this bag is made entirely from reflective material.

CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag

CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag

I put the CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag on the road bike I use for night rides and riding in the rain. The bag is small (6″ X 3 1/4″ X 2 1/2″) and is just big enough to hold a spare road tube, patch kit, two tire levers, a CO2 inflator nozzle with two cartridges, and a Topeak 9 Mini Pro tool. This bag attaches under the saddle itself with a sturdy strap, but is not attached to the seat post with Velcro straps like most saddle bags.

While this bag is perfect for a road bike it would be too small for a mountain bikes because there would not be enough room for the larger mountain bike tube (I tried). I really wish CycleAware offered a slightly larger bag. My only complaint with this bag is that it does not have a loop so you can clip on a reflector or flasher. However, since this bag fits tightly under the saddle you should have room to attach a flasher on your seat post.

The CycleAware Beamer Reflective Saddle Bag has a retail price of around $25. If your local bike shop does hot carry it you can always find one at Amazon.com.

 

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