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In the Drops: Tropicfeel Hive backpack, Giro Chrono Elite kit, Mio Cyclo GPS computer and Taskmaster

New gear highlights in the week that was, plus a content recommendation

James Spender
29 Jul 2022

Selamat tengahari, as they say in Malaysia. And happy Friday! Have you had a good week?

It’s been a whirlwind, from Sunday watching the women finally kick off the race they’ve deserved since 1989 – the Tour de France Femmes – to seeing dear Jonas come rolling over the line in Paris then make one of the longest speeches in Tour de France history.

Geraint Thomas is 36 years old, Jonas, and he’s just ridden around France and finished third. He needs to sit down.

In my other life we interviewed Peter Stenina on the Cyclist Magazine Podcast, and he was a goldmine of chat about gravel, and what it means for an ex-road pro like him to turn self-employed and start racing 200-mile events off road across Kansas for a living. You should check it out.

You should also check out another guest on the podcast, Tyler Hamilton, who gave us a very candid interview – no holds barred, drugs galore – and then let us photograph him for a story which is on the Cyclist website now. The podcast is a much longer take, by the way, and Tyler does have a lovely American drawl. I highly recommend it.

But for the truest inspiration and the truest form of cycling joy, everyone, I mean everyone, needs to look upon these words and pictures here, of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig winning on Stage 3 of TdF Femmes. Proof that Jonas Vingegaard ain’t the only Dane in town.

But for now, I’ll leave with this, my In the Drops for this week. I hope you like it too.

Tropicfeel Hive backpack

Like Eeyore and Piglet, I love a good thing to put things in. What do you mean you don’t remember the story where Piglet gives Eeyore a burst balloon for his birthday and is all sad but then Pooh realises it will go perfectly in the pot that he’s just given Eeyore?

OK, I’ve lost you. Point being I love it when stuff comes together, neatly, everything in its place. And thus the Tropicfeel Hive ticks all my pedantic boxes.

This is the cleverest backpack I ever did see, full of all manner of natty compartments and features from foldaway shoe storage to a little hook for your sunnies when you’re not wearing them. The Tropicfeel Hive is genius.

In basic strokes this bag expands from 22-litres to 32.5-litres to 46.5-litres thanks to a full zip that lets the bag concertina out so it becomes deeper, and a zip-away ‘kangaroo pocket’ underneath (were Kanga and Roo in the original or only in the Winnie the Pooh TV reboot?). 

And the Hive can get even bigger with accessories that hook onto the four FidLock tabs on the front – a FidLock Toiletry bag or FidLock Pouch.

The point here is modularity, and to get the full measure of this thing is a bit like trying to describe a Cubist painting, so in one sense I’d just say take my word for it – this is probably the most useful bike-kit and general kit backpack you will ever find – and head over to the Tropicfeel website which has a very useful little animation of how it all works. But in another sense, here goes:

Top to bottom there is a sunglasses zip pouch with fleece lining; the main compartment unzips and inside are two mesh pockets. There is side slot for a drinks bottle; underneath a zip-out ‘kangaroo’ pocket folds out and clips on making for a great place to store shoes or a helmet or a sleeping bag.

The waist strap pulls out of the bag and function as a standalone bumbag; the front panel folds all the way out and has a laptop sleeve and more pockets; the front panels are stretchy for things like jackets or maps to be shoved in. And then, there is more.

Inside in its basic form the Hive is a big cavernous cavern. But into this slots the Wardrobe or Camera cube. The latter is an insert that has customisable sections for lenses, camera bodies, batteries etc, making the inside of the Hive like a gridded box. The former is a brilliant for bikes and travel.

Hung up, the Wardrobe is like a little hanging wardrobe, elasticated slots for things to sit in, mesh zip pockets and just a big hole that is great for a helmet or shoes.

However the really clever bit is you fill it then pull down hard on the side straps and it compresses everything together so it slides into the Hive’s body, all while taking up around 50% less space. Get to where you’re going, pull it out, undo the straps and it hangs like a little cloth wardrobe.

And I could go on, there are all manner of natty little hook straps, carrying straps, clip straps, wide and comfy shoulder straps, a reinforced aerated back panel. It’s kind of overwhelming. But it also all works tremendously well, every detail has been carefully considered.

As such this will make a brilliant kit bag for a sportive or a weekend away that includes cycling kit, or just the daily commute if you need to carry your office and an entire service course with you.

If there are downsides in design I’ve not found them, albeit I would prefer a fully waterproof bag, as it is this is ‘water-resistant’, made from waterproof and DWR treated materials. And it is very expensive, so too the accessories – I really think you’ll want the Wardrobe but it’s a further £90.

Still, if well designed bags are your thing, the Hive is ingenious and you will love it, and Tropicfeel does discounted accessories packages when you buy the various bits together.

Mio Cyclo Discover Pal

I think Mio’s original Cyclo computer was the first proper bike satnav I ever used, a ‘put your postcode in’ turn-by-turn bike computer, which was an incredibly useful proposition back in 2012, when cars still used TomToms and I got around London by writing instructions on masking tape and sticking it to my top tube.

The Mio Discover Pal is a very similar proposition to that original Mio Cyclo 305, that is, it places navigation at its core. Key here is the ability to explore new areas and get yourself to an unknown place, or get yourself home if you’re lost.

In a sense it’s a similar proposition to the Wahoos and Garmins of this world, albeit unlike the more powerful Garmins it doesn't cost as much as a refurbished iPhone.

The Mio Discover Pal packs all the usual features – you can share routes, find points of interests and let people track your rides in real-time, and it happily syncs up you’re your Komoot and Strava profiles.

It also features Mio’s ‘Surprise me’ feature, where you enter a distance or time and the Discover presents three routes starting from the current location. Great if you’re like me and hate planning routes – I’ve been surprised what it’s found in my local area.

There’s also a neat little one-touch ‘remember me’ button, where you can flag your own points of interest. Many’s the time I’ve cycled past a great pub and thought ‘I’ll make a mental note of that’ and then forgotten where it is. With this ‘Location Save’ feature you drop a kind of digital breadcrumb that can easily be found post ride.

A 17-hour battery life is generous, especially given the large 2.8in display, which is great in lots of light conditions. And 16GB is plenty of storage. The size here puts it on the larger end of head units – 100×58×22mm – but it’s still much smaller than a phone and just a tad bigger than the Wahoo Elmnt Roam.

Mio does rather market this as leisure kind of computer – there are a lot of flatbar bikes in the literature and there’s a deal of fuss about how well this syncs to display settings for Shimano Steps e-bikes.

But I’d say there’s everything to recommend the Cyclo for road riding, and all-road adventure riding. OK, it’s touring. I mean touring bike riding. We can call a spade a spade.

Giro Chrono Elite jersey and bib shorts

I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but look – this kit is something of a bargain! I mean that because since when is a £110 jersey or £150 pair of bib shorts a bargain? The world is mad – I mean I’ve just praised a £219 rucksack that, once you buy it, you’ll still need to buy more bits for it.

But the point here is that where ‘big name’ brands are concerned – and Giro absolutely is one – this level of pricing is beginning to look entry level. And yet this is exceptionally good quality kit. The Chrono Elite bibs horts’ pad is from Elastic Interface, the widely accepted gold-standard in bib shorts pads. The materials are made from Giro’s Renew Series yarns, which are Bluesign approved, made from a mixture of recycled nylon and elastane.

The cut is just right, compressive and racy but still stretchy and flattering. Up the back of the bib shorts is a mesh that’s light and breathable, while straps sit flat and comfortably against skin.

The edges of hems are crisp and feature grippers that do an excellent job of, um, gripping, but without pinching too much – sometimes silicone grippers can be annoyingly tight.  

Of course, so much of this is down to personal preference, so too to aesthetics, which here I’d describe as understated yet, thanks to that pink and that font, a touch retro 1990s.

So for me, subjectively speaking, I love the fit and feel of this kit, and the look, and yes the price – in market context – seems reasonable. Sizing is good too – it’s in keeping with both Giro’s size charts and also my sizes in civilian clothes. There’s everything to like.

  • Buy Giro Chrono Elite jersey from Giro, £109.99
  • Buy Giro Chrono Elite bibshorts from Giro, £149.99

What we're into this week: Taskmaster

[Matthew Loveridge, website editor: James has a magazine to run and he’s too busy for fun, so this week's content recommendation falls to me.]

Block your ears, ignore the climate, ignore the wars, ignore the looming societal meltdown. Escapism is king. Watch Taskmaster on All4.  

It sounds like something I should hate – a cast of comedians being given arguably very stupid things to do, in a competition spread across several weeks, but it’s wonderful.

The tasks, largely dreamt up by show creator and co-host Greg Davies’ whipping boy Alex Horne (the smaller of the two men pictured) are consistently imaginative, while the participants are consistently brilliant, funny and bizarre in equal measure.

The latest series features, among others, the unselfconsciously odd Bridget Christie and the brilliant Sophie Duker. 

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading folks.

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