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.

Da Brim for Da Helmet

Planning on riding across the Nullarbor or any other long rides with a lot of sun?

How to wear a helmet and keep the sun off?

My helmet came with a visor of about 30 mm sticking out the front, although this only keeps the high sun out of your eyes and doesn’t do much during the rest of the day except as a handy place to fix my mirror to.  I thought about maybe adding a covering for the helmet to stop the sun through the helmet gaps and together with a piece of cloth flapping down covering the neck but lacked the skills to make something useful.  I don’t recall the exact words I used in the search engine but I soon discovered this item.  The Da Brim helmets visors.

The Da Brim site has helmet visors for a lot of sportsman and construction tradies as well, Cycling, Equestrian, Climbing, Paddlesports (Water based paddling – not the naughty sort) and Snowsports.

I only investigated the cycling offerings although I did casually flip through the others just in case I was missing something.  There are three types on offering for the cycling fraternity:

The Sporty,

The Classic, and

The Rezzo.

I purchased the Classic in grey but initially I had my eyes on a red one, I was tempted for a Sporty but the choice in colours/patterns didn’t do it for me, although I think if the company offered more colour choices they would sell more Sporty visors, I’m not really into pastels, camouflage or skulls and I see enough tan in my travels.

Description of the Classic.

The Da Brim Cycling Classic helmet visor is designed for maximal UPF50+ sun protection coverage.  The largest of our bicycle helmet visor models, the Cycling Classic provides broad 360° sun protection.  Use our helmet visor with virtually any bicycle helmet to increase your enjoyment of a ride in the cool comfort of shade.
* Requires no modifications to your helmet or sticky adhesives
* Air flows freely through helmet vents, promoting cooling
* Helps block glare
* Adjustable front visor angle to see forward while in a head down riding position
* Front strap keeps brim from flopping forward and impairing vision
* Rear brim height adjustment for use with backpacks and mirrors
* Reinforced brim edge for added stability
* Engineered to withstand the wind forces imposed by outdoor activities.  Comfortable in combined wind speeds of up to 40 Kph (25 mph) (sum of your speed and wind from all directions.)
Note: This model is not designed for high speed downhill descents or performance cycling.

For recumbent riding, add our front stabiliser.

Specifications of the Classic

UPF50+ brim (helmet attachment crown not rated)
* As with other visors, does not provide top of head sun protection
* 3½” (89mm) front brim contours to 4½” (115mm) at rear to provide excellent neck sun protection * Lightweight (weighs approximately 5 oz. (155 g))
* Water Resistant
* 100% Nylon exclusive of decoration
* Hand wash, hang to dry
* One size fits most
* Available in 5 colours: Grey, Blue, Red, Yellow, and Pink; all colours with black underbrim
* Made in USA
* Patent # D659292, other patents pending
Uses: Recreational bicycling, touring, commuting, ideal for areas with intense sun.

My Da Brim arrived one day during the week, I think it was a Friday but that’s not important, I busted it out of it’s rather large box and proceeded to try it on, then instead of ripping something I watched the instructional videos that are linked under each visor on the maker’s website.  Needless to say, the fitting was successfully completed in a few minutes.  One of their videos that I watched prior to purchase had a pocket that fitted over any existing visor that the helmet had, so I had assumed the Classic would have this feature too but alas poor Yorrick, it did not.  Removal of the visor was part of the cycling install of this particular visor and with that departing the helmet, with it went the mirror which I wasn’t too happy about, but more about that later.

Having the Da Brim in my hands it didn’t look “that” big, but once fitted and plonked on my head you can see how much sun this baby will block out.  It’s massive, maybe a little too much in my opinion, I would have preferred in hindsight to have maybe 25 mm (an inch) taken off the circumference of the visor, which ironically brings it down near the “Sporty’ sized visor.

When wearing the helmet with it’s new visor on the bike, you really need the helmet to be a good fit for your noggin, as when any wind catches your new sail, it will twist and turn the helmet until the straps take up any slack.  So point to note, tighten the helmet and strap adjustments properly, but not too tight, What I guess I’m saying is do not have your helmet loose like you see some people on the road do, where you could remove the helmet without undoing it otherwise when the winds blows (and it always does when riding especially head wind) your helmet will cause you to have an accident, I think it would almost be like a Magpie swoop that connects (been there several times).  On the subject of Magpies, since I have started wearing the Da Brim, I haven’t been swooped once? Coincidence or the end of the breeding season?  Next year will tell I suppose.

Removal of the the mirror (Take a look Mirror) from the existing bike visor.  I found the mirror to be so handy when commuting to work and back and since changing handle bars I don’t have the available spots to return to my old mirrors that fit into bar ends.

I have trialled fitting the ‘Take a Look’ mirror to the Da Brim edge and it stays there quite well,  but a bit far away as my mirror seems to be half the size they advertise.  I’m thinking of adding a Velcro patch to the underside of the visor and placing the mirror there and then using the other half of the Velcro to keep it in place.

As the summer season is approaching here in Australia, and the fact that I have already several hot rides under my belt, this brim will do as advertised and during the winter season, I believe it will handle the rain with ease, more so if I scotch guard the brim before the rain arrives.

When off the bike, I find the helmet is now awkward to carry, as you don’t want to hold it by the brim as it may come adrift from the helmet and as I have the mirror fitted, I am more aware of how and where I put the helmet down, and to check that the mirror is still attached when picking it up.

Points to Remember:
Blocks a lot of sun and heat.
Fits easily and stays put.
Cheaper to buy overseas.
It is well made.
Should handle any rain with ease.
Hasn’t budged in any wind even the wind that exceeds the above limit.
Catches the wind especially from the side.
Or
You could buy a larger helmet and look like this guy.

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.