We’ve all done it, a place for everything and everything in its place. Driven by an unrelenting desire to minimise the number of bags adorning our bikes, we pack and repack, allocating the minimum possible amount of space to each and every item of essential equipment. After countless trial runs and endless hours, our hard work eventually pays off and we embark safe in the knowledge that our packing is as efficient as possible … no wasted space and no unnecessary frivolous items.
Hours or maybe even days later, you pull up outside your favoured convenience store with the dangerous combination of rumbling stomach and twenty pound note. Hunger trumps common sense on most occasions and today is no different. Four minutes after you arrive, you stride from the shop clutching numerous bottles and packets and sit on the pavement to gorge. As you inhale a third mini pork pie, you glance up at your bike then quickly down to the remaining pile of food by your leg … and wonder, just where are you going to put that milkshake and four pack of Snickers? It’s a common scenario but one which can be difficult to tackle without resorting to bulging jersey pockets, overflow rucksack or an emergency, food-squashing re-pack. If you’ve ever found yourself afflicted by this condition or similar, then you should be interested to know that Backcountry Research have a range of products that can help alleviate potential problems associated with overly optimistic, minimalist packing … two of which I put to very good use on the recent Torino-Nice Rally.
First up is the Super 8 Top Tube Mount, it’s a cunningly simple yet highly effective method of securing ‘stuff’. I say, ‘stuff’ because so far I haven’t found a limit to what it will hold. One day it was a can of coke and a little later a packet of biscuits. The following morning I slipped a freshly baked baguette in there and in the afternoon it held my ipod … jacket, phone or custard creams can all be held securely and within easy reach ready for deployment or consumption. The Super 8 mount takes around thirty seconds to fit and as it weighs just 30g, once in place it can stay there until needed. A dimpled rubber underside prevents it from slipping on the frame and a hardwearing Hypalon top means, whatever you’re carrying won’t damage it.
|Italian Hobnobs? … how else would you carry them when your bags are full?|
The second item to see service in the Alps was the Hypalon Mutherload. In essence, it’s a strap that allows you to carry items anywhere on your frame or as I did, on the seat-post. There are other straps available that perform a similar task but what makes the Mutherload different is its carrying capacity. Most of the time, it simply held my tube, tool and pump in an easy to access location should I need them but at other times, it carried an additional bottle of coke and one afternoon, a large bag of assorted nuts. As the name might suggest, the wonder material Hypalon features heavily in its construction making it very tough and resistant to abrasion and general wear and tear.
|Tube, pump and tool but it’ll hold much more.|
If you’re concerned that your precious items, especially the smaller ones such as multi-tools or tyre levers won’t be held securely enough once you hit the rough stuff, there’s no need – An additional elasticated cord on the inside grips the smaller items while the main strap holds everything else securely. I’ll admit to being slightly sceptical at first but in 700km nothing moved and I never had to adjust the strap or re-tighten it once. As I’ve already mentioned, the Mutherload is intended to attach to your frame not the saddle rails, so it will happily sit on your top-tube, under the down-tube, within the frame’s triangle or the seat-post … I also can’t see any reason why you couldn’t fasten it to your forks or bars either.
|Super 8 and Mutherload – cunningly simple and perfectly executed.|
I think the simplicity of both products masks the obvious thought and attention to detail that’s gone into designing and producing them. They supply a surprising amount of additional storage space for virtually no additional weight and with no negative impact on your other luggage. Highly recommended, especially for those of us who can’t resist the lure of a Spar or ‘all night’ petrol station.
Super 8 Top Tube Mount and Mutherload are both available in the UK from Keep Pedalling