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Author Archive: Matt

Product Review: Velo Transit Edge 40 Backpack

Velo Transit Edge 40

For the past six weeks, I’ve been testing the Velo Transit (VT) Edge 40 backpack, as well as the Metro 20 Pannier (which I’ll review in my next post). My version of the Edge 40 was the men’s medium (it also comes in a men’s large and women’s small) and also included the add-on water bottle pocket. The pack itself retails for $225 and the bottle carrier is a $20 add-on.

The Edge 40 (the 40 stands for 40 liters, by the way) falls into Velo Transit’s “Urban” category of bags, and while I’m a little puzzled by their distinction of “urban” and “commuter” – to me those terms evoke similar needs – it makes a lot of sense as an everyday pack. It has a cavernous main pocket with a roll top and 4 zippered pockets on the back (front?) – two that bump out a little (VT calls it a “volumetric pocket”) to give some volume, and two flat pockets behind those – one half-length and one full-length. VT’s site says the flat pockets are for things like locks, wallets, computers, etc. and the “volumetric” ones are for tools and a “catch-all.” Unfortunately, I read that description AFTER using the product, so I ended up putting everything in what was apparently the wrong place… but thanks to this experience, I can reassure any hesitant buyers that the tools pocket will carry a wallet, the wallet/valuables pocket will carry tools, and the “catch-all” pocket will carry a lock.

Over all of those pockets goes a zip-down “storm shield” that also happens to be bright yellow and is very good for visibility. It can roll up into a small velcroed pocket at the top, but I generally thought visibility was a good idea and rode with it down – it also gave the pack a sleek look that I liked.

The Edge 40 is a highly adjustable pack – despite being sized – and I was able to get it to fit me very well. It also had enough adjustments to cinch down whatever I wanted to carry so it wasn’t banging around inside the generally larger-than-necessary main pocket. Speaking of which – the Edge 40 is probably larger than necessary for most commuters. I probably had room to bring two sets of clothes and two lunches in this pack with room left over. If I were to buy a pack from Velo Transit, I might go for the Edge 30 – it’s a little smaller but otherwise identical.

While I overall had a very positive experience, I do have a few nitpicks with the Edge 40:
– Because it is a fairly large pack, my visibility when glancing over my shoulder was compromised. I was able to adapt somewhat, but I could not see as well as I can with other packs or bags.
– There are a lot of straps. This is generally good, but the ends flap all over the place, sometimes hitting me in the back of the neck and making me think I had just gotten hit (or bitten) by a bug. Some type of retention would be nice.
– The price is pretty high. To be fair I think Velo Transit is providing high quality for that price, but it is higher than many similar products.

Although the waterproof claim is one of the high points of this pack, I never got to check it out on my commute during our test period (yes, I had to give it back!). In an effort to give full rigor to the test period, I did expose the pack to a prolonged watering period with my sprinkler – much to the amusement of my family and dog!

The slighlty strange pose is because I'm holding my 1-year-old, who wanted in on the fun

Inquisitive Canine

According to my very scientific tests, the Edge 40 main compartment passes the waterproof test after approximately 30 minutes under direct sprinkler. The “storm shield” proved to be slightly less effective – paper I placed directly underneath it still got slightly wet – but the contents of the outer pockets were still dry.

Still dry!

In the end I have to give a lot of credit to Velo Transit for the quality they provide – if you’re looking for a commuting backpack and the price doesn’t dissuade you, the Edge 40 is a very strong contender.

Product Review: WTB Freedom Aon Saddle

Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB for short) is a respected brand among mountain bikers – particularly in the realm of tires and saddles (aka seats). They’re now bringing that experience to bear on commuter-oriented products: WTB’s Freedom line of products is geared at bikes commuters are more likely to ride and aims to provide comfortable, functional gear at a reasonable price point. I’ve been testing their Aon saddle on my (newly resurrected!) road singlespeed, and it’s time to share some impressions.


As mentioned, one of the key components is value. At $39.99, the Aon (which is available in both men’s and women’s versions) certainly does that – it’s more comfortable than many more expensive saddles I’ve tested out. It is labeled as being for road bikes, and that’s precisely how it should be used – it is more comfortable when leaning forward than it is when sitting up straighter. I don’t have to be in the drops for it to be comfortable, but I wouldn’t want it on a cruiser! For bikes with a more upright position, Freedom offers several other saddles – if they’re as comfortable as the Aon, they may be worth checking out as well. Although we don’t have any more saddles on test, WTB provided us several products in this lineup for review, so look for more commentary on some Freedom grips and tires in the future!

Product Review: BTB Sunglasses

I’ve been testing the BTB 500 sunglasses out for our sister site, MtnBikeRiders.com, but have ended up using them for commuting even more than mountain biking, so I’m giving them a shout out here as well! I started out only wearing them off-road, but as time progressed I found myself reaching for them when commuting, walking, running, and even driving (even though they’re not polarized!). I liked them so much that I even returned the last pair of (more expensive) sunglasses I bought.

For more info, check out the full review!

Product Review: Leg Shield

A couple months back, the brains behind the Leg Shield contacted us to see if we’d do a review. Never one to say no to anything, RL promptly agreed and a few days later, the Leg Shield arrived at my door.

SO… what is this thing FOR? I’m so glad you asked! The design intention is to keep grit, grime, bugs, small children, and anything else that may come in contact with your lower leg (most often by way of your chain or chainring) from getting your snazzy work clothes all dirty. With the exception of the small children (they can get anything dirty no matter what you do), it works exactly as intended – over several commutes and rides around town, my pants didn’t get a single smudge on them. So far so good!

Unfortunately, however, the Leg Shield doesn’t do so well in other categories, like comfort and (personal opinion here) not looking like you’ve been recently injured and are riding a bike against doctor’s orders. The photos will make my case (or not) on the style, so I’ll talk about comfort.

The Inner View

First thing you need to know: this is made of neoprene – the same stuff used for wetsuits, laptop sleeves, and those fancy bags to carry wine around in. One of the properties of neoprene is that it is insulating: it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. In the case of someone riding a bike, this means that on cold days the lower half of your right leg will LOVE the Leg Shield – it’s nice and toasty (your left leg may be jealous, but that’s not the right leg’s problem!). On warm days (which I’ve through trial and error determined to mean “over 60 degrees”) it will cause your leg to sweat, which in turn means your pants leg will get damp, which will make it wrinkled… which kinda defeats the purpose of protecting your pants, since instead of looking grimy they now look like you forgot to wash them. Depending on your pants material, this could happen even without sweating, since of necessity you have to bundle the pants leg under the Leg Shield.

So… in the end, I can’t really recommend the Leg Shield for everyday use – particularly in warmer climates. Does it keep grease off? Absolutely. However, I kept finding myself thinking wistfully of either a simple velcro strap (like this) or a chaincase. Failing that, I’d at least like a material option of something vaguely breathable.

Friday Musings: Leaving Things at Home

I swear I've got better style

Everyone leaves stuff at home sometimes – their lunch, their wallet, their jacket, etc. Us bike commuters are special though, because – especially if we change at work – we have the option of leaving even more things at home!

For example… yesterday I forgot to pack a pair of work socks, and spent all day wearing bright white/red socks with my dress pants and shoes. I usually keep a spare pair of socks at the office for situations like these… but had already used them on another forgetful day.

I’ve frequently forgotten to bring my bike lock or the keys to my bike lock. A few months ago, I did this in reverse… arrived at work only to discover I had taken both sets of house keys AND the car keys… and my wife needed the car keys! I had a nicely doubled commute that morning… and a workday that started closer to 10:00 than the usual 8:00.

And for the worst thing I’ve left at home… last year, I took out my change of clothes only to discover I’d forgotten to bring underwear! And let me tell you… padded bike shorts under dress pants are not particularly comfortable. Fortunately my wife was coming close by on some errands and (once she stopped laughing at me, which took a lot longer than I’d have liked) she agreed to drop by with the necessary item.

So, fellow bike commuters… am I the only forgetful one here, or have some of you done similar things? What were the consequences?