And it’s begun….

Leaving to cross the Nullabor Desert by bike(written by Melinda) Eddie left yesterday morning.  He had planned to leave around 9.00, however his first departure with the fully laden bike showed an alarming wobble in the third wheel.  There followed two hours of googling, tweaking, repacking, re-googling, re-tweaking and more repacking.  He finally left just before 11.00am.

I estimate his bike is carrying around 90kg of supplies, and that’s without all his water containers filled.  They’ll be filled once he starts across the desert, however while he’s still around civilisation it’s not necessary.

Yesterday he didn’t make it as far as planned.  The late start, the really heavy bike, unexpected long and high hills, plus continuing issues with the third wheel meant he only reached the outskirts of Perth before needing to stop for the night.  We’ll see how he goes today with the third wheel and if the issues continue we’ll probably have to replace it with some other kind of trailer.

Topeak Mondopack XL – Saddlebag

 I retired my last saddlebag, which I couldn’t properly fit to my new Brooks Saddle as the rails are too far apart.  I looked for a while for a clip in type bag but couldn’t find one that would fit and ended up going with a snap and velcro straps.

Below is the manufacturer’s spiel on their saddlebag, followed by my thoughts on it.

An oversized saddlebag for extra large adventures.  Two side opening panels provide huge access to all your gear and feature inner wmesh pockets to keep items like keys and small tools secure hile riding.  Rear zippered panel allow the main compartment to expand providing even more storage when needed.  An excellent bag for suspension bikes, folding bikes, endurance racers, randonnée, century / charity events, day touring or for cyclists who like to carry extra gear.

Attachments QuickClick™ (F25) w/Seatpost Strap
Capacity 2 L / 120 ci
Material 1200 Denier Polyester
Added Features 3M™ Reflective Strip
Safety Light Clip* 3M™ is a registered trademark of 3M Company.
Seatpost Diameter Fits ø25.4 – ø34.9 mm
Size (L x W x H) 32 x 13 x 16 cm
12.6” x 5.1” x 6.3”
Weight 282 g / 9.93 oz

And now my turn:

I find that Topeak items as a rule offer lots of features, a usually thought out design and most often are realistically priced and compare to high end products that often offer little advantage other than a name and subsequent price tag.  I’ll admit it I’m a fan of Topeak stuff.

Topeak Mondopack XL
Both compartments opened

The bag has one large, main compartment that is accessible through the left side panel, this panel also has a mesh pocket for small items and is lined with yellow plastic which helps you see what items are in there.  The right side panel is a separated from the left side by a interior wall, but has a smaller pocket for carrying tools, there are three elastic straps to hold tools in vertical position, I use this compartment for easy to reach or quick to get items.  The rear zipper is for an expanding panel that adds extra storage room to the main compartment but no access to the main compartment.  All the compartments are secured by zippers.

Topeak Mondopack XL
Rear light fitted

Typical for most bags there is an attachment (by which I mean a cloth tab) for a rear light that should work with any light that has a clip, but for a touring rig, that just means another battery or charger to carry, I don’t use it as my rear light runs off a dynamo.  The light mount is just above the expanding panel, so using the expansion shouldn’t alter the position of the light.

Topeak Mondopack XL
Expanded compartment

The bag appears to be reasonably waterproof except for the side panels, which are just water resistant, but there should be no problem with tire splash even without mudguards.  The side panels should withstand small amounts of water but will probably not hold up to riding in the rain for any length of time.  However, as there is no rain cover so I would not trust it for things that shouldn’t get wet since the zippers are not waterproof.  I wrap my tools in cloth and plastic bags anyway to stop the rattling and rust.  As stated earlier, the inside is covered in yellow plastic material, but don’t rely on this keeping your stuff dry, as it’s been puncture with by a sewing needle and will wick water in given time.

Topeak Mondopack XLThe saddlebag is long.  You will need a lot of seatpost real estate to attach the bag, although its top and bottom are rounded and the bag will bend a little.  It attaches to the post with two Velcro straps and two adjustable snaps on the top which suits a Brooks saddle well, so all up there are four attachment points.

The main compartment goes all the way up to the top of the bag and it’s kind of a pain in the bum to squeeze things in and then take them out without having to almost empty the bag, but as it’s mostly for emergency type situations. However, it’s convenient for carrying things that you may or may not need such a raincoat, saddle cover or tubes.  I would rather have these items with me than left at home, so it’s not really ideal for everyday use.

All in All, I’m a satisfied customer and would recommend the Mondopack XL.  Also bought their Handlebar bag, but that’s for another review.

One pannier to rule them all.

Introducing the Ortlieb Pannier.

When you are out touring or on a long distance bike trip, the last thing you need is your possessions you are lugging about to be damaged by water.  The R&D team at Ortlieb have developed a waterproof pannier system, the Back Roller Classic, to make sure ‘your’ stuff stays high and dry.  The roll top closure system is designed so that even if the pannier is submerged in water if for some reason it was, and if folded correctly, it should stay dry inside.

Ortlieb Pannier
It’s in the box.

The lightweight yet durable construction is perfect for long distances, where energy conservation is critical. Wherever you take your bike, take your Back Roller Classic with confidence that it will last the length of your journey and then some.

I bought myself a new set of panniers to go on my new front rack, the pannier of choice this time was the Ortlieb Back Roller Classic in eye catching yellow.  I got my latest set from ProbikeKit for $103 AUD delivered.

Features of the Back Roller Pannier.  The important ones are in Bold:

  • Cordura fabric for durability
    Ortlieb pannier
    The Ortlieb Back Roller Classic Panniers
  • Release handle for attaching and detaching the Quick Lock 1 (QL1) system
  • 3M Scotchlite side reflectors
  • Buckles at the top or for connecting the shoulder strap
  • Additional closure with buckle and D-ring
  • QL1 bar for quick fastening and release
  • Edge guard with slots for mounting the Ortlieb carrying system
  • Adjustable anchoring hook for providing lateral movement of the bag
  • Shoulder strap with padding for comfortable carrying or for fixing to the hook
  • Sold as a pair
  • Waterproof
  • Size: 42 x 32 x 17cm
  • Capacity: 40L – that’s 20L per pannier.
  • Weight: 1750g Per pair
The roll top closure makes sure no water gets inside the bag and the strong fabric looks like

Ortlieb Pannier
Bits and Pieces

it will last longer than my bike.  Things I was concerned about before they arrived:

Would these panniers actually attach to my rack?
How would they fit on my rack?
How much fluffin about to put them on and then take off?
Would I need assistance from my 15 year old, just like the video recorder?
No wucken Forries at all, the QL1 fitting system is as easy as posting a misspelled blog post.
Ortlieb Pannier
Front and Back

Yep, they come with insert clips so that you can use racks can go down to 11mm and 8mm size racks (from 16mm) or do what I did and place some clear tubing over your rack bars and save losing your inserts.

Mmmm let’s see what else? oh yeah they are waterproof, reflective, wipe clean and no zips or complicated fasteners to let you down.  Easy installation with one hand, the fitting mechanism is simplicity itself.  I went with the hi viz yellow my next set will most likely be danger red if I ever buy that Extra Wheel trailer (insert hint for wife).

The top QL1 rail of the bag hooks over the horizontal bar of your rack (the hooks can be moved laterally using a 3mm Allen key), there’s another movable hook at the bottom of the bag to stop that flapping about – it neatly slips over one or another of the racks uprights.

A smart handle release system means the top hooks won’t jump off – the hooks encircle the rack bar until you pull the handle, releasing the clamp.  The same clever handle means it’s a no-fuss operation to get the bags off the rack once your journey is done – you literally grab that handle and pick the bag up, no mess, no fuss.
Time for a few educational youtube clips I think:
by OrtliebGmbH
by Antranik DotOrg
A few of the maker’s videos on the Quick Lock systems they use and the differences.
QL1 System
QL2 System
A very good article on the website on the 3 different QL systems used by the Ortlieb Panniers.

There is also a front rack version of which I do not own and have no plans to buy but Aushiker has done a blog post on the front panniers so if you duck over there for a gander

These quality Ortlieb panniers won’t leave you by the side of the road picking up your belongings and looking for something to put them in when your cheaper bag has split or blown it’s arse out.

Time to put the brakes on this project and some other stuff.

Upgrading the bicycle.

My latest parcel from Wiggle arrived on Wednesday, chock full of cycling goodness, except for the wrong front derailleur (my bad) anyhow it’s on eBay now, hopefully it will sell and I won’t lose much $$ on it.  Back to my parcel of goodness, it contained a new rear derailleur and new front and rear V-Brake set-ups and I can start upgrading the bicycle.

My new brakes.

My current V-brake were old Tektro, while they may have been good in the past they weren’t doing so well lately.  I upgraded them to Shimano BR-T780 and what a difference they make to stopping.  Fitting the new brakes took about an 40 minutes of my time, although I didn’t fit any new cabling and I am using the old brake pads until they wear out.  Not really much to say about the fitting and adjusting the brakes but I do have some pictures.








Top Features of the Shimano XT Front/Rear V-Brake (BR-T780)
A lightweight and powerful V-Brake which is has high quality forged and anodised alloy brake arms giving excellent rigidity and durability.
Lightweight and powerful V-brake.
Multi-condition compound M70CT4 pads.
Cartridge system inserts makes it easy to replace brake pads without disturbing the brake shoe setting.
Spring tension adjuster makes it easy to keep the brakes centred.
They come usually set up for use on the front, but swap the pads over and it’s set for the rear.

Head set and bearings.

Well on Wednesday afternoon the postman cometh and delivered the headset and bearings I bought off eBay about 3 three earlier, so today it’s back to the garage and undo the brakes which I had finished adjusting and off with the handlebars and cables so that I can replace the headset.

The new headset and bearings.
The fork crown race new and old.
The fork crown race new and old.
New fork crown race on.
Old races, pitted and rusty.
Lower pressed race and old and new pressed upper races.
Side view of lower pressed races.


I used two blocks of wood and one of my woodworking F clamps to press in the races. (Lower one first).

New bearing and upper race.
Home made press.
Headset part completed.
Job done.







Handlebar mount for camera

Another bank breaking eBay buy, ($4.30) this time a camera mount for the handlebars.  Seems OK although it does wobble a bit at Camera mount handlebarthe joint between the handlebar mount and the camera mount swivel, which is held there by a pitiful self tapping screw.  I may just glue these parts together and not worry about the screw coming loose and making my camera can BANG on the road.

Camera Mount guff
High Quality
Steady and firm. Multi-angle rotation, easy adjustment for optimal viewing.
Bicycle handlebar mount.
Adjustable lock to ensure your phone remains in place.
Fits handlebar with 2-3.5 cm diameter.
Compatible with: Cameras with a standard 1/4″ tripod mount, fishing lamps, binoculars, many types of cameras, video cameras.
All kinds of digital equipment with Thread interface!!
Material: Plastic & Metal (mostly plastic)

My latest set of cranks.

I also bought what I thought was a cheap Shimano Chainset (FC-M171-A) to replace the one I bought a few months back.  Once I unwrapped it, I discovered why it was cheaper, as its only has pressed steel chainrings and are riveted together so not really upgradeable.  But not all is lost I can use these new ratios to better hone in on some good gear ratios for the future.

FC-M171back of fc-m171




This set of cranks has the ratio of 28/38/48 and as it’s pressed steel, I find that some of the teeth need filing to remove the burrs on them. What else, oh apparently it’s SIS Index compatible and has 170 mm arms, my previous one was 165 biopace cranks.  The ad mentions Shimano alloy / steel triple chainset, no mention of the cheap arse plastic cover.  There spleen vented, I feel better.

I haven’t fitted the rear derailleur yet as I’m going to wait until the new front one arrives once I have actually ordered it.  Always more to be done in upgrading the bicycle.