First Impressions: Jones Loop H-Bar Pack

We’re big fans of Jeff Jones’ Loop handlebars The bars’ swept-back design and multiple hand positions successfully bridge the gap between conventional drop- and upright-bars. Ample real estate for packs and accessories make it a popular choice for bikepacking and adventure riders, and with the introduction of the company’s Loop H-Bar Pack ($80.00 MSRP), you can add convenient storage to the bars’ list of features.

Expertly crafted in North America by the folks at Porcelain Rocket, the single-compartment H-Bar Pack is constructed from 500D Cordura, 200D liner fabric, closed cell foam, and YKK #8 water-resistant zippers. Mounting is simple thanks to four heavy-duty Velcro straps and two cam-lock nylon straps. While the Velcro straps’ positions are fixed, the cam-lock straps have multiple attachment points making it easy to accommodate bar-mounted accessories or other packs. For on-the-go access, the dual-pull zipper can be opened with one hand from either the right or left side. Despite the pack’s use of heavy-duty materials, weight is a scant 120 grams.

With a capacity of approximately 110 square inches (1.8 litres), the Loop H-Bar pack isn’t a replacement for bikepacking-style handlebar rolls such as the ones from Apidura, Blackburn, or Revelate. We found that the Loop H-Bar Pack’s easy access design made it ideal for storing small, frequently used items such as sunscreen, a cell phone, or energy bars and gels. If you’re riding in uncertain weather conditions, the pack is large enough to hold a lightweight vest, skull cap, and a pair of thin gloves.

Depending on your preferred grip, you may find that the Loop H-Bar Pack interferes with some of  your favorite hand positions. One tester found that the bag made it difficult to wrap his fingers around the bars’ outer loop section. Those riders who tended to ride with their hands draped across the top of the bars typically had no complaints, however. Some testers reported that the added weight of the pack and cargo was noticeable on technical drops.

The Jones Loop H-Bar Pack is an excellent alternative–or complement–to top tube and feedbag-style packs. After several months of use, our test sample shows no signs of wear despite being swapped between multiple bikes and riders. If you’re running Jones Loop handlebars and want to add some extra storage space, the Loop H-Bar Pack is definitely worth your consideration.

Disclosure: Jeff Jones Bicycles provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

First Impressions: Zevlin Big40 2.5 Handlebar Tape

Dialing in your bike’s contact points is often a trial-and-error process. Between shoes, saddles, and bar tape, you can spend a small fortune searching for a comfortable setup. Thankfully, Zevlin’s Big40 2.5 handlebar tape ($17.95 MSRP) proves that comfort doesn’t have to be expensive. gravel grinder zevlin big40 handlebar tape wrap

Zevlin’s Big40 2.5 tape is available in six colors.

Founded in 2011, Zevlin is the brainchild of two brothers–Brad and Drew Hagestad. Zevlin’s Big40 2.5 tape is the company’s latest addition, and features a (wait for it…) 2.5 mm thickness for added comfort. Like the company’s other tape, Zevlin’s 2.5 tape is 40 mm wide (most tape measures 30 mm). According to Zevlin, the extra width makes wrapping easier, and allows for more overlap and coverage (which is a boon if you run wide or non-traditional bars).

Zevlin’s Big40 combines a thin outer layer (or skin) with a layer of foam padding. A narrow strip of 3M adhesive keeps the tape in place. The end result is a tape that’s extremely flexible and very easy to apply. Unlike some wraps that don’t tolerate being stretched, Zevlin’s tape can be pulled tight without tearing (the foam base layer will separate long before the outer skin breaks). And while we generally prefer tape without adhesive backing, the Big40’s 3M adhesive easily accommodated re-wrapping and left very little residue when removed.

If you’re a fan of Goldilocks bar tape–not too thick, not too thin–chances are you’ll like Zevlin’s 2.5 wrap. It’s thick enough to reduce road buzz, but not so thick that you have to maintain a death grip to keep your hands in place. Our first set of 2.5 tape retained its cushion after several months of testing, and we only replaced it to try a different color. The tape’s lightly textured outer layer proved very grippy–with, or without gloves–even during Colorado’s early-summer thundershowers. That outer skin also makes it easier to clean than competitors’ all-foam tape. While we didn’t crash-test the 2.5 tape, it held up to several encounters with a particularly rough brick wall.

Zevlin offers the Big40 2.5 tape in six colors: black, white, grey, pink, red, and yellow. Inside the box you’ll find two rolls of tape, brake hood strips (2), finishing tape, and two plastic bar plugs. If none of the standard colors strike your fancy, Zevlin offers tape with custom graphics with minimum orders as small as ten sets.

Disclosure: Zevlin provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

Under Test: Silca Impero Ultimate Frame Pump

Silca’s $450 SuperPista Ultimate award-winning floor pump caused quite a stir when it was introduced last year. Not content to rest on their laurels, Silca has redefined the frame pump with their Impero Ultimate model. This ain’t your daddy’s Impero, either–the Ultimate features 100% metal construction and a 2-stage elastomer head that eliminates the need for fussy levers.

Stay tuned…