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.

The stem cell project

I changed the old school style stem, you know the one, you have to strip one side of the handlebars to take them off and put them on and then use leverage on the clamp to open it up to slide the hump through.  Now I have the new style threadless stem. which uses an Allen key.  Change handlebars? why certainly Sir, I just need an Allen key now and no need to remove anything off the handlebars to take them off .

The old stem (quill) was 90 mm in height with a 100 mm reach, replaced by a 180 mm length (130mm height above headset) with 110 mm reach.  The only thing left on this bike from my original bike that I bought back in 1997 from Olson’s Cycles in Geelong VIC is the bell.  Although the quill will go to the spares box and can keep the original seat post company.

New stem adapterI found the 180 mm stem adapter on eBay, (seller was Speedolium), in hindsight, I should have gotten the 150 mm adapter.  See breakout box.

Inside the fork steerer tube, it tapers about 2/3 the way down so that the new 180mm stem adapter doesn’t go in as far as I had planned it to, silly fork doesn’t it know who’s in charge here?  Even a big hammer didn’t help 🙁

I got the 110 mm stem from Pushy’s for a steal at $9 Token stem(Token brand) to me the stems located around this one looked the same quality but were priced at $29 and upwards, it’s only got to hold the handle bars to the stem.

The stem can be 6º above zero or 6º below, I currently have it set at six degrees above 0.  Next weekend I may change to 6º below and see how that feels when commuting.

And now our feature presentation by Shyflirt1:
Old quill stem Old quill stem New stem and adapter New stem and adapter New stem and adapter The old quill stem
Yeah yeah, I know, I still haven’t wrapped the handlebars in tape yet as you can tell from the photos, but rest assured I do have two packets of bar tape in my toolbox which I also got at the latest carpark sale at Pushy’s

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.

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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.

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

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

You can’t handle the truth

BBB Multibar Trekking Bar BHB-30

Weight 497 gm
Length 57 cm
Construction AL 6061 aluminium
Diameter at stem 25.4 mm
Diameter 22.2 mm
Colour is either black or polished silver
www.bbbparts.com

Trekking bars, also known as Touring bars and Butterfly bars.

A handlebar for the distance touring cyclist? What type of sorcery is this? The thought that you can use a multitude of different hand positions without wasting valuable space on your handlebars.

These handlebars are light and rugged, and are quick and very easy to fit.  They alter the look and the feel of your steed completely, but you’ll get used to it.  The bars can be wrapped in bar tape or a padded foam sleeve fitted or in my case I have put on the old grips with bar-tape to follow in the near future.

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To be honest my first ride with these bars took a bit of getting used to, it feels to me unnatural to use the upper hand hold that has no brake lever handy and the same again for the side positions.  The handling of the bike changes depending on where your hands are positioned and at the moment the bars feel skinny, but as I stated earlier I haven’t fitted any bar tape yet as I’m sure I will be making minor adjustments and alterations to bars and levers, maybe even the grips.

Jana Phillips shows us how to wrap them:

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QL0djHxwLM’]

My old bars that are being replaced were wider (by about 15mm either side) than these bars, so it seems OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstrange to have my hands closer to each other when riding.  On the flat level roads, the normal section of the handle bar is comfortable and easy, although those riders who are wider across the top may find it to be a bit narrow, but the sides and top section are continuous and easily available without taking your hands off the steering, although the bars feel a bit skinny and cold without bar tape on them.  For chugging up hills, out of the seat pedalling, I find that the side positions are my position of choice as these effectively are the bar ends and are comfortable to use, and they keep you in command of where you are going.

I have had no dramas with mounting space for my GPS, light and reflector although at the moment, my levers (Shimano EF51 – combined brake and gear) and associated cables are a little bunched up, but the brakes and gears still work.  I plan to fix this problem with a taller stem adapter and new longer stem so that I can update my old quill stem which was the only part stem adapterfrom my original BBB stembike that I have left.  So I’m going from a threaded style to a thread-less look-alike setup.  On another note I also lost use of my bar end mirrors.

 

I currently do not have a handle bar bag, so I hope I haven’t shot myself in the foot by changing to these bars, but a bit more research and hopefully I will find a compatible and decent bag.

Final thoughts.

Trekking bars are an option to consider if you’re the tourer type who likes their gadgets and/or gets sore hands and wrists from using the one hand position.  These bars are easy to fit and offer a variety of hand positions, but they take a bit of adjusting and getting used to, but time and distance will fix that hurdle.

For an excellent article on handlebars go visit bicycle-touring-guide.com