The Syncros Matchbox Coupe Cage HP2.0 with integrated multi-tool and high-pressure mini pump is all decent quality and generally nice to use.
- Pros: Reasonable rate of inflation, snug integration, quality bits to multi-tool
- Cons: Lacking 6 and 8mm hex keys
The cage itself is a shapely, contemporary looking top-entry design made from a glass fibre/nylon composite.
The composite ratio seems to achieve the right balance between security and easy release. Gun-slinger quick draws have been the norm with standard-ish 650 and 750ml bottles, though I had wondered if the recessed tool would frustrate this.
I'm also pleased to report it's been a welcoming and reliable host to the Relaj Shape bottle.
So far, so good.
Thanks to a blend of good engineering and high quality materials, the multi-tool won me over pretty quickly. It slots directly into the cage's spine, bottom first: a very secure arrangement, although it takes a few practice runs before becoming intuitive.
The 10 bits are made from heat treated, nickel plated steel. You get three Torx (T10, T20 and T25) catering for disc brakes and becoming increasingly common on other components such as chainring bolts. I was also pleased to find Phillips and flat-bladed screwdrivers among the line-up.
The hex key selection of 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5mm will cater for most scenarios, though there are still a few of us with bikes using 6 and 8mm fasteners.
Although the bits are relatively modest in stature, they're relatively nimble, which makes nipping up mudguard and other small, awkwardly located fasteners reasonably easy.
The resin frame sits comfortably in the palm, doesn't feel whippy under load, and provides some welcome torque when tackling stem and seatpost fasteners.
The bit quality and length has also made short work of some weathered Time and SPD cleat bolts. I've defaulted to T25 Torx for these as they're prone to rounding, and the same for mudguard stays, carriers and bottle boss screws – particularly those beneath the down tube.
It's good practice to wipe tools down after use or regularly during the wetter months to prevent them tainting or, worse, damaging fasteners. Here, the location offers reasonable shelter from rain and spray – especially if your bike sports full-length mudguards.
Salty, dung-strewn lanes have imparted a slimy film on ours, which I deliberately left for a week before giving the bike a cold-water rinse and warm sudsy bucket clean. There was no hint of freckling then, or when neglected for several weeks afterwards.
Finally, we have the high-pressure mini pump, which continues the refined and well-engineered narrative. It has an anodised aluminium alloy barrel and a Presta head, with a flexible hose to avoid shearing off willowy valves when ramming in the pressure.
According to the packaging, it'll deliver a bicep-busting 130psi (9bar).
With gravel and road riding generally moving towards 28/30mm and beyond (my winter trainer runs 700x35, sometimes 38mm), I thought I'd start with a 30mm Vee Tire Rolldiac. Three minutes and 230 strokes later, I was somewhat disappointed to discover I'd only delivered 30psi.
My digital SKS gauge doesn't lie! Another 7 minutes and 700 strokes later, with the lactic acid starting to burn and the pump's piston almost locking out, we reached 90psi, 5 above the minimum recommended and more than enough to roll home on.
Another 5 minutes and 550 strokes delivered 100psi, and with Herculean effort I managed 128psi, 2 below that claimed but near enough.
Much more than 100psi is a bit lofty for a big section tyre in any case, and predictably, narrower sections were a bit swifter: 370 strokes (nigh-on 4 minutes) to raise a 700x25 from flaccid to 115psi (maximum), and while resistance was becoming more pronounced, it didn't feel as if it was on the cusp of locking out.
Even at higher pressures the piston's action is really smooth and hasn't required the frantic, red face-inducing push-pull technique.
The handle also fits nicely in the palm and though not obviously grippy, is both tactile and relatively comfortable to use.
The head is protected from wet, mucky stuff by a sturdy composite valve cap, which seems hardier than the usual rubbery types that tend to perish over time.
As well as slotting into its bracket neatly, the pump has a rubbery strap that binds everything snug, preventing annoying vibration or the head striking the frame, woodpecker fashion.
I opted to mount the cage vertically, on the seat tube bosses, to test whether the pump would shuffle down or possibly foul my leg, especially when riding fairly aggressively across poorly surfaced tarmac. It did neither, behaving impeccably.
The 4mm screws supplied were bang-on length-wise, which you'd expect but isn't always the case with bigger, boss-mounted inflators. Given the frame in question has an ocean of waxy preserve sloshing around its inner sanctum, I simply introduced a few drops of super-gloopy wet chain lube to the threads before whizzing them home.
The Syncros Matchbox Coupe Cage isn't essential, or to everyone's taste. A moot point for group rides and best bikes, perhaps, but some critics have pointed out that it's yet another thing to consider, along with LED lights, computer mounts and so on when locking up in the street.
Overall, though, everything looks and performs to a high standard, and the price of £55.99 for a decent quality multi-tool, pump and cage is reasonable. It also means more space in your jersey pockets for food...
Neat and effective as a system and individually, though the pump favours narrower section tyres
road.cc test report
Make and model: Syncros Matchbox Coupe Cage HP2.0
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Syncros says: "The Matchbox Coupe Cage is designed as a minimalist top-entry cage that features an integrated multi tool with all the essentials for road biking plus a removable high-pressure mini-pump. The sleek design seamless mounts on the downtude or seatube making the integrated tools almost imperceptible."
It's a surprisingly elegant system, and performs really well individually.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nylon + Glass Fiber
Integrated Storage top entry cage
10 function multitool
Low profile design mounts seemlessly to the downtube or seatube
High pressure road pump
Seem well designed and made from decent quality materials.
All parts perform well, collectively and in their own right.
There will always be cheaper options but it's pretty competitive when you consider the price of cage, pump and multi-tool individually. More so when factors such as tool quality are taken into account.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, they've performed their respective tasks remarkably well. The multi-tool has sufficient length to tackle more highly stressed fasteners, yet is nimble enough to reach more awkward places. Similarly, the pump will pretty much reach the cited pressures and at a reasonable pace. It's a godsend if you've exhausted your CO2 inflators, but like most mini pumps, using it on anything bigger than 25mm tyres proved a bit tedious.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Integrated design, neat, tidy and generally performs very well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief, taking into account my comments re tool bits and higher pressures.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Worth a look, especially if they're prone to forgetting a multi-tool and pump.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Performed very well in most respects, and generally good value when compared with purchasing tooling of similar quality individually.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)