Product Review: The Speedsleev Saddle Bag

Saddle bags….there are so many out there to choose from.  What to do?  There is the monster bag strapped to the seat post that carries an entire bicycle workshop.  You have the little baby ones that barely fit a tube.  You can go super cheap and do the “water bottle cut off at the top with tools stuck in them.”  You could throw your tools in your jersey for some extra weight on the back.  Or you could just roll the dice and go without.  Have you ever been on a ride where the “weight weenie” doesn’t bring any tools or tubes and gets a flat.  What a pain.  I have tended to take the middle ground and be somewhat prepared with a medium sized saddle bag.  I can get a CO2, a tube and some Allen wrenches in it.  I really don’t like the one I have now.  The thing has three points of attachment with velcro. If you ride as much as I do, the velcro eventually wears out and there is also the constant rubbing on your legs.  Now you don’t have to be a Quadzilla to get this and I have ruined quite a few pairs of shorts with this rubbing.  It is down right annoying.  What happens is the bag is so wide that it goes beyond the width of the saddle and rubs your legs.

Enter the Speedsleev……  Sometimes I just love technology.  I was cruising around Instagram and a friend of a friend of a friend liked a picture of this thing called the Speedsleev.  I was intrigued.  What was this tiny little thing attached to the seat post of his bike.  I had to find out.  I “liked” them on Instagram and then found their website.  I had to order one of these things.  Rob, the owner and proprietor, sent me the Electric Pro Speedsleev in a small.  Upon receiving it I was a little mesmerized at how the thing worked.  Enter technology again as Rob has a quick YouTube video on how it works.  I wrapped up my goodies in it and went out for a ride in 80 degree California weather.  Ah winter…..

 

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All my stuff ready to go….

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All wrapped up

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On the bike…ready to ride

The Speedsleev is made entirely of an elastic material along with some velocro is certain spots to make your attachments to the seat and close up your tube and tools.  It rolls into a burrito the size of your fist, but don’t eat it.  It goes on your seat.  There is even a little black shower cap to keep rain and road grim away from your tools.  Geinus! I even had to use the shower cap the day after its inaugural ride because low and behold it started raining.

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My stuff all wrapped up for a rain ride

So after a couple rides I see that my saddle bag chaffing issue is gone.  In fact I looked down between my legs and thought the thing had fallen off.  Nope, it is tucked so tight to your seat post that you don’t even know it is there.  Another advantage of the Speedsleev, for all you cyclists that wrench on your bike, is you can put your bike in the work stand and not have to make any adjustments to the saddle bag.  Saves you from having to take your saddle bag on and off every time you want to wrench on your bike.  I’m not going to lie to you, but this is the best saddle bag I have ever had.  To get one of your own check out  http://www.speedsleev.com/home/.  They also have one that goes on the top tube of your bike, ones made of carbon for all the weight weenies and a larger bag for mountain bikers.

Review: Pika Packworks Bicycle Travel Bag

Up until recently I have always had one bombproof (not literally) hard plastic box that I have taken on airlines.  It fit two bikes and a maybe a wheel or two if you stuffed them in there.  It was great for travelling to stage races with a time trial and road bike inside.  It was also did the job for two bikes in cyclocross.  I took that thing around the world and back.  Finally I grew tired of it.  Not sure why, but its days were numbered.  At times it was cumbersome, there was no way you were going to lift it by yourself.  It could not carry all your wheels, so you had to have a separate hard plastic wheel case that barely held a fatter cross wheel.  Most of all it was just tore up from the floor up.  With the help of craigslist it was gone.  I wasn’t going to be travelling with my bike for a while, right?  Wrong….

I got the invite to go to the Trans Andes Challenge this January in Chile.  It is a 6 day mountain bike race.  I have done a few stage races on the road in my illustrious cycling career (insert sarcasm here), but 6 days of mountain biking in a foreign country, in the middle of nowhere, and coming off cyclocross season where long rides were two hours.  I had to be crazy.  Plus I didn’t have a travel bag for my bike anymore.   I guess I couldn’t go.  There is an excuse for everything, but I couldn’t use that one.  I had a fellow cross racer that I traveled with years ago that had this cool looking bag from Pika Packworks.  So I looked online and contacted Mark in Salt Lake City to see what they had.

Now on his website he doesn’t list a double bike bag.  Granted I was only bringing my 29er down to Chile, but for the most part I was going to  be using it for cross.  So I gave him a call and indeed he does make a double if you want it.  I ordered it up and it came just in time for my trip to Chile.  Below is the bag with all the padding for shipping my 29er via the air.  Note: one of the pads is not in the picture and is used for packing two bikes.

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The stuff…ing

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Mission accomplished – Bike packed with a little extra weight-dog hair- on the side

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Fit perfectly into the Prius, which my hard plastic one could not

Like most new things I didn’t try it out before taking it on a long trip.  However, Pika puts great instructions on their website that tells you how to pack your bike(s).  Hard to believe, but I actually read them and I am a man.  All said and done I think it weighed around 35 pounds.  I just made the weight for LAN, Chile’s national airline, which seems weird because two bikes wouldn’t have made it.  Took me 20 minutes to convince an American Airlines agent that she should take my bag and not charge me extra.  BTW…if you ever fly LAN, they don’t charge for bikes.  You heard me right.  Either that or they were sick of all the bikes that were coming through their airport when I was down with all the other riders.

The bag is made of thick padded nylon and cordura in the wear spots.  We will see if it will last a long time because these things take a beating.  However, Pika has an excellent warranty, as long as you don’t drag the bag over a fire pit or something of that nature.  The website also says that 85% of the materials are sourced in the USA and that the bags are constructed completely in Salt Lake City, Utah.  That’s a plus, plus in my book.  I am really on this huge “Made in the USA” kick, especially for small companies.  It is admirable.

The only complaint that I could find about this bag is that it only has one set of rollers.  You had to lift the front end of the bag up a little off the ground and drag it around the airport.  My hard plastic one had four wheels on it and I could literally ride the thing around like a bobsled.  I mean cyclists are a pretty much lacking upper arm strength and I can’t see how a 120 pound climber would be able to drag this thing anywhere.  I have some bulk on me and I was tired of it.  So I looked on the inside and noticed that the wheels in the back were attached to a hard plastic bottom that was sewn into the bag.  So I went to my local hardware store and bought some pivoting wheels, drilled into the plastic bottom and put some wheels in the front of the bag.  I probably voided the warranty and I am sure there is a reason that they are not there in the first place, but I am set now.

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The inside of the bag with its new wheels

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The new wheels on the bottom of the bag

Check out all the travel bags they have to offer at http://pikapackworks.com/.  As a bonus I did manage to shoot footage of me breaking down my bike for this trip with my Go Pro camera.  It is at high speed so have a barf bag ready just in case.

Bike Disassemby at High Speed