I decided to do a little S24O bike packing trip on ye olde Surly Krampus and my set of Blackburn Elite Outpost bags. I got to my destination and come night fall, let’s just say it wasn’t an ideal sleeping situation. Wicked high winds and a few too many passing cars and motorcycles made it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Usually I would’ve just stuck around, but I had work the following day and homework due as well.
I made the decision to do a late night ride back home, so we’ll say I took a few hour nap before heading home 😉 Spoiler, I know…still enjoy the video though if you want to see what gear I used!
Swift Industries has been a leader in promoting and supporting bike exploration since they came onto the scene. Their upcoming Equinox Campout is a great opportunity to get outside and explore your local parks, trails, and camping destinations.
I plan on doing an overnight now that I’ll have the luxury of a weekend day off and not having to be at work until noon most days! Quite exciting stuff coming from someone who hasn’t been able to get a consistent weekend day off for almost a year. Retail management is usually not super conducive to having weekends off like…ever.
If you want to explore rides in your area or connect with other campout leaders, head over to swiftcampout.com. There’s still time to create a profile and even post your own ride if you’d like to encourage others to join.
I plan on ditching the old fork and existing wheel set as the next upgrade I want to make is some Stan’s tubeless wheels so I can drop some weight off the bike and run lower pressure. I’ll likely keep the Rabbit Hole wheels so I can easily swap my studded tires onto the bike for winter commuting.
I really want to do a write up on both the Blackburn seatbag and the handlebar bag soon, so I’m excited to get out and see how it holds up. I’ve used it for commuting a couple of times, but would like to see how it holds up to 50+ miles of gravel riding and being packed with camping gear.
Stay tuned for that and thanks as always for reading.
In a land of seemingly endless options of independent makers and custom bag companies, why would anyone want or need a stock production bag?
I’m here to dive into the world of production cycling bags including top tube bags, seat bags, and handlebar bags. Starting with one of my all-time favorites, Topeak’s Fuel Tank (large).
Topeak has been in the cycling game for nearly 30 years. They’ve been known for their iconic Joe Blow series pumps, but have since branched out to everything from bike repair tools to bags to cycling computers, saddles, repair stands, racks, lights, and more.
I had to do some background research Topeak as it’s not apparent where they are based. A little search engine sleuthing brought me to a profile on Bicycle Retailer’s website stating that Topeak is a Taiwanese based company.
It makes sense. Taiwan is the world’s hub of cycling manufacturing. State of the art facilities with both factories and design firms are sprinkled throughout the country. If you’ve ever purchased a bike or cycling product, it was likely either manufactured or designed in Taiwan.
Based off the design and aesthetics, part of me assumed Topeak was German based. Maybe it’s the fact that Topeak and Ergon (saddle & grip company) have been so closely linked as they have co-sponsored professional cycling teams.
Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here because every time I post a photos of one of my bikes with the Fuel Tank I’m asked by someone what type of bag it is.
The Fuel Tank is a masterfully designed bag. The outside texture is a rubberized finish with a carbon like pattern. You can see in the above photo the texture and stitching is high quality.
The bag is made in two size options. I opted for the large as it can fit even the largest of phones with loads of room to spare. The size specs are below courtesy of Topeak’s website:
Topeak states that the bag is made out of a 420 denier nylon and PVC combination.
While the outside of the bag is a sleek matte black, the inside is Topeak’s signature yellow. I’m always a fan of bags that have bright interiors so you can actually see what’s inside. The bag has an included padded hook and loop divider. You can see on the left side of the bag I utilized that to create a little holder for my lip balm. This makes it easy to find and be able to grab it one handed while cruising along while riding.
The right hand side of the bag has a large mesh pocket, Topeak suggests a battery bank or something similar can be placed here on their website. All of my battery banks are too large to fit in there, but I stash things like my minimalist wallet or nutrition gels in there. It also works well for stashing a mask since we are in COVID19 times as I write this.
To provide a bit of the scope of size for this bag I can comfortably fit the following:
iPhone 8 with case
Rav Power 20k milliamp battery bank
usb micro cord
Apple lightening cord
several hydration mixes (I usually carry either a tube of Nuun or 3-4 powder packets)
2 nutrition bars (RX Bars or Clif/Luna)
a portable peanut butter packet (RX nut butter or Justins)
a packet of chamois cream (Hoo Ha Ride Glide)
portable hand sanitizer
+ more room to spare
You can fit a TON in this bag and then some. It’s one of the largest top tube bags I’ve seen on the market without being a custom product.
One of my favorite features of the Fuel Tank is the fact that you can pass a charging cable through the bag on the left hand side. This means that if you use a GPS, smartphone, or need to juice a light on the go you have the option to run a cable up to that devise while your battery bank stays safely tucked inside the bag.
I’ve only had to use this feature once on a bike camping overnight as I forgot to charge my cycling computer before I left home and it was awesome to be able to have that option without having to leave the zipper of the bag slightly open at the top.
The cable pass-thru placement allows you to tuck the cable out of the way and not jiggle around on the bag.
Another feature I love about this bag is it’s essentially waterproof. The rubberized material around the entire bag paired with the thickly padded, structure, and the waterproof zipper with a zipper garage ensures your electronics and other sundries stay dry.
I can attest to this as I got absolutely drenched last summer on my bike camping outing with Bell Joy Ride Madison. You can read my write up or watch my vlog about the trip in earlier posts on the blog.
As far as attaching the bag to a bike. I’ve been able to successfully attach it to every bike in my stable, including my large carbon tubed Topstone Carbon, which is notoriously difficult to put a strap style bag on- hence their top tubes have drilled attachment points for direct mount bag systems.
There’s a small bit of wear on the bottom of the bag, but it’s still in wonderful condition!
The retail on the Topeak Fuel Tank Large is around $50 depending on where you purchase it. I’m sure you can find some sale prices online, but always recommend checking with your LOCAL BIKE SHOP to support them.
I purchased this item with my own money via my bike shop employer. I was not asked by them or Topeak to write this review and don’t receive any monetary compensation from writing said review.
Honestly, this is one of the highest quality production bags I’ve owned and used during my many years as a cyclist. I’ve had the bag for going on two years now and it has yet to fail me or let me down.
I’m always impressed by the amount of items you can carry in the bag and have never had one returned for any reason at my place of work upon recommending the bag to customers.
Topeak has a home-run on their hands with the Fuel Tank and hope they continue to keep making the product for years to come!
That’s all for this write up. Be on the lookout for write-ups on some of Blackburn’s production bags! I’ve also been plugging away at a video review for my Cannondale Topstone Carbon RX, but have had some issues with audio. Stay tuned as I’ll likely release a write up prior to the video.
Madison Women’s Cycling is now our baby. Meetup has always been a fantastic resource for planning, hosting, and promoting events. Madison does already have a women’s outdoor group, but we wanted to have a group specifically tailored to lady cyclists.
Our group will be open to cyclists of ALL abilities. This is very important to us as we want to grow the population of cyclists and we can’t do that unless we are willing to take some newbies under our wing.
Currently the only Meetup we have planned is the Madison CycloFemme ride. We’re hoping to make it bigger and better than last year. We’re looking for businesses who are willing to act as sponsors or for ladies who want to host or contribute something to a Meetup.
It may be winter, but we can think of at least a thousand different things you can do as a cyclist in the off season!
We’re working on getting a side link posted up to take site visitors directly to the Meetup link. You’ll have to become a member to view all of the events. Some events will be free and others there will be a nominal fee for attending.
Spoke Haven is covering the administrative costs of the Meetup group, but we want others to take the initiative to suggest Meetups and want it to be a collaborative effort.