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Review: Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

4 Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

Above is a great example of what I normally carried in the frame bag. A random piece of fruit or a small, light-weight, rain jacket are missing from the photo.

Roughly a month ago I did a quick preview of the Banjo Brothers Frame Bag, which you can read over here. The bag has around 700 commuting miles and a couple accidental tumbles while gravel grinding.

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag $32.99-34.99

Size on test: Medium
Size and type of bike tested on: 56cm carbon cross bike, 55cm carbon road bike, 17″ mountain bike

Use and Abuse

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

The main testing ground of this bag over the past few weeks was on my cross bike during my August commuter assault. 60 miles a day for 2-4 days a week during the month of August. Only once during this assault did  I not used the frame bag and used a backpack instead to see if my opinion of this frame bag could be swayed.

The bag looks pretty brand-new even with the daily use. The only thing showing wear is some mud on the bottom down tube strap. The velcro and straps aren’t fraying and they never scratched any of my frames due to a nice piece of padding between the velcro strap and frame.

The zippers have a nice weather resistant cover to them and in the handful of rainstorms I caught myself in, the fabric nor zippers let in water. This is also in part of the front “pocket” that you can pull the zippers into.

Features

There are a few things I really like about this bag.

  • Reflective piping around the rim of both sides make this bag a great extra piece of safety when riding at night.

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

  • The smaller and larger pocket compartments are a nice touch. Allowing me to put smaller things like multi-tool, money and keys in one pocket and then food/jacket and tubes in the other pocket.
  • Double zippers allow you to access gear easily from either end of the bag. Pretty crucial in the dark when you are looking for your arm warmers that you buried thinking that you weren’t going to need them.
  • The padded piece between the velcro and frame are pretty killer.

Downfalls

Some of these downfalls will depend on your frame size and usage

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag Review

  • My front bottle was pretty hard to get out when using the frame bag. If you are using this frame bag for bike camping or long rides get in the habit of drinking out of your seat tube mounted bottle and then rotating when you empty that one. They do advertise you can run a 70oz hydration bladder in the bag.
  • Take care when trimming the velcro. If you plan on moving it between bikes it may be long on some frames and rub your leg. There is no way around this, but if you keep it on one bike you can trim the velcro straps perfect and never run into a problem.

Overall Thoughts and Review Conclusion

I used this mostly during the testing for review while bike commuting. This bag may not be ideal if you have to lock up outside or leave your bike parked somewhere that the bag could be lifted. If you are doing some longer rides, want to test out bike camping without breaking the bank or just want a different way to carry some essentials with ease – give this bag a try. You can’t beat the price, quality or company standing behind the product.

To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed using this bike, when we plan out some overnight bike camping this fall I plan on picking up another one for my gf’s cross bike. Pairing a Banjo Brothers Frame Bag with one of their Handlebar Bags and Waterproof Trunk Bags, I believe she’ll be set as I’ll be carrying the tent.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review purposes

Review: Portland Design Works Aether Demon

9 PDW Aether Demon

It’s pretty apparent how I feel about bike lights and the level of safety they add to your bike rides. A blinking front and rear light are found on most of my bikes, including some of my mountain bikes if I’m going to hit the road on the way to find my dirt diet. When Emily started commuting to the hospital every morning we purchased a couple lights for her All City Nature Boy that were bright, but it became apparent that the USB front light was kicking the watch battery powered rear light’s arse. Every couple weeks the batteries needed replacing or the rear light wasn’t shining as bright as new. Make fun of me that something this small stressed me out, but at 4:30am I want her seen as much as possible.

That’s about when a little birdy told me about a new USB powered rear light coming out from PDW.

Meet the Portland Design Works Aether Demon

MSRP: $49.00

Details: 

  • Nichia™ 0.5 watt LED
  • USB charging Li-ion battery
  • Texas Instruments™ integrated circuit (I have no idea what that means)
  • 4 modes (run time): Dance (8 hrs), Breathe (8 hrs), Group Ride (175 hrs at 10% power), Rock Steady (3.5 hrs)
  • Includes seatpost, seatstay mounts

Overall Thoughts of the Aether Demon™

Sometimes, though very rarely, I review a product and all I have to say about it is “it really works.” This light is it. The short USB plug that comes with the light plugs into the bottom and then either into your computer, or I use the USB box that came with my iPhone/iPad. It blinks demon blue until it’s charged, you unplug it and go on your way. With included mounts you can install the light on your seat post or on a seat stay on the bike frame. Both mounts allow you to pivot the light to be pointed properly behind you.

Pro’s and Con’s

For $49 it’s hard to beat a USB charging rear light that last for a good long while. Especially one with a great company standing behind it. The only thing I would change has to do with the light output, I’m a big fan of the Light & Motion Vis 180 rear that has light output on the sides for cars coming towards you perpendicular. That’s really my only feedback of the light.

The mount is solid, the USB plug closes up well and the light strobing options are great. If you are in the market for a new rear light and you want something that won’t blow through batteries, take a look at this beauty from Portland Design Works.

Check them out online, or find your local bike shop that stocks them.

Disclaimer: This light was provided at no charge for review. Saying that, I would buy one full retail.

Intro: Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack

5 Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack

MSRP $160

Features
• Adjustable external 5-point cargo net system for storing / transporting helmet, wet race gear, or shoes
• Waterproof rolltop closure accommodates a range of load sizes
• Dual compartments separate wet/dry cargo
• Industrial strength Velcro accessory shoulder mounting straps
• Easy access side U-Lock/Waterbottle pockets
• Interior sleeve pocket fits 15” Macbook Pro (laptop sleeve recommended)

Specs
Dimensions: 11.5” wide, 20” high, 5.5” deep
Volume: 22-34 L
Weight: 3.3 lb

The Barrage Rolltop combines a Welded-Waterproof floating bucket with an abrasion resistant CORDURA® Brand grade outer shell to make the toughest waterproof rolltop possible. It features a low-profile design and side compression straps for load stabilization and increased visibility, an external cargo net to haul gear on the outside, and a Welded-Waterproof bucket liner that can keep personal items bone dry in any weather. The Barrage adapts to accommodate a range of cargo. The main compartment expands from 22L to 34L and features an expandable cargo net with compression straps for securing various cargo shapes and sizes. - Chrome Industries

Preview: Banjo Brothers Frame Bag

7 Banjo Brothers Frame Bag Review

Needing a bike bag? Scroll to the bottom for an exclusive discount with Banjo Brothers!

The exploding market of bikepacking has lead to the design and development of many useful products for the utility cyclist, specifically frame bags. Up until a couple years ago if you wanted to go with the minimilist approach of strapping things to your bike without a rack in a “frame bag” you were going to pay a decent amount of coin for someone to sew a bag for your bike. Thankfully, you can now find many bags coming to market that are more universal fit and ready for your excursions.

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag Review

Banjo Brothers Frame Bag $32.99-34.99

Size on test: Medium
Size and type of bike tested on: 56cm carbon cross bike and 55cm carbon road bike

Blurb from Banjo Brothers

The Banjo Brothers Frame Pack is designed to maximize the gear-carrying efficiency of your bike.  Built from tough-as-nails ballistic nylon with  waterproof zippers and a “no-rattle” zipper-pull garage, you’ll quickly wonder what you did withouth this bag. Two pockets – one full size and one  flat pocket to organize smaller items – includes wallet pouch and key clip. Our Med Frame Pack fits up to a 70oz hydration bladder

Cut-to-length straps fit oversized tubes to 3″ dia. Small fits sloping frames down to 15″ 102 cu in Interior Dimensions: 15.5″ x 5.5″

FEATURES

  • 01064 (medium) is 15.5″L x 5.75″ H x 2″W and 01063 (small) 14.75″ L x 4.25″ H 1.75″W

Initial Thoughts and Usage

Last week I strapped this bag to my bike for my first commute to work. Inside I had the standard flat kit, wallet, phone and then a handful of fruit. The bag felt pretty empty but very stable against the main triangle of my road bike. Today it looked like it would rain so I threw in a pretty compact rain jacket, some more food and a pair of gloves. Again, the bag felt pretty empty (maybe 70% used.)

While riding I don’t notice the bag below me too much. The first 10 minutes of the initial ride I noticed my knees very barely brushing the bag but the velcro wasn’t rubbing me and to be honest my pedal stroke is one that I can brush the top tube with my knees when I get tired. In a cross wind the bike catches a bit more but it doesn’t feel like a sail even under some large gust coming out of the foothills of Boulder this morning.

So far, I’m pretty stoked on this new addition to my commuter rig. Thanks to it’s size I don’t need a backpack and I love that it has two pockets for easy fetching of food or keys. It apparently can hold a 70oz hydration bladder so that will be the next thing to try.  Both of my bottles are accessible but the front can be a tight squeeze with the tight carbon cages I’m running.

20% Discount with Banjo Brothers Through July

That’s right, Banjo Brothers wants to know if folks that read my reviews actually purchase stuff. They are offering a 20% off discount off anything if use BIKESHOPGIRL at time of checkout (case sensitive.) http://bit.ly/12SPsAu

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. 

 

Dialing in a New Bike Commute to Louisville, Colorado

17 Pearl Izumi Bike Commute

The above photo was taken for my sweet Em and her love of cows.

It’s been two and a half weeks of work at the new job and pretty early on it was apparent that I need to do something with this 45 minute car commute each direction. Between the time spent staring at cars and mountains ahead of me, the miles on the car and the gas being wasted a bike commute plan needed to be made ASAP.

Last Tuesday I rode into the office at Pearl Izumi for the first time. Roughly 28 miles each direction (an extra 5 on the way home after getting lost) added up to a solid day of riding but broken down into two bite size segments so my legs weren’t toasted when I woke up the next morning. There is a perfect mix of greenways (paved and gravel), road riding and dirt roads to keep everything interesting. The sights are gorgeous thanks to in the morning riding towards the mountain and then riding through “open space” with animals all around. I’ve already seen cows, foxes, prairie dogs and a ton of cool looking birds. Also, I’ve already wiped out on the greenway due to some construction and really soft sand being thrown across some gravel. Don’t worry, the bikes okay.

Pearl Izumi Bike Commute

I’m scheming up a rather lofty goal for August when it comes to bike commuting, it will mean random commuting rants on here, a lot of great gear reviews and all of you keeping me motivated but look for a full disclosure of this crazy plan come early next week.

Hopefully, your week is going well and you’ve put some time in the saddle! Who else commuted by bike today??

Spotted: Chrome Bags Chekhov Rolltop Utility Belt

1 Chekhov Rolltop Utility Belt

Chekhov Rolltop Utility Belt

Is it a murse, purse, sling or belt? The answer is: yes.
MSRP: $110
Details:
• 12″ wide, 8 1/2″ high, 2.5″ deep
• 2-4L Volume • Waterproof rolltop closure accommodates a range of load sizes
• Dual waterproof compartments separate wet/dry cargo
• Iconic quick release buckle with integrated bottle opener
• External phone pocket for quick access while riding
• Daisy chain mounting loops for attaching carabineer clips or bike lights
• Rear sleeve holds most u-locks

100% Welded-Waterproof Rolltop Utility Belt with iconic seatbelt buckle keeps phone, wallet, keys and windbreaker dry. Made to be worn on the hip or across the chest.

Made in USA. Guaranteed for Life.

Intro: Bern Allston Helmet

8 Bern Allston Helmet

Bern Helmets are a pretty standard helmet line these days that you’ll find urban shops, as well as snowboard shops! This proven helmet brand brought their snowboard molds to the bike market a few years ago and have been selling pretty hot in the shops that stock them well (and in the right commuting/urban market!) The biggest complaint in the original models was the lack of ventilation.  This made sense as they were originally designed for snowboarding, having huge vents to let in snow and cold air wasn’t really ideal.

Meet the Bern Allston

The Allston has 16 vents, weighs in at a claimed 13 ounces and comes in 4 colors. With the classic Bern visor style, lighter weight and a decent amount of ventilation this is going to turn some fixie riding heads!

Key Details

MSRP: $89.99
Colors: Matte Black, Matte Grey, Matte Neon Green, Satin White
Features: 16 vents, 13 ounces, Available in 3 sizes (M, L, XL), Snap in liners to make this an all season helmet

Looking for a Bern helmet? Check out JensonUSA as they have some deals going on!

 

Review: Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

14 Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Bags seem to be an addiction for cyclist. You need something for your commute, your mountain riding, your city dwelling and grocery shopping. Finding a bag that can do a little bit of everything and not weigh 40 pounds at the end of the day is pretty important to me.

A few years ago I reviewed the Banjo Brothers Commuter bag. For everyday life the bag was just a bit too big for me. I loved the white color and functions but it was just too bulky for my back. A few weeks back Banjo Brothers sent a care package of review items, one of the bags inside was their newer Metro Backpack, in white of course. As the box was being unpacked my girlfriend quickly put her claim on the Metro Backpack for her daily commute to the hospital. As she is commuting 10 miles a day, 6 days a week, with an extra set of clothes, iPad, overnight “essentials”, lunch and books, I figured she’s a good candidate for testing out the Metro Backpack.

Metro Backpack Essential Details

  • MSRP: $74.99
  • Available in Black or White
  • 18 oz vinyl tarp material (for easier cleaning) with hanging liner for excellent water resistance
  • Full width wicking back pad
  • 12 interior and exterior pockets
  • Padded laptop pocket fits up to 10″ x 15″ notebooks
  • Cell phone holster included
  • Front and rear reflective tape and webbing tab for safety light
  • 16″H x 11″L x 6.5″W / 1100 cubic inches

Details that Mattered to Emily

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Not too big, not too small. The bag isn’t so big that you can overload and have too much gear on your back. You can stuff it, carry tons of stuff or whatever else you may but it’s right at 1100 cubic inches of space.

It’s white and has a large reflective strips. The added safety of a white bag with a large reflective strip across the back flap, a couple reflective strips on the shoulder straps and light holder is pretty thoughtful for when she is commuting at 5am.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

12 interior and exterior pockets. Each side of the bag has an outside pocket, perfect for a small u-lock, keys or waterbottles. The main flap has a pocket for items you need quickly but want under the protection of a zipper. Inside you have a large compartment with a padded laptop sleeve. Pen pockets, phone pockets and other smaller compartments to keep things organized.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Phone pocket on shoulder strap that fits a Lifeproof iPhone.

Waterproof. The fabric is waterproof, the flap would keep out water in most rain storms and the most water we deal with normally in Denver are sprinklers. I wouldn’t submerge the thing but it will be more than enough for most commuters.

Removable waist belt. She didn’t ever use it, so we simply unclipped it!

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

Compression straps on the sides. Keeps things snug, and when the bags not full you can make it a lot smaller.

Banjo Brothers Metro Backpack

What’s In Your Bag?

This is a blow out of what is normally in Emily’s bag for her daily commute.

What's In your Bag

Overall Feedback and Thoughts

The bag does not have the classic Banjo Brothers removable liner, which I am thankful for. This is a trimmer, and realistic bag for the everyday commuter (or smaller frame person.) It does still create a sweaty back on commutes over 15 minutes, but that’s really the only downfall of this bag.

There are a few things I would change if I had my way… The material they use is waterproof but that also makes it not stretch or flex very well. The interior and side pockets could be made out of a material that had a little give in it to allow things to get in and out easier. The material also has a lot of friction so sliding things like phones/pens/etc in and out the tight pockets can require two hands. (Note from Banjo Brothers: Truck tarp is stiffer than the ballistic nylon – white is truck tarp, and black and red are in standard ballistic nylon, which is a little more forgiving.)

For $75 I would be surprised if you found a bag comparable for everyday use and easy to use features with out too many thrills to over complicate the bag.

20% Discount with Banjo Brothers Through July

That’s right, Banjo Brothers wants to know if folks that read my reviews actually purchase stuff. They are offering a 20% off discount off anything if use BIKESHOPGIRL at time of checkout (case sensitive.) http://bit.ly/12SPsAu

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no charge for review. 

Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack Review : Long Term

3

Banjo Brother Tag

Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack
$79.99
Overall : 4 out of 5 stars.
Pros : Durabilty, storage/pockets, replaceable inner liner.
Cons : Size,  heat/sweat in the summer months.

For the past few months I’ve been using a my Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack for a variety of things.  The gym, going to work with my laptop, and even in the front of the Civia Loring that I was reviewing. You also may want to read theIntroduction to the Review on the Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack.

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