The way I carry stuff for short rides has changed drastically over the past five or so years. First, I used a backpack loaded with God-knows-what and too much water. Then I realized I was carrying more than I needed, so I slimmed my inventory down and got away with a bottle on my frame and two stuffed pockets. I briefly experimented with fanny packs after that, and those were pretty good—better organized than a pocket, with more carrying capacity, and the good ones didn’t move around much.
Then SWAT Bibs came along and once again, my packing strategy evolved. The bibs were comfortable, and I could carry pretty much everything I was putting in a fanny pack in their back pockets. Everything was hunky-dory. Kind of. There were times when those pockets were a touch overbooked, and a few instances in which items nearly wound up, as United Airlines would say, “Flying the friendly skies.”
So, I started taping tubes and tire levers to my frame to make room in my bibs. Not a great look.
The Specialized Bandit (yeah, I’m just now introducing the thing this review is about. Oops.) is basically a more elegant version of electrical tape or of those Velcro straps you see holding tubes on every pro enduro racer’s rig. It works with all of Specialized’s Phenom and Henge saddles, except for the S-Works Phenom, since it has that delicate carbon shell. All the rest have two threaded holes on the underside where the Bandit can mount.
I’ve been running a Bandit for nearly a year now, with great success. Nothing has fallen out, and it’s one more place to put cargo that isn’t my back. The Velcro straps are plenty tough, and overall I don’t foresee any durability concerns any time soon, aside from the inner tube strap possibly getting stretched out. But that hasn’t happened yet, and the main strap seems like it can hold the whole thing together on its own, anyways.
Why not just use one of those enduro straps? You should–if you don’t have a compatible seat. But if you do, cough up $25 for a Bandit. It’ll hold a tube, tire lever and CO2 cartridge. There’s even a pocket for a CO2 valve. The advantage over a strap is that everything is held in place independently, so you don’t have to deal with the whole setup loosening and coming off when it’s time to fix a flat. It’s all secure, so you won’t lose your tire lever when you pull the tube out. Or at least, if you do, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
$25 / Specialized.com