First Impressions: Elite Rocko Carbon Bottle Cage

Since launching the GRAVELBIKE site in 2011, my track record for predicting whether I’ll like a product that’s under test has been pretty reliable. Sometimes, though, my intuition is way off base. Looking at the specs for Elite’s Rocko Carbon bottle cage, I figured the slender, 27-gram model would be more at home on a skinny-tired road bike rather than my gravel bike or plus-size MTB. But after several months’ testing, I’m happy to report that my spidey senses were indeed wrong when it came to the Rocko’s suitability for dirt and gravel riding.

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First Impressions: Topeak JoeBlow Booster Pump

Tubeless tire and wheel technology has improved by leaps in bounds in the past few years, but it wasn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Early tubeless adoptees (including yours truly) often struggled to make certain tire and rim combinations play nicely with one another. Back then, the most common aid for seating tubeless tires was the pancake compressor. And while compressors were generally effective, they were also heavy, noisy, and required electricity to operate. To help tubeless users cut the cord, Topeak developed the JoeBlow™ Booster floor pump ($149.95 MSRP).

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First Impressions: Velo Orange Transporteur Bag

Velo Orange (VO) got its start in 2006 as an importer of hard-to-find bicycle parts and accessories. In recent years, the company’s lineup has grown to include VO-branded framesets, components, and softgoods. For their current line of bags, Velo Orange collaborated with Road Runner Bags of Los Angeles to produce a diverse range of US-made gear. Designed for use with porteur-style racks (or baskets), the aptly-named Transporteur ($125 MSRP) bag is the ideal companion for touring and utility cycling.

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First Impressions: Bontrager Bat Cage

First introduced in 1997, the Bat Cage is one of Bontrager‘s longest running products. For the past 22 years, Trek has manufactured hundreds of thousands of Bat Cages in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, 30 miles from the company’s Waterloo headquarters. Thanks to a partnership with NextWave and Bureo, Trek now manufactures Bat Cages from recycled materials made from reclaimed fishing nets. According to Justin Henkel, Trek’s Director of Product for Saddles and Essentials, it’s estimated that one year’s production will put 44,000 square feet (3,850 pounds) of discarded fishing nets to good use.

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First Impressions: microSHIFT ADVENT Components

If you purchased a bicycle in the past two decades there’s a very good chance that it came equipped with a Shimano or SRAM drivetrain. While microSHIFT may not be as well known as Shimano and SRAM, the Taiwanese company has been designing and manufacturing shifters, derailleurs, and cassettes since 1999. With a product range spanning city, road, and mountain bikes, microSHIFT’s latest addition–ADVENT–is a versatile, affordable 1×9 system designed for maximum durability with minimal maintenance.

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