SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
ZEFAL Z ADVENTURE T1 TOP TUBE BAG
115g 1 litre Black (as tested) €27.95 (£24.32 at time of writing)
Zefal’s Z Adventure T1 Top Tube Bag is one litre bag that stands, like the UPSO Tebay Top Tube Bag, zip perpendicular to the top tube, as opposed to models like Passport’s Top Tube Bag, that sit lower and flatter. As such, it’s typical of its type in many ways, whilst incorporating some nice additional touches that combine function and the brand style. I’ve been suitably impressed.
Pros: Good price, well-made, very functional.
Cons: Not technically fully waterproof.
In common with the Z Adventure range, the T1 Top Tube bag is designed primarily for road and gravel use. Robustly made, the range is made from 420D TPU Polyester, the fabric and coating offer a sound mix of strength and abrasion resistance.
TPU coating waterproofs fabric. However, like many bags – including the Iron Pack 2 M-DS Seat Pack – stitched, as opposed to welded, seams designate it as water-resistant, as opposed to waterproof. Well-baffled against the elements though the zip is, it is described as water-repellent. The fob is easy enough use without gloves, but if you want access on the fly when gloved up, it may well be worth enlarging it. I haven’t bothered as, in general, I’ve used it for carrying tools. When it holds the in-ride Jelly Babies, it will be a different matter.
“Self-gripping” straps secure the bag, as you’d expect, to steering stem and top tube. Both are solidly stitched, with the front strap thoughtfully angled to secure it across the side of the bag. Both have paint-job saving rubber baffles. There’s ample length in the straps to fit around the tubbiest top or steerer tube. A removable strap can be passed through either of two loops depending on preference.
Internally, there's a hook and loop secured divider to aid organisation (or, in my case, enforce it). I’ve tended to remove it to make that little bit more space.
For those who run charging devices, use external batteries for lighting, like power-banks to keep the GPs alive, or whatever other electrical paraphernalia is your bag, there’s a rubberised port to slip your cable through, whilst keeping the zip tightly closed.
Finally, there’s a reflective strip, which may be helpful in the sense that every little bit of reflectivity adds to your night-time presence.
Capacity is one litre. Dimensions are 220x50x110 mm. Neither the largest or the smallest around.
Easy as pie. Just take your time to get the rubber frame protectors in the right place. The strap for the top-tube is much longer than that on the UPSO Tebay. If you have a seriously oversized or angular top-tube, you may find this a boon. Old fogey’s like me who have old-time circular standard sized steel tubing, will find the strap needs to be tucked in to avoid an annoying brush against the knee. I’ll stress, annoying, not deal breaking. The wife's over-sized road bike top tube has leaves no such problem.
The additional strap offers well, additional security, but in my experience is not really necessary, unless, for whatever reason, you want to keep one of the fixed straps a little on the loose side.
Well, Zefal suggest that you’ll fit in wallet or purse, “nutrition”, repair kit, keys etc. In short, everything you need for a good weather day ride. Well, that’s a bit of a squeeze, in my opinion, unless things are slimmed down. I’ve managed, inner tube, Zefal Profil Micro pump, puncture repair kit, tyre levers, multi-tool, phone, keys, and cash and credit card.
OK, if your “nutrition” consists of gels and such things (and no reason why it should not) then, they’ll go in. If you are lugging around bulk buys of Wine Gums or even a banana or two, then you may well resort to keeping things in your jersey pockets – not a problem really. With wallet etc, in the rear pockets, I’ve managed to fit in a small lock: the sort that prevents opportunist theft, but would not hold-off a determined bike brigand for very long.
Although the T1 is not technically waterproof for a number of reasons, you’ll be unlucky if too much moisture gets inside. One large watering-can emptied over it with no ill effects is reassuring. However, unlike the Iron Pack seat packs (especially if riding with mudguards), it is more exposed to rain. Unless one hundred percent sure, I’d still tend to put sensitive electronics in plastic bags: likewise, other valuables.
Then there’s the additional weak-point at the cable port. Again, in the real world this has not proved to be a problem. I’ve found it worth-while to smooth the rubber back into place, especially after enlarging the orifice with something more than an iPhone or Android cable: for example, a jack-plug for a Sinewave Beacon. I’ll reiterate, I’d go belt and braces with plastic bags for electronics and bank notes.
Stability is excellent. Mind you, so is the larger UPSO Tebay bag. Pot-holes and rough forest track gravel, haven’t hinted at ejection. Having said that, the T1 has been used maily for road duties; short blasts, leisurely trips to the pub, and mainly for carrying basic repair stuff. However, if carrying more then the T1 would make a good companion to a Zefal – or other – seat pack: accessible's to the fore, tools to the rear.
I’ve found the port very useful alongside a hub dynamo powered charger. My favoured UPSO Tebay – I like the extra half-litre capacity – requires the zip to be left a little open. Equally, if I were a real speedster, I’d prefer the aero-dynamics of the T1: unless you have a long steering stem, the UPSO is likely to stand proud. Minimal gain? Up to you.
Smaller than the more expensive – and very likeable - UPSO Top Tube bag, size may not be everything. Willing to trade capacity and individuality for coordination? Trust yourself to pack fastidiously?
Passport’s Top Tube Bag is a different concept, with transparent cover for in-ride phone or GPS usage, and a larger capacity than either of the above. Having said that, it is less water-resistant and more prone to abrasion, in my experience. I’s a good deal cheaper, but I’d consider it more suited to gentler mixed surface riding and road cycling.
Similar in design is the Topeak Top Loader. You’ll have to be even more fastidious when packing, and you’ll have to pay around the same price. Then there’s the more expensive, but very rugged Blackburn Outpost – bigger, with an external pocket – and more expensive.
For me, Zefal’s T1 rewards your buck with a resounding bang.
Ideal for day rides, events, or Audax type riding, whether paired up with a seat pack, or going solo in reliable weather (i.e. you are going to keep your jacket on or not bother taking it). Tourers might prefer a larger capacity, especially where much electronic paraphernalia adorns the bars, ruling out a bar bag. A robust companion for bikepacking, too.
Verdict 3.75/5 Good value, well-made, with nice touches that lift it above the norm.
PUBLISHED APRIL 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH