By Adam Newman
Specialized Pizza Rack – $90
The Pizza Rack derives its name not from the payload size of its top platform, which is a size small pepperoni only, but rather from its packaging. The top platform is a separate piece from the two sides, which ship disassembled in a pizza-shaped box. It goes together with a handful of screws and is adjustable to mate with a wide variety of bikes, as long as they have mid-fork eyelets. I used it with the Tumbleweed Prospector reviewed in this issue. One nice feature of this design is that it doesn’t require eyelets near the dropouts, which these days are often cast aside in favor of more complex axles and dropouts. Even some carbon fiber forks have mid-fork eyelets these days, including the one found on Specialized’s own Sequoia.
Built from aluminum with 13 mm tubes, I can tell you from first glance this rack isn’t something you’re going to want to use to drag the entirety of your belongings on an around-the-world expedition. It is, however, just fine for light duty and it’s rated to 33 pounds, which is enough to make you rethink piling that much stuff on the front end of your bike.
The side panels have rails for attaching small panniers, but the emphasis is on “small.” These won’t be mistaken for proper low-riders. It works great with the Pizza Bag, but I would have liked to see Specialized add those small nubs on the underside of the rack to prevent bungee hooks from sliding off. If you want to secure a cardboard box, for example, you have to be crafty with your hook placement.
The Pizza Rack is a simple and less-expensive option for folks looking to get their toe into the flat-rack lifestyle. I wouldn’t recommend it for expedition use, but for around- town grocery-gettin’, it goes just fine.
Specialized Pizza Bag – $100
Designed specifically to pair with the Pizza Rack, this boxy bag is held on by big Velcro straps that keep it stable and secure. It retains its shape thanks to some internal padding, and its slick, urethane-coated exterior kept my contents dry when I used it in extended rains. I wouldn’t call it waterproof, but it’s certainly “weatherproof.”
The roll-top design helps here, since there is no zipper to leak. Just close the opening with a single snap then secure it with the large Velcro strap across the top. I wish this strap were a bit longer to facilitate overstuffing the bag, but I could see how you could easily get carried away. It was long enough to shove a jacket under it when the bag was closed, which is handy. It also held an axe I found on the side of the road, but I don’t really think it was designed for that.
The features here are pretty spartan, with a mesh inner pocket and two exterior pockets. The vertical webbing on the front is reflective, but I would have rather it been horizontal like a traditional MOLLE webbing so you could strap things to it or hang a blinky light on it. I’d also love to see a shoulder strap so you could detach it and bring it with you.
In fact, this has been one of the big hangups for me in terms of “philosophy of use.” For touring or adventuring, it’s a nice way to keep items handy or carry bulky items like stoves, food or tools, as long as you don’t overload it and make your steering a nightmare. For around town, it’s far too much of a theft magnet, and with no way to remove it and bring it with you easily, I would much prefer a basket.
I love me a big backpack. But a big bag always makes me want to bring more stuff, even when I don’t really need it. That’s why I’ve been digging the Chrome Kadet. It is often just the right size for short rides or trips around town.
Three of the four available colors use a truck tarp material, which combined with water-resistant zippers make this bag extremely protective in bad weather. The signature seatbelt-style metal buckle seems like overkill on this small bag, and it rattles more than I’d like, but it does look good.
The bag fits a good bit of stuff. My typical load was a mirrorless camera, second lens, small tool roll, light jacket and a notebook. (An actual paper notebook, though I suppose an e-tablet would fit fine as well.) A small U-lock fits in an external sleeve for easy access.
There is a cross strap but I found it oddly placed and just took it off. The compression straps also seem like unneeded extras on a bag like this, but I suppose you could lash small items to them. Longer straps, particularly on the bottom, would make these more useful.
I dig this bag, and find myself grabbing it more than I would expect. It stays in place while on the bike, slips inside my luggage for trips, and has accompanied me on hikes and at trade shows. A perfect handbag alternative for those not interested in carrying a purse (or murse as the case may be).
Dimensions: 8 inches high by 17 inches wide by 4 inches deep (9 liters).
More info: chromeindustries.com