Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

The Albek Atlas bike bag

As mountain bikes get longer, lower and slacker, the wheelbase is growing beyond the bounds of what fits on roof racks or in travel bags. My brand new Yakima bike carriers are really very good in many ways, but their ability to carry my two long-travel bikes is not one of those ways. But that is a story for another time.
After booking a trip to Tasmania to ride at Blue Derby and St Helens, I realised my new Slash would not fit in either of the two Evoc bags I had stored in the cupboard. The oldest was from my first trip to Whistler more than 10 years ago when the travel bikes were 26" wheeled machines (I already had XC 29ers, but the long travel bikes were still small wheels). As soon as I went 29" wheels, I couldn't use the old bag (2018 trip). Evoc enlarged the pocket space to fit a 29er wheel in there (if only just). Otherwise they were identical.
There is now an XL Evoc bag and a Pro Evoc bag. They will both take a couple of centimetres extra wheelbase in the bag, but my Sender has a 133 cm wheelbase that is too long for any Evoc bag and the Slash is about 15 mm shorter than the Sender - also a no fit solution.
Enter Albek. Their new Atlas bag lists 135 cm as possible. Eureka. A solution. And an Aussie solution at that. Albek is a (primarily) moto-x company out of Newcastle. After deciding that even with some inconvenient disassembly, the new Slash wasn't going in the old bag, I ordered a new bag. Lots of the places that might stock one were out of stock, but I found one (at full RRP, no discounts for me!) from the MX Store in Qld (bought a few items from them before: fork oil, goggles and lenses). It arrived promptly, but had two production issues. The external pocket I would normally store a few small tools in hadn't been sewn up properly. And there is a foam piece that supports the rear end of the swingarm, and it hadn't been glued together properly.
After informing the MX Store, I got a call from the mountain bike guy at Albek. Nice one guys! He said he would send me a spare foam piece from his shop supplies - one that he knows was glued correctly. And he said he would find someone to sew up my pocket. I'm actually happier with mending this one than replacing it - less shipping, lower impact on the planet.

I used the bag for the trip to Tassie and back and it was fine - bike was protected and packing is simple. So that part is great. Still haven't heard back from Albek about fixing my bag. I'm sure they'll get back to me again.

First comment is that this is really Evoc bag mark 2. It is not a 100% direct copy of the Evoc bag. It is more like a direct copy with improvements in spots that needed them. Starting with two straps to wrap up the collapsed bag in storage mode and keep it all tidy and together. Two struts go at each and of the bag to stiffen the ends - they are like sail battens in the Evoc bag and round tubes in the Albek. Four PVC pipes go into the wheel pockets to protect the brake rotors - no difference there between the two. Two big skate wheels at one end and a handle at the other for pulling through the airport. The Albek bag has slightly bigger wheels set slightly further apart for greater stability. The handle is not moulded rubber, but velcro nylon and foam. Possibly more comfortable and easily replaceable should it get damaged. Two key changes in the Albek bag. The circumferential foam rubber that runs along the spine of the bag gets squashed in the Evoc bag when it is folded up for storage. It is removable in the Atlas bag and quite easy to insert/remove. There is also a fibre rod that runs around the periphery of the bags opening zipper. This keeps the bag standing upright when open. Evoc bags tend to droop when open, making inserting the bike that little bit more challenging. To carry a road bike in the Evoc bag they recommend using the fork bag because the fork retention system in the bag only works with fat suspension fork blades. In the Albek, the fork goes in a bag that then is secured into the main bag. Hence it works with road bikes by default. They even threw in the plastic dropout protectors that new bikes ship with in case a Quick Release bike has to go in the case (prevents the pointy dropout ends penetrating the bag material).

The Atlas is a little longer, a little more versatile and a little more expensive than the Evoc equivalent. Having had two team coloured Evoc bags I find the black Atlas a bit boring, but the brightly coloured Evocs do tend to get dirty on conveyor belts in airports so there is that. If I am going to go back to Whistler next year, it will be with both the Slash and the Sender and I'll have to buy a second Atlas to carry both of them. I'd definitely do it after using it for this one trip - it really is an improved Evoc.