Category: Gear

If you ever travel with your bike — and by travel I refer to packing your bike and gear in your car and driving to the start of your ride — listen up. This past summer Mountainsmith sent me their Bike Cube Deluxe to review. The deluxe refers to a souped-up version of its Bike Cube.


Per the Mountainsmith website,

The Bike Cube Deluxe features a roll-up tool organizer, padded changing mat, a padded eye-wear pocket, specific spots for helmet, shoes, etc., it ensures that you never again show up at the trailhead with just one shoe. The Bike Cube Deluxe offers excellent organization and keeps all the essentials for your next road, cross or mountain bike ride at the ready. Works well as a stand alone piece or in conjunction with our Modular Hauler Systems. Feel like a pro at your next race and arrive in style!


Tri-panel load access
Organizer pockets for tools, food and accessories
Interior shoe & clothes divider (orig.: interior mesh sleeves for shoes/helmet)
Coated mesh for ventilation
Fleece-lined eyewear pocket
Roll-up bike tool organizer (original: zippered bike tool compartment and tool organizer panel)
Removable, padded changing mat
Adjustable shoulder strap included
Padded haul handle


150d Baby RipStop Poly
210d Rip Stop Poly
840d Ballistic Poly (added)

Dimensions: (same as bike cube)

15″ x 15″ x 15″ (38 x 38 x 38 cm)

Volume: (same)

3417 cu. in. / 56 L


All the necessities for your next bike ride


4 lbs 5 oz / 1.98 kg (original: 2 lbs 1 oz / .9kg)

I set out to put their advertised claim to the test that this cube would help for ride day – organizing “helmet, pump, shoes, and accessories well stashed and ventilated for that next impromptu outing; spend more time in the saddle and less time gathering up your gear.

The original bike cube comes in basic black; this deluxe version comes in red. Now I’m a sucker for the color red and bikes, so this deluxe bike cube immediately had my attention. Though not exactly something to use for the daily grind of bike commuting, I did find myself using this bag for regular weekend bike adventures (escapes from the urban jungle for daily rides) and even to ride my first ever Tour of the Mississippi River Valley (better known as TOMRV) earlier this year. This cube held all my needed bike gear for the daily outings, plus accommodated my overnight essentials for the weekend TOMRV adventure.

The removable padded shoulder strap (included with this deluxe model, sold separately for the basic) is definitely the way to travel with this cube. It’s like a large gym bag – cube shaped – but I never found it too unwieldy to tote. In the past I’ve sometimes refer to myself as the bag lady… as my former method of toting my gear was to use multiple reusable shopping totes. Though a great method, I often found items getting smashed into the bags and nothing having a definitive place; stuff just landed in a random bag and often was difficult to find. This cube keeps my stuff consolidated in one easy to handle bag — haul by shoulder strap from door to car and then by the handy handles for lifting into and out of the car.


I found myself improvising with how to best use the pockets and space within this bag. The mesh sleeve for the helmet worked great; the helmet fits perfectly! I also used another sleeve for my gloves and cap. I just put my shoes in the bag (no sleeve). I found myself using the extra mesh pockets to stash extra nutrition (bars, powder mixes) and mp3 player.

It was great to be able to pick up the bag and be ready to go. All my bike gear just stayed with the bag, so no more forgetting my shoes when traveling with my bike (yes – once drove out to a weekend invitational ride sponsored by a local club – only to realize I had forgotten to pack my shoes!).

Now – it’s all there at the ride destination –

Instead of all those multiple bags I used to carry, Mountainsmith’s deluxe bike cube helps you distribute all those necessities for easy access once you arrive at your destination and need to get ready — to ride, to race, etc. Since I already have my tools in a case and/or in my bike’s seatbag, I did not much use the roll-up tool organizer.


However, my friend had recently purchased a separate bag to roll and carry his tools and I realize the usefulness of such a compact carrying organizer; I’ve since thought of reorganzing my tool case to travel in this roll-up organizer and using it with my commutes, too.


I also never used the padded changing mat, which stashes unobstrusively in a side pocket.


I have friends who mountain bike or who ride cyclocross who would appreciate this pad more than me.

Most importantly, I had ample space for clothing — whether it be a change of bike clothes and/or off the bike clothes, extra layers, off-the-bike shoes, etc; I could easily pack enough to account for those surprise weather conditions when traveling with the bike.

There is no right or wrong way to pack this bag — organize it your way to make it work for you.


There is a convenient pad to divide up the center storage area/pocket, so you can store your shoes and clothes.


I appreciated all the ventilation this cube offers, too, especially to let my gear breathe and keep my gear from stinking up a “stuffy” bag.


When I rode TOMRV, this bag got hauled by the vans to and from the overnight destination. At the end of day 1, bags were strewn about a lawn. This bright red cube stood out from the pack – both due to its shape and color

Since it was rainy the morning of day 2 when I had to set the bag outside for the crews to pick up, I simply placed clothing items I didn’t want to get soaked into plastic bags and put them in the cube. Then I put the cube on the top of the heap of bags to be loaded into the truck… and set out – worry-free.


Conclusion? After a summer of use, the Mountainsmith Bike Cube Deluxe barely shows signs of wear, so this rugged bag is designed for the long haul. It’s a great investment – at an MSRP of $79.95 – if you find yourself driving to the start of trail, ride, or race.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Have you ever had your shoelaces get caught in your chain, or wrapped around your pedal, or gotten chewed up by your cranks? I have…all three scenarios and a few more. Sure, there are a couple of creative shoe-tying techniques one could use to minimize such entanglements (or one could just get a chaincase), but accidents DO happen.

What to do? How do we keep our shoelaces protected from the ravages of our bicycles’ drivetrains? Enter Hickies, an elastic shoelacing system. The kind folks at Hickies graciously sent me a couple pairs to try out…one for me, and one for my school-age child to test.


The Hickies are made of a stretchy and durable elastomer. They basically consist of a looped length with a plastic “head” on one end that the loop goes around. 14 come to each package…enough for a pair of shoes with seven lace eyelets. The packaging is neat (and recycleable!) and comes with clear instructions. Simply lace the Hickies through the shoe’s lace holes and pass the lopped portion around the head. Viola — instant slipons!

All laced up and ready to go:


The Hickies work quite well — they are incredibly stretchy, so they accomodate a fairly wide range of shoe sizes. How the shoe fits after installing the Hickies, though, will be up to the shoes themselves and your feet. I have fairly narrow feet, and the Hickies were secure without binding. My son LOVES his…no more shoe-tying squabbles in the morning, and plenty of security for playgrounds and P.E. classes! As you can see from the photo below, if the Hickies prove to be too loose, you can try weaving them differently (all covered in the instructions and company website). In our case, the top runs were too loose, and crossing them as shown in this picture took up just enough slack to work:


If they are too tight, though, there’s no way to lengthen them — I had to remove the topmost run on my shoes since they were too tight to allow my foot to enter the shoe. No worry…the shoes now fit like slippers, with even snugness the length of my foot. This was especially handy during plane trips, where I could slip in and out of my shoes at TSA checkpoints and on the planes themselves.

Over the past couple months, the Hickies have proven to be very durable…no breakages to note. If I had anything negative to say about the Hickies, it’s this: I had the topmost loop pop off the head of the device a couple times when pulling my shoe on. The Hickies sort of roll a bit as my foot slides in, and that was enough to pop them loose. If the groove that runs around the circumference of the Hickies head was a little deeper or wider, that may ensure retention.

Hickies come in a rainbow of colors to match nearly any shoe, and the heads are interchangeable so you can mix-and-match to your heart’s desire. Match your bike, your bag, your shirt, your shoes! The Hickies retail for $19.99 per package, and offer a fun and effective way to eliminate shoelace tangles.

Please take a look at the Hickies website for more details, instructive videos, and their creation story.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

We had a chance to swing by the Ergon booth while we were in Las Vegas. Let’s take a look at some of their new offerings, shall we?

First off, Ergon has greatly expanded their saddle line…with saddles for road and mountain and disciplines in between, there’s one for every butt out there! The new road saddles (SR3 series), new cyclocross saddles (SRX3 series), and enduro-racing saddles (SME3 series) were getting all the attention. I had the chance to test-ride one of the very first SR3 saddles in the U.S., and I can say it was VERY comfortable for a racing saddle.



There were plenty of grips to choose from…ergonomic styles in rubber, cork, and the really stylish leather ones, a collaboration between Ergon and luxury cycling shoes maker Quoc Pham:


Ergon has expanded its range of backpacks, too. While these were developed for the mountain bike/marathon bike market, they serve admirably in a commuter capacity. You may remember that we have a BX4 pack on test right now (review coming soon):


Of great interest was the display of products from Phorm, a subsidiary of Ergon’s parent company (RTI Sports). Using ergonomic and comfort features developed for Ergon, Phorm is aimed at the recreation/urban/commuter market with a wide range of saddles and grips:



Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
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Axiom Performance Gear is probably not a household name in U.S. bike circles…but it should be. They make a HUGE variety of bike products and accessories, but may not have the same brand recognition here in the U.S. as other bike accessory companies. That’s a bit of a mystery to me; for as you will see, the products they make are well-designed, stylish, and readily available through the major bike shop wholesalers like QBP and Seattle Bike Supply.

Prior to our trip to Las Vegas, we’d be Facebook-chatting with Andrew Belson, the product manager and designer behind a lot of Axiom’s products. He gave us an extensive tour of Axiom’s display, focusing on commuter-friendly items we could share with you.

Axiom specializes in products designed to fit a wide range of bicycles, particularly their panniers and cargo racks. Let’s take a look at some of them first:

From the modular Grandtour Series, these panniers feature a host of high-tech features like adjustable pannier hooks, load management straps, and streamlined shaping. The best part of this series of bags is that they are totally modular, with a main bag and detachable accessory pockets. Strap on tent and toiletry pockets for long overnight or cross-country tours, then strip off everything but the main bag for errands and commuting. What a great setup!


The Grandtour Series comes in three sizes: 60 liters, 45 liters, and 30 liters, with accessory pockets that bump up the cargo capacity.


Here’s Axiom’s “Journey” series…panniers for front and rear, grocery bags, rack-mountable briefcases and even a handlebar bag for your iPad!


Need a rack to carry those bags? Axiom has you covered with a wide variety in both expedition-grade steel and aluminum flavors:


A LOT of thought went into the mounting hardware for Axiom’s racks. Most had offset mounts to prevent heel strikes, and they all had a huge range of adjustability to accomodate bikes of several wheel sizes. Take a look at their Uni-Fit mounting plates, which I referred to as “dial a size”. Find the appropriate holes for your wheelsize and bolt into place:


That’s pretty cool right there, and is a perfect example of the details sweated out by the folks at Axiom. With their mounting options, one would be hard-pressed indeed to find a bike these racks wouldn’t fit!

Axiom also makes a line of travel and floor pumps…some of the best-looking ones I’ve laid eyes on, and packed with great features.


These pumps have knurled aluminum bodies, extendible hoses and the “ReValver” that twists to adjust for Schrader and Presta valves. Slick!

Perhaps my very favorite thing I spotted at Interbike was this gorgeous floor pump called the Annihilateair G200A. It was a work of art, with a mirror-polished aluminum body, Headrush dual-valve head, replaceable MTB-style grips and traction pegs on the base. This pump just oozed quality, and if I had a spare $135.00, I’d run out and buy one right now! RL can attest to my interest in this pump…sort of an odd thing to get so excited over, but hey, I’m a bike geek with a serious tool problem:


Axiom showed us so much more…other waterproof panniers with ultrasonic-welded seams, great commmuter accessories, etc. We really had an enjoyable time with them in their vast display. And, we may be able to get our hands on some of Axiom’s products for the purposes of reviewing, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, swing on over to their website for further details on these and their many other products.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

We met up with our pals Mike and Eric from Banjo Brothers in Las Vegas. They were gracious enough to spend a good chunk of their time shooting the breeze with us and telling us about some of their new products.

But first, the costumes. As you may remember in years past, Mike and Eric often had the very best costumes on the show floor…from tracksuits to loungewear. This year, they went with what I am referring to as “hayseed chic”:


Their most exciting new product is this convertible backpack-to-pannier:



The top flap swings both ways, serving to cover the pannier hooks on one side, and the backpack straps on the other. Presto changeo!


This bag will retail for around $89, if my memory serves.

Banjo Brothers also had a couple of very chic dry-waxed-canvas bags…urban style and lots of functionality in a sleek package:


Let’s not forget their Minnehaha Bags line, too — classic styling in waxed canvas and leather:


It was great to talk to Mike and Eric — they’re good guys who are passionate about what they do, and they are always SO nice to us! Check out their full lineup by visiting their website.

Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky