Fanny packs have never really gone out of style. What’s different now though, besides it’s unmistakable shape and the usual banter, are better designs and materials from back in the day.
Three respectable San Francisco-based companies just so happened to launch their interpretation of the ideal hip pack with decidedly different flavors. All are made in the good ol’ USofA. Let’s see if any of them will float your boat.
Ornot teamed up with fellow San Francisco-based Mission Workshop to produce theirs out of 500d nylon with a tpu coated liner backing plus a YKK urethane coated zipper tucked inside a flap. The $130, 2.5-liter pack also comes with a laser-cut back, side panels, and a super thin belt. There is also a zippered interior compartment, a key clip, a built-in u-lock holder and three colors to choose from.
With roughly four liters of internal space and a $135 price tag, Spurcycle‘s Hip Pack is the bigger and pricier amongst the three. Spurcycle focused on weight and durability. The end result is a 250-gram bag with a Dyneema-fabric exterior that is incredibly light, thin, waterproof and durable. Basically all you can ever ask for. Open its heavy duty zipper and you’ll find four interior pockets and a zippered compartment made out of X-Pac fabric. That’s not all, however. Also included are two adjustable shock cords near the zipper on top of the pack to tie down warmers, jackets, or maybe even a beer.
OUTER SHELL ADVENTURE
Bag specialist Outer Shell Adventure‘s take, the Hip Slinger comes in 11 colors and a choice of coated Cordura or X-Pac outer fabric for $90-$100. There is black, purple, graphite X-Pac, leopard, to name a few. Outer Shell’s version has four internal pockets plus a zipper compartment accessible via its front or rear water-resistant zippers, an air mesh back panel, rubberized hypalon wings for stabilization connected to an offset waist buckle, but perhaps the coolest feature is its roll-top feature that shape shifts on demand with elastic hooks providing the said changes from 1.5 to 3 liters.
Sea Otter has always been known for its combination of its excellent racing and expo across all disciplines, and the 2019 edition sure didn’t disappoint. Scroll on for our highlights from the show.
Mavic Allroad Carbon SL & SL+
Mavic teased these hoops during NAHBS and now it’s finally official: Allroad Pro Carbon SL & SL+. As its name suggests, the new tubeless disc wheels are purposed to be ridden on a variety of surfaces. The key differences between the two are the tire sizes and corresponding rim widths. The SL (1,445 gram) uses a 23mm-wide 700c rim for tires between 28 and 62c while the SL+ (1,550g) accepts 650b tires on a wider, 26mm-wide rim for tires between 44 and 60mm.
Both Allroad carbon wheels are laced with 24 double-butted steel spokes, and are compatible with multiple axles and Centerlock rotor. 35mm Yksion Allroad UST tires will be included with the SL. The SL and SL+ will retail for $2,100.
British bike firm Vielo brought over an aero road bike and a gravel bike. The gravel V+1 was cool but the road-oriented R+1 was more impressive. Strictly a 1x platform, the carbon R+1 features a massive bottom bracket for a claimed 30% increase of lateral stiffness. Aero efficiency was also taken into consideration during the design, with prominent features such as a Kamm tail downtube, an aero seat post, a partially-curved seat tube for the rear wheel to tuck right in there, with tire clearance of up to 30mm. There are also three bottle mounts, a bento box mount, and its own branded chainring.
The biggest eye-catchers about the R+1, however, are the flex zones in the seat- and chain-stays which are said to allow up to 20mm of vertical movement for comfort. Five sizes and two models will be available. A lighter UD frameset with a one-piece internally-routed carbon bar/stem and seatpost is priced at $5,199 and a more affordable, slightly heavier UDG frameset with fork and seatpost for $3,509.
The Swiss apparel maker brought their showroom truck and I especially liked the Spring/Fall gloves. They’re made with a soft, flexible brushed lycra construction with just a touch of insulation for those cool morning rides coupled with lightly-padded microfiber palm. I personally dislike padded gloves, but these felt perfectly al-dente on my hands.
I also love the fabric touchscreen-compatible fingertips that are more likely to last its entire life unlike many that would simply fall off after the first few rides. These premium gloves are $59 but its quality construction suggests it’s built for the long haul.
The second piece was the $169 Mille (men) and Uma (women) Airblock vest. Also made for spring/fall, the Mille/Uma GT Airblock has a slightly more relaxed, less compressive cut than its raceFit cut, and is developed for cooler and occasionally wet rides with its NEOS Mild windproof and water resistant softshell fabric for the front chest area plus a brushed RX fabric on the abdominal and back for light insulation. The back features two slots for easy jersey pocket access. They are available in high-vis colors such as fluo yellow for men and Galaxy Pink for women which I’d be happy to rock in either color.
E-Bikes were literally everywhere at Sea Otter and I was digging the $7,590 Intense Tazer. With a 160mm front and 155mm rear travel, 29″ wheels up front, 27.5″ rear on a carbon frame with a 250w Shimano Steps E-8000 drivetrain and a balanced/practical componentry that walks the fine line between price and performance. The Tazer looks like a great rig to spend a day on up in the big mountains.
Redshift Shockdrop Seatpost
Suspension seatposts and dropper posts are usually two separate animals, but Redshift is combining the two because why not have the benefit of a two in one? The internally-routed prototype I saw had 35mm of tunable suspension travel for comfort along with either 60mm (27.2) or 100mm (30.9/31.6) of infinite height adjustment. No word on price, weight or availability yet.
Prevelo Zulu Two
I was all giggly about the Early Rider Bonsai bike last year, but now that my kid is growing up fast, I am also actively looking for the kid’s next steed. Prevelo‘s Zulu Two might look like just another kids bike on 16in wheels but wait, are those hydraulic disc brakes? Look deeper and you will see it comes with 2.1 knobby tires, 95mm kid-friendly crankarms, plus an additional short seatpost for better height adjustment. There’s also an option of upgrading it to an air suspension fork with 50mm of travel with adjustable rebound, lockout and compression.
HydraPak Velocity IT 1.5
HydraPak showed off their new, $38 Velocity IT 1.5 liter hydration reservoir with double wall, open-cell foam construction that is said to keep the fluid temperature 38% longer. It’s sliding lock refilling port almost makes it super easy to just dump a ton of ice cubes in for those hot rides.
Knog‘s got a new silicone headlamp called the Bandicoot that uses a built-in USB to charge its internal lithium polymer battery. Yay for no more fumbling with cables. But there’s more. Instead of an adjustable lamp head, Knog opted for a fixed, angled position with a grippy, adjustable band to keep it secured to your noggin. It’s got a claimed max output of 100 lumens that will last about two hours, plus there are eight pre-programmed light modes to utilize its quad LEDs for whatever task you are working on. The Bandicoot can be also further programmed to your heart’s desire with a dedicated desktop app. The IP-67 rated Bandicoot will be available in four colors starting in May for $35.
EVOC Race Belt
Evoc already has a pretty robust line of hip packs, yet the latest addition, the $45 Race Belt, is a bit different. It borrows the company’s AIRO Flex breathable hip belt, and instead of adding pouches and zippers, you now have tabbed and velcro’d slots with slim side pockets for your race essentials such as CO2, a Dynaplug, gel, or bar. Just don’t mistake it with your gym belt.
Niner MCR 9 RDO
Full-suspension gravel bike? That’s what Niner calls MCR 9 RDO their magic carpet ride. While some gravel frames are engineered with an amount of flex into its rear triangle, Niner modifies its proven CVA suspension design from its mountain bike line into a 50mm of air sprung rear travel, just enough to soak up the buzz and rough stuff on the road. There’s room to fit up to 50C/2.0 tires, 11 mounting points for all your accessories, plus an integrated mud guard to protect its rear suspension. See, it’s a long-distance magic carpet ride for real.
Italian helmet maker Kask debuted their second mtb helmet at the show to add to its otherwise road-focused lineup. Dubbed the Caipi, it features 22 vents on a 290-gram, CPSC-certified trail lid with extended rear coverage for better protection. Kask’s very own Octo Fit retention system and the faux leather chin strap were carried over into the Caipi. There will be two sizes and nine colors to choose from.
Chapter 2 AO
Chapter 2 might be a relatively young brand for many, but a look at its pedigree and you’ll see it’s the real deal with some very clever engineering. The AO is the firm’s first dedicated gravel machine that is a lot more than just the perquisite of multiple bottle mounts, massive tire clearance, and a sick paint job.
I love its variable geometry adjusted by manipulating the axles chips which also concurrently moves the rear brake mount.
Its easily-accessible internal cable routing with clearly marked ports are definitely a plus, along with the traditional threaded bottom bracket.
I first came across the forerunner of the 3D-printed carbon Emery One roughly a year ago while working on an assignment for Reuters, so seeing its redesigned form as an eBike was pleasant, yet not much of a surprise.
Unlike the human-powered version, the Emery One is 3D-printed in USA with Arevo technology and made in partnership with Franco Bike. The one shown at Sea Otter came with a potent Bosch Performance Line drivetrain capable of up to 100 miles with its 500wh battery, integrated storage options all in its unmistakable shape. Reservations for Emery One are now open with prices starting at $5,500 and a limited 100 unit Founder’s edition at $7,500.
Ritchey Swiss Cross
The venerable Ritchey Swiss Cross has now been updated! Flat-mount disc, thru-axles, room for 40c tires, and an updated geometry handmade with a triple-butted Ritchey Logic II CroMo steel tubing.
In celebrating its 25-year anniversary, Ritchey is also producing a limited run of a hundred of them draped in its iconic red/white fade like the ones Thomas Frischknecht once rode. A miniature handlebar cowbell is included, too.
Spurcycle M2 Bell
Spurcycle arguably makes one of the best bells in the biz already, but there ain’t no stopping Nick and Clint from innovating. The M2 features the same metal dome as the original bell, but the striking mechanism has been moved internally within the dome along with a shorter throw lever and a narrower clamp for those cramped mountain bike cockpits. The M2 will be available at end of this summer in two flavors: A raw brass dome for $29, or nickel brass dome with black DLC coating for $39.
Hutchinson produced its first bicycle tire in 1890 and for 2019 the French manufacturer brought us their new MTB tires, the Griffus. Labeled under Hutchinson Racing Lab representing the company’s top-flight tires, Griffus, meaning “clawed” in French, is a gravity-oriented dry-condition optimized for grip and low rolling resistance. The Griffus comes in both 29 and 27.5 in either 2.4 or 2.5 and each width is paired with similar, yet slightly different tread profiles optimized to its width. Bonus point: tan sidewalls.
Spurcycle doesn’t make a whole lot of things. Five, to be exact and that’s not counting the trio of brilliant condiment-inspired water bottles.
But as the saying less is more goes, it’s obvious that Spurcycle is very good at crafting minimalistic accessories that are as beautiful as they are functional. The newest addition to the Spurcycle family, the saddle bag, is no different.
Aptly named “Saddle Bag,” the San Francisco firm didn’t slap no novel French name or a cool oh wow marketing copy to go along with it. Instead, what we have here is a no-BS bag for $45 that is simple yet practical and makes me wonder why this didn’t happen sooner.
At first glance, the Saddle Bag resembles a fold up, top-loading lunch bag sewn on with a Velcro strap. Simple, right? What’s not so obvious is that the choice of material used, X-Pac VX42, is anything but simple. It is a rugged multi-ply lamination consisting of a layer of 420 denier Cordura nylon, a tell-tale diamond-pattern monofilm reinforcement, weatherproof film and finally, a 50 denier polyester backing. There’s much more going on than what meets the eye.
Spurcycle employs a removable and noticeably long hook and loop strap with a reinforced section to put over the saddle rail. The low profile hook and loops mean the strap won’t put up a huge fight whenever you take it on and off but remains strong enough to keep its contents secure. For further peace of mind, Spurcycle also placed two security tabs running perpendicularly across the strap to prevent any unintended undoings. And to be honest, there was plenty of interlocking hook and loop to go around that it would take a herculean effort or a severely overfilled bag to lose it. Nevertheless, the extra security tabs don’t add much, if any, bulk so why not. If you are one of those people who insists on reading instructions, the black-on-black instruction card was difficult to read. Thankfully, instructions are also available on the Spurcycle website and the company is planning to remedy that in the next batch.
Compared to many compartmentalized roll-styled bags, the solo compartment design of the Spurcycle bag immediately jumped out, as there was still plenty of space left after I transferred all the contents over from the excellent Silca Roll Premio. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of slots for individual items to channel my inner OCD, but I can now have the option to add or remove accessories depending on the ride and not be limited by the size of pre-determined organizer slots. In keeping a small footprint, I also found that I could easily place bulky items such as CO2 canisters in specific spots within the bag so that they would fit between the saddle rails.
Inevitably, the single compartment also means that all the contents will be bunched together so any pointy objects such as multi-tools should be shielded from sensitive objects like spare inner tubes (a paper towel works great, plus it’s handy to have around at times). But to be fair, that’s not the fault of the bag and it’s a small tradeoff for having a flexible, shape-shifting storage system.
We here at Element.ly love the Spurcycle bell and their origami-esque Multi Pouch has definitely caught our interest in terms of their attention to detail. So when we heard that they’re working on a tool, we were eager to see what our fellow San Franciscan brothers, Nick and Clint Slon, had come up with.
Keeping in line with the firm’s philosophy of designing items to be lasting favorites among daily cyclists, Spurcycle’s Tool utilizes a compact titanium sliding t-driver precision-machined by Paragon Machine Works that allows users to choose between a T-shape or a L-shape.
The titanium driver is then matched with ten chrome-coated S2 steel bits (Hex 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, T10 Torx, T25, and Phillips #2) neatly holstered in its own pouch sewn in San Francisco with room to stow some money to pick up croissants from Arsicault.
The Tool is available for pre-order online for $69 and is expected to ship in December.
InterBike has come and gone and it has just been about a month since the show’s last Las Vegas hurrah. A lot has happened since then but I finally got a chance to take one last look at the accessories. Here are a few of the stand outs.
I made a point to visit the booths from Asia this year because A.) they’re there year after year B.) it just seems like they don’t get much traffic and C.) there’s always a nice surprise or two… I found Airfit on my last day chilling next to the Honjo fender booth and the Kyoto-based company was there to sell one thing: A reusable sensor pad and conductive gel that sticks to your body with a medical adhesive tape to function as your heart rate monitor strap. Airfit is compatible with most heart rate monitor transmitter units. No more loose heart rate straps to deal with in the middle of a ride. An Airfit kit starts at ¥4000, or $36.
Silca has been on a tear since former Zipp technical director Josh Poertner took over the helm a few years ago and their latest pump offering, the Tattico, is upping the pump game with Bluetooth connectivity that turns a phone into a wireless pump gauge (Apple iOS and Google Android). It’s got an aluminum body with a built-in heatsink to dissipate all that heat generated from your furious pump action, a hose compatible for both schrader and presta valves, and it’s capable of inflating to 120psi within two percent accuracy down to 0.5 psi increments. The Tattico can be yours for $120. Overkill? Maybe. Want? Definitely.
There is always an abundance of locks on display at InterBike and they can be a bit boring to cover, as the bike lock business just doesn’t see a lot of dramatic/disruptive changes. The TiGr Lock caught my eye with its unconventional shape (how is that going to fit my bike?) and hey it’s actually pretty cool.
While walking over to the booth I thought they’d weigh like a pig. I was dead wrong. They’re made out of titanium so both locks weighs about a pound. It’s also wrapped in a clear plastic sleeve so rest assured, your babied e-commute bike won’t be dinged and it still offers plenty of protection against attacks.
The rotating disc lock mechanism is housed within a stainless steel cylinder and the U.S. made lock is conveniently clipped onto a water bottle cage-mounted bracket when it’s not used. The Mini can be yours for $99 while the larger Mini+ will go for $135.
I haven’t paid much attention to arm warmers since I discovered DeFeet ArmSkins years ago and more recently the GripGrab Arm Warmers Light, but I think I might have found the perfect pair for this fall/winter. Pearl Izumi is said to be the largest maker of arm warmers in the world (there are stats for that?) and their new Elite Thermal Arm Warmer with it’s fleece interior will most definitely be a welcoming addition when the temperature drops. The biggest story about this warmer, however, is the use of hydrophobic PI Dry technology for water repellency.
Unlike the popular DWR coating found on many brands where the coating is applied onto the surface of the garment, PI Dry is permanently coated onto individual fibers to increase performance and durability for the life of the garment. We just received our test set and will be back soon with our verdict. The Elite Thermal Arm Warmer loaded with all that technology is available now for a cool $35.
Skin repair was probably the last thing I was expecting to find at InterBike but there I was listening to a pitch about this WD-40 of skin repair.
The La Jolla-based medical startup BLDG Active is dropping in with their FDA-approved, cutting-edge, antibiotic-free formula utilizing hypochlorous, a natural acid produced by white blood cells to quickly kill 99.9% of bacteria within 15 seconds. It doesn’t sting, is 100% natural and so non-toxic that one of the founders took a display bottle and sprayed it into his mouth as if it was a shot of Patron.
BLDG is delivering the product in two forms: A spray that’s light and easy to apply and a hydrogel that also helps to moisturize busted skin. The spray is $24.99 while the hydrogel is $29.99.
Inventor Tomo Ichikawa is back after his trick tire levers that sync together to form a portable chain link plier. This time, it’s a chain tool called the Chain Barrel. It’s small enough to fit inside the handlebar yet versatile enough to work with chains from 6-12 speeds. To operate the tool, you’ll need a 5mm allen key (which most multitools will have) to drive the pin while using one of the aforementioned tire levers, or a 15mm wrench to stabilize the barrel. The Chain Barrel is $20.
Platform hitch racks are great because they’re just so easy to use, but they take up way too much space when they’re off the car. Not so with the EasyFold XT. The EasyFold XT folds into a size of a regular suitcase thanks to its foldable trays that are so compact they can fit two bikes like a 20″ to 29er/700c, as well as fat bike with 4.7″ tires. Each tray is rated to handle up to 66 lbs so it’s totally eBike friendly. And as a friendly gesture to your back, the rack comes standard with a stowable loading ramp so you can just roll your bike up while rocking out to Drop It Like It’s Hot. The EasyFold XT will available March 2018 for $749.99.
San Franciso’s Spurcycle makes arguably one of the best cycle bells money can buy, and their attention to detail is pretty darn evident in their latest venture: A multipurpose pouch. Now, a zipper pouch is normally not something to be excited about, but what makes Spurcycle’s different are the materials used and the shape-shaping design.
The translucent, fiber-ish looking pouch is made of lightweight Cuben Fiber commonly used in high-performance yacht sails for strength against the elements and it is sewn with an equally waterproof YKK zipper to keep the content dry. The most unique feature, however, are the four low-profile polymer snaps at each corner. These allow you to divide the pouch into two separate accessible compartments, or a slim pouch long enough for pens and longer items. You can even snap two of these U.S. made pouches together to satisfy your ultimate OCD. The Multi Pouch is available now for $29.
Sunglasses juggernaut Oakley is venturing into the populous helmet business and their $180 Aro 3 emphasizes on weight and ventilation. The Aro 3, like its brethren in the line, is equipped with MIPS to reduce rotational damage on the brain, a Boa TX1 retention system that uses a thin braided lace that hugs the shape of your head without interfering with your sunglasses, and large vents to quickly dissipate any heat. The Aro 3 will be available this February.
Australia’s Fumpa Pumps made quite a splash at the show and while we can debate for days on the need of a battery-powered inflator, there’s no denying that these Fumpa pumps are tiny. The bigger of the two, the 380-gram Fumpa, is said to be able to inflate six 700×23 tires to 120psi via a convertible valve head with a claimed 3% accuracy on an integrated digital readout in psi, bar or kpa. The lithium-powered brushless motor will inflate a 23c tire to 100psi in about 20-25 seconds.
The miniature version, the 190-gram miniFumpa, forgoes the digital read out and is capable of inflating two 25c tires to 100psi on a single charge. The process will take about 40-50 seconds per tire.
Charge time for the Mini is approximately one hour while the larger Fumpa will take about two hours via an included micro-USB cable. The batteries are also replaceable.
With all those impressive specs, it’s not a surprise that attendees tried ridiculously hard to get a free one, like this one gentleman who whipped out a giant trophy from his backpack to prove that he runs a successful junior program and was hoping for a few unit donations/sponsorships/reviews/all of the above. It was a sight to behold.
Anyway, the Fumpa is available now for $179 and the smaller MiniFumpa retails for $139.