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Review: Mountainsmith Bike Cube

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.

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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!

Features:

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

Materials:

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

Capacity:

All the necessities for your next bike ride

Weight:

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.

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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 –
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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bike Share Breakup & Biking Buenos Aires

Happy Belated Saint Valentine’s Day, Bike Commuters! After a successful start, a short-lived love affair, and a predictable break-up with the Mejor en Bici bike share program, Mir.I.Am searches for new bike love with a tour of Argentina’s Capital City through Biking Buenos Aires.

Someecards Breakup

Dear Mejor en Bici…

Sometimes commuting around the city on a free yellow bike just isn’t enough. I know, I know, did I just say that life as a Bike Commuter falls short of the fulfilling my two-wheeled bikey dreams?! Talk about first-world-problems. Wait, wait, cycle people – before you bring me to the masses and start sharpening your guillotines, let me clarify my heretic claims: as lovely as I wish the Mejor en Bici system would be, our relationship has been disappointing, stale, and uneventful. Let me make a list (list lust, yessss, lists!) of why I think the free Buenos Aires bike share and I just didn’t click.

  1. It’s not you, it’s me: Mejor en Bici, you’re free, so I have no complaints about the extent of your network.  Twenty-something stations is a good sized network. But it’s just not big enough for me. I’m just not right for you – I live in Palermo at Plaza Italia, and you have no drop off stations within 20 blocks of my internship in Villa Crespo. I might as well take the (blech) bus (barf).
  2. You never like to go out anymore: Mejor en Bici, what happened to that spark, that flare, the chemistry we shared the first time I straddled your public saddle, and you cured me of my Bikeless Butt Envy? Let’s be honest, you close at 8pm, so we never go out past sunset time. I’m looking for bike access beyond the Argentine equivalent of 9-5.
  3. I’ve met someone else: Mejor en Bici, since you’re closed on Sundays and government holidays, I’ve started looking for other ways to get my bike on. I just have so much fun on those cruiser tours from Biking Buenos Aires, that I don’t think you and I will be seeing much of each other anymore. Can we still be facebook friends?
tiny bike mercadolibre

I knew it was getting bad when I was started stalking bikes online at night.

Although it’s not a permanent solution to the recurring Bikeless Butt Envy – Biking Buenos Aires was just the kind of pick-me-up I needed this Valentine’s season.  My boyfriend, photographer friend, and I set off on a “Heart of the City” tour for 4-5 hours on one of our days off.  We enjoyed a sunny day, with easy to no traffic routes, and mostly protected bike lanes on our cruisers snapping shots of cityscapes in Buenos Aires.  Here’s a description of the tour we took from their website:

Heart of the City Tour (South City)
$60 USD per person
Available: Tue, Thur, Sat @ 9am & 3pm
Difficulty: Easy / Medium – 12mi or 19.3km
Languages: English & Spanish
~5 hours
Discover the birthplace of Argentina standing beside the oldest national monument found directly in the center of May Plaza (Plaza de Mayo).  The center stage for any demonstration, it’s no wonder why most historical events happened right here in this very spot.  Along the way we visit colorful La Boca, historical San Telmo and rich Puerto Madero.  Bondiola (pork) sandwich and yerba mate are included! Group tours leave every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9am & 3pm.

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This could be the start of a budding new romance… until the Mejor en Bici program gets their shiz together, looks like I’ll have to find alternative routes for overcoming my Bikeless Butt Envy. And, it’s not like I’m comparing the two, but let’s make another list of why Biking Buenos Aires rocks my bike socks:
  1. You treat your turistas right: Biking Buenos Aires, what a better way to discover a new city than by bike? Like slow jams on a Saturday night, you keep the pace perfect for everyone in the group. With three guides, one in front, one in back, and one in the middle, you took care of us at every turn like a true caballero.
  2. I can be myself around you: Biking Buenos Aires, I was comfortable on your sparkly blue old-school cruisers, with a sweet helmet, water bottle, and front basket… with the saddle adjusted just right – I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to take you home with me and lock you to my balcony. A perfect balance, you let me wander off and explore with my camera whenever I wanted, and reigned me back in when it was time to roll.
  3. You’ve got a great personality: Biking Buenos Aies, you’re funny, you’re friendly, and you’re smart – your guides kick butt with local history tips. With a warm welcome, we all enjoyed the genuine conversation and the buena onda along the ride. It’s not just about looks, it’s the inner beauty that counts – and you’ve got it!
Here are a couple of pics to share from the tour that won me over.

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Graffiti san telmo

La boca

Biking buenos aires mir

Biking la boca

Cityscapes

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Rest assured, dear readers, it’s not just a Bike Share rebound, I’ll be back for more birthday bike tours this week! Biking Buenos Aires is highly recommended for anyone looking to catch the sites and get some fresh air. Don’t worry if you forget the sunscreen, water, cookies, mate, or patch kit, because the Biking BA guides will have it all.  Catch you later, cycle gators!