Review: Detours all-weather bags for your bike

Detour Bags_Stallion2

I almost felt bad testing out these bags in San Francisco. Detours bags are made to handle the constant drizzle, mud and muck of a Pacific Northwest commute—which makes sense, since the company hails from delightfully drizzly Seattle, WA—the misty fog of the Bay just doesn’t seem like enough of a challenge for the tough, all-weather gear. I said “almost,” because the truth is, these bags are awesome regardless of the weather.

Detour Bags_labeled

Fair warning, there are going to be a lot of photos in this post. The Detours gear is just too stylie to not show off. I had a chance to try a small selection of bags of various styles, sizes and uses. I’ll start from smallest bag and work my way up to the magical three-in-one pannier bag.

Roadie Stem Bag

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I have been on the hunt for a contraption to hold my phone so I don’t have to dig into my backpack to consult the route before getting hopelessly lost. The Roadie definitely does the trick. A simple ratcheted attachment allows you to securely affix the bag to the stem of your bike (my bike, Stallion, who finally gets to be featured in a post, does not have room for Roadie on the stem, but plenty of other spots work great as well).

The clear, water-repellant phone pocket is touchscreen friendly making it easy to access information or refer to your phone as needed. The phone pocket is really more of a flap with a magnetized closure to the main utility pocket. The zip pocket has plenty of room for minor necessities. I fit my patch kit, allen wrench, levers, keys, and ID in there, no problem. The Roadie also comes in gray with a bright green interior (pictured here) and in red with a grey interior. The Roadie retails for $32.

Coffee Dry Bag

coffee bean bag

Yes, you can definitely put your coffee grounds in here and keep them safe and dry. But that’s not the only use for the super versatile Coffee dry bag. Throw in your mid-ride snacks, any electronics you want to keep safe (besides your phone since it’ll be in the Roadie), or maybe protect your other belongings from damp, sweaty bike spandex? The adjustable straps make it easy to secure the Coffee dry bag wherever needed. However, while the top strap is a quick release buckle, the bottom strap must be undone completely, which can be a bit of a hassle.

Detours offers the Coffee dry bag in several different state designs:

• The Evergreen Blend: ride through the forests and around Mount Rainier in our home state of Washington.
• The Mile High Blend: ride through the alpine wonderland of Colorado.
• The Highway 1 Blend: ride down the Pacific Coast Highway in California (pictured here).
• The 10,000 Lakes Blend: ride through the 10,000 lakes and Twin Cities in Minnesota.
• The Lighthouse Blend: ride along the rocky coast in Maine.

The Coffee Bag retails for $20. Or $80 for the set of five. 

Rainier Handlebar Duffel

Rainier Handlebar Duffel Collage

The Rainier Duffel has two adjustable straps to secure the bag to your handlebars and, when you reach your destination, it can transition seamlessly into a cross-body bag thanks to a built in shoulder strap. Plus, the clever folks at Detours designed the duffel with a little side pocket just to hold the shoulder strap so it doesn’t flop around when attached to the handlebars. Attention to detail—I love that. Speaking of detail, the flap of the duffel, which like the Roadie has a magnetic closure, features a sparkly banana design (you can see a better photo here). I think this is a great touch. The zipped interior compartment also contains a smaller zip pouch and two slip-in pockets. The Rainier Handlebar Duffel also comes in black and “Golden Gardens,” a cheery floral pattern. Retail price is $50.

The Ballard Market Pannier

Stallion Kitted Out

Ok, I might have saved the best for last. The Ballard Market Pannier is the most versatile bag of the bunch with three different carrying options (Elizabeth reviewed and loved this pannier back in 2012). First and foremost, it is a pannier bag, which attaches with two simple, yet secure rack clips. The bottom is a heavy-duty waterproof material to reduce wear-and-tear and keep belongings safe. The interior space has a small zip pocket, key hook, and a laptop compartment, making it an ideal commuter bag.

Ballard Panier

As promised, the Ballard Market Pannier is not just a pannier! The bag also has padded straps to carry as a shoulder tote. And the tote straps convert into backpack straps for heavy loads! So clever.

bag to backpack

Overall, the Ballard Market Pannier is a large enough (11”W x 15”H x 5.5”D) to easily accommodate commuter gear—for me, that includes my 15″ laptop, running shoes & clothes, notebook, wallet, and a few other essentials. Plus, this nifty 3-in-1 setup comes in black (pictured here) and two colorful patterns. The Ballard Market Pannier retails for $80.

The bags I review here are only a small portion of the overall variety that Detours offers—from ultra-tough touring rack trunks to playful, more petite seat post bags. I’m confident that riders will find a bag to suit his or her need whether for trips to the farmer’s market, daily commute or more rigorous rides.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Highs and lows for NOLA

Here’s an article that caught our attention the other day. Having spent many a weekend bicycling in the city of New Orleans (N’awlins, or NOLA if you prefer) long before it was really safe to do so, I’ve been watching the city’s development of infrastructure with a keen eye. They’ve got some highlights to share, but also some real bummers going on:

New Orleans is a top 10 city for bike commuting, but also ranks in the top 5 for bicycle fatalities, according to a new report. The Alliance for Biking and Walking’s recently released Benchmark Report compiled data for 52 U.S. cities. The Crescent City jumped from 10th to 8th in the number of people who biked to work. According to a repackaging of the data by Vox.com, New Orleans ranked 5th in the number of bicycle fatalities over a two year period.

According to the report, 2.3 percent of cyclists in New Orleans commute to work.

Read the full article by visiting the NOLA Defender page.

Any NOLA commuters out there who might care to comment? Let’s hear it.

Want to get a real good workout during your commute?

As great as it is to be getting your work out on while riding your bike to and from work, I recently discovered a “bicycle” of sorts that allows you to get a more intense work out than just pedaling. I visited the 3G Bikes world headquarters in SoCal and got a chance to ride one of their 3G Stepper machines.
3gstepper

Here’s the description:

The 3G Stepper is a revolutionary concept developed to merge unconscious fitness with everyday cycling, which will give a healthier lifestyle to cyclists. The Stepper uses foot platforms to replace the pedals of the bike. The rider pumps the platforms up and down, rather than moving in the traditional circular motion of peddling, achieving a better toning of the whole body.

It helps shape the calves, thighs, abdomen, buttocks in a similar work out to that which you would achieve on a stationery Step machine in any gym, as well as increasing your heart rate to speed up your metabolism. The Stepper bike naturally enhances an upright posture because it has no seat unlike conventional cycles.

So the neat thing about the 3G Stepper is that it’s a tough work out and it has gears! Getting started was a bit awkward at first, but once I got going, the “stepping” motions were pretty natural. Cornering was a blast since it had a wide front tire. Of course when you’re riding something like this, you’re getting quite a bit of attention from drivers and pedestrians a like. Which is a good thing because you want to remain visible while you’re on the road.

I know what you’re thinking, this is more of a work out machine than a mode of transportation. Well check out these two guys who rode their 3G Steppers from Germany to Prague (Czech Republic)! 388.42 KM (241.35 miles) in almost 3 day. If these guys can ride hundreds of miles, I’m sure you’d be able to ride your 6-10 mile commute with a 3G Stepper.
3g stepper

Bicycle Friendly Businesses

The League of American Bicyclists announced their Bicycle Friendly Businesses for 2014:

Top business innovators, ranging from retail to tech, have invested in bicycling as a way to boost morale, increase energy efficiency and encourage healthy living — and they’re reaping the benefits of being a Bicycle Friendly Business.

Today, the League of American Bicyclists announced 80 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) in 29 states and Washington, D.C. These new awardees join a trendsetting group of almost 700 local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 100 companies in 46 states and D.C. that are transforming the American workplace.

Visit the LAB page to view the full list and to read the rest of the article. Congratulations to all the businesses on the list for encouraging cycling and for making a difference!

Friday Musings: An Open Letter to the Backup Bike

Mir writes an open letter to the Backup Bike on loan from a friend, always there to save the day when your main commuter ride is down for the count.

Dear Backup Bike,

Not everyone is lucky enough to have stables full of two-wheeled steeds, fleets with a ride for every need, and extra backup bikes to lend out to friends. But for those of us who do (exclude me, but include my friends) an official round of applause for the Backup Bike on lend from a friend.

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Columbia City Bike Works – origins of the Backup Bike on loan from the Bike Doctor… Dr. Roberts… this is how you build a fleet of bikes for every need.

Oh, Backup Bike, you save my asparagus when I’m caught in a pickle. You remember when I borrowed a rear-mounted grocery rack and installed it on my main ride, Cantaloupe? Cantaloupe, she’s great and all, my main steed for sure… But sometimes Ye Olde Reliable has a bit of a breakdown and ends up in the hospital: the hardware failure left me and Cantaloupe in a giant rack/fender/brake mess that merited a trip to the Bike Doctor… Cantaloupe was down for the count. Damn those bumpy hills that can take out a pair of lock nuts like nobody’s business!

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More shout-outs to friends… it was my Seattle-local-commuter-hero, Christian Kittelson who lent me the rear-mounted grocery rack for utilitarian hauling purposes.

But then there was you: Backup Bike.  Oh, Marin comfort cruiser, light as a feather, fenderless and free… I even like that little swatch of duct tape on the smooshy saddle that says “Hey bike thief, choose a different quick release today…” With your triple crank and upright ride, it was a nice change of pace from Cantaloupe’s ten speed stand-up hill climb. You’re the universal perfect bike for a last-minute fix: a one-size-fits most that’s good enough to get the job done, and simple enough for most rides. From your cushy saddle, we had some good times enjoying nice blue skies and picturesque hilltop views of the water.

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Oh Montlake, there you are: from the saddle of the Marin comfort cruiser – Backup Bike, you saved the day!

Thanks for saving the day, Backup Bike. It’s always fun to mix it up and ride a new set of wheels. And to the friends out there with bikes on loan, you make commuting a breeze. And, on behalf of all potentially stranded bike commuters out there, a big thank you to the commuter collectors who are always willing to lend an extra set of wheels to a friend in need.

Pedal on, sweet commuters… pedal on!

Yours forever,

Mir.I.Am

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Cantaloupe with the Bike Doctor, Dr. Roberts.