Check Out: Valve Stems, Axles, Hydration Packs, & More

Oct 4, 2021 at 13:05
by Daniel Sapp  

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

bigquotesDrankful'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
• Stainless mounting point
• 7075 aluminum axle
• ~$50-$65 USD

bigquotesRobert 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 VersaValve


• Conical and rectangular grommets
• 4x valve cores
• 32mm, 48mm, 60mm, 80mm stem length options
• 6 lockring colors
• $23.99 USD

bigquotesOrange 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.

HandUp Pro Performance Gloves

• Rolled fingertips
• Clarino leather palm
• Compression molded neoprene cuff
• XXS-XXL sizes
• Touch screen compatible palm
• Silicone pads for lever grip
• $36 USD

bigquotesHandUp 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.

HipLok Z Lok Combo


• Ultra-light - 0.068kg
• Re-settable combination
• 10-year warranty
• Black, Pink, Teal, Green, Yellow color options
• $24.99 USD

bigquotesBikes 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.


  • 26 1
 I have 2 locks for use around town on the hitch rack:
- Cable lock, which I trust out-of-sight for 5-10 mins
- Hardened trapezoidal-link chain lock w/ ABUS shackle, which I trust out of sight for 45 mins (after-ride lunch)

That HipLok Z Lok looks great for bike parks, trailheads, and other low-key situations, but I wouldn't trust it for 5 mins in town.
  • 2 0
 I had one of the Otto Locks, which is very sim to this, and the tumbler broke AFTER I locked my bike so it was locked to a picnic table at our camping spot. Took me 20 seconds with a big set of cable cutters.....good deterrent, but an easy steal...
  • 14 1
 If you watch any LockPickingLawyer, you know basically any lock is just a time stall and given the right tools and time, a thief will take your bike. Moral of the story is keep your bike out of sight as much as possible and if you can't avoid it, make sure you've got a good insurance policy.
  • 16 0
 No lock is unbreakable within 3-5 minutes for a professional thief. If I go for lunch/dinner in a restaurant with my friends after a ride, I always try to have full sight of my bike and car. If not, I'll have it locked up and placed where I can see it. Otherwise, the bike goes inside my car with a tarp covering the bike and front wheel out of sight and the trunk locked. It's unbelievable how fast a bike gets stolen even in broad daylight and with people and security cams around. I've had friends telling me that they left their bikes on their racks at a gas station or parking lot and out of nowhere, a*sholes are behind their trucks inspecting to see how fast they can take the bikes off and run. They get surprised and take off once they're spotted going towards the vehicle. Someone should develop a lock that electrocutes the offender - like just fry the bastard!
  • 3 0
 @rowdyhonzo: Waiting for Stuff Made Here to update and sell his lock.
  • 1 0
 LPL, on youtube, showed me to never trust a bike lock or any lock for that matter. Every lock can be broken or picked, by a professionnal lock-picker or determined enough thief.
  • 2 1
 As we all know, bike locks can't truly stop someone. However, the better the lock is the more time it takes and the better the tools you need. For this plastic garbage, anyone with even a basic pair of scissors could get through them. At least with a steel cable lock, you'll need actual cutters.
  • 3 0 save your money
  • 2 0
 Yeah we cut one in half with a pair of scissors when the rep brought them in to the shop.
  • 3 0
 I have a little snowboard lock that I use for popping into a shop in a low risk area. Won't deter any halfway decent thief, and I wouldn't trust it for more than a couple of minutes. But it's easier to carry than that pointless yellow thing
  • 4 0
 @CSharp: I'm with you on the electrocution. Your attitude is refreshing and a complete 180 from the article on NSMB about how the bike thief was the real victim.
  • 3 0
 @zamanfu: got a link to the NSMB article?
  • 1 0
 Saw it and immediately thought “bike park.” Prob going to pick one up for that purpose.
  • 1 0
 I use one for bikepacking. Haven't had an issue in remote small towns when needing to run into a gas station or market. Also good peace of mind while sleeping.
  • 1 0
 @CSharp: last sentence....that would be ideal!
  • 13 0
 I use the HipLok on my city bike when I stop at a coffee shop or someplace I can still see my bike from the cafe. Yeah, it's not the safest lock but sometimes you don't need that.
  • 1 1
 Yeah, this seems like more of a better alternative to the old helmet-strap-through-the-spokes or shift-the-derailleur-across-the-cassette tricks for when you're just running in but keeping an eye on the bike through a window.
  • 11 0
 Who would've thought a fanny pack revived from the 80's would cost over $100 in 2021! LOL
  • 5 0
 And if you have a 1.5 litre reservoir and still need a water bottle it might be time for a camelbak
  • 5 0
 @plyawn: With that new axle, you can carry the water in your BOB trailer. From what I understand, current fashion dictates thou shall not carry water and tools in a Camelbak. The trailer has room for a dog, tools, food, pot (in a flowerpot), spare tubes (including a spare tube for the trailer), gun and ammo (for mountainbikers from the US), chainsaw and petrol (for mountainbikers from Canada), cellphone, spare batteries, shovel (to give you cred as a digger) and a bottle. Try that in a fanny pack. And pics or it didn't happen.
  • 3 0
 @plyawn: I’ve noticed for long slogs uphill, having fannypak w/ H2O + water bottles flanking can be good for when you’re consuming the majority of water going uphill (esp. on a hot day), and by the time you summit, your pack is light enough to not be bothersome on the descent.
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: 1.5 litre = room for a 6pack.
  • 1 0
 @Chonky13: You can carry a keg with a backpack Wink
  • 7 0
 "Does this waist pack make my ass look big?" (or is it just the photo perspective?)
  • 4 0
 I love the Robert Axle axles. Have one for my mountain bike and fat bike, and use to pull a Thule trailer, a trailer converted to a sled in the snow, and a ROVR cooler. Great quality, easy on, and honestly I just leave it on most of the time unless I know I won't be using it for a while. It sticks out a little extra, but would be hard to catch something that your pedal didn't already catch...
  • 2 0
 I see lots of ads on IG for what look like cool new products, only to click through and be directed to a Kickstarter page. For me that's an immediate deterrent. Is it really so difficult to raise traditional capital that crowdfunding is a better alternative? Honest question.
  • 1 0
 It's expensive to design / tool / produce / ship - kickstarter is 'supposed' to allow smaller peoples ideas to be funded that may normally never have the ability to mass produce their products - however these days more and more large companies who don't need that platform use it to get their design / production capital now while paying kickstarters cut.
  • 2 0
 Been using the handup pro performance gloves since snowshoe and they are a million times better than the standard. If they hold up like I think they will I may no longer be a usually gloveless rider.
  • 1 0
 I’ve been using the Hiplok cable ties for a while now for locking the kids’ balance (and now pedal) bikes up when they invariably get bored and want to go play in the playground. Nice piece of kit. Also good for your bike when it’ll be in sight but you’re a bit further away grabbing said 3 year old down from the top of the 20’ climbing frame and can’t get there if someone tries to grab it.
  • 1 0
 PRESTA valves should be outlawed in mtb. Plain and simple. Hands down inferior to schrader in every sense. I miss the old days where we used schrader more- no valves cracking, twisting, getting clogged or impossible to pump, no air leakage... It was as if we figured it out. Then, the industry...
  • 1 0
 They got popular again due to rim profile, schrader are no doubt better but not always long enough for a large portion of MTB rims
  • 1 0
 @sewer-rat: i've been swapping most of my wheels to schrader for years - they're plenty long, and there are longer versions especially for tubeless setup (by park for exmaple). Heck, check out Park's tool video about them- even their top mechanics can't keep a straight face when talking about Presta. Many people/manufacturers have this unfounded fear of sacrificing rim strength by drilling a larger hole, which is complete bullocks. Haven't seen a single rim fail specifically on a valve hole in 20 years in the field.
Rim profile plays a part, but i think they became popular for 2 main reasons:
1) slight weight reduction.
2) laziness of the mtb industry just borrowing crap from road cycling. Took us decades to revise frame design, but this atrocity still stuck.
And of course, the basic illogical nature of this industry and its' love for bad engineering practice until someone finally says "enough is enough".
  • 1 0
 @foxinsocks: fair play, can you set schrader up tubeless, genuine question?
  • 1 0
 @sewer-rat: yes. In fact, in the olden days, ghetto tubeless setup was primarily schrader. And its also sometimes easier thanks to the better air flow- pumps/compressors havean easier time seating the tire. Park tool (and others im sure) have a schrader valve with an outer thread that you can tighten against the rim, so its exactly like a presta setup without all the downsides. Its like 15$ a pair if im not mistaken.
  • 2 0
 @foxinsocks: awesome, on the shopping list Salute
  • 2 0
 @foxinsocks: „back in the day“ of ghetto tubeless, I just cut schrader valves from tubes. Same cost as buying new. But getter availability anywhere on the globe Wink
Don’t they all have outer threads?! How else would you screw a cap on them?
  • 1 0
 @theobviousfaker: we all did. And it worked fantastically.
I meant threads that go all the way to the bottom so you can tighten them with a small flat nut to the rim, like presta tubeless valves. The thread for the cap doesnt help with that.
  • 1 0
 @foxinsocks: ah ok. The most common Tubes around here (Germany) all have threads all the way. Never saw any different.
  • 1 0
 @theobviousfaker: hehe, well then, the dilemma becomes even easier. Combine the fact that the inventor was a German-American, and i think u guys should pick up the glove and lead the revolution Smile
  • 2 0
 For $29 I suggest you get an Airtag and hide it in / on the bike. Yes they might get away with the bike, but you know exactly where it is...
  • 2 0
 then what?
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: you get it back with some friends, or contact the police (if they are effective around where you live).
  • 1 0
 Just make sure to remove the internal speaker, mine started chirping every day I nudged the bike. There is an 8 hour cooldown on the sound alert as far as I know.

Also the thieves would get a notification on their apple devices that an unknown airtag is following them.

It still creates a window of opportunity to get back the bike though. *Mine is velcroed inside the frame and is unreachable without using a tool.
  • 1 0
 @ben314: At least you'll be able to find your bike at the bottom of the river as soon as they see that notification.
  • 2 0
 @xxinsert-name-herexx: Airtag should have a 99.99 option that sends a drone strike and covers replacement cost of the bike!
  • 1 0
 That Robert Axle works very well in my experience. One of those things you just forget about because it works. I have a non-current RSD bike and it was even on their axle finder on the website.
  • 6 4
 Who would even use a zip tie lock? You could cut them with some walmart scissors.
  • 4 0
 I use something similar (a bit heavier) for bikepacking. It's nice to be able to lock bikes together, even if we're sleeping feet away. Between that and leaving Timber bells on, I doubt someone could walk off with one of our bikes without waking me up. There's no way I'd trust it to slow someone down by more than ~5 seconds, though.
  • 21 0
 There are two kinds of thieves.... opportunists who, given the chance, will grab anything not locked up... and then the more pro thieves who carry hand tools that will get through any lock within 30 seconds. This zip tie lock will work just as well against the first kind as any hardened giant chain lock will. And almost nothing works against the second kind of thief. The moral of the story is that you always, ALWAYS, lock your bike to your rack, doesn't matter what kind of lock it is... any lock will do. And you never leave your bike unattended for more than a few minutes, hopefully still within sight. If you do have to, it should be in a busy, highly populated area in plain sight of a lot of people... don't hide it around the corner or whatever. And try to avoid these situations as often as possible... you see the results on pinkbike and facebook almost daily.
  • 3 1
 anyone who ever thinks about locking up their bike needs to check out Lockpicking Lawyer on youtube to see hose useless most locks are. Especially these zip tie ones that can be defeated in seconds with some snips or a piece of pop can.
  • 1 0
 Still can't believe we have to talk about bike theft in 2021. If bikes were booby-trapped like bags of money in bank heist movies we might not have so much of this.
  • 5 0
 Locks keep honest people honest
  • 1 0
 @DaneL: Indeed. When bikepacking and running into a convenience store for another day's worth of comfort food, leaving my bike outside always has me racing through the aisles. I used to leave my bike in its biggest gear in case the thief tried riding it away (street shoes on Eggbeaters, ah), but am realistic to know it'd be tossed in back of a buddy's truck.
  • 5 0
 @Rosmo74: I've never understood this. It's one of those aphorisms that's demonstrably untrue, yet people mindlessly repeat it. If locks are required to keep someone from stealing something are they an "honest person"? I feel like that sort of sentiment is kind of an insult to most decent people.

If I walk by an expensive bike that I'd really like to own, and it's unlocked in front of a store or something, I'm gonna look and think, "Wow. Nice bike. Wouldn't be leaving it like that if it was mine. Risky move. Hope that works out for them." and keep walking. I'm not going to think, "Woohoo! Free bike!", and jump on it and ride it away 'cause it was left unlocked.

A lock will slow down dishonest thieves, or make them keep walking in search of something easier to steal. If it does either of those two things well enough to prevent your stuff from getting stolen it's done its job regardless of how crappy or expensive it was.
  • 2 1
 @SoCalTrev: Well put.
The phrase sounds a lot like “gun regulation keeps guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens,” which again sounds like flawed logic.
  • 1 0
 @SoCalTrev: I think there are some weak people out there and the temptation of an unlocked bike is too strong. That said I don't want to find out if the logic is flawed or not. Thieves definitely scope the local bike park looking for an upgrade or a maybe it is for a drug fix.. it is unreal how many unlocked bikes on any given day...
  • 3 0
 Waist pack? More like Waist of Money.
  • 1 0
 I like how that hydration pack also has room for a water bottle. I ride with an Osprey lumbar pack, and in the desert or at high elevations the 1.5L isn’t enough water.
  • 1 0
 Don’t buy that lock. Total crap. I had one and the plastic cracked second time out leaving a sharp piece of metal that then shredded my jersey. Garbage.
  • 1 0
 The hiploks? I have one on all 5 of my bikes, and they sit outside so those locks see the sun and weather. Still going strong after a year. Must have got a dud.
  • 1 0
 That robert axle is the most interesting product here. Finally i can maybe take my kids for a ride without needing to pull out my 15year old bike with the qr axle
  • 1 0
 the new handup gloves look like specialized lodowns from couple of years ago
  • 1 0
 Can get into these by just pulling hard after they've been used a few times.
  • 4 4
 If handup figures out how to make gloves that don't disintegrate after a couple months, they could be on to something.
  • 9 7
 Obviously you've had a pair or two that didn't work out for you and we hate that but, with respect, if this statement were even mildly true, we wouldn't still be a company.... not to mention our 30 or so professional athletes that get a lot more than a couple months out of them. Our gloves haven't disintegrated for 99% of our customers per our less than 1% warranty rate.
  • 4 3
 @HandupGloves: I like your stuff, I really do, but it'd be cool if the gloves lasted through a season at least. I don't think it's a warranty thing, and I get that nailing the cost to quality ratio is hard while still making a profit. Hopefully these pro gloves are a step in the right direction.
  • 2 0
Currently on year 4 w/ my first pair of Handup gloves. Just got a small hole at the thumb where it contacts the bars this weekend. Will definitely be purchasing another pair of Handup gloves! Best I've found.
  • 2 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: We appreciate the love! If you have gloves still, we'll warranty up to 1 year which is one of the better warranty programs for gloves in the industry. Let us know if we can help!
  • 1 0
 @mnguyen1224: stoked to here it!
  • 1 0
 Honestly handup gloves are the only gloves that haven’t disintegrated on me. Over a year on two pairs and still going strong. Used to buy fox, never again.
  • 1 0
 Can't disagree more. I have one pair that is three years and still going strong, I wash them a few times a year which in the past made other brands disintegrate. Not these, I own two regular and one winter pair which is more of a fall glove but still great.
  • 1 0
 @HandupGloves: Love your stuff guys. The flannel, pants, and the new pro glove is killer. Best feeling glove I've ever worn.
  • 1 0
 That lock looks like a one time use.
  • 1 0
 That's the largest zip tie I've ever seem
  • 1 0
 Gloves with touch screen compatible palms?
  • 1 0
 all in one tubeless valve that wont work with inserts seems silly?
  • 1 1
  • 3 6
 Very cool - that yellow lock was voted 'Lock of the year' in 2020 on Outside! Be safe be well, Robin
  • 2 0
 FYI the comment section does not exist for accolades. Complaints only please.
  • 4 5
 @mca896: Thanks for the feedback! I'm still trying to get used to how things work around here. I'm looking to get more lycra featured soon!

Be safe be well,
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