Product Reviews March 8, 2012

Cycling with your Laptop can be Rocket Science!

You often here the phrase "it's not rocket science". Well bikebritain has found an instance where that phrase does accurately apply! Here's how. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Redondo Beach in California. Staying beachside with views of the ocean, although for work, was not a hardship. Fortunately I found myself with some exploring time over the weekend. Conveniently, not five minutes walking distance from the hotel was California's award winning triathlon shop, the Triathlon Lab. I had previously spotted a couple of very tasty looking bikes outside so this naturally required further investigation. With my body clock still unadjusted, I was awake with the larks and the first person in the shop, practically banging on the door. 

Let's say it was the sort of place you could easily spend an hour 'just looking'. And I did. Just prior to flying to the States I had competed in the Evans 'Ride It' event at Gatwick and come a cropper by not having the appropriate length necked inner tubes on hand. Having spied a heap of 80mm necked inner tubes for starters, thus ensued the shopping. A pair of extraordinary bright rear lights that wrapped around the rear wheel stays we're next, a couple of Park Tools tools, a pair of Louis Garneau thermal gloves (they are fantastic) and so on. I also spotted a limited edition courier bag which looked smart. I picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down and left the shop. Not a critical purchase, spent enough already I thought. 

I was leaving the following day for Kansas. After a days shopping at the local mall in Torrance I returned to the hotel and passed the Triathlon Lab one last time. It was late and they were still open......I scrutinised the bag one last time. It was a technical piece of kit with enough pockets and storage zones to satisfy even the most organised of athletes. What really attracted me was the detachable waterproof pocket inside, large enough to store a laptop and iPad without any trouble. This would be perfect for cycling to work and would ensure the hardware stays dry. It seemed large enough to carry my helmet as well if needed........

I had found the combination of wearing a cycle helmet and a rucksack usually meant restricted head movement, due to the position of the upper pocket (on the rucksack) and the shape of my helmet. The net result of this was that it was awkward to look up and straight ahead - so hardly ideal. Another alternative was to sling a standard sports bag over your shoulder, but the drawback here was that it would slip to the side and knock against your legs as you cycled. That was quite irritating. In summary, I had not mastered the art of carrying clutter to work. This bag, however, made by 'Rocket Science Sports' (RSS), I surmised, might just do the trick. 

The bag itself is made out of PVC with one large flap that buckles down each side. Open the buckles and you can unzip the bag down the length of each side, completely opening it up. Inside is a fully waterproofed centre pocket, with two smaller pockets either side, designed for an iPod or a mobile phone. A shoulder strap is included, but I have yet to use it. Once on, the bag sits comfortably below the helmet line so there's no movement limitations. Perfect. There are two straps that secure across your chest if you want to make sure the bag stays exactly in place. The straps are all easily adjustable. Not to everyone's taste, the colour scheme is white with red trim with Rocket Science Sports emblazoned down one side. It's also got some nice detailing on the zips with the RSS logo on them as well as a larger version on the straps. Finally, on its exterior, there's two mesh pockets large enough to keep 750ml water bottles safely upright. Handy if you need to provision for additional fluids. 

All this said, however, it transpired that I was using for a purpose unintended. This was a transition bag! On reflection, I was standing in a dedicated Triathlon shop, so it made sense. The idea is you put all your kit in it during race time and when your done you put your wet gear in the waterproof zipped pocket......

Despite the minor confusion over its intended function, it has worked without fault over the Winter. The waterproof pocket has done its job, even during torrential rain when everything else I've been wearing has been soaked. Yes, you can probably get a similar bag for the same cost (or less) and not have to travel to California to get it, but I have been pleased with all my purchases from the Triathlon Lab. The guys there were very friendly and were happy enough to let me roam round the store, taking photos of their (numerous) bikes hanging from the ceiling. If you find yourself in Southern California, you should drop by; it's a cornucopia of Triathlon goodies. 

The bag cost about £90. I notice that on the RSS website its been reduced, so if you fancy buying one, now is a good time. For the record, Rocket Science Sports is a brand dedicated to high performance Triathlon products. The Triathlon Lab was voted Top USA Triathlon Retailer in 2010 by Triathlon America. 

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