The Zefal Z Console Pack L is a 1.2-litre, two-tier bag designed to nestle against the stem and top tube, keeping smartphones/GPS units and other essentials within easy reach. It's waterproof, holds its contents securely, and adds a bit of reflective matter on your top tube.
The upper tier is well padded and designed to cater for phones measuring 130x80mm, though to my surprise, compact designs showed no tendency to slide around. The clear window permits proper communication between full-finger glove and touchscreen devices, and beefy zipper tags are another welcome feature.
It's pretty roomy below deck too. I'm not the most orderly of packers and managed energy bar, massive multi-tool, tyre levers, spare tube, patch kit, keys, CO2 inflator and spare cartridges with breathing space for the retro-reflective storm cover. There's also the obligatory headphone port for those who like music, or to take calls hands-free on their rides.
Even when belting along unmade roads at 20-odd mph, that infuriating tool kit percussion has been conspicuous by its absence. Three substantial Velcro straps are more than mighty enough – even when fully laden and riding atop oversized diameters. Despite the rubberised base, though, the overall girth means the straps need pulling ultra-tight to prevent movement when tethered to thin steel tubes.
Speaking of storms, weather-proofing is reassuringly good in torrential downpours thanks to the 420 denier rip-stop nylon's welded construction, which probably explains why the elasticated cover is only stitched.
Nonetheless, with the rain cover in situ, my precious tech and tooling remained bone dry despite getting drenched by a passing articulated truck. (The driver had presumably followed their sat nav up a very tight and winding lane marked unsuitable for 7.5 tonners!). Some might prefer DayGlo for overcast conditions but I've been pleasantly surprised by how effective the raincover and Scotchlite logos are – especially along unlit roads and when paired with retro-reflective tyres/other accessories.
Minor gripes? Well, It's a little slab sided and I'd opt for the medium on frames with shorter top tubes – I felt conscious of straddling it when climbing out of the saddle.
Well-made and reasonably priced phone/kit tote best suited to frames with longer top tubes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Z Console Front Pack L
Size tested: L, 1.2l
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?
Zefal says: "2 in 1, the Z Console L is a front bag with an integrated compartment for smartphones. Easy to install on the tube, it has a zippered compartment to carry most accessories (repair kits, CO2 cartridges, energy gels, keys...). Access to the touch screen allows you to look and record your data. The rain-cover guarantees protection during wet conditions."
Fair and factual by my reckoning.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
420 D Ripstop Polyester
Dimensions: 180 x 95 x 110mm
Seems pretty rugged throughout.
Well designed and very user friendly.
Not the cheapest but well made and I've seen them online for around £18.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been impressed by the Z console's performance – it segregates delicate tech and tooling while keeping the former fully functional. There's no sway or rattle and it's waterproof in the sense most riders will require. However, its size means it's better suited to larger frames with oversized tubing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well designed using high quality materials.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly slab-sided but that's inevitable given the size.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Generally speaking, yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega 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)