2019 has been a year of really dialing my bike for “big day” rides of 50 to a 100 miles. It’s sort of a no man’s land between regular rides and the long rides that a lot of bikepackers undertake. It’s also the sort of riding that is super prevalent here in eastern Iowa.
The requirements for being on a bike for several hours and tens of miles from home are the ability to deal with any mechanical gremlins that arise, have enough food on hand in case you begin to bonk, and be prepared for dramatic changes in weather. The last requirement is key. You may end up packing a compressible down jacket for a ride that may end in short sleeves. That is spring in eastern Iowa.
The Terrapin System 8L replace a much more traditional seat bag that had just enough room for my phone, spare tube, mini pump, and a multi-tool if I spent a few minutes arranging everything just so. Do not ask what happened if I had to actually get anything out of said seat bag. It was reverse Jenga in all the wrong ways.
The benefit of a seat bag like the Terrapin System 8L? Variable size. If you do not need to carry a jacket or a burrito as big as your head just roll down the bag insert, close the one way purge valve, and clip it into place. Want to carry a puffy, rain jacket, gloves, and a five dollar foot long? Just unroll the insert, stuff it full, and get to pedaling. About the only downside to bag like this is that the inside is one big compartment. It’s liberating in that there are no internal obstructions to limit your packing imagination, but at the same time it can get a little bit jumbled. I am considering sewing my own tool roll to contain some of the chaos. More projects!
Before the Mag-Tank I had gone through a few top tube or stem tops bags, but ended up binning them after a few rides because nothing ever seemed to work. The Mag-Tank is about the perfect size to hold my smartphone, driver’s license, keys, cash, and some trail snacks in an easy to grab location. In the past I have stored these same items in a seat bag. The problem? To really access a seat bag you have to get off the bike and root through the bottomless pit. Ugh.
Now if I want to take a picture of something on the trail I just pop open the Mag-Tank, which has a snazzy magnetic enclosure as opposed to Velcro or a zipper, and grab my phone. All from the saddle. If you need or want more space there is a larger Mag-Tank 2000, but that seemed like overkill if I was also going to be rocking the Terrapin System 8L.
My only real gripe with the Mag-Tank is that the strap for fastening to the top tube was obviously intended for more voluminous carbon or allow frames. It was pushing things to the limit when I tightened down the strap on my steel Breezer Radar. Granted, the tubes on my bike are of the very skinny old school steel variety. I was left with a lot of extra strap. A little scissor surgery remedied the offending flap. Sure, this bag is limited to this particular bike but when am I going to change rides?
After approximately 1,500 miles so far this season of mixed surface riding in eastern Iowa I can safely say that these two bags have solved all of my cargo carrying concerns. At least one thing has been figured out this summer.
You will notice that my bike now has a flat bar. Updates to follow.
Note: I received nothing from Revelate Designs or anyone else for this post. I bought both products with my own money and intend to keep using them until the end of time. Okay, that might be a little extreme. Regardless, there is no paid product pimping here. I did use my REI dividend and bi-annual member coupon to reduce the sting a little. These products are great, but they are expensive.