As certifiable gear heads, our closet is stuffed with gear bags. We’ve got oversized gear bags suitable for months of travel, capable of swallowing smaller bags for internal organization, to basic weekenders. Of all the bags in rotation, the Race Cycling Duffle by Timbuk2 has been a consistent favorite, thanks to its smart compartments and the easy carry.
The latest iteration of the Race Duffle has done away with the different sizes and consolidated them into one. In comparison to the previous model, the new version is a bit smaller and has lost an outside pocket. The big change is the design of the backpack straps, which have been completely reworked. The new straps are easy to move out of the way and usability has been greatly improved from the previous version.
The volume of gear the duffle can store is ideal for a day or weekend trip, and easily carries a helmet, gloves, shoes, a few riding kits and changes of clothing. The race duffle moniker is right on, as the capacity is well suited for the application.
It’s a product born of life in San Francisco, and the smart design reflects on our compact apartment dwelling lifestyle here. Since it can be worn like a back pack, it’s easy to carry your gear and walk a bike down a narrow hallway, or navigate a tight set of stairs to the car without having to make a second load. They’re also comfortable enough to travel, in the event you have to hike through an airport.
For multi-day trips, I travel with a camera pack as well as a duffle. With this setup I run the camera pack on my back with the duffle over a shoulder.
I have one request for the folks at Timbuk2: please make a mountain bike specific version.
Timbuk2 aims much of their products toward urban riders and road specific cycling, and it’s a solid piece of gear. That said, I’d love to have an iteration of this bag dedicated to the unique needs of off road riding— namely soiled clothing and a hydration pack.
My ideal mountain bike specific version would see the addition of a bottom compartment**, that runs along the bottom length of the bag. It wouldn’t need to be tall. I just want a spot for my hydration pack and soiled post ride gear. As is, I make a second trip for the hydration pack. (and coffee)
**Note: it was just pointed out to me that the Navigator Duffle Bag, also from Timbuk2, happens to have this feature. That said, I want it in this bag. The Navigator lacks the separate helmet and shoe friendly compartments of the Race Duffle, which make it ideal for cyclist endeavors.
If I’m going to be nit-picky, I had a water bottle fall out and tumble down the stairs once while using the bag in pack mode. The water bottle slots work well for traditional cycling bottles, but it would be nice to have a fastener of some sort for larger, Nalgene-style bottles.
Request out of the way, the duffle bag is a great product, and the compartments organize gear easily. One of my favorite features is the Tricot-lined outside floating pocket. Intended for sunglasses or media players, the floating pocket fits my goggles perfectly, and my favorite goggles pretty much live there.
I do miss the outside zipper pocket from the first version of the bag though. It was perfect for tools like a shock pump, pedals and a pedal wrench.
Some may find the signature bottle openers to be a bit silly, but I love that they’re on all the Timbuk2 gear I have. I find myself utilizing them regularly for post ride libations.
Recently we traveled to Santa Barbara for a long weekend. Normally I’d go with a larger bag for a 3 night stay, but elected to go light, stuffing all my gear along with toiletries in the cycling duffle and a camera bag. For a long weekend of riding it worked acceptably, but next time I’ll pack a stuff sack for dirty clothing to keep it separate.
The size of the bag is best for one to two day trips, but you could squeeze three or four days worth of gear if packed efficiently. The best part of the bag for me though are the separate storage compartments that make keeping track of stuff easy— after a ride I air my gear out, and swap fresh gear in. Since I have a few helmets, I store one in the bag along with at least one kit, so I’m always ready to go.
Like the rest of Timbuk2’s gear, the bag is constructed from durable materials and carries their lifetime warranty.
Timbuk2’s Race Cycling Duffle Bag sells for $149. Check it out here.
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