First Impressions: Ortlieb Seatpost Bag

Ortlieb bags are famous for their durable, waterproof construction. The German-made seat bags and panniers are a favorite with all-weather riders who want their gear to remain dry in adverse conditions. And now, Ortlieb broadens their product range with the introduction of the company’s Seatpost Bags.

Unlike their original seat bags, Ortlieb’s Seatpost Bags attach directly to the seatpost. The integrated mount fits ‘posts from 25.4mm to 34.9mm diameter. A quick-release strap allows easy installation and removal. Ortlieb offers the Seatpost Bag in two sizes: small (1.5kg max load, 1.5 litre capacity), and medium (2.5kg max load, 4 litre capacity). Both bags feature high-frequency welded seams, waterproof fabrics, hi-viz reflective accents, and tabs for attaching blinky-style lights.

The Seatpost Bags utilize a ratchet-type design that’s similar to the closures found on many cycling shoes. This tool-free system allows quick-and-easy installation and removal, while still providing a secure interface with the seatpost (Ortlieb does not recommend using the Seatpost Bags with carbon or aero seatposts). The mounting bracket features a soft rubber insert which helps reduce slippage, as well as protecting the seatpost’s finish. During our testing, we had no difficulty swapping the bags between 27.2mm and 31.6mm seatposts.

Even when loaded to their respective max capacities, both bags remained securely attached and noise-free. The packs themselves did exhibit some minor flex, but it wasn’t noticeable during actual riding (even on bumpy dirt roads/trails). The dry bag-style rolled closures did an outstanding job of keeping the bags’ contents dry, and unlike zippers, didn’t become jammed when exposed to grit and grime (of which there was no shortage).

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Ortlieb seatpost bag Black Mountain Cycles Selle Anatomica Paul Component Engineering CamelBak Panaracer Shimano H+SON

Ortlieb’s medium-size Seatpost Bag performing double-duty as a mudguard on a sloppy weekend ride.

For day rides, centuries, and light commuting, the medium Seatpost Bag would be an excellent choice. The pack’s internal mesh pockets help keep items organized, and the elastic cord can easily accommodate a light jacket or other clothing. At 442g, it’s lighter than a dedicated rack-top bag, and can be easily removed when not needed. While the smaller Ortlieb Seatpost Bag is heavier (243g) than a conventional seat pack of comparable capacity, the former’s mounting system makes it compatible with hard-to-fit saddles such as those with springs or I-beam designs.

Disclosure: Ortlieb USA provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

Under Test: FSA Afterburner Disc Brakes

Full Speed Ahead will be releasing their Afterburner and K-Force hydraulic brakes in March. Both models feature tool-free reach and contact-point adjustments, and utilize mineral oil (as opposed to DOT brake fluid).

Stay tuned…

First Impressions: Sugino ZX801D Crankset

Over the years, mountain bike gearing has matured as drivetrain technology evolved. Rear cogs have increased in number (and range), while chainring counts have steadily declined. The once-ubiquitous triple crank has all but been replaced by double-ring cranks. And during this transformation, frames and rear hubs have become wider. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that the aforementioned growth has forced cranksets to become become wider. What if you prefer a crank with a narrower tread (aka, q-factor), though? Thankfully, Sugino’s ZX801D is one of a handful of cranksets that offer 2×10 compatibility and a narrower stance.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Sugino ZX801D OX801D OX601D 2x10

The ZX801D configured with 26t inner and 40t outer chainrings.

Like its on-road counterparts, Sugino’s ZX801D crankset utilizes forged alloy arms and a hollow, 24mm chrome-moly spindle. Whereas competitors’ cranks feature 64/104mm or 80/120mm bolt circle diameters, the ZX801D is spec’d with the more traditional 74/110mm pattern. Crank arm lengths range from 160mm to 175mm in 2.5mm increments. Inner chainrings are available in 24, 26, or 28t. Matching ramped-and-pinned outer chainrings are limited to 40t or 42t. A single-speed version–the ZX-SS–is also available. Q-factor for both models is 156mm.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder 29er Sugino ZX801D Soul Cycles Dillinger

Sugino’s external bottom bracket is compatible with 68mm and 73mm shells.

As one would expect with a $500+ crankset, the ZX801D’s fit and finish are outstanding. Installation was straightforward, and didn’t require special frame preparation or proprietary tools. The chainrings ran perfectly true, and the bottom bracket exhibited less seal drag than comparable Shimano units. Clearance with the stock 26/40t chainrings proved more than adequate, and the crankarms cleared our test frame‘s chainstays by 3mm (4mm on the non-drive side).

For our testing, the ZX801D was paired with a Shimano XT front derailleur (controlled by a microSHIFT XCD shifter) and Wipperman Connex 10sB chain. Shifting between the 26t and 40t rings was quick and quiet. Even with the minimal chainstay clearance, the crankarms never came in contact with the frame. The ZX801D’s narrower q-factor made for efficient and comfortable pedaling. While the 156mm tread is wider than what’s typically found on most road cranksets (145-150mm), the ZX801D is 10-15mm narrower than many competitors’ 2×10 MTB cranks.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder 29er Sugino ZX801D Blackspire SuperPro Connex Wipperman 10-speed Soul Cycles

SuperPro chainrings from Blackspire offer plug-and-play compatibility.

After riding the stock 26/40t chainrings for a couple of weeks, it became apparent that the 40t outer ring was a little on the tall side for yours truly. Since Sugino doesn’t offer a smaller outer ring, I contacted chainring manufacturer Blackspire for advice on how to obtain lower gearing. The Canadian company recommended their SuperPro 74/110mm BCD chainrings in a 24/36t ratio. While the 36t chainring is technically not an outer chainring (it’s intended for use as the middle position on a triple), performance was not compromised. It should be noted that, however, the 36t SuperPro chainring lacks the anti-jamp pin traditionally found on outer rings (although there have been no issues with overshifting).

During GRAVELBIKE’s extended test period, the ZX801D has proven to be a fit-and-forget component, requiring only the most minimal, post-installation maintenance (limited mostly to checking bolt tightness). Even when exposed to harsh winter conditions (and the requisite post-ride cleaning), it’s been noise-free. The real benefit for me, however, is the cranks’ narrow stance. No longer do I spend the first half of my ride waiting for my knees to adjust to a wider crank. Thanks to the Sugino’s narrow profile, comfort and efficiency are greatly improved.

Disclosure: SOMA Fabrications and Blackspire provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.