Are Expensive Mountain Bike Wheels Worth it?

Are Expensive mountain bike wheels worth it?

Are you considering upgrading your mountain bike wheels? If so, you’re not alone. Wheels are one of the most important components on a MTB, and can make a big difference in how your bike rides.

But are expensive wheels worth the investment? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what makes a good MTB wheel, and help you decide if upgrading is the right decision for you.

Do Mountain Bike Wheels Make a Difference?

A lot of people say you should spend a significant chunk of your bike budget on your wheels. But how much value can they really add? And is it enough to justify the price tag?

The answer: It depends.

For some riders, spending more than $1,000 on a set of wheels is an easy decision. For others, shelling out that kind of money for something that doesn’t even include a frame seems crazy.

So before you go blowing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on rims and spokes, let’s take a look at what’s required to make cheap and expensive mountain bike wheels and see how they compare in terms of performance and durability.

Difference Between Cheap & Expensive Mountain Bike Wheels

The main difference between cheap and expensive mountain bike wheels is the materials that they are made from. Cheap mountain bike wheels are typically made from aluminum, while expensive mountain bike wheels are usually made from carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber bike wheels are becoming more and more popular with cyclists because they offer a number of advantages over traditional aluminum bike wheels. Some of the key benefits of carbon fiber bike wheels include:

  • They’re lightweight, which makes them easier to pedal and accelerate.
  • They’re aerodynamic, which means they cut through the air more easily and help you to ride faster.
  • They’re strong and durable, so they can withstand even the most strenuous rides.
  • They’re corrosion resistant, so they won’t rust no matter how bad the weather gets.

So, if you’re looking for a fast and lightweight set of wheels, carbon fiber is definitely the way to go.

Another difference is the weight of the wheel. Cheap mountain bike wheels tend to be heavier than expensive mountain bike wheels. This is because cheaper materials are used to make them, which makes them less durable but also easier and cheaper to produce.

Finally, there is the matter of spokes. More expensive mountain bike wheels typically have more spokes than cheaper ones, as this makes them stronger and more durable.

Are Expensive Mountain Bike Wheels Worth it?

Yes. More expensive mountain bike wheels are usually worth the investment. They often have better construction and materials than cheaper models, which can result in a smoother ride, longer lifespan, and less wear and tear on your bike.

If you’re looking for a set of wheels that will last for years and take your mountain biking to the next level, then it may be worth spending a little extra on top-quality models.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so it’s important to do your research before buying new wheels for your mountain bike. Talk to other riders or read online reviews to get an idea of what’s available in your price range and what will best suit your needs.

While it’s common sense that pricier goods usually equate to better materials and construction, there are some exceptions.

Expensive mountain bike wheels can often be overkill for average riders who aren’t doing tons of downhill or jumping on their bikes. These folks will do just fine with cheap alloy wheelsets or even cheap hybrid wheels. Expensive mountain bike wheels should be considered by serious riders who want extra speed, improved braking power or better overall durability out of their wheels.

So, why would anyone buy an expensive mountain bike wheels?

Expensive wheels are expensive for a reason, mainly the process behind making them. Expensive wheels are stronger, lighter and stiffer than their cheaper counterparts.

So why not just buy the cheapest wheels available?

Expensive wheels will last twice as long as cheap ones because they are lighter, don’t need truing as often and also look nicer. The money you save on buying cheap wheels will cost you when it comes to replacing them more often.

So when should I upgrade my wheels?

If your wheels are in need of replacement, or you have just upgraded to a carbon frame, then it would be wise to invest in quality wheels. They’re not all created equally so choose wisely rider!

What to Consider When Buying Expensive Mountain Bike Wheels

There are a few things to consider when choosing new wheels. Firstly, what’s your riding style like? Are you constantly jumping off of ledges or smashing through rock gardens at high speeds? If so, you might want stiffer and/or stronger wheels. If on the other hand, you are more of an XC rider who likes to pedal every inch of the trail then lighter would be better suited for you.

As with any purchase that entails a large investment, it’s important to do your homework before buying expensive mountain bike wheels.

Talk to other riders and read up on online reviews before you make a decision. Expensive wheels might be more durable, but that’s not always the case; if you want something that will last and provide excellent performance without an exorbitant price tag, do the legwork to find out which brands and models fit your needs.

Your budget

Your budget will determine the maximum amount of money you can spend on your wheelset. You should decide how much money you are willing to spend and stick to it. Set a limit before you start looking around, don’t forget that sometimes it can be better to save more money and get a really good wheelset at the end.


You want to build your dream bike, not carry around an extra 5 lbs. Don’t even try to find the lightest MTB wheelset.

There are plenty of options if you look for them, but your best bet will be carbon fiber, which is great because it can significantly reduce the weight of your entire bike, but comes with a higher price tag.

What matters most is that you have high quality, durable materials that can resist impacts and harsh conditions. Plus the wheels you settle for should be able to take some abuse from heavy riders without wearing out too quickly.

Wheel Durability

There are so many options available on the market that it might feel overwhelming for one set of wheels!

There are brands that are widely known for their durable, strong components, like Shimano or DT Swiss. There are also popular brands that manufacturers often use as a benchmark to compare the quality of their own products: Mavic , Hope Technology or Formula.

You can’t go wrong with any of these reputable companies. If you have some more money saved up, consider looking at carbon fiber options; they are more expensive but will really reduce the overall weight of your bike .


This is an important factor to consider when buying new mountain bike wheels. Make sure that you find compatible tires before purchasing the wheelset.

The width should be clearly indicated on both your current tire and wheel rim, otherwise look online to see what others recommend. Your current tire size might limit your options, but you should be able to find the perfect ones for your bike.

Should I buy a complete wheelset or individual parts?

This will depend on how much money you are willing to spend, what type of riding you intend to do and what kind of pedals you use (flat, clipless).

The most popular option is using Shimano hubs with Mavic rims. You can always replace the rim with another compatible one, so it’s possible to upgrade without buying an entire wheelset .

You might want to purchase certain parts separately if you only need one component at this time, but don’t forget that these components can wear out quickly depending on how often your ride and where. Some MTB riders opt for even cheaper components, like the hubs and spokes. They only recommend using quality rims and good quality tires.

Hub type

There are two ways to build wheels : with and without a freehub. This refers to the part of the hub on which you attach your cassette.

Your cassette contains all your gears for your bike and they can be changed as needed for different terrain.

Freehubs have a ratcheting mechanism that ensures that as soon as you pedal forward, it shifts into gear. Some riders prefer this option because they don’t have to think about shifting gears every time they come to an incline or decline in the trail, instead they can focus on riding more efficiently and safely. The downside is more moving means greater chances of breaking down, especially on rougher trails.

Freehub , cassettes and gears

While most hubs of this type are compatible with Shimano cassettes, only some can pair with SRAM . This is something to consider when choosing a new MTB wheelset. You might want to ask yourself what kind of riding you plan on doing and see which system will be the most practical for your needs.

Wheel size

There are three dimensions that matter when it comes to wheel diameter : 26″, 27.5″ and 29″. They have different advantages depending on terrain or difficulty level you prefer, so take your time deciding if you really need those bigger tires or not. It’s always better to have too big of a tire than too small one, so consider upgrading to a bigger wheel size if you feel the need for it.

How do I maintain my expensive wheels to ensure they don’t break?

Most importantly, always use tubeless tires. Second, have your wheels trued regularly. Thirdly, make sure to avoid rocks and other sharp objects that could cause damage. Lastly, get a good warranty for peace of mind.

Be sure not to get overly confident in using your new wheels either! Although they are strong, chances are eventually you will get a puncture or crack the rim because no matter how much money you spend on your bike it still weighs 50lbs! Always take caution when riding.

15 Fun and Functional Must-Have Mountain Biking Accessories

bike accessories must have

This article is not about upgrading your components, which requires removing one “thing” and replacing it with a “better thing.”

Instead, this article has as its focus on mountain bike accessories that didn’t come with your bike, but which you may find useful to the way you ride.

There are a gobs of people out there ready to sell you their stuff, each claiming to have just the “thing” you need for your bike. And convinced that you “need” it, you’ll soon want it.

My task here is to help you locate the must-have mountain bike accessories. I’ll tell you what I’ve bought so far, how well it works for me, and what I still want. Before doing that, I’ll tell you where I found the items.

Take the recommendations of other riders only if they ride like you do, where you do. For instance, the rider who recommends the self-sealing tube (which is heavy) may never have to carry the bike. You get the idea. Now, let’s go accessory shopping.

Which Must Have Bike Accessories Are Out There?

The best way to keep up with the new stuff is to browse the ads in the latest issue of a mountain biking magazine. You can find them in drugstores, supermarkets, and on newsstands. There’s no need to buy all of them because the advertisers do that for you.

The magazine’s pesky blow-in and tear-out cards will springboard you into the world of mail-order bicycle catalogs. Every-other- month I receive catalogs from the three biggest direct-mail companies.

Although I prefer to support my local retailer whenever possible, I have ordered from these companies. All are reputable, deliver what they promise and stand behind their products. One of them has overnight deliveries on Saturday at no extra charge. More about online ordering later in this chapter.

Another way to see must-have bike accessories are available, is to visit your local bike shop and take inventory (browse). Pull yourself away from the bikes and check out the walls, display cases, pegboards, nooks and crannies.

A final suggestion in the “what’s-out-there?” department is to attend a Fat Tire Festival and look at the bikes and people congregated there. You’ll find both bicycle accessories and the people who bought them. Why they bought an accessory, how much it costs, how they use it, and whether they’d buy the same accessory again are all fair questions. It’s one of the camaraderie things that makes those gatherings fun. Remember, the only dumb question is the un-asked one.

Must-Have Accessories for Bicycle Riders

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent more buying your bike than you had planned and are, therefore, in a cash-flow pinch. Buying accessories now is tough.

If you haven’t coerced your dealer into selling you the bike at cost, you may be able to get a free goodie or two thrown into the sale. Don’t get greedy. You’ll know where you stand bargain-wise.

And so, here starts my list.


Before we get to the add-on’s, here are a couple of things you may want to subtract from your new bike. Think these comments over carefully before acting, and don’t blame me if either of these actions result in inconvenience or injury. In other words, you’re on your own here as a consenting adult.


Kickstands are not allowed on bicycles participating in sanctioned mountain bike races because they’re dangerous to both the bike owner and fellow racers. In a crash, they can be jostled from the stowed position and stab or impale someone. Kickstands are also excess baggage on a lean and lightweight bike. Mine, is history.

Many dealers put kickstands on bikes merely to manage the display. Imagine a showroom full of bikes without kickstands and you’ll understand the reasoning. Dealers display more expensive, kickstand-less bikes either suspended from walls, racks, or the ceiling, on stands, or parked in a rear-wheel bike rack of some kind.

So how do you manage a bike with no kickstand? Here’s how: Find something to lean the rear tire against and the bike will magically stay upright. Otherwise, gently lay it down on the side that doesn’t contain the rear derailleur.

One more thing.

If your bike came with a kickstand, the bottom of the chainstay will be scratched and gouged where the offending critter was affixed. After removing the thing, you steel bikesters should clear-coat the scratches with polyurethane varnish before rust sets in.


What’s wrong with reflectors?

They’re bulky, weighty, made from stamped metal that rusts, never point in the right direction, protrude in awkward ways to snag both skin and clothes in a fall, litter the trail when they come loose and fall off, do nothing to fend off bears and rattlesnakes, and make an otherwise off-road specialty machine look like it took a wrong turn somewhere.

Reflectors also save lives. It’s against the law to sell a bike without reflectors installed front, rear, on the pedals and in the spokes. Anyone who has driven a car at night knows the value of reflectors. By all means, if you ride your bike on the streets at night, and/or don’t have both headlights and tail-lights, leave them on!

You off-road-only folks, and those with a set of battery operated lights that are actually used might want to remove the reflectors yourself. Don’t ask your dealer to do it for you. They’ll probably give you a lecture before saying no.

My bike is reflectorless. I also own proper and removable lighting equipment both front and rear and there are nice reflectors on my helmet, fanny pack and seat-pack. I realize the danger and never venture into the street after dark without lights with which to be seen. There are even inexpensive lights that let you see to some degree as well. I’ll cover those in this chapter.

The reflectorized tape that has recently appeared on the bike scene is a much better idea than the current reflector crop. Some of it is even nearly invisible during daylight.

Now for some of the best and must-have mountain bike accessories:

15 Best Mountain Bike Accessories

1. Water bottle and Cage

best bike accessories to have

People who exercise need fluids. According to the exercise gurus you’re supposed to drink before you get thirsty.

Either way, it’s a good idea to have some liquid within reach at all times. A water bottle and cage fills the bill. As for the cage, nearly all bikes now have at least one set of cage bolts on the down-tube.

Many have a second set on the seat-tube. Rear suspension bikes have them wherever there’s room on the frame. I like the aluminum cage which is available in black, silver, and nearly any other color. They’re light-weight and can be coaxed into a tighter or looser fit with a little bending.

A bottle cage purchased for the seat-tube will probably have to bolt over the front derailleur collar. Make sure the cage mounts allow for that or you will be returning it to the store. Better yet, ride your bike to the bike store. They should let you bring it in and try the fit.

Many bottles are give-away items silk-screened with someone’s logo. Even sports drinks like Gatorade and Power- Ade are now selling their products in bottles that fit into bottle cages. You can get them at most convenience stores.

Nonetheless, a real water bottle will seal well and not leak. It will be easy to squeeze even when cold and will deliver a good volume of liquid. It should have a torpedo- shaped bottom so it goes in and out of your cage easily without having to look at it. The top should unscrew to let ice cubes and washrags in. A clear color will let you see how much remains and a no-slip grip would be nice, too. Specialized makes just such a bottle for about $7 retail.

Remember, full water bottle(s) add weight to your bike. If that bothers you, investigate the bottle-toting fanny packs available.

More serious, long-distance riders who have $50 or so bucks to spend will buy a bladder-style watering device worn like a backpack. It has a tube attached which routes over the rider’s shoulder and a mouthpiece which, when clenched in the teeth will open to deliver liquid. The company making them is Camelback.

2. Bike Computer

good bike accessories

Think of a cycling computer as the speedometer of the ’90’s. It’s not only fun, it gives you lots of useful information. Even inexpensive models ($20) will tell lots more than just how fast you’re going. These little gems also tell you how long you’ve been riding, what your maximum speed was, your average speed for the trip, how long the trip was, how many miles you’ve accumulated on your bike, and what time it is.

For a few dollars more, the computer will display your cadence (RPM of your pedals), your present altitude, your total altitude gain/loss, and your heart rate. Not only that, but by pre-setting the limits of your desired heart- rate training zone, you can see how much pedaling time was spent below, in, or above your target heart rate. Pretty slick.

I’ll be frank. Cateye makes killer computers. I like their smallness, lightness, the way they “click” in and out of the handlebar mount, and the way the magnet affixes to the spokes. Vetta misses those marks.

Add a computer to your mountain bike and try to resist the temptation to stare at it instead of where you are or are going. Computers are fun.

3. Bar Ends

cruiser bicycle accessories

If your bike didn’t come with bar-ends already in place, consider buying a pair. Although principally designed for additional leverage while climbing, the bar-ends give you numerous places to grasp the handlebar when hand and wrist fatigue begin to set in.

Of course, when my hands are on the bar-ends instead of the handlebar grips, I can’t reach the brakes, so I don’t use them in traffic or when the trail gets tricky. Choices include all sorts of colors, shapes, and the lightness (and expense) of exotic metals.

4. Bike Seat

It’s a fact. The most comfortable seat is probably in your living room in front of your TV set and not on your bike. Another fact. You will get used to your bike seat even though it may be the hardest thing you’ve ever sat upon.

After your first ride, you may be tempted to purchase one of the new “gel” seats. Try to resist. In the first place, a mountain bike seat is not for sitting on in the traditional sense. Instead, the seat offers support for your exercising tush while your arms carry some of the weight.

Furthermore, riding the challenging singletrack of most forests requires frequent position changes which your seat should permit not prevent. Think of the seat as a butt-grasp and you’ll better understand and appreciate its spartan design. Seat designers are not as stupid as you might think and the very seat you wish to trash was intentionally contrived.

You should be spending at least some of your time out of the saddle either to cruise over bumps, cruise downhill, or stand and pedal. If you do none of these things, expect a little soreness in the beginning.

5. Headlights

mountain bike add ons

The best MTB headlights come in two flavors: the kind that let you be seen, and those that let you see. In this arena, you clearly get what you pay for.

If you’re just riding around your neighborhood, an inexpensive light will do fine. Actually, the street lights do most of the work, and your light is just to “be seen.” The crop of $20 bike headlights doesn’t do a great job of illuminating hazards like broken glass when you’re pedalling fast.

If you’re hoping to ride fast through the woods at night, you’ll need more than the $20 headlight. You’re going to need one of the more serious lighting systems. These can range in price from about $60 to better than $250.

I opted for a mixture of lighting systems. For trail stuff, I have a helmet-mounted 15 watt Night Rider Sport, which boasts the same tiny but efficient headlamp unit as its more expensive brothers but without the rechargeable batteries. The Sport comes with a battery-holder, into which you put “D” cells (Ray-O-Vac Renewals work fine and recharge as a bonus).

In addition, I carry an inexpensive CATEYE HYPER Halogen on the handlebars. This is a wonderful low-cost light. Cateye incorporates a strobe on this light, reasoning that it extends battery life–and it does. The strobing (like all household incandescent light bulbs) is invisible.

Why both lights?

The helmet-mounted light lets me see where I’m looking, not just where the handlebars are pointed. Unfortunately, a head-lamp doesn’t paint those helpful shadows that tell you how tall obstacles are–that’s what the handlebar light is for. It’s a good combination.

Before leaving headlights, I would like to remind you to evaluate a light’s run-time on full batteries. The information is published in most catalogs and on the light’s packaging. Oh, I also recommend removing the lights when they’re not in use. All worthwhile lights can be removed from their mounting brackets leaving the bracket attached to your bike for the next midnight ride.

6. Taillight

Without a rear reflector, you must have a taillight to ride at or after dusk. You want something small, bright, lightweight, and visible from the sides as well as the rear.

At present, VISTALITE delivers on all those points with their VL200 quick-release (about $15). It mounts firmly on the seatpost with a non-slip strap/buckle arrangement and will either glow steadily or flash depending on how you affix the lens. Its 5 LED’s will last 200 hours on two AAA batteries and its weight (with batteries) is a manageable 53 grams. This light was voted “Best in Category” by Bicycling Magazine. My previous light was a helmet-mounted one, scraped off by an errant tree branch somewhere in the woods, where, I guess, it “winked” to death, never to be seen again by the sucker who bought it–me.

7. Bike Lock

accessories for mountain bike

We all know what locks do but before buying yours, ask yourself these questions: Do I really want to add that weight to my bike? Am I really going to ride it to the store, mall, show, and other un-attended places? Could I carry the lock in a backpack instead of affixed to the bike? Can I take it into the store, office, my friends apartment, etc.?

Good locks are both expensive and heavy. No lock will save your bike from a determined thief. Any lock is a burden to carry, and most will scrape off your paint. If you have a bike with quick-release wheels, be prepared to lock them. If you have a quick-releast seat, include it in the lock scheme too.

If you must use a bike for basic errand-running, consider investing in a “klunker,” and a cheap lock, which may be cheaper than a good lock alone. Bike theives know a good bike when they see it.

8. MTB Bike Pumps

best bike accesories

Gotta have one. Start with a good trail pump. Get a light- weight one in the under $20 range. Blackburn makes a great one (MT-1). Affix it to your bike if you want to show it off to friends and thieves and pick it up whenever you lift your bike. Putting it in a fanny-pack is perhaps a better idea. The small pumps will require about 200 strokes to bring a fat tire from zero to safely rideable. Not a pretty number, but better than walking out of the woods.

As soon as you can, get a decent floor-pump for your house, apartment, garage or shed. Zero to 40 pounds in about 20 strokes.

Why a floor pump?

The only no-leak tire I’ve seen is made of solid rubber. All tires with tubes leak. The air goes through the microscopic holes in the tube over time. I check inflation frequently with at least a tire-pinch before every ride.

Also, sadly, if you’re serious about riding off-road, you should expect flat tires and learn how to fix them on-the- trail. Thorns, briars, sharp rocks, roots, and rough riding all contribute. If someone experienced doesn’t show you the tire-fix tricks, you’ll have to learn them yourself through trial and error. Ask someone to show you the tricks. If they offer to change your tire for you, watch them do it and ask questions. All this neatly leads to the next item: Patch kits.


Forget about traditional, patch, scraper, tube-of-glue patch kits. There’s something newer and better called the “glueless” patch.

The principal reason traditional patch kits have fallen out of favor with me is related to a simple truth: The stupid glue-tube becomes rock-hard and worthless after one patch no matter how tight you screw the lid back on. Putting more than one patch in the kit only fools you into thinking you’re prepared for the next flat. Manufacturers of these kits must think that flat tires are spaced only 15-minutes apart.

Glueless patches not only take up less space in your tooklit, they weigh less, and as an extra benefit, they actually work. I like those made by the Park Tool people. If you hold one of their patches up to the light, you can see the magic sticky-word “3M” embossed on the patch.


Someday, when it’s least convenient, you’ll snakebite a tube on a poorly bunny-hopped rock, or granite curbstone. Properly done, the tube will be history. Patches won’t help.

This is where the spare tube is worth the trouble. I keep mine in the under-seat pouch–which is the only extra my bike carrys as part of its anatomy.

A final argument for the spare tube: Often, leaks are hard to find while seated among the ferns or rocks of critter and insectdom. Better to check the tire for the culprit, remove it, mount up the spare tube, pack up the leaky one and fix it when you get home (or get a second flat and have to).

I learned the value of this lesson the hard way.


Get the best MTB helmet that money can buy. Make sure it doesn’t rattle on your head over bumpy terrain, and, by all means, wear it!

Without a helmet, you risk the worst kind of injury–head injury. Consider this: When you bang your head hard enough, you bruise your brain. When you bruise your brain, it swells up. Your skull can’t expand to make room for your swollen brain, and the result is life-threatening brain damage. A coma. A brain hemorrhage. Death. Head injuries can turn a minor crash into a major problem. You won’t enter a sanctioned event or even a leisure club ride, without one.

Helmets, unfortunately, can also be bothersome and hot–no matter what the manufacturer says. Nonetheless, helmets are good medicine. I bought a white one to fend off some of the heat. What I can’t stand, is a helmet so tight that the chin-strap chokes you if you raise your head. A helmet that rattles around on your head every time you hit a bump is just as bad.

What I have done here, is justify the expense of the new breed of helmet that locks behind your head to prevent rattling. Currently, Specialized and Gyro both make them in the $100 range. The cost may be more painful than the rattling.

My helmet is a $30 cheapie but it affords the protection I need in a fall. My present helmet is too big, even with the largest adjusting sponges installed, so I often wear a baseball cap under it, with the “bill” turned rearward.

Young immortals may campaign to repeal helmet laws. I would rather survive an otherwise manageable crash to mend my broken bones and ride again with my senses intact.


This is an off-road publication. If you regularly ride on the highway, get one and use it. As dumb as it may be, a helmet mirror works and on the road, it could save your life.

In the woods, the mirror will get ripped off by the first branch and cease being a problem.


Mountain bike handlebar grips aren’t real comfy because there’s often a need to hold-on-tight when the going gets tricky. Spongy handlebar grips don’t equate with being in control.

An inexpensive pair of padded cycling gloves will do wonders for your ride. Not only will you feel more powerful wearing them, you will also benefit from the extra padding. In addition, most gloves include a terrycloth thumb which is great for wiping the sweat from your brow or the Gatorade from your chin.

Gloves come padded with many different substances, some more expensive than others. If you’ve never worn bike gloves, my advice is to try an inexpensive but comfortable pair first. If you like what they do for your hands, wrists, and arms, get a better pair when your first ones wear out.

A hidden advantage to gloves is they make you look like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.

14. Cycling Sunglasses

top mountain bike accessories

Here’s another item that can make you look like you know what you’re doing, and like sneakers, they’re a fashion statement. Actually, at a hundred-fifty bucks a pop they’re more a statement of what’s in your bank account.

Clearly, eye protection while mountain biking is a good thing. Not only do the good ones block invisible UV’s, they also block things thrown up by mountain bike tires, both your own, and the rider(s) in front of you.

But alas, what good is eye-protection if it makes you look like a geek. For this reason, a handful of manufacturers have succeeded in creating a Madison Avenue “aura” around their sports spectacles. In other words, if yours sport an unrecognizable name on the temples, you too become unrecognizable to all but your real friends. Enough said.


Now you might think that skin-tight Lycra cycling apparel is great. Functionality aside, you may even think it’s alluring, sexy, fashionable, or just plain attractive. Many find it disgustingly revealing. Whatever the personal appeal or dislike for the appropriateness of Lycra in a given cycling environment, one fact remains: it’s functional. In other words, there are reasons for both its design and popularity.

First, Lycra cycling shorts fit snugly enough not to rub against your skin while you peddle. For the men, that means that lycra won’t rub the hair off your legs. Lycra also won’t chafe your thighs or crotch.

Perhaps most important, Lycra cycling shorts contain padding in the crotch and buttocks areas where it’s most welcomed. Not only that, the crotch padding material is space-age designed to absorb moisture and “wick” it away. As a final design consideration, many better padded Lycra cycling shorts are treated against the growth of nasty bacteria.

So, let’s summarize: Lycra cycling shorts won’t get snagged on branches or your saddle’s nose when you dismount or get dismounted. They offer some extra padding for your tush and genitalia. They contain anti-bacterial treatment, offer evaporative advantages for sweat, are lightweight, and make you look like a serious cyclist.

The problem is that you may not want to look like a ballet dancer as you peddle through the more macho parts of town. Insofar as the advantages well outweigh the disadvantages, you might consider wearing cycling Lycra beneath some more fashionably acceptable shorts. If it’s attention you want, by all means wear Lycra in any of the neon colors easily available. By all means too, if yours is a youthful hardbody, Lycra will call attention to your anatomy almost faster than riding in the buff. Underwear is not worn under the stuff, and if its not skin-tight, it’s not Lycra.

If you’re practical, you’ll have some Lycra. Whether or not you let people see it is a more personal choice.

Where Do You Get Your MTB Bike Accessories

The Local Bike Accessory Shops

road bike accessories

On the National scale, these people are your friends and neighbors. They buy things wholesale, sell at retail, and hope to be able to pay the rent, keep the lights on, buy insurance, and pay employees. They also want and appreciate your business.

I enjoy a wonderful relationship with my local Bike Shop. Sure, I go there to buy cycling accessories, but sometimes I go there because it’s too rainy to ride, or I have a question, or I want to see what has recently been added to the shelves.

If you would like to get to know the people at your local bike accessories shop, go when they’re not busy. Learn things by listening to them answer other people’s questions. You may even be able to help by letting your enthusiasm for the sport convince a wavering customer that it really is fun. If you’ve been well treated, let other customers know that too.

If you play your cards right, you may be able to assist during a busy time, help keep bikes from being stolen during a rush, learn from their mechanics–and be rewarded with a discount the next time you buy something.

Online Bike Stores

Whether you order online or not, a collection of current online bike stores is good. The online stores help you learn which MTB accessories are a good value, and what other options exist. By reading the spec’s on things, you better understand what makes one thing good, another better.

Here is my list of pro’s for online bike stores:


Online bike stores offer a wide selection of products. But to be fair, you need several catalogs because not all houses carry the same brands. A local store would go broke trying to mount such steep inventory options.

New Stuff

Online ordering is just one step behind the latest magazine ad. If you see it in print, chances are it’s in stock and ready to ship. Exceptions: popular items are sometimes sold-out or back-ordered and a magazine’s review of a prototype may beat the production run and therefore delivery to the seller. New catalogs are released several times a year but you can order from old ones (sometimes at the old price).

Sales Tax Break

If you live in a State other than that of the online bike store place, you probably won’t pay tax. I say “probably” because if there’s also an online bike retail store in your state, you will pay tax. On $50 and over items, the savings can be worthwhile providing it’s not gobbled up in shipping.

Ease of Ordering

I like the ability to order virtually 24-hours a day into a free 800-number. You might be surprised to discover that many of those phone-operators are pretty sharp when it comes to answering technical questions too. For those who don’t have credit cards or don’t want to use them for whatever reason, Performance mail- order now takes checks-by-phone even for next-day delivery–a brilliant move.

Next Day Deliveries

What an impulsive bunch we have become. Not only do we want something, we want it now and are willing to pay for the service.

Frankly, I think this is where the online bike accessory companies makes some extra money. Shipping is computed on the cost rather than the weight of an item. That’s not how it works when I send packages.

Be cautioned that most online bike stores have time-of-day cut-offs for next-day delivery (usually 3 to 4 P.M. the day of order). Pleading and begging sometimes works if it’s not busy in the shipping department.

It’s Fun

When I was a kid, I just couldn’t wait for the mailman to bring the toy ordered from Kelloggs. Some of that joyful anticipation returns as I wait for my Amazon Prime express package.

Here’s what I don’t like about mail-order:


At a glance, an online bike store is the cheapest thing going. A local dealer couldn’t possibly match the price and survive without the volume. But watch out: the price listed can be just the tip of the iceberg. It’s easy to collect a list of items, total them up, and get sticker shocked by the shipping and handling.


Although return policies vary from company to company, most are no-questions-asked refunds or credits–your call. Still, wouldn’t it be easier to just drive across town with the dud item and return or exchange it?

Luckily, in my limited experience, I haven’t had to return anything yet but I did have an overnight delivery fouled up by Performance. They cut me a check for the expedite charge and sent it within a week. Nonetheless, I didn’t have the part for a planned weekend ride. Not a happy situation.


A year of buying online bike accessories gets you nothing more. No ticket, no laundry, if you catch my drift. A local merchant, like the old bank teller, will get to know and trust you. These, are the ’90’s. Bike shops are good things and if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them. Find a balance in your purchasing.

Warning About Online Bike Stores

Don’t order anything from an online bike store that doesn’t publish its phone number, no matter how sweet the deal. If you do, there’s a chance you will be mailing “HEY! WHERE’S MY THING?” inquiries to the same mailbox that sucked up your check. But you knew that.

A final but important note: Try to resist the temptation to buy the first “something” you see in the store. Research the possible existence of similar other “something’s” before getting out your wallet. Online bike stores will discount an item to purge their inventory just before offering the new, improved, cheaper version. It’s like “Insider Trading” and a cheap-shot but I see it often.

Best Saddle for Your Mountain Bike- A Buyer’s Guide

I noticed her from across the shop.  She was mid-thirties and fairly slender.  I’d seen her in the shop before, purchasing spare tubes or a new set of tires.  But today, she was standing quietly in front of the display rack of road and tri saddles.  She’d pick up one saddle, look at it for a bit, only to set it down and pick up another.  After a few minutes, I asked her if she needed help.

Her body language told the story.  Crossed arms.  Downturned eyes.  “I need a new saddle. Mine’s uncomfortable,” she said.

Working in a bike shop, I’d seen the same scenario played out time and time again.  I get it.  It’s personal.  A few guys will simply open up and tell you their genitals are numb, or they have chaffing and get the occasional saddle sore, but most people don’t.  It’s the cyclist’s taboo.  But unless you’re willing to spend literally hundreds of dollars and months of time playing the saddle lottery, you need to have a frank discussion about you and your saddle.

The Terry FLX Road Saddle
The Terry FLX Road Saddle with carbon rails

Before we get into specifics, I need to remind folks that they should be wearing padded cycling shorts without underwear.  And while I admit that at first, riding without underwear seems odd, they tend to stay wet and act as a breeding ground for bacteria.  Additionally, underwear are often not tight enough and can move around and bunch, and the seams can lead to chaffing.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way we can start talking about fit.

Weight distribution, saddle height and handlebar height

For starters, no matter what saddle you have, even if it’s the perfect fit for you, will not be comfortable if your weight distribution is wrong.  When riding, your body weight is supported by three places: the saddle, the pedals, and handlebars.  As such, changes to the saddle height or handlebar height affect where the weight is placed.

As you become a stronger cyclist, you will place more weight on the pedals and therefore less on your hands and saddle.  You’ll also find that your saddle height can be raised.  This forces your legs straighter and as such, the saddle needs to be moved aft as not to chaffe… you’ll ride more on the front part of the saddle.  Tilting the saddle down tends to decrease the pressure on the soft tissue of your crotch (and associated blood vessels and nerves), but applies more pressure to your hands.  So, finding the correct saddle angle is a balance.

A good starting saddle height is 80% of your inseam measured in cycling shoes.  Be sure to measure your inseam by pressing firmly against your crotch, as it would be if sitting on the saddle.  Take the measured value, multiply by 0.80 and this is the saddle height.  Adjust the saddle so that the middle (front to back) part of the top of the saddle is this distance from the center of the bottom bracket (where the cranks attach to the bike).   Hint:  Once you have this height set, mark a line with a Sharpie marker on the seatpost.  This will allow you to make precise adjustments to the height in the future should the need arise.  If you change saddles, the saddle height may need to be adjusted as saddles vary in height considerably… and differences of 3-5 mm (less than ¼-inch) are noticeable.

The SMP Stratos saddle
Selle SMP Stratos saddle with a highly curved top

Once the saddle height is set, have a friend ride behind you and watch your hips.  If the saddle is too high, you will have to drop your hip to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke.  This causes a butt-wiggle motion when viewed from behind and will cause serious chaffing on the inner portion of the thigh.

The angle of the saddle should be flat or just slightly nosed down for road cycling, and a bit more downward if using a triathlon bike.  Hint: Using a marker, place a small dot across the two parts of the seat clamp where the angle is set (typically two sets of teeth on a curved surface).  This will allow you to readily see how much you adjust the seat angle.

Saddle width

For a given height, women typically have slightly wider hips (and therefore sitbones) than men, and therefore require a slightly wider saddle.  Tall people will require a wider saddle than shorter people.  Saddles typically range from about 130mm in width up to about 165mm in width.   Being 6’5” tall, I  ride a 160mm wide saddle (normally designed for women) in order to be comfortable.  Most racing saddles are minimalistic and are 130-135mm in width.

If the saddle is too narrow, it will sit between your sitbones and press against soft tissue, causing discomfort.  Likewise a saddle that is too wide will chaffe on the inner thigh near the crotch.

Saddle cutout

There are a lot of nerve endings and blood vessels in the crotch that get pressed against the saddle.  As a result, nearly all modern saddles have a depression or a full cut-out to minimize pressure on sensitive areas.  I highly recommend a saddle with a cut-out.  Men tend to have all the sensitive tissue right along the centerline so a narrow cut-out is fine.  However, women tend to have a wider area of soft tissue and often require a wider cutout.

Keep in mind that numbness due to reduced bloodflow goes away in a few minutes.  As such, riding out of the saddle for a short period of time can prevent of reverse this issue.  However, if you irritate the nerves present, they get inflamed and can cause numbness and irritation for perhaps a week (or longer).

Road vs. Tri Saddles

Road saddles tend to be shorter and have a narrower neck than triathlon saddles.  In the tri position, you tend to have a rotated pelvis and a more forward position, so the longer neck helps reduce chaffing.  The extra nose width on tri saddles offers a larger area and helps reduce pressure.

I find SMP Saddles (shown above), with highly curved shapes to be extremely well suited for use in the triathlon position, when the pelvis is rotated forward.  However, these saddles tend to cause more discomfort in the road position.

Lastly, saddles like the ISM Adamo saddle, which has a large open cut-out and no nose are often very comfortable for triathletes and women cyclists.  However, the nose width of the saddle is significantly wider than traditional saddles and takes time to become accustomed.

The ISM Adamo Saddle
The ISM Admo saddle has a huge cut-out, no nose, and a wide neck, but isn’t for everyone.

Best Action Camera for Mountain Bike Cycling

Best Action Camera for Mountain Bike Cycling

“This article will take a closer look at the features that any respectable mountain biking action camera should include, teach readers how to choose the best action camera for mountain bikes.”

Mountain biking has become one of the most popular forms of cycling in the world, and for many good reasons. Not only does it promote physical fitness and health, but it allows individuals to experience the world in a way not possible by any other means.

Mountain biking exposes riders to natural vistas of unparalleled beauty, and at the same time gives riders the opportunity to enjoy the adrenalin rush of speeding down challenging trails at high speeds. It is natural that those who enjoy the unmistakable thrill rush of mountain biking will want to preserve those moments on video for future enjoyment.

In order to meet this goal, it is necessary for riders to invest in the best video recording equipment possible.

This article will take a closer look at the features that any respectable mountain biking action camera should include, teach readers how to choose the best action camera for mountain bikes, and answer some questions that are relevant to the subject. These questions include: what are some features that mountain bikers should look for in their action cameras? What are some creative ways to mount the camera? And, what are some of the better brands of action cameras available on the market today? Let’s answer these questions.



This may be one of the most important considerations because this is arguably the factor that will effect the quality of the finished video more than anything else. The first thing to look for will be the definition the camera is capable of filming in, and there are 2 basic kinds of definition to look for: HD (High Definition) and SD (Standard Definition).

SD cameras will usually be less expensive that HD ones, but users should be aware of the fact that SD cameras will produce videos of much lower quality. HD video cameras will come in 2 basic resolutions, and these are 720p and 1080p, respectively. For those that will be uploading their videos to the internet, 720p offers an competent level of performance at a reasonable price.

Another facet of image quality is frame rate. All things being equal, a higher frame rated will usually produce a higher quality video in most situations. Prospective photographers will want to select a camera that shoots at least 30 fps, but selecting a camera capable of filming at 60 fps will provide even higher quality videos, especially in fast action situations.

Finally, users should select a camera that can handle various levels of lighting; some days will be sunny and others cloudy or rainy, and it will be of vital importance to use a camera that can bring the best out of an image no matter what the ambient lighting conditions may be.


It will be of little use to the rider if the battery of the camera runs out every half hour. Therefore, users should select cameras that feature at least several hours of reserve battery power, and should avoid cameras with built-in batteries. Not only will this make filming easier, but the rider will have to pack fewer spare batteries, thus saving space and weight.

Memory is also a common concern among video makers. Users should always make certain to purchase a camera that has space for an upgradeable memory card; this will enable the individual to easily upgrade to a higher level of memory whenever necessary.

  • SIZE

The prospective buyer should always purchase a camera that is small or large enough to be easily mounted wherever they please. In the case of helmet mounted cams, smaller is usually the better choice.


A decent mountain biking camera will come with easily accessible controls that will usually fit into the palm of the riders hand.


Mountain bikers will in most cases find it very useful to purchase video cameras that feature lenses with wider angles. This will help riders avoid the annoying tunnel vision effect found on lenses with too narrow an angle. But individuals will not want the angle to be too wide, or they risk creating a fish bowl effect.

(^ Normal VS wide angles len)


Finally, bikers will want to purchase a camera with decent audio quality in case they want their viewers to experience the exhilarating sounds that come part and parcel with a great ride.


In a perfect world, every mountain biking trip would feature sunny days and blue skies. In the real world, riders will have to deal with heavy rain at times. As a matter of fact, some riders may ever prefer to ride in less than perfect weather for one reason or another. The bottom line is, this means a lot of water – and perhaps mud – will possibly be showered on the camera.


Because of this, riders will want to make sure that whichever camera that they settle on comes with a water/weatherproof housing. This will help to ensure that their investment is always protected from any water related damages.

There will be times when riders may want to give their videos a little extra style, and a mountain bike video camera that offers slow motion video capture is a great way to give videos a little extra character. Cameras that feature this kind of technology also generally offer simple photo capture as well. Thus, riders will want to obtain a camera that comes with these invaluable features.


There are a few basic ways for riders to mount their cameras for variety and effect. On common and popular method is to mount the camera from the helmet of the rider. This provides the video with realistic and interesting perspectives, and really brings viewers into the riding experience. The camera may be mounted facing forward, backwards, or even sideways.


Another great place to mount the camera is under the seat of the bike facing backwards, providing very interesting and varied pictures. A final common method is to strap the camera to the chest of the rider from a special harness. This gives watchers the feeling of being in the video without having parts of the helmet appearing in the frame.

There are several companies out there that make great cameras and are worthy of mention. These include:

  • GoPro
  • DBPower


Mountain biking and video are a natural match that go great with one another. Riders who keep in mind the features mentioned in this article and look into some of the brand names that were mentioned will be sure to have the riding- and the filming – experiences of their lives.

GoPro HERO 7 Black

$399.00  in stock
2 new from $399.00
5 used from $379.00
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • HyperSmooth: Get gimbal‑like stabilization—without the gimbal. HERO7 Black corrects for camera shake to deliver insanely smooth footage
  • TimeWarp: Capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene. Increase the speed up to 30x to turn longer activities into shareable moments
  • Live streaming in 720p: Share while you’re there. Live stream in 720p on social, get HyperSmooth stabilization as you broadcast via the GoPro app and save footage to your SD card to check out later
  • Rugged plus Waterproof: Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone. HERO7 Black is rugged, waterproof without a housing to 33 feet (10m) and up for any adventure
  • SuperPhoto: Get brilliant photos automatically. With SuperPhoto, HERO7 Black intelligently applies HDR, local tone mapping or noise reduction to optimize your shots

TomTom Bandit 4k Action Video Camera

$219.95  in stock
2 new from $219.95
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • 4k HD video camera provides the highest resolution action footage
  • Long battery life allows for 3h of nonstop filming with cable free batt stick
  • Sport Action camera contains built in sensors to monitor speed, g force, altitude, and rotation and appears on playback videos to prove your performance
  • Use the bandit app (iOS & android) for instant playback and to easily drag, drop and share all Action footage
  • Premium pack includes: remote control, handle bar mount, dive lens cover, 360 pitch mount, power cable and go pro mount adapter

YI 4K Action and Sports Camera

$250.00  in stock

3 used from $250.00
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • Superb Image Quality – Records 4K/30fps (100mbps), 2. 7k/60fps, 1080p/120fps, 720p/240fps video, and 12MP raw image with build-in Sony IMX377 image sensor and Amarelle dual-core A9SE75; Equipped with advanced video stabilization (EIS) can capture super smooth footage at 2. 7k/60fps.
  • Long battery life – high capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery records up to 120mins of 4K/30Fps video with a single charge. High performing cooling system prevents YI 4K Action Camera of overheating and enables stable video recording.
  • Intuitive touchscreen UI - built-in 2. 2” high responsive LCD Touchscreen with 640 x 360 high resolution for easy setting, previewing and shooting. Newly released voice command makes shooting even easier than before. Touchscreen is made with Gorilla glass Retina to Resist scratches and daily impact.
  • Instant sharing -- built-in Bluetooth and high speed 5GHz/2. 4GHz Wi-Fi support for wireless remote control and the YI action app for instant photo and video editing, sharing and live streaming to social media.
  • Advanced features – always Update to the latest firmware (1. 8. 25) to enjoy the extra features. Flexible settings of is/WB/shutter/EV/meter for 12MP raw File help you produce high quality images even in low-light condition; multi record/capture modes, including burst, slow-motion, time-lapse, etc., get more creative and fun. Voice control is available with the latest firmware.

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 Action Camera

$599.99  in stock

1 used from $599.99
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • ULTRA HD VIDEO - Crystal clear 4K/30fps footage, 1080p/120fps, or slow motion capability at 720p/240fps
  • G-METRIX - Built-in GPS and external sensors with connectivity to Garmin devices to capture performance data like speed, elevation, heart rate and G-force
  • LCD COLOR TOUCHSCREEN - 1.75-inch display is easy to operate; fully functional in and out of waterproof case
  • VOICE CONTROL - Shoot hands-free by using voice commands to start/stop recording, take a photo or tag footage
  • 3-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZ3-AXIS IMAGE STABILIZATION - Captures steady footage up to 1080p/60fps

SJCAM SJ8 Pro 4k Action Camera

 out of stock
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as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • 【FRONT DISPLAY & REAR TOUCH SCREEN】With a new, larger 2.33" IPS rear touch screen with touch 4x zoom on SJCAM SJ8 dual screen action camera and a dazzling new 1.3" LCD front display which satisfy your selfies need, make it convenient to use than ever.

Olfi One.Five Waterproof 4K Black Edition

 out of stock
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as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • Ultra HD 4K and Full 1080p HD amongst 15 filming resolution options
  • Waterproof and Light - Camera only 60g (mountable), or 125g inside 30M Waterproof case (mountable)
  • FREE 32GB Ultra Fast Memory Card and FREE 12 months Accidental Damage Cover
  • FREE iOS/Android Olfi App to remotely control Camera using a Phone/Tablet – Also compatible with Olfi RF Remote Control (sold separately) and Olfi External Battery Charger
  • Rear view Screen for playback and easy navigation, as well as a wide range of Settings and Modes available to bespoke the camera to your individual needs

Sony FDR-X3000V digital HD video camera recorder

$556.97  in stock

1 used from $556.97
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


Aspect Ratio16:9
Catalog Number ListCatalog Number List Element: FDR-X3000 WC
EAN ListEAN List Element: 4548736022003
Item DimensionsHeight: 185; Length: 327; Weight: 20; Width: 116
ModelFDR-X3000 WC
Package DimensionsHeight: 480; Length: 555; Weight: 84; Width: 528
Package Quantity1
Part NumberFDR-X3000 WC
Product GroupHome Theater
Product Type NameCAMCORDER
TitleSONY digital HD video camera recorder action cam FDR-X3000 (White)(Japan domestic model)

Sony RX0 II 1" (1.0-type) Sensor Ultra-Compact Camera

$698.00  in stock
5 new from $698.00
13 used from $452.16
Free shipping
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • 1” (1.0-Type) stacked back-illuminated Exmore RS CMOS sensor
  • 24mm F4 Zeiss tessar T lens delivers high-resolution images. Battery life (STILL IMAGES)(CIPA) - Approx. 240shots / Approx. 120 min. Battery life (MOVIES ACTUAL SHOOTING)(CIPA) - pprox. 35minch. Battery life (MOVIES CONTINUOUS SHOOTING)(CIPA) - Approx. 60min
  • Internal 4K movie with Pro features and image stabilization; Focus Range (From the Front of the Lens): Approx. 50 cm
  • Matchbox sized durable Duralumin, water/shock/crush proof body
  • 15.3MP raw up to 16Fps continuous and interval REC. For time-lapse

Campark X30 Native 4K 60fps Action Camera

 out of stock
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as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • NATIVE 4K UHD VIDEO: Recording at professional 4K(3200x1800)/60fps, 4K(3840x2160)/30fps, 2.7K/30fps, 1080P/120fps, 720P/240fps, Campark X30 action camera captures high-quality ultra HD footages.
  • ANTI-SHAKING FUNCTION: Built-in Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) with 6-axis gyroscope detects position and motion changes, delivering steady and smooth videos even when shooting fast-moving and shaking objects.
  • WATERPROOF CAMERA UP TO 131FT: With the waterproof case, this underwater camera can dive up to 131ft (40M). The function of lens distortion correction can remove fisheye effect.
  • BUILT-IN WIFI AND TOUCH SCREEN: Download the app (DV King 4K) on your phone or tablet to control your sports camera and share your wonderful moments instantly. 2.0 inch Intuitive touch screen makes it easy to change settings and play back footage.
  • OPTIONAL VIEW ANGLE AND DUAL BATTERIES: View angle is adjustable among Wide/Middle/Narrow. This action camera comes with 2 rechargeable 1350 mAh batteries, a charger and lots of accessories kits.

APEMAN A79 4K Action Camera

$54.97  in stock
2 new from $54.97
Free shipping
Buy Now
as of November 29, 2022 8:20 pm


  • 4K 20MP Action Camera: APEMAN A79 Action Camera delivers ultra HD videos with 4K 30FPS resolution. Capture 20MP photo with EIS/ISO and advanced sensor. Enables you to store up every snow-covered landscape in skiing.
  • External Microphone and Useful Accessories: The sports camera supports an external microphone (included in accessories) for better sound recordings. Multiple mounting kits allow you to shoot when biking, motorcycling, swimming, diving, snorkeling.
  • Remote Control and Instant Sharing: 2.4G remote control within 10M range. WiFi connects via APP, controls the action camera, or downloads files on the phone. USB and HD out port for transmitting and playing files on PC or TV.
  • 40M Waterproof Underwater Camera: An improved waterproof case guarantees the cam underwater 40M, protects the cam for daily use.
  • Multi-Recording Modes: Time-lapse Videos, Still Pictures, Slow Motion, Burst, Selfie Timer, Loop Recordings, and Auto Mode.

Best In-Car Bike Carrier Buyer’s Guide

Sooner or later all cyclists have to resolve how to get their bikes somewhere with the aid of a car. It used to be that your choices were limited to roof racks or trunk-mounted carriers. Recently, however, a number of companies have come out with carriers that can be used in the back of station wagons, vans and sport-utility vehicles. These in-car carriers offer an interesting alternative and, for some, a few advantages as well.

The first big advantage that an in-car carrier offers is anti-theft security, without the semipermanence of a roof rack. If you own a vehicle on which you do not wish to mount a large roof rack, the in-car option gives security that a trunk-mounted rack can’t match and an impermanence that beats the trunk variety, too. For those of us prone to driving into things with bikes on the roof, the inside-carry alternative means no more bent seatposts, mashed forks or dented roofs. Since using an in-car carrier, I’ve noticed a few other benefits as well: Since the bikes are in the car, the aerodynamically cleaner profile means the car’s gas mileage has gone up, my car doesn’t sway in the wind as much and (my favorite) the bikes are infinitely cleaner whenever I arrive at the ride, race or home. And not everyone in the world is able to lift a bike (no matter how light it is) onto the too-tall roof of a sport-utility vehicle, which makes the in-car solution all the more attractive.

For this in-car buyer’s guide, we sourced six different carriers–four that come with their own stabilizers and two that come as mounts you can install on a stabilizer, wooden board or vehicle bed.

Buyer’s Tips

Before deciding whether an in-car carrier is for you, there are a few details you’ll need to know. Before you even look at a system, measure your vehicle. Take a measurement of the back of your vehicle between the wheel wells.

Some sport-utility vehicles have enough space between the door and the wheel wells that you can fit one of the wide stabilizers in, but you usually need about a foot from the door or hatch to the stabilizer in order to leave space between your bike’s brake levers and the door.

While sport-utility vehicle owners will find they have few worries space-wise, station wagons are limited not only by width but by height. If you ride a particularly large frame, you may have some trouble backing it into your car. I’ve tested some 60-centimeter bikes and found I needed to put the mounting system toward the front of the car’s backseat to avoid ramming the bike’s seat collar unceremoniously into the roof.

Also, if you are going to be using an in-car bike rack, we recommend that you get the best car air purifier that money can buy.

Bike Tight

Bike Tight uses a stabilizer for its mounts called the Gliderboard. The Gliderboard comes in two sizes–35 or 47 inches in width. The 35-inch-wide model retails for $60, or it comes with two of the Bike Tight mounts for $129. The 47-inch-wide Gliderboard costs a little more at $70. The Bike Tight mounts use a 9-millimeter skewer and are now available in a locking version. This locking skewer can be used to retrofit any existing 9-millimeter skewer bike mount on the market. Because the Gliderboard features a single track, it does not offer as much variety for mount placement as some systems, but Bike Tight does make an angle mount for the fork mount so that your bikes’ handlebars can be staggered in such a way that up to six bikes can be carried on the 47-inch Gliderboard. Wondering what to do with the front wheel? Bike Tight makes a front wheel mount that will cost you an additional $20. I’ve had plenty of time to drive around with the Bike Tight in the back of my car and it is one of the reasons I’ve decided that in-car carriers are my carrier of choice. Unless someone smashes one of my car’s windows (or hijacks the car itself), bikes can’t be stolen from my car. It’s possible to pass a cable lock under the Bike Tight so if you can mount the stabilizer to something permanently (there are two screw holes to mount it with), you can ensure your bike’s security.


The BIKEtransPORTER system ($159.95) uses a three metal-rail system to mount quick-releases in a removable format. Two straps with quick-release buckles anchor the rails in place so the BIKEtransPORTER won’t slide around in your car. Unfortunately, I couldn’t mount the straps because the screws would deny me access to my car’s spare tire. The 40-inch-wide rails can hold up to six bikes in a large vehicle and, thanks to the swiveling quick-release bracket (which requires no additional hardware), I was able to easily load three bikes into my car and they came out with nary a scratch to the paint jobs. BIKEtransPORTER also makes the BIKEtransPORTER Lite ($129.95) which uses a two-rail, two quick-release system. BIKEtransPORTER comes with a vehicle-fit chart that gives a breakdown on the number of bikes a vehicle can hold and the number of cargo hooks you’ll need to hold the frame in place. The BIKEtransPORTER can also be mounted on a wall with a $5.95 pair of brackets as a garage storage unit. Hook-and-loop tie-down straps are available ($5.95 for three) to keep your bike’s front wheel from flopping around in the back. Additional quick-release brackets retail for $22.95. Because the fork mounts are mounted on three different rails and can be swiveled with the aid of a 4-millimeter Allen wrench, I found the BIKEtransPORTER to be the system that fit three bikes into my car most easily. But because I couldn’t anchor the transporter itself to my car, it did slide around a bit. For those willing to do some sewing, there is a hook-and-loop closure kit included for use with car carpets.

Metal Concepts Traps

Metal Concepts’ Traps system uses a board similar to Bike Tight’s Gliderboard, but in a three-track format to allow staggering of handlebars. The Track board comes in two widths: 35 ($40) and 47 ($65) inches, but does not include any fork mounts. Traps mounts carry a suggested retail of $24.95 and can be mounted either straight on the Track board or can be staggered with one bolt mounted in each track for a 45-degree shift of the fork. I’ve tended not to stagger the mounts on any of the systems I use because that would require me to push the bicycle even farther back into the car in order to prevent one of the brake levers from hitting the back window. The Traps mount itself is well made, but it does not have a hole in the mount large enough to pass a cable lock through. A front wheel holder is available for $19.95. The 47-inch-wide Track board can fit up to six bikes, while the 35-inch board held three fairly easily. For less than $100, you can have a two-bike carrier with a measure of security not usually seen in this price range.

Renniks Bike Tote

The Bike Tote is a heavy-duty bike carrier designed for use in vehicles with hard sides. The Bike Tote expands in width and can then be locked in place. Once that adjustment has been made, a clamp arm extends to brace the Bike Tote against the sides of the vehicle in question. The Renniks system is remarkably adjustable; it can range in width from 39 to 100 inches and comes with anywhere from two to six fork-mount carriers. The basic two-rail, two-mount carrier retails for $250, while the larger three-rail, six-mount carrier will cost you $395. A rail can be added to the two-rail version to convert it to the three-rail variety for $50, and extra fork mounts cost $36.96. The Bike Tote can carry up to nine bikes safely. While this is the priciest system tested, it is also the most solidly built. The super heavy-duty fork mounts cannot be locked with a cable, but they can be swiveled to permit bikes to be carried close together.

Rocky Mounts Bed Mount

Using a sturdy 9-millimeter skewer, the Bed Mount is a heavy-duty fork-mount unit that can be used to add on to any fork-mount board-style carrier. The mount is made from cast aluminum in a design that permits passing a cable lock beneath the mount for security. The $24.95 add-on unit comes with hardware that allows you to bolt this mount to most panels you can get a drill through.

Wheels Manufacturing Forker

The Forker mount by Wheels Manufacturing is one of the best-made fork-mount units I tested for this buyer’s guide. For $25 you get an industrial-strength fork mount with space to pass a cable lock through and a beefy 9-millimeter skewer. The hardware that comes with the Forker is simple and the bolts are long enough to pass through most things you’d consider drilling a hole in; it can also be used as an add-on to the Traps and Bike Tight as well as any drillable panel.

Best Carbon Bike Fork Buyers’ Guide & Reviews

Perhaps no one road bike component has seen such a flurry of interest from both the bicycle industry and enthusiasts as the carbon-fiber fork. Since Kestrel trotted out the first carbon two-prong in 1989, the field of competitors has done nothing but grow to its current state, with 14 manufacturers producing more than 20 different models.

Similarly, almost no component is more misunderstood than the carbon fork. Since the science of how to make carbon do its thing is known to a select few designers and industry techs, the secret of what makes a good fork is cloaked in mystery.

Riders will comment on the particular handling characteristics of a particular set of prongs, but most of us seem unable to define what it is about a fork that makes it ride well. With that in mind, we tackled the current crop of forks to discern what makes a good fork and came up with some surprising answers.

General Conclusions

Since our test run of forks had price tags ranging from $139 all the way to $600 and featured models with chrome-moly, titanium, and even carbon-fiber steerer tubes, it was a diverse crowd. But some generalities can be made. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Most of the forks in our test possessed excellent ride quality. If you are simply looking for a more comfortable ride, it’s hard to go wrong. The exceptions typically featured excellent handling but exhibited a tendency to transmit road shock–both high-frequency buzzing and larger jolts–straight to the hands in a most uncarbonlike way.
  • Steerer tube material seems largely irrelevant in handling and comfort. We couldn’t identify different steerer materials from the cockpit. It’s simply a weight and zoot factor, and the latter isn’t much of a concern seeing as how the fork’s steerer is tucked into the head tube away from admiring eyes.
  • The differences in the forks came down to handling characteristics, primarily in corners and on descents. As such, the defining factor in handling seems to be lateral stiffness, or the side-to-side deflection of the fork legs.

These are some pretty significant generalities, especially if you’ve just bought a $600 carbon jobber and live in pancake-flat Kansas.

Our staff entered this test in a somewhat unique way: clueless. We’ve all ridden a number of carbon forks within the context of bike tests, but none of us had ever done a comparative, head-to-head battle with them.

So rather than entering the test with preconceived notions of what was and wasn’t a good product, we were as much in the dark as anyone. Part of the reason for doing this test wasn’t so much to crown a “winner” or King of the Forks as to find out what makes a good one.

Forks are constructed in many different ways, ranging from basic differences like full carbon crowns versus aluminum crowns or straight blades versus curved, but carbon throws another twist into the mix: the weave.

While some forks such as the Paradox models look dead similar to others such as the Profiles, there are under-the-surface differences that can set these cosmetic lookalikes apart. Companies using the same molds can dramatically influence the ride of a fork by choosing a different modulus carbon or varying the weave pattern.

Our testing procedures featured an objective portion that tested fore-aft and lateral deflection under load and a subjective ride-quality test. Our ride-quality test was conducted on a 5.9-mile loop that featured a variety of road surfaces, a climb and a fast, technical descent.

For the objective portion of the test, we used the facilities at Kestrel, which has been making (and testing) forks for a while and had the testing equipment available. All testing was carried out by the bicyclist staff to ensure accuracy, consistency, and fairness of results.

As control of sorts, we also ran a steel fork with Neuron blades and a Tange steel Silhouette fork through the deflection wringer, as well as a standard Kinesis aluminum model. All carbon forks tested were in a threadless version with a 225-millimeter-length steerer (unless otherwise noted). Control Tech, 3T and Salsa supplied stems, Dia-Compe pitched in its Aheadsets and Full Speed Ahead furnished us with Conix plugs that replace the typical star-drive nuts so we could make faster fork swaps.

So What’s the Best Carbon Road Fork?

If you’re a century rider interested in long-mile comfort, secure handling and moderate weight savings over descending performance, nearly any fork in our chart will work fine for you. If, on the other hand, you’re a racer with a taste for field sprints and nasty descents, you’ll want to go with a model that displays excellent lateral stiffness. That’s not the only qualification, though.

Since some forks that rated high on the deflection test showed that good objective numbers don’t necessarily translate into ride quality, we’ve also included a comments section for additional notes. One annoying note with many of the forks was the diminishing amount of tire clearance. Some models, such as the AME forks, were so tight around the wheel that it would be impossible to run anything wider than a 25-millimeter tire.

Overall, our impressions of the current crop of forks were favorable. There are a number of different makers employing a varied range of construction techniques, all with a very specific goal in mind. From special time-trial models such as the Hotta to budget entries such as the $139 Paradox Hydra, there’s a fork here for everyone. If you’re in the market for a carbon fork, this should help you decide which one to get.

25 Best Road Bike Upgrades That Won’t Break the Bank

It’s spring and you’ve rolled up the garage door, exposing your road bike to the crisp air for the first time this year. As the early morning light hits the yellowed handlebar tape and reflects off the cracks in your fraying tire sidewalls, it occurs to you that you’re not really in the mood for a ride on the worn beast today.

But maybe, if you’d gotten that new wheelset or cranks for Christmas, you’d be more interested in riding.

A component buy is never a substitute for fitness, and that new set of aero wheels won’t get you up a hill faster, but it will make you psyched about riding again. That’s the funny thing about upgrades. They have a weird placebo effect to them; you know in your heart that you’re not going any faster, but that sparkling new white cork handlebar tape just makes the miles go quicker.

For that reason, we’ve rounded up 25 upgrades that won’t cost a bundle but will surely make you want to get on and ride.

     1. Bar Tape

New bar tape is probably the most visible upgrade (after all, it’s right in front of your face), and as one of three contact points for your body, one of the most important too. We prefer thick, padded varieties such as Torelli’s Moda Chunky (shown), Cinelli Cork Ribbon and Sampson Fat Wrap. For those who like less between their hands and the bar, Off the Front makes excellent thin tapes, as well as fat ones. ($10 to $20)

     2. Saddle

Another contact point to the bike, your saddle has more effect on your fun quotient than any other part. Selle San Marco’s Strada or Selle Italia’s Flite Century (shown) provide plenty of support and look cool to boot. ($50 to $100)

     3. Bottle Cage

Water bottles might seem like a frivolous item, but at $7 each, the least you can ask of your cages is to keep them looking swank. For that, we recommend Elite’s Ciussi Lite cages¬as stylish as they can get. Another good bet is Innovations in Cycling’s composite X-cage. ($12 to $20)

     4. Wind Vest

Though typically thought of as winter wear, a wind vest is good all year round, but especially in spring and fall. Giordana, Bellwether, Bouré (shown) and Pearl Izumi have nice models, but the world’s best vest is offered in Louis Garneau’s custom sublimation program. If your team or group of friends can split 20 pieces of clothing up among the gang, it’s the way to go. ($60 to $80)

     5. Cleats

Take a look at your cleats the next time you ride; are they literally ground to a pulp? If so, it may be time to check into a new pair. If you run Shimano SPDs, a sure bet are the floating Dura-Ace cleats. They’re compatible with all SPD pedals and offer 7 degrees of lateral float. ($15)

     6. Brake Pads

It really sucks when you can’t stop, but before you curse those calipers, check the pads. If they’re worn, a new pair from Dia-Compe (shown), Mathauser or stock replacement pads from Shimano and Campagnolo might be the perfect solution. ($12 to $30 per caliper)

     7. Bike Computers

If you want to judge how fast and how far you’re really going, get a bike computer. Wireless models such as Specialized’s Speed Zone (shown) get rid of sensor wires and zip-ties sullying the clean lines of your machine. Wired models such as Avocet’s 35 and Cat Eye’s ageless Micro do the job for less bucks. ($25 to $60)

     8. Frame Pump

If you don’t own one, you’d better buy one before karma catches up with you. Our favorite is Blackburn’s FP-1 (shown). Other good models are available from Topeak and Zéfal. As an alternative, Innovations in Cycling’s Aeroflate or Superflate products are great flat insurance too. ($10 to $30)

     9. Padded Bike Shorts

Hang up the boxers and chinos, mate. For real riding, you need a good pair of padded shorts. Our all-time faves from Assos barely make the $100 price cut, but other excellent models are from Voler and Pearl Izumi. ($40 to $100)

     10. Orthotics

If you suffer foot pain when riding, over-the-counter footbeds from Superfeet or Downunders (shown) will help correct most problems stemming from bad ergonomics and will also save your knees from unnecessary wear and tear. ($25 to $30)

     11. Cables

Cables take molto abuse and usually don’t receive the best care, so at least install ones that require less maintenance. The newer, coated cables from Gore-Tex, Slick Whips and Delta are excellent for harsh conditions or just for smoother shifting and braking. (About $30)

     12. Seat Bag

Carrying tools, tubes, a wind vest, and food in the jersey pockets is nice for accessibility, but what if you need to carry more than just a few hours’ food? You can put the extra items you don’t need immediate access to in a seat pack. Cannondale’s clip-on wedges (shown) are nice and easily removed for traveling or putting on other rigs, while Jandd is probably the only company making a tubular tire bag. ($20 to $35)

     13. Gloves

Gloves are the other half of the bar-tape equation, but they get much less praise than they deserve. For around $30 you can get our favorite gloves on the planet: Pearl Izumi (shown) or other models from Qranc and Rocket Parts. ($20 to $40)

     14. Handlebar

Sometimes the problem with your fit isn’t in your frame but your bar. If you’re hunched over, you might want to try a deeper drop, and if your hands hurt on the drops, try an anatomic bend. We like models from Profile, Control Tech and of course old standbys such as 3T and Cinelli. ($30 to $70)

     15. Derailleur Pulleys

This component rides the thin line between performance addition and unabashed style. Quality pulleys with cool factor such as those from Bullseye, Control Tech, Bebop and Vuelta help reduce drivetrain friction and typically last longer than stock models. (About $250)

     16. Skewers

Skewers are another “looks cool” component, but if you have the right ones, they’re nice when you’re changing tires and you don’t have to yard on a painful clamp. Salsa’s Flip-Offs (shown), skewers from Ritchey, Cook Bros. and the Soleus from Cunnane Bicycle will let you secure your wheels in style. ($50 to $80)

     17. Chainrings

They all wear out eventually, but why not try to get some that at least last longer. Our top two choices are those from Syncros (shown) and Real. Both are coated for hardness and feature pickup ramps on the big ring. Unfortunately, if you run Campy, you’re out of luck, since these are drilled for Shimano spacing only. ($45 to $60 per ring)

     18. Tubes

Physics lesson¬inner tubes are rotating mass, which, as far as weight goes, is worth roughly two times that of stationary mass. So by buying some lightweight latex tubes like Panaracer’s Green Light (shown) or AIR-Bs you’ll lighten up the bike where it matters. Easy lesson, now wasn’t it? ($10 to $15)

     19. Syncros CrankoMatics

There are other companies (most notably Shimano and Campagnolo) making self-extracting crank bolts, but if your bike didn’t come with them, they’re a great addition. With the CrankoMatics, all you need to put the cranks on or take ’em off is an 8-millimeter hex wrench. It’s a nice way to get both a bike upgrade and cut down on the number of tools you need to wrench on your bike. ($25)

     20. Tires

Tires give you more performance for your buck than any single component, and there are a bunch out there. Our faves are Vredestein’s Fortezza TriComps pictured here, Michelin’s Hi-Lite Bi-Synergic, the Grand Prix 3000 from Continental and Hutchinson’s Krono S. ($30 to $50 per pair)

And Five of the Best

These products get you the most improvement on your machine, regardless of price. Some are relatively expensive in comparison to the others, but we feel these are absolutely the best things you can buy to increase your enjoyment of cycling.

     1. Wheelsets

The aftermarket wheel category has exploded in recent years, with no less than 15 companies peddling their wares. Guaranteeing everything from lighter weight to better aerodynamics, most deliver on their promises because the market’s too competitive for pretenders. Our favorites are models that combine lightweight with aerodynamic benefits, such as Mavic’s Carbon Cosmic, Zipp’s ZT-1, Sun’s Buzz and Spinergy’s Extralight wheels. All are available in clincher or tubular versions and cost from $800 to $1000 per set.

     2. Heart-Rate Monitor

No invention has revolutionized training the way HRMs have. Advances in technology have made this training aid cheaper, and quality models such as Cardiosport’s Limit and Sensor Dynamics’ ProSport 2 ($99 and $120, respectively) are two that pack lots of performance into inexpensive packages. For those with a physiology degree, old money and a good computer, the Polar Vantage NV ($399) and the optional Advantage Interface Kit ($499) let you download and analyze your workouts on any Windows-equipped PC.

     3. Clipless Pedals/Shoes

Making the jump from clip-and-strap pedals and sneakers is a bit of a reach, but the improved efficiency, comfort, and power are well worth the investment. We like setups from Time, Look, Speedplay and Shimano, and while you could spend well over $400 for the kit shown here, all three companies make less expensive setups, down to about $200 for pedals and shoes.

     4. STI/Ergopower:

If you’re still running down tube shifters, try a friend’s bike with integrated shifters and brake levers. You’ll be astounded at the control and efficiency they offer. Upgrade kits will vary in cost and complexity depending on your current setup, but for $300 and up, you can convert the old rig to the latest in high-zoot componentry.

These packages include shifters, rear derailleur, hubset, cassette and chain. You’ll need to furnish your own rims and labor for wheelbuilding and setup, for a total of about $450 to 500 to start. Buyer beware: If you have an old aluminum or carbon frame spaced to 7-speed (126mm) spacing, this upgrade is not possible. The rear triangle needs to be spaced at 130 millimeters, and carbon and aluminum don’t spread, they break.

     5. Cycling Helmet

The saying goes, if you’ve got a $5 head, buy a $5 helmet. With the cool looks and excellent venting on today’s helmets, the excuses not to wear one are getting thin. For $40 to $150 you can get a lightweight, well-ventilated, nice-looking lid from a variety of companies such as Cratoni, Bell and Giro that’ll keep you from waking up in the hospital, relearning how to read this article

10 Terrific Bike Upgrades for Commuting, Racing & Touring

1. Lights, Front and Rear

Imagine having to leave work before dark because the headlights on your car didn’t work–a good excuse, but wouldn’t that cramp your style at the office?

So if you ride your bike to work, it stands to reason you’ll need to shed some light on your evening trip.

For headlights, we love NiteRider’s infinitely varied selection of handlebar- and helmet-mounted offerings, from our budget Trail Rat to the high-end XCL Pro. For the rear, “blinkie” LEDs such as VistaLites ($15) are the only way to go. Top it all off with some reflective tape on your helmet, heels and rims.

2. Hydration Packs

There are a couple of ways to go about schlepping office-style clothes to work. For the shorter distances of commuting, you needn’t use panniers and a rack, although it’s a great way to combine your gear needs for touring with those of riding to work or school.

You can also go one of two other routes: a backpack offers stability and lots of storage, and those which are bike-specific, like offerings from Pearl Izumi or Topeak ($100), don’t cramp your headroom or poke you in the back when riding.

Or you can go the high-style route with a courier bag, in wide use for one simple reason: they work better than just about anything else. A shape that wraps around you, cavernous space and a no-fuss design are the hallmarks of bags from Timbuk2, PUSH and Chrome (shown). $70 and up.

3. Repair Kit

As the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared.” That means carrying a small survival kit including a spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump or CO2 cartridges, and a multitool such as Ritchey’s CPR-13 (shown) with hex wrenches and a chain breaker.

Cool extras are Innovations in Cycling’s Fiberfix replacement spoke and a little roll of duct tape to repair tire sidewall rips and secure loose widgets. Toss in a $20 Jandd seat bag to carry it all, and you’re there. $20 tool, $5 tube, $2 patches, $1 tire levers and $20 pump.

4. Fenders/Mudguards

Not really glamorous and you’ll look like an English chap, but for foul-weather riding, mudguards are a must-have. They keep grit and water off your bike and your back, and with today’s composite materials, the weight really isn’t an issue.

You can get a full-coverage model like the Esge pair, or a lighter-weight setup from Zefal that attaches with easy mounting brackets and can be removed from the bike for riding in sunnier times. $20 to $30.




5. Racks or a Trailer

You have two choices when it comes to hauling the touring gear: racks or a trailer. Trailers, like B.O.B’s Yak or the Burley Cargo, are great for hauling all the stuff you’d normally carry on the bike and attach with little fuss to the rear triangle.

An added benefit here is that if your bike doesn’t have rack eyelets, you won’t need cumbersome hardware to mount racks. About $200. If you don’t want to look like a big rig on the road, racks and panniers are the way to go.

We like Blackburn’s simple, cheap and easy-to-find models (shown, $40), but for Cadillac style, there is simply no substitute for Bruce Gordon’s offerings. Gordon builds only touring bikes and gear, including custom racks that go for about $160.

6. Panniers

If you go with racks, you’ll need something to put the gear in. We like panniers from Cannondale (shown), which has been into touring for the entire 27-year existence of the company. The luxury steamer trunk of panniers is Madden’s Buzzard, with huge capacity and bombproof, field-repairable construction. $60 to $190 a set.

7. Pedals

For touring, you want recessed cleats and walkable shoes, which generally entail SPD or SPD-like pedals, such as the CycloLooks.

If you use SPDs, you can buy two shoes for the same pedals: a traditional road shoe and a recessed-cleat model for touring. Another tip is to buy a discreetly colored touring shoe–one that you would feel comfortable wearing with street clothes; it means one less item you’ll need to carry on the bike. $100 and up.




8. Shoes

Dedicated cycling shoes offer unparalleled sole stiffness, power, and efficiency. We like models such as Carnac’s Legend and Time’s Equipe Pro, both full-bore race models with “universal” soles that accept cleat styles for whatever pedals you use. If you don’t already have clipless pedals, they’re not only a necessary upgrade but a worthy one, too. $150 and up.

9. Integrated Brake and Shift Levers

When the attacks start coming, you need to be able to respond, and brake lever/shifters are the way to go. The downside is that with today’s 8- and 9-speed systems, upgrading can be complicated.

If you still run down tube shifters and 7-speeds, you’ll need to spread the rear triangle (not possible on aluminum or carbon frames) to 130 millimeters, and the parts list includes a pair of integrated shift/brake levers, cogset, chain, rear derailleur, and rear hub. That can run over $350, even for a midrange group like Shimano’s 105SC. Unless you’re a bloodied-in-battle shop mechanic, it’s best to have a bloodied-in-battle shop mechanic do this upgrade for you.

10. Heart-Rate Monitor

Forget fancy gear. If you want to go faster, there’s only one piece of equipment that’s proven to help your fitness–a heart-rate monitor. Even an entry-level model such as Freestyle’s Circuit Three or Polar’s Beat, is an invaluable training aid for anyone aspiring to be more fit. $89 and up.

Best Bluetooth Speaker for Bicycle Handlebars

Do you love biking but can’t stand not being able to listen to your favorite tunes while riding? If so, this article is perfect for you!

Bluetooth bike speakers are a great solution! These waterproof speakers let you hear your tunes without having to plug in any wires or deal with tangled cords. They also make it easy for riders of all levels to stay connected by letting them answer phone calls, take selfies, and get directions from GPS while they ride.

We’ve researched and compiled a list of the best Bluetooth speakers that are compatible with bike handlebars. There are many different types of bike speakers on the market but we narrowed it down to the top 5.

Top 5 Bicycle Handlebar Speakers

  1. Celtic Blu Handlebar Speaker
  2. Onforu Portable Bluetooth Speaker
  3. MakeTheOne Portable & Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
  4. Tribit StormBox Micro Bluetooth Speaker 
  5. BassPal IPX7 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Why Get the Best Bluetooth Speaker for Cycling?

A recent study found that cyclists who listened to music while riding had a higher average heart rate and perceived exertion than those that did not. What’s more, the researchers noted an improvement in mood for participants who listened to upbeat music.

Bike mounted Bluetooth speakers have revolutionized the outdoor cycling and provided riders with the option of taking their favorite tunes with them as they ride. They are a fun way to listen to your favorite music while you ride. They’re also perfect for listening to directions from your GPS app if you’re out biking on unfamiliar roads.

Bicycle riders know that they can’t always wear their headphones while riding, but with a pair of Bluetooth bike speakers you can enjoy your favorite tunes without having to take off your helmet. The best thing about these speakers is the convenience-you don’t have to worry about cables or wires getting tangled in your spokes.

Bluetooth Bike Speakers are perfect for those who want to listen and sing along with their music too! If you’re biking at night, some come equipped with LED lights, so everyone on the road will see you coming. It’s also great if you need a little motivation while on the trails because many of them come with built-in MP3 players, so there is no need for an extra device when biking up hills.

Compared to other speakers, the best Bluetooth bike speakers provide the user with an optimal experience coupled with convenience as well as efficacy. Many modern Bluetooth speakers are waterproof and compatible with other Bluetooth devices and can easily be attached to your bike’s handlebar.

While some people still prefer the old school sound systems, others have moved on to more tech savvy ones. Below are some of the advantages associated with getting a Bluetooth speaker for your bike.

  • No Electrical Connections Needed: Unlike regular speakers, these bike components are remote and don’t require a constant electrical connection to keep them going.
  • Wireless: The Bluetooth bike speaker doesn’t need to be connected to the media service by a wire unless need arises and can be connected with Bluetooth with the media device from a bit far distance
  • Safe: The Bluetooth speakers for bikers allow bikers to listen to their favorite tunes in a safe manner without the dangers associated with headphones such as being unaware of approaching traffic.
  • Portable: Unlike regular speakers, the Bluetooth bike speakers have a compact and portable design which makes it easy and convenient to carry them around easily.

Comparison Table for Best Bluetooth Speaker for Bike

Factors to Consider When Buying a Bluetooth Speaker for Your Bike

bicycle handlebar speakers

Bike speakers can be a great way to make your commute more enjoyable. There are many factors that go into choosing the right bike speaker, and we will help you find the perfect one for you!

There are 3 main types of bike speakers: in-ear headphones, helmet speakers, or handlebar mounted ones. All of these options have different pros and cons so it’s important to weigh them against what is most important to you.

For example if you’re looking for something small and inconspicuous then an earphone might work best but if audio quality is a priority then handlebar mounted speakers might be better suited for your needs.

Helmet mounted speakers provide good sound quality but they may not fit every head size comfortably.

A portable Bluetooth speaker is a handy accessory to have for your bike. However, picking one from the shop can sometimes be a stressful affair especially given the sheer number of options in the market. There are speakers of all shapes and sizes and of different price.

To get the best Bluetooth speaker for your bike, you need to know what you are looking for so that you can have a comprehensive checklist before you buy. I have compiled a short but comprehensive checklist of features that you should consider before buying a Bluetooth speaker for your bike.

Understand specifications

It’s not ideal to base your purchase on specifications only. Though it’s a good place to start, especially if you can’t get a field test of the speaker yourself but you need to understand the use and benefits you are looking for.

Frequency Response

Frequency response is measured in hertz (Hz) which is generally described as a range e.g. 100Hz-20000Hz, theoretically, the wider the range, the better the ability of the speaker to reproduce the intended sound.

However, before you judge your speaker, it’s good also to understand that different people have a different sound perception which sometimes may be caused by age or general hearing disability.

Bluetooth Version

The Bluetooth version also determines the quality of audio transmission and also the distance range of your Bluetooth to the media. You should basically look for a Bluetooth 4 or even better as this one add support for Low Energy profile flor better battery life. Bluetooth 5 is the latest standard which vastly improves the data transmission rate and range.


The driver is the heart of every speaker, so it’s imperative you get a good sized driver. Most portable speakers will typically have a 40mm driver which is good size to start with. If you want a bigger driver then expect the overall size of the speaker to increase too.

The number of drivers and their placement also make a difference to how the speaker will sound. Smaller Bluetooth speakers comes with a single full-range driver positioned either facing upwards or downwards in order to display sound better. Many speakers have a twin driver set-up which tend to be louder.


Beside wireless connectivity, it’s nice to have the option for the wired connection too. Check the Aux-in in the specification page of the speaker. It’s called the auxiliary connector, which means the speaker has a wire connection feature. A wired connection is handy if you wish to save a bit of battery on your phone or speaker and it also helps in getting better quality sound.

Many speakers also have NFC (Near-field connectivity), which helps in quick pairing with your devices. You also need a microphone in your Bluetooth speaker. It helps you answer calls directly from the speaker. This way you don’t need to look for your phone when you get a call.

Charging Style

A USB charging port in your Bluetooth speaker is an added advantage, especially when you are outdoors or at a place and you don’t have a bundled cable with you. Most of the Bluetooth speakers these days have a Micro-USB port which makes it possible to charge them with power banks too.

If you have to replace batteries to listen to your favorite tunes, you need a good replaceable battery. Bluetooth speakers with rechargeable batteries often run for long durations compared to their counterparts that require charging batteries occasionally.

While it is important to look for a strong and a sturdy battery, it’s always a good idea to opt for one which also doubles as a power bank for subsequent devices as well. This is especially a goods option for individuals embarking on long outdoor trips and require to occasionally charge other devices as well.

Enhanced Speakers

Most Bluetooth speakers today are capable of more than just streaming music. Other features to look for is if there is any companion app support which is crucial if you need to manage multiple speakers.

Some speakers have the support for pairing multiple speakers together for bigger sound. You may feel that one speaker is not loud enough especially when you are outdoors, which is where pairing two or more of the same type of speaker is an advantage.

Sturdy Construction

A Bluetooth speaker for your bike will be used in many outdoor activities that will test limits. Therefore it’s important to look for speakers that are built to last. Look for a water resistant, dustproof and shock proof features that will protect your speaker.

Multiple Mounting Options

Bluetooth speakers that come with bicycle mounts also come with other equipment ranging from carabiner clips to straps and even thread inserts that provide the user with a number of ways to carry the speakers.

You don’t have to only carry them on bicycle mounts but can also clip them with your belt or bag pack on your hiking trips.

Top 7 Best Bluetooth Speaker for Bike

1. Celtic Blu Bluetooth Speaker

bluetooth speaker bike mount

The Celtic Blu Bluetooth speaker for bike comes with a 16W Power, 360 ̊ Surround Sound and rich designs with incomparable reliability. Its BAS Technology generates a louder, more penetrating sound that produces a room surrounded audio projection.

It’s bottle shaped, 1.3 pounds and dimensions of 2.7 x 7.1 x 2.7 in Cup Holder Size. It comes with a long lasting battery that will enable you enjoy a 30hours uninterrupted playtime. With its 100ft Bluetooth connection range, TF slot for MicroSD Card and an 8,000 songs storage capacity, you can’t go wrong with this Celtic Blu product.

It comes with a Power Bank that enables you to charge your smartphone and other devices that you may be accompanying you in your trip, FM Radio to search enjoy Local Stations, and an Aux-input, 3.5mm audio jack cable. It provides multiple modes to listen to your favorite audio media.

The Waterproof IPX4 has been taken through a rating test basically involving constant splashing for at least five minutes to ensure that what you see is what you get.

It also has a microphone for answering phone calls without having to look out for your phone. It also comes with a bike cage, versatile enough and designed to secure your speaker in a Two Way Secure Holder with minimum space for Unit and Cage – Length 7.5’’ and Height 3.5’’ and a carabiner clip.

This tech-savvy Bluetooth speaker also has a Handlebar Remote Controller with a volume adjustment button safe and more convenient, especially when riding your bike. Buy this product for your bike and enjoy your riding.


  • Auxiliary remote control.
  • Wide deep base and great sound.
  • Great charge.
  • Lifetime replacement warranty.
  • Water proof, shock proof and dust proof.


  • Radio channels may blink in and out.
  • The bell is too loud.
  • Only pairs with phone( does not pair with laptops with a Bluetooth pairing enhancement)

2. Venstar S404 Sport Portable Speaker

handlebar mounted bluetooth speakers

It’s a trail tested Rugged Outdoor Sports Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Waterproof, shockproof and dustproof; quite a perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for cycling, hiking, camping, outdoor sports, beach, poolside, shower and more.

The Bluetooth 4.0 technology and BAS gear, the audio technology from 2x3W speakers deliver stable HD audio. Also has a Built-in digital FM radio with auto scan presets that you can catch up with the current affairs of your area from your local radio channels. This device offers up to 8 hours playtime from any Bluetooth enabled device, and also you can listen via SD card.

The outer shell is tough enough, made of durable, high quality, rubberized plastic that is water resistant (IPX5 rated), compact and versatile with grippy exterior and secure mounted fitting. It’s an excellent build quality to survive extreme environments.

The bicycle mount installed to the bike’s frame or handle is a perfect speaker holder that also doubles as a bottle holder. The one free drive-by-wire system is designed to make your operation on terrain easy and safe via remote control. You can use the speaker as bike bell for safe riding. A 3.5mm audio cable is also included

The Venstar S404 Bluetooth speaker guarantees a risk free manufacturer’s warranty included, plus 30 Days Money Back Guarantee.


  • Long battery life.
  • Durable. Does not break easily.
  • Waterproof.
  • Mounts nicely on bike.
  • Great charge.


  • Poorly written instructions.
  • Not a great sound.
  • FM Radio is not clear.

3. Avantree Portable Wireless Speaker

The Avantree Bluetooth speaker comes with a 10W powerful sound that you can experience bold sounds and rich bass even against noisy backgrounds from other speakers. Also has 5W dual speakers and passive bass radiator to ensure sound clarity.

It’s the best wireless Bluetooth speaker for sports enthusiasts. You can cycle, hike or even sail to your own distraction-free soundtrack with this device and also enjoy its IPX4 splash-proof, shock-proof rubber exterior, a bike mount and a belt with a snap hook design.

Has three playing modes; you can comfortably enjoy your favorite music in any way that suits you with this versatile, portable speaker by choosing Wireless, Micro SD/TF card or Aux-in line and the NFC (Near field communication) that enables you to listen to your favorite music on the move straight away by connecting this NFC speaker with your NFC-Enabled mobile phone easily with just one tap.

Feel confident in your purchase with the 24-Month warranty and ongoing. You will definitely enjoy using this device.


  • Multiple connections
  • Portable.
  • Auxiliary remote control.
  • Great sound.
  • Great charge.


  • The music cuts out at high volume.
  • The rubber flap has issues.
  • Not waterproof (lacks a zipper or case).

Zealot S1 Bluetooth Speaker with Power Bank

This bicycle’s speaker is a super transformer for you. The music playback via Bluetooth, AUX, TF card supports and hands free call, torch light and external battery power bank are just what you have been looking for. It has a stunning and strong sound due to its Built-in 40mm driver Neodymium stereo amplifier well set to present you the live experience of an excellent sound.

It has a 4000mAh rechargeable battery that provides a long time usage of up to 24hs by TF card play and turns it into a backup power supply as well. This is quite a long life battery.

It’s full equipped with the best accessories for outdoor activities. Zealot S1 considerately offer all you need when cycling with the S1. Bike mount, Carabiner and Audio Cable and USB Charging Cable and the Silicone protective sleeve are also fitted to ensure the device is waterproof, dust proof and shockproof.

To receive stronger FM signal, plug charging cable into the micro USB port or plug in the Aux-in cable as a radio antenna. The USB port doubles as the output for backup power supply, to connect your phone or other devices. Remember not to insert U-disk into speaker. Also note that the Waterproof level is only small rain-resistant rated, DO NOT submerge into water.


  • Auxiliary remote control.
  • Great charge.
  • Great sound.
  • FM Radio.
  • Power bank.


  • FM efficiency may fail.
  • Mounting issues.
  • The battery can’t charge more than one phone.

Clearon Wireless Waterproof Speaker

It has a high quality sound, 8W powered 360° surround sound from an ergonomically designed 4×2 speakers. Produces extremely loud and clear high quality sound with plenty of bass from a compact lightweight speaker.  It’s a versatile speaker that can be mount onto a bike, boat, backpack, or folding chair. Comes with all accessories and tools needed e.g. A backpack hook loop and bicycle mounting kit.

The Bluetooth speaker is super durable, IPX4 Water-resistant, shock-proof, dust-proof, and stain-proof. Excellent build quality to survive extreme conditions. Perfect for hiking, cycling, fishing, beach trips, and relaxing by the pool.  It’s also a portable speaker, compact sized to fit perfectly in your palm. The Clearon modest 10.6Htz mini-speaker provides 15 hours of long lasting play-time and a strong and stable Bluetooth 4.0 connection for up to 100 feet of range.

The Clearon multi-functional speaker connects easily with wireless Bluetooth 4.0, Micro SD Card Slot, FM Radio, or through the Aux-in 3.5mm audio port. With your mobile device connected, you can even use the built-in microphone to make and receive phone calls using the iFree controller. This speaker also works perfectly as a very audible bike horn


  • Water resistant.
  • Stain proof.
  • Simple operation.
  • Shock proof.
  • Impressive sound quality.


  • Not a great base.
  • The bell is too loud.
  • Issues with the rubber flap.

Trakk Activ 360 ̊ Portable Bluetooth speaker

It’s a HI-FI sound Bluetooth speaker for your bike. The Trakk Activ speaker offer great quality sound with 16W advanced bass enhancement technology. It’s designed in an ultra-compact size and with a soft touch design. The Activ bicycle portable speaker provides sound that can be heard over wind, storms, construction or any other form of nuisance.

Waterproof, dust proof, shockproof and stain resistant Bluetooth speaker for your bike.  Experience the Trakk Activ portable speaker anywhere and don’t be afraid to rough it up a bit. Bring your powerful speakers into the waves and create an epic pool party soundtrack. Dig your speakers into the sand and create the perfect vibe for you and your friends. Clip your speakers to your bike for an on the go without the worry of it getting too dirty. This portable Bluetooth speaker can resist any form of dirt.

This wireless portable speaker can pair up to 100 feet away from the device.  Majority of speakers can pair at most to 33 feet away from devices, so you can now understand why this speaker is the best. The FM Radio with built-in antenna is easy to pick up radio stations at all frequencies.

The Trakk Activ portable Bluetooth speaker has a 6000 mAh battery providing up to 30hours playtime for continuous audio and is easy to travel with for long periods of time without recharging. It includes an Auto off Feature to save additional battery. The power bank feature also allows you to charge all of your USB enabled devices through the 6000 mAh Battery.

It’s the best choice portable bike speaker with remote control. The Trakk Activ Speaker comes with a remote controller to make switching between tracks even easier. It even comes with a bell to inform everyone on the biking trails that you’re coming. Some other features of the controller include: Play/Pause button, Answer mode to answer calls using the hands free microphone, and Preview/Next button.


  • Waterproof.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Built-in FM radio.
  • Convenient battery bank.
  • Impressive sound.


  • Remote lacks a volume button.
  • Needs better straps.
  • Fails to charge a phone.

Scosche BMBTCAN BoomBars Portable Speaker

The Scosche BMBTCAN lets you listen to music and audio from a portable speaker with your Bluetooth or 3.5mm Aux-in device from the handlebar of your bike. It  wirelessly connect your device up to 30 feet away and stream rich, crystal-clear music or audio from the powerful 2W 35mm up-firing speaker. The up-firing speaker sends music in all directions and the rotating mount lets you position the speaker to create a 360 ̊ array of sound.

Get up to 5.5 hours of music playtime from the built-in battery. Easy to install. You just place the clamp around your handlebars and tighten the thumbscrew. To remove the mount just loosen the thumbscrew. The clamp adjusts to the diameter of your handlebar and the thumb screw makes it easy to tighten or remove the mount from the bike. You can quickly and securely mount the speaker in the holder to your bike handlebar or at only 2.5” tall and less than 2” wide store inside your luggage or carry it with you in a purse or backpack.

No Bluetooth! No worry! You can also connect your device to the speakers input using an Aux-in 3.5mm cable. Use the included USB to micro-USB cable to recharge the speaker’s battery. This high-quality bike mount and portable speaker is backed by the Scosche’s Lifetime Tech Support and 36 months warranty.


  • Strong sound.
  • Waterproof.
  • Strong battery.
  • Multifunctional mount.
  • Dust proof.


  • The charging port is very delicate.
  • Lacks track skip buttons.
  • Radio channels blinks in and out while riding.


The best Bluetooth bike speaker is all you need to make your favorite hobby even more enjoyable. With my guide, you can now say goodbye to those bulky, annoying headphones and place one from the highlighted selection on your bike.

Best Hydration Pack For Mountain Biking: Reviews & Buyers Guide

best hydration packs

When buying the best hydration packs for mountain biking, you need to know that comfort and temperatures are the most important aspects. If your hydration pack cannot store the water in the required temperatures, there is no need to buy it. Our number one hydration pack, the Camelbak hydration pack, is a great option for both men and women.

The first thing you will notice about it is that it is extremely lightweight. It is also equipped with CamelBak’s award winning hydration system that is convenient, efficient and easy to use. If you have a tight budget to stick to, this hydration pack will offer you functionality and efficiency. If you don’t require much storage space, you will love it.

A Summary of the Best Hydration Packs for Mountain Biking

CamelBak HAWG Hydration Pack, Desert Camouflage (DCU) Pattern, 100oz

 out of stock
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  • Stretch-Knit
  • Padded Back
  • Heat Resistant
  • Protected Palm
  • Double Layered

CamelBak Lobo Hydration Pack, 100oz

$89.00  in stock
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  • Pockets: 3 exterior

CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack, 85oz

$54.60  in stock
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  • Dimensions: 9.50"W x 16"H x .50"D
  • Adjustable Strap with strap drop of 7"
  • Flap Closure

Camelbak Products 2016 Classic Hydration Pack, Black, 70-Ounce

 out of stock
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  • Shoulder strap length: 34"
  • Handle has a drop of 1.75" and length of 4"
  • Exterior zipper pocket

Osprey Packs Raptor 14 Hydration Pack, Black

$128.18  in stock
5 new from $127.82
5 used from $98.50
Free shipping
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  • Dedicated hydration compartment with included BPA-free Hydraulics LT 2.5L reservoir by Hydrapak
  • Magnetic sternum strap bite valve attachment
  • LidLock bike helmet attachment holds standard helmets and side compression straps double as full face helmet carry
  • Zippered, scratch-free slash pocket for sunglasses and stretch mesh zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Dedicated lower compartment holds an included roll-up tool pouch to organize bike tools

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack 900D with 2.5L Bladder for Hiking, Biking, Running, Walking and Climbing (Black Old)

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ColorBlack Old
EAN ListEAN List Element: 0745750079592
Item DimensionsHeight: 984; Length: 1890; Weight: 137; Width: 138
Package DimensionsHeight: 530; Length: 960; Weight: 195; Width: 900
Package Quantity1
Part NumberH-PACK-BLK
Product GroupSports
TitleUnigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack 900D with 2.5L Bladder for Hiking, Biking, Running, Walking and Climbing (Black Old)
UPC ListUPC List Element: 745750079592

1. CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack

what is the best hydration pack for mountain biking

The brand new CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack is a much improved and refined version of its predecessor. It has been constructed with lighter materials and makes use of Camelbak’s new technologies such as the NVIS back panel.

If you are wondering about CamelBak’s choice of name for the pack, H.A.W.G., it apparently stands for ‘holds a lot of water and gear’.

It’s true the HAWG NV holds 3 liters of water in the brand spanking new Antidote bladder and plenty of storage space, perhaps even enough for an overnight stay. Unfortunately, CamelBak doesn’t look like they spent a lot of time organizing the storage area.

If you enjoy nothing more than spending the entire day riding up and down mountainsides and tough terrains, you will definitely become good friends with the CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack. This pack does not just provide you with adequate hydration, it is capable of enhancing your ride, and once you have tried it out you’ll ever turn back.

Technical Details

  • Fabric: 70D Diamond Claurus & 420D nylon with DWR + 1000mm PU CoatingvCargo Capacity: 19 vitresvBladder/Size: 3 litre Antidote reservoir with Quick Link system
  • Helmet Holder: XC Helmet Carry
  • Waist Strap: Wide 38mm/1.5″ strap with integrated cargo pockets
  • Sternum Strap: Dynamic Suspension and slider sternum strap
  • Back Panel: N.V.I.S
  • Pocket 1: Fleece Lined Media Pocket
  • Pocket 2: Hip Belt Pockets
  • Pocket 3: Bike tool organizer pocket
  • Rain Cover?: Removable Raincover with reflectivity
  • Height: 17.5″ / 44cm
  • Weight: 900g (excluding reservoir)


There are so many features to talk about on the CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack because it includes the majority of CamelBak’s new technology. One of the major new additions is the N.V.I.S back panel which is designed to increase the circulation of air against your back and prevent sweaty back syndrome. The back panel really does work, it ventilates more efficiently than other packs, making the ride much more enjoyable and comfortable.

Another noticeable improvement is the inclusion of the Antidote reservoir with Quick link system; this bladder holds 3 liters of water, has a much lower profile and is 18% lighter than the Omega. The Antidote uses what’s known as a Baffle to ensure that the bladder remains flat inside the pack rather than bundling up into a sausage shape. The new bladder also features a large cap which is closed by a simple quarter turn action which makes refilling and cleaning so much easier.

The last thing I am going to praise the CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack for is the integrated rain cover which prevents your pack from getting wet and covered in mud. If you plan on heading out in all kinds of weathers you will find this addition a great help.


Riding across the unruliest terrains is not made any more difficult by carrying the HAWG NV, it is very easy to use and comfortable to wear. The N.V.I.S back panel, the six contact points, lighter weight and lower profile mean that in most cases you’ll even forget you are carrying it with you. The new technologies incorporated into the design of the HAWG, including the Antidote bladder, meaning it is far superior to its predecessor.

The main storage compartment of the CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack is the only real let down as it has not been well thought out. This large compartment is just that, one big large open storage area with no internal layout. This is a real shame because the pocket specifically designed for carrying tools is quite small so you may often have extras that you would like to tuck away in the main body of the pack. However, it is large enough to pack in everything you might need on an all-day mountain bike ride, including a lunch, first aid kit, waterproof jacket, kneepads, tools, extra water bottles, puncture repair kit, and so on.


The only real complaint about the new HAWG is the lack of an internal layout inside the main compartment. It would be nice to have a couple of separate sections to keep bits and bobs without having to search through the entire pack. The price might also put off some buyers, but if you do fancy splashing out on a new hydration pack, this is definitely a great option.


The CamelBak HAWG NV 3L hydration pack is excellent; the redesign and new technology means that it is far more comfortable and user-friendly that the last version. There is definitely enough storage space for a long ride.

The pack is incredibly comfortable, and the lightweight material helps make it even less bulky. The Antidote bladder is a huge bonus to anyone who has only ever worked with the older Omega reservoir, cleaning and refilling is now easier than ever before. The best price we could find it for is £95.99 from Wiggle Online Cycle Shop. Open the Wiggle Online Cycle Shop Online Store here to see this deal.

What do you think abut the Camelbak HAWG NV? Please leave your comments below or let us know what you think by clicking the like button.

2. CamelBak Lobo Hydration Pack

best mountain biking hydration packs

Features Overview

  • Cargo Capacity: 3.3L
  • Bladder/size: 3L Omega Hydrotanium reservoir – external fill
  • Helmet holder: No
  • Waist strap: Removable waist strap for stability
  • Sternum strap: Slider sternum strap
  • Back Panel: Air Director for maximum air circulation
  • Shoulder straps: Adjustable with hose routing for either side
  • Pocket 1: Organiser pocket for bike essentials
  • Pocket 2: Gel pocket on harness
  • Pocket 3: Small top pocket
  • Pocket 4: Quick access overflow storage
  • Bladder pocket: Yes
  • Reflectivity: Reflective piping
  • Rain cover: No
  • Closure: Zipped
  • Extra Features: Durable splash guard protects pack from mud and abrasion

Camelbak is the world’s leading brand in hands-free hydration systems, and so it is no wonder that the Camelbak Lobo hydration pack has proven to be a huge hit with mountain bikers, skaters, and hikers. The pack allows outdoor enthusiasts to remain hydrated by taking a drink without having to stop to use their hands.

The Lobo pack is much larger than the original Mule, as it has a 3.3-liter storage capacity and 3-liter bladder, making it perfect for long endurance.

Hydration Pack Usability

The pack itself sports some well-padded shoulder straps and waist belts, as well as an insulated back panel to prevent splashing. These additional design features make the Camelbak Lobo hydration pack one of the most comfortable and unobtrusive systems on the market. The comfort of this sort of system is very important as it has to work well with the rider, ensuring that they are still able to move freely.

Features of the Camelbak Lobo Hydration Pack

The Camelbak Lobo hydration pack has a number of great features which set this system apart from its rivals. The larger 3 litre bladder is large enough to keep most going in tough conditions for at least three hours, and it sits nicely at the top of the backpack.

The second most important part of any hydration pack is the storage facilities, and the Camelbak Lobo does not disappoint. There are four zip pockets for cargo, one with a cable port, and all with additional netting for security and to prevent you having to fumble around for things. The 3.3 litre capacity should be enough for a day outside; there is space for a mobile phone, wallet, keys, repair kits or pumps, and a light rain jacket. However, the long narrow shape of the backpack can make it a little awkward if you are looking to pack something larger.


The large 3 litre bladder in the Camelbak Lobo hydration pack is excellent as it is slightly bigger than the majority of other systems, meaning that sports enthusiasts can go for longer without having to refill. There are additional splash guard protectors on the pack to prevent mud and water getting to the pack on wet and windy days.

Another bonus is that the bladder is very low maintenance, it only needs a thorough wash around once a week, and is very easy to remove and refill.


The only drawback to the Camelbak Lobo hydration pack is that the storage area might not be enough for some people, as it just about fits the essentials in.

The Verdict?

All in all, the Camelbak Lobo is a high-quality pack that is perfect for those day rides. Riders who are looking for a weekend hydration pack should steer clear of this though as the storage area will certainly not be enough. The best price we could find it at is £62.99 from Evans Cycles. Open the Evans Cycles Online Store here to see this deal.

3. CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack Review

mountain bike hydration pack review

Camelbak is one of the largest and most trusted brands of hydration packs in the UK, and it is easy to see why. All the products from Camelbak are made from very high-quality materials and never seem to disappoint. The Camelbak Rogue hydration pack has a 2-liter bladder and 2.1-liter storage capacity, so it is ideal for people carrying essential but limited belongings, such as wallet, mobile phone, keys, puncture kits etc.

Feature Overview

  • External fill 70 oz / 2 litre hydration capacity
  • OMEGA HydroTanium Reservoir with Lifetime Warranty
  • Total capacity: 5.3 litres
  • Insulated reservoir pocket keeps liquid cool for hours
  • Air Mesh channeled back panel & shoulder straps for enhanced ventilation
  • External zip top pocket with key clip and organizer for essentials
  • Lower zip pocket fits cycling essentials
  • Buckle style reservoir closure for easier removal and replacement of reservoir
  • Low profile design won’t interfere with a helmet
  • Reflectivity on harness & pack increases low-light visibility
  • Strap management keeps strap secure
  • Weight including reservoir: 530g


mountain bike hydration pack reviews

The Camelbak Rogue hydration pack is very comfortable and does not weigh you down whatever you are doing. Mountain bike riders and hikers may find that their back heats up slightly on uphill climbs but the ventilation channels do their best to prevent this from happening. The valve on the bladder is very good as it has a bite valve combined with a right angle valve which means that there is even less chance of any leakage.

Filling the bladder up is easy enough as it has a very wide mouth, allowing you to fill it with ice too if you would prefer. It is a good idea to fill the bladder and place it in the backpack before filling the storage pockets to ensure that you have enough space for other items.


This Camelbak Rogue hydration pack is fitted with the standard 2 litre bladder which if filled up to the maximum should be enough fluids to keep you going for 2-3 hours at least. As this backpack is not designed specifically for cargo, there is just the right amount of room for the essentials.

The first zipped pocket is high up, and the second, which also has a keyring clip and mesh divider, is towards the bottom. The zips are of a very high quality, and unlikely to work their way loose so your belongings should be as safe as houses. An open mesh pocket between the bottom pocket and the bladder is an ideal storage space for a larger item such as a waterproof jacket.


This hydration pack is made of very high quality materials so there cannot be any complaints on the standard of the manufacturing. What you plan to use the Camelback Rogue hydration pack for will depend on how useful you find the product to be, but it is perfect for riders, skaters, and hikers who need hands-free hydration on outings lasting no more than a few hours. The pack itself is very lightweight, with the bladder sitting comfortably on your back, and many will hardly even notice that it is there. 

1. CamelBak Classic

best mtb hydration packs

If you are searching for a lightweight hydration pack, then you should definitely look at the CamelBak Classic. It’s the best hydration pack 2018 that guarantees you thirst quenching during trail rides. Below are some of the features that I like about this pack.

Lightweight Design–  The kit features lightweight material that does not attract additional weight to the pack. In addition, the pack has an ergonomic design with mesh shoulder straps for comfortable fitting on your back. This ensures that it remains sturdy throughout the day.

Easy to use – This hydration pack is easy to fill. Unlike other bags in the market, this one you only use the release flap. The release flap also makes it easy to release the fluid therein, therefore, making it ideal for athletes too.

It’s Convenient– When you are mountain biking there are times when you won’t find any shops to buy drinks. However, with this hydration pack, you are sure you will not experience thirst at any given time. Besides, CamelBak Classic hydration pack comes with an additional storage pocket that helps you to keep small things such as keys and other valuables.

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2.  Osprey Raptor 14

The Osprey Raptor 14 is the best hydration pack for mountain biking in terms of storage capacity. It comes with an additional feature that allows you to carry your helmet comfortably. This pack features a bladder that can accommodate up to 3 liters of water. I have been using this MTB backpack since 2016 and it still looks new and sturdy. Below are some of the features that stand out about the Osprey Raptor 14.

Helmet Attachment– In case you are looking for a pack that will accommodate your helmet, then the Osprey Raptor 14 will be the perfect option. The pack features a Lidlock helmet attachment that hold your helmet firmly when not in use.

lidlock helmet attachment

Spacious–  With this pack, you will not have to worry about space anymore. This is because the kit gives several compartments to keep all your riding gear together and safely for next time usage. The pack has enough room to keep all this without contaminating your water.

Durable – It is designed with high-quality material for longevity. Unlike other models that are cheaply made, this one ensures that it will serve you for an extended period of time, and you will enjoy its services for long. In fact, if you set your hands on this pack, then you are sure that you will pass it down to the next generation.

Blinker Safety Light– The blinker light is attached at the lower part of the pack. It has reflective properties that enables other road or trail users to notice you in the dark. 

Very Stable – The Osprey Raptor 14 features a unique mesh hip belt that runs around your waist. Besides, it has strong shoulder straps that ensures your pack remains stable even when carrying a lot of water.

Tool Pouch– The pack features a detachable roll-out tool pouch that you can access easily. It provides enough space to organize essential tools such as a mini bike pump and other bike essentials.

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3. Tactical Hydration Pack Backpacks with 2.5L Bladder 

Unigear Tactical Hydration MTB Pack

Are you are looking for a hydration pack that holds up well in all your outdoor activities? Worry no more, for the Unigear Tactical hydration pack is the perfect choice for you. The reason I include this hydration pack to my list is because its affordable and has a customizable fit.

Why I love this MTB backpack:
For starters, the unigear hydration pack is lightweight and rugged in nature. It has plenty of features that come in handy when you are hitting the trails. Below are some examples

Extra storage Capacity: This tactical hydration pack has two extra pockets that feature a molle system that you can use to attach extra gear. This means you can expand your storage capacity as you wish.

Comfortable Back Pad: This awesome MTB backpack features a comfortable built-in strong back pad. the padding provides excellent cushioning as well as a layer of insulation for the water bladder.

Unique & Convenient Bladder: You’ll note that the hydration bladder has a wide mouth/opening that allows you to put some ice cubes in it. Besides, the backpack is designed in a manner that you can fill the bladder without necessarily taking it out.

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How To Choose The Best Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

When shopping around for the best mountain bike hydration packs, there are several things you need to consider to ensure that you have chosen the right one. While the primary function of hydration packs is to carry your fluid supply. However, depending on the pack you buy, there are high chances of getting more features that will be suitable for the capacity you demand.

Types of hydration packs

Ladies Specific Hydration Packs- These packs have hip-belts and bear straps that are molded in light of the female shape. Middle measurements are for the most part shorter and smaller than men’s packs, as well. Since they are accessible in littler sizes, ladies’ rucksacks regularly function admirably for youthful explorers of either sex.

Youth-Specific Hydration Packs- These regularly offer fewer limitations and incorporate a customizable suspension to sustain growth. You can likewise attempt ladies’ rucksacks or little sizes of a few men’s packs

MTB Hydration Pack Capacity

Ensure the hydration pack you pick can convey enough water and apparatus to address your fluid needs.

Water isn’t light (1 liter weighs roughly 2 pounds), so consider the amount you truly need to carry and whether you’ll have the capacity to refill en route. Then afterward buy a hydration pack by that.

Obviously, you don’t need to fill the supply to the overflow on each trip. To keep weight low on shorter excursions, carry just the measure of water you suspect you will need. For instance, with a 3-liter supply, you can fill it most of the way for a speedy climb or the distance for a more drawn out enterprise in a hot atmosphere.

Options of hydration pack capacities you will find

  • 5 liter or less (16 liquid ounces or less): Packs with negligible water limit are usually waist-packs that incorporate maybe a couple of water bottles. They’re best for lightweight activities like running or strolling.
  • 1 liter or 1.5 liters (32 or 50 liquid ounces): A great decision for minimalists, children, and short-remove bicycle workers, explorers and sprinters.
  • 2 liters or 2.5 liters (70 or 85 liquid ounces): These mainstream supply sizes offer a decent adjust of sensible weight and mass while giving an adequate amount of water that generally will require just incidental refilling.
  • 3 liters or more (100 liquid ounces or more): Made for the thirstiest of travelers or the individuals who would prefer not to stop to refill. They’re likewise useful for anybody investigating landscape where water is rare.

Hydration Pack Fit

Once you’ve made sense of the kind of hydration pack you need and the limit, it’s a great opportunity to ensure it fits you correctly.

The correct fit offers:

–  A size suitable for your middle length (not your general tallness)

-A quickly cozy grasp on your hips (if the pack doesn’t have a hip belt, go exclusively by middle length)

Backpacks: Sizing and Fit

Middle Length- A few packs are available in different sizes, which fit a scope of middle lengths. These extents fluctuate by brand and gender. Check the item specs tab for estimate subtle elements. Different packs have a customizable suspension that can be changed to fit your middle.

Midriff Size- Hydration pack hip-belts generally fit an extensive variety of hip sizes, from the mid-20s to the mid-40 inches or greater. You can discover this estimation on the item specs tab.

Hydration Pack Features

Nibble valve shut off switch: Some chomp valves curve to open and close; others have a chance to guarantee water doesn’t get out when you don’t need it to.

Tube entries: This is an opening in the rucksack that enables you to string the taste tube from the store inside the pack to the outside. Many packs offer two entryways so you can position the tube to hang over either bear. A few packs provide a solitary, focused entry.

Clasps: Many hydration packs incorporate a clasp on a shoulder strap to keep your tube situated for simple get to.

Speedy detach tubing: Some supplies incorporate a drink tube that effectively disengages from the body of the repository, which is decent when it’s a great opportunity to refill the store mid hike. You just detach the tube with the press of a catch and draw the store from your pack. This enables you to leave the tube set up, which is particularly convenient if you have it steered through a tube gateway.

Wide-mouth opening: Wide-mouth openings, for the most part, enable you to fit a hand inside the supply, which makes cleaning simple. On the off chance that you pick a store with a littler opening, you can buy a cleaning unit that incorporates brushes for scouring out within.

Chilly climate additional items: Assorted winterized additional items are accessible, including protected taste tubes, protected supplies, repository covers and chomp valve covers. They can be convenient. However, they add a little mass and weight to your framework.

Rain cover: A rain cover is a pleasant extra on the off-chance that you reproduce in a wide range of climate.

Cargo capacity

Like liquid capacity, load abilities also rely upon the amount that you are probably going to be carrying the pack for, and also the activities you will be undertaking. For throughout the day experiences you should carry clothes, food and other tools with you in your pack. For the best hydration packs for mountain biking, you may need the capacity to carry a mountain bike helmet and body armor to protect you as you bike or climb mountains. Many packs have added straps and compartments to hold cushions and additional gear while you ride.