Product test: Banjo Brothers Messenger Bag and Commuter Backpack


Product test is just a nice way to say "try to break". And that's what I did with the Commuter Backpack $90. From throwing it around my house, to dragging it through the shop and loading it to the brim with ice and beer. Fact of the matter is, I couldn't even get a rip out of it.

At first glance I wasn't sure if the large was going to be big enough to fit everything I commute with, but the fact of the matter is it's way more space than I even need. The inside easily fits a 12 pack with all my clothes.

The red is a really cool color and for people like me that have an extensive black wardrobe it makes you feel a little safer at night. And the light clip strap is evidence that this bag is made by people who ride bicycles, bringing the question to mind, why don't all bike bags have one? My only issue with the clip strap thingy (you don't know what it's called either) is I feel it should be on the other side of the bag where cars are more likely to see it, but there are reflective lines over there so I should just shut up.

With a roll-top and a flap that goes over that, you'd have to ride your bike underwater to get your clothes wet. Even then I'm not sure they would get wet, but I don't know as I've never ridden my bike underwater because that's something a crazy person would do.

You will hear complaints about the roll-top obstructing your view when checking behind you for cars. I found it easy to adjust the way I look back, and if you can't do that I'm not sure you should be riding a bicycle.

My only real complaint is that as heavy as I can get the bag I don't feel like there's enough support. I took the waist straps off immediately because they just didn't hit in the right place for me. And while you're bent over riding the chest strap doesn't really seem to take any of the pressure off your back. Although the chest straps can be moved up and down on the shoulder straps, I might just be too short them to work for me.

All in all, this is a killer, killer, killer bag. I would suggest this bag to anyone commuting and carrying all their clothes to work with them. Or anyone who likes to show up at the party with the most beer.



We got the medium and have been using it for commuting to work, the grocery, running errands, and hauling beer for the last few months. Link

As with every Banjo Brothers product we've tried, the bag just works. At $60, you can not go wrong. Strong, durable, and comfortable. The padded laptop divider works as a pad against pointy things, and the overwhelming number of pockets and places to store things keeps you organized more than you could ever need. Clothes for the day, shoes, lunch, and all your daily needs fit just fine. If you need more room, we would suggest going for the large.

Pockets. I am still finding them. If you are OCD, organizing chaos is a breeze with places for everything and anything you want to haul. The straps are ambidextrous, so no matter what side you like to wear your bag on, it'll work. Light clip thingy, reflective stuff, and all the other things that are supposed to be on a bicycle bag are there, and they work. Adjustment is a breeze and it is actual quite easy to get into while riding (we do not recommend this for everyone).

Waterproof? Never had anything get wet, though after it happening to me with other bags, I routinely use a dry bag or plastic bag if it's raining... just in case. Wet underwear sucks. A lot.

The only issue is one of the Velcro pieces has torn loose, simply because the Velcro used is kick ass and the stitching just didn't hold up. No prob. The clip buckles work better anyway, and the Velcro is secondary.

The only thing to fail is one little piece of un-needed Velcro, and that should have no bearing on your decision to getcha one. (personally, I've never liked Velcro on a messenger bag - never made sense)

All in all, after months of daily use and beating the absolute crap out of this bag, we give it a hardy thumbs up.


Free bicycles for those in need

Its that time of year again. Christmas! ...and what better gift for a needy child than a bicycle?

We've been doing this on and off for a few years now, and as of last year, it is now an annual event for the shop. We will be taking donation to buy bicycles to be donated to Toys for Tots.

We're planning a party, but we just don't have the details quite yet.


Product Test: Sun Ringle EQ21L 29'er rim.

We're big fans of Sun Ringle rims. I have been riding the disc only versions on my super commuter for a few years, and with a rim braking surface on these (even though they are billed as a 29'er XC rim), we thought we'd take 'em to task on the cross bike.

I built a few of these rims up on Surly hubs for a few people, including Eliot - who has been riding the crap out of them on his fixie. When I trashed the previous wheel on my Cross Check, it just seemed right to do the same. Surly hubs, DT Swiss comp spokes, Sun EQ21L.




Bike Type:


Product Specs:

  • Size: 26″ 29″
  • Width: 21mm
  • Bead width: 21mm
  • Inner bead width: 16mm
  • Section Height: 16mm
  • 26″- 375g, 29er-420g
  • Sleeved or Welded
  • Disc or Rim
  • Hole Count: 24,28, 32
Sun Ringle rims have always built up well. The seams are welded and smoothed out so well, you would never feel the seam as the brake pad crosses it. I've been bashing these rims around the city for about two months, and they ride as solid as any deep V style I had used previously. At 420g, they are not to heavy and spin up quite quickly.

On the trail, they ride confidently and solid, tracking straight with very little flex - if any at all. The tension stayed well balanced after the typical break in period, as well as after a total scorpion crash where I broke two spokes on the same side (the wheel would not turn as it was jammed into the inside of the fork - 4 mile walk). Once I replaced the spokes and got the wheel round again, it was time for the real test.

The pics are from Hamilton Creek Mountain Bike Trail. I took the greenway to the trail, road the short loop (6ish miles), and pedaled back. Zero issues. Round. Straight. True.

As usual, Sun Ringle brings it. We give 'em 100%. in all honesty, you should be riding these on your cross bike.

visit Sun Ringle for more info.

Cyclocross Season is almost here!!!!!!

Need to get in a little practice before you start the racing and partying? This tuesday at 6:00pm, we'll be hosting the first of a few CX practice sessions at Shelby Park. Head toward the Nature Center parking and look for us setting up in the field (link).

Visit Uphill Grind for info on Middle TN races.
The TN Race Schedule is right here at the TBRA site.

Visit us for all your Cyclocross needs.

Product Test: ACS Crossfire Freewheel/Conti TourRide

ACS has put a new freewheel out that works. In fact, after beating the crap out of it for three months in all conditions, hammering through town, and never ever servicing it - or actually touching it after installation, it still rolls killer. The old ACS Claws had play, made noise, but lasted... well, longer than any other. Time will tell as to how long the Crossfire will last, but as it stands right now, there are no worries. At $26, it is a win. 5 stars... so far.

Continental Tour Ride 700x28. Snapping turns at speed produces a velcro sound as the tires grip pavement, which is repeated when charging a steep climb. In grass and gravel, they roll like butter and smooth out almost all the little things. With the higher air volume, jumping curbs, pounding potholes, or riding home with reckless abandon after one too many is not a problem at all. I don't think these tires are designed to roll on a fixed gear, which is why I think they wore so quickly in the course of a couple months. Then again, power slides and fun skids will destroy most anything in a short amount of time, never mind.

These tires were mounted on a Surly Cross Check for commuting, hammering around town on night rides (where the bulk of the testing was done), as well as some long distance fun. The suspension quality shined, and the sticky was just that, STICKY. Confidence in every turn. Knock on wood, never had a flat either. In the rain and wet, no problem. The deep channels moved water away better than the City Ride (which is what I use on my real commuter bike - and they last longer, and are twice the price).

As usual, Continental brings killer products to roll, and the Tour Rides do not disappoint. $18 for steel beaded aggression on your wheels in the city and around most any terrain you like makes for a great tire, though as the name says, they would be best for touring and commuting. ...but they make one hell of an inexpensive city tire for those looking to dive through grass, alleys, and other places where the typical tire just wouldn't hold up. I would place these firmly between using a dedicated city tire and a knobby cross tire, if splitting the difference is what you are after.

4 stars.
5 if they lasted just a little longer.

Saturday Aug 27th - Fundriaser/Party/AlleyCat

We are having a party to help raise funds for Best Buddies.

It is going to be a pajama party. Pajamas. Be cool about it.

There will be a buddy alley cat race thanks to Dave T. You will need a buddy to ride with - two person teams.

Bring a few bucks, we are raising money. The goal is $1800, which is what they need to make the trip. We'll have more details as they come available.

There will be beer.

This is gunna be just dope.

From Alice:

"Josh and I got back from our THIRD Audi Best Buddies Challenge this past weekend (June 2 - 6) in Hyannis Port. We had the time of our lives and we can't wait to head to D.C. this fall for our FOURTH ride.

Best Buddies has touched and impacted both of our lives tremendously and we are ready to take the challenge up a notch and tackle the 100K in D.C. 100K is 62 MILES!! We'll be practicing hard until the ride!"

4th of July Fireworks ride!

Leave the car at home, don't worry about parking, and join us for a bicycle ride downtown to watch the fireworks. We are closed for business that day, but we'll start partying at the shop around 6:00, and roll out around 7:00.

Post firework party will happen in some form or another, we'll just have to see what happens...