A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is an occasional round-up of everything our tech editors have gotten their hands on. Sometimes it's products we're doing long-term tests on, other times its stuff we're stoked on but don't have time to fully review. And, sometimes it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
Drankful Hydration MTB Waist Pack
• 1.5L Square-shaped bladder for minimal bouncing • Extra water bottle storage pockets • Large storage compartment • Cinch straps to compress gear
• Magnetic FidLock style buckle • Waterproof zipper with Bluesign fabric • Black with reflective strips • $119 USD • drankful.com
Drankful's MTB hydration pack found its way to my house several months back as they were working to get the project funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Fast-forward and the pack is now fully funded with production models slated to ship out in time for the holidays.
It's one of the more convenient packs to use from a user experience standpoint, being well organized and simple. The magnetic buckle makes it easy to quickly and securely fasten, and although the pack has a 1.5-liter reservoir being able to lash a bottle to the outside is helpful, especially in warmer weather when I want to have some sort of hydration mix in a bottle. I appreciate the pockets stashing away when not in use and not adding anything at all to the overall heft of the pack.
The pack is well thought out, comfortable, and carries itself well on rough trails. It's always good to see a new quality product appear and be well-received and I think the crew at Drankful have done an excellent job in designing this one.
Robert Axle Project Thru-Axles
• 12mm and 15mm axles • Available for nearly any frame • CNC machined
Robert Axle Project was born out of necessity as the transition to 12mm thru-axles made attaching BOB-style trailers to a mountain bike just about impossible. The axles are CNC machined and made out of 7075 aluminum with a stainless steel attachment point on the end to make attaching just about any sort of trailer you can imagine safe and simple.
Axles are made to fit nearly any trailer and nearly any bike. There's a really easy-to-use axle finder on the company's website and, it proved quite easy for me to find an axle to attach a kids trailer to just about any bike I could think of. In addition to trailer axles, they make a range of other solutions ranging from axles for smart trainers to theft deterrents and more.
Using the axle itself is straight forward as it could be. Just swap it out with your current one - it installs using a 5mm hex wrench. That leaves you with a solid bolt-on point for a trailer. For me, being able to attach our Thule kids' trailer to a bike I already have, rather than needing to purchase a cruiser just to ride the greenway is a no-brainer. It also works just fine for trail riding, although it does protrude a bit, but I'll take that over having to swap it out to go from sport to casual.
Orange Seal's VersaValve is designed to be an all-in-one solution for tubeless valves. The stems come with two different grommets, conical and rectangular, to ensure the best fit possible on a variety of rims. Additionally, there are six different color options to choose from when selecting lockring colors. The valves are available in four different lengths and are said to work well with just about any wheels out there from mountain to road to gravel.
Valve stems seem to be almost a dime a dozen, but these stems from Orange Seal look to come with a nice package of accessories. I appreciate the extra valve cores as they do deteriorate and need to be replaced from time to time with sealant and it always seems to be something I notice right when I'm headed out to ride. Having a spare on hand, rather than needing to run to the bike shop or auto parts store is quite helpful. Additionally, having the option of different grommets can be useful in ensuring the best seal for whatever rim you're running.
• Touch screen compatible palm • Silicone pads for lever grip • $36 USD • handupgloves.com
HandUp gloves have made a name for themselves by offering minimalist gloves that function well without breaking the bank. For their Pro Performance glove, they partnered with Neko Mulally and asked for his feedback on what he wanted in a glove. The compression-molded cuff and rolled fingertips were priorities in this glove and it offers a more secure fit and feel than Handup's standard glove.
I came across a pair of the gloves close to a year ago as they were in development and picked up a production version the other week, and I have to say that it's an excellent fitting glove. Where the standard gloves stretched out a touch for me throughout a ride, the Pro gloves offer a much more robust and snug fit, especially across the back of the hand. The rolled fingertips are comfortable and the cuff keeps everything quite snugly in place.
I appreciate that the gloves still carry the minimalist feel of Handup's other gloves and while I've only managed a few rides in them, they seem to be holding up well and I don't expect to have any issues with them. They work great with touch screens and I don't have any complaints to speak of. Some riders may find they want to size up as the Pro model doesn't stretch out quite as much as the standard.
Bikes are expensive and there seems to be more and more bike theft every day. Trailheads that were once pretty benign and not all that crowded are now packed, and I feel like we hear about someone's bike disappearing on an almost weekly basis. While there's no substitute for a burly chain lock anchored to a fixed object, especially in higher-risk situations, HipLok's Z Lok series offers a low-cost and low-weight theft deterrent that can be useful for those moments when you need to run into a store for a minute or two
The lock is reinforced with metal and looks like a glorified zip tie, or zap strap, depending on your locale. It is small enough to toss in a bag or pocket and offers what I feel comfortable with as enough protection to deter a convenience theft. While the lock isn't going to stop someone with an angle grinder or even a hacksaw, it's better than risking not locking up your bike at all. I've been using the combo lock for everything from locking bikes to my hitch rack to a random sign by a store and it offers good peace of mind, knowing that someone is probably at least going to make a scene and be noticed if they try to run off with your ride.
It's far less bulky than a cable or chain lock, easy to use, and has held up in the elements. For $25, it's a worthwhile investment, in my mind.