review

Topeak Aero Wedge iGlow

2
£36.99

VERDICT:

2
10
Needless integration that's much less good than the sum of its parts; buy separately for less
Weight: 
132g

You might remember we predicted that integration would be big in 2014 and sure enough, here's some from Topeak. Saving you literally seconds when you're on the way out, they've combined a rear light and saddle bag into one - the Aerowedge iGlow. Best not mention the fact that you could buy a considerably better light and a perfectly good saddle bag with a loop to fix the light to for less money, then.

Based on the very popular Aero Wedge saddle pack, this new iGlow version from Topeak adds built-in illumination. I've got a standard Aero Wedge in medium, the version that uses straps and buckles to fix to the saddle. It does the job, but isn't that weather resistant and I've found the stitching that holds the straps in place is simply not strong enough. In fairness, it was the cobbles of Flanders which did the most damage, but I've had to pop-rivet the straps in place where the stitching has failed.

No such issues here, as this version uses the QuickClick bracket and a velcro strap around the seat post. You leave the QuickClick bracket attached to the saddle rails and can easily get spare brackets if you need to transfer between bikes. It works well as long as you don't have your seat as far forward as it'll go, in which case it won't fit at all. Happily that wasn't the case on the bike I was testing when using this bag.

Like most saddlebags, the iGlow opens with a zip around the rear. My favourite detail in the whole product is the little patch of Velcro underneath, to hold the zip pull when the bag is closed, and prevent it from rattling around. Obviously you might find that the contents of the bag rattle louder than the zip anyway, unless you pack it carefully to avoid this. Still, a nice piece of detail design from some rattle-obsessive at Topeak - I like it.

The zip is weather-resistant, and the bag as a whole does a pretty job of keeping the elements out. Certainly there were no issues with the waterproofing of the light, which survived some pretty wet days in the saddle. If you're riding through endless puddles without mudguards, the water will find its way through in the end, so best not keep anything too delicate in there if you're going out in the wet.

I mostly used it to carry the Lezyne Caddy Sack that I'm also testing, which is pretty water resistant, so there were no issues with water getting in and dissolving the CO2 inflator or the tyre levers; happy days. While the bag-within-a-bag approach might be overkill, it did prevent any untoward rattling or clinking, so I was free to enjoy the silence from the Aerowedge's zip.

The capacity of this bag is given as 0.8 litres. This is miles off. I packed it with rice to measure the capacity, which I found was no more than 0.4 litres. It's enough for the Caddy Sack but you won't get a tube in there too. You can just about fit a tube, levers, small patch kit and small inflator, so it's enough for the essentials.

As a bag, then, it's reasonably effective, if only about half the advertised size. You can obviously buy a similar-sized bag for considerably less so the reason why you'd buy this is because you want a light in your bag. The iGlow adds what Topeak describe as a "Super Bright 0.5W Red LED", plus a couple of rather pretty fibre optic strips around the back of the bag, as you can see in the pictures. There are two modes - constant and flashing - and battery life (from two CR2032 cells) is given as 50 and 100 hours depending on which mode you use.

Is it any good as a light, then? In short: no, it's rubbish. It looks lovely from a few yards away, but it's basically invisible in a streetlit urban environment from more than 50 yards or so. During the day if it's murky out, forget it. On an unlit country road at night, I'd be pretty unhappy riding with only this on my bike; during testing I always had it paired up with a Cateye Rapid X, and I think it's the Cateye that takes all the credit for the fact that no-one smashed into me and I'm here to write this. The fibre optic strips look clever, but here again, they're nowhere near as eye-catching from the rear or the side as a good light, which you can easily buy for about a tenner, let's not forget. There's a reflective strip across the back - car headlights on this this are more likely to get you seen than the light, I suspect. That cleverly stowable zip pull has reflectives on it too, although with it stowed on its Velcro, ain't nobody gonna see them.

From the outset I was sceptical about the half watt LED claims. These are the ones used in some seriously retina-searing lights - Shaun reckoned that this one was visible at not much short of a kilometre. Here, it's certainly a less efficient installation in terms of optics - the main light is located under the Topeak logo which also serves as the button to switch it on. This logo is mostly black, with the light only escaping around the black bits, and it doesn't appear that there is any kind of reflector behind it to improve the efficiency.

If you do some basic calculations starting with the typical capacity of two CR2032 batteries, it's clear that the total lighting power cannot be anywhere near 0.5W, otherwise the batteries would be dead in under three hours, rather than the quoted 50.

Integration is all very well but sometimes it's just not necessary and doesn't improve a thing. Remember when you could buy just about everything with an integrated FM radio? Well most of the time you didn't really need one. Something appears to have gone wrong at Topeak - this bag is about half the advertised size and it definitely doesn't have a "Super Bright 0.5W Red LED" in it. For the price you could buy an equally good saddle bag and a hugely better rear light. Do that, don't buy this.

Verdict

Needless integration that's much less good than the sum of its parts; buy separately for less

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Topeak AeroWedge iGlow

Size tested: 0.8 litres

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Aerodynamic, lightweight under seat bag with Integral Glow (iGlow) technology for safety at night and low visibility conditions.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Material 1000 Denier Nylon

Capacity 0.8 L / 49 ci

Lamp 1 Super Bright 0.5W Red LED and 2 Red LEDs

Battery CR2032 x 2 (included)

Control 2 Modes. Constant / Blinking

Burn Time (approx) 50 hrs / 100 hrs

Bag Attachment QuickClick™ (F25) with Seatpost Strap

Seatpost Diameter Fits ø25.4 - ø31.8 mm

Size (L x W x H) 15 x 5.5 x 15 cm

5.9' x 2.2 x 5.9'

Weight 107 g / 3.77 oz (with batteries)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Solid construction, light seems unbothered by spray, so no particular concerns.

Rate the product for performance:
 
2/10

Very poor. It has half the advertised capacity and the light is nowhere near bright enough to use on its own.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Nothing to give me a particular concern. I won't be using this for much longer though, so I probably won't find out.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

Not overly heavy.

Rate the product for value:
 
2/10

You can buy a much better light and a basic but effective saddle bag for around half the price of this.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Generally unsatisfactory.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The Velcro zip stowage.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The disparity between what Topeak say and what you actually get.

Did you enjoy using the product? No.

Would you consider buying the product? Definitely not.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely not.

Overall rating: 2/10

About the tester

Age: 36  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

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