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Specialized's Road Tube Spool With Tube and Cartridge is a neat way to carry the essentials you need for changing an inner tube following a flat.
Here's what you get:
The whole lot is held together on a central plastic spool. The cartridge snaps into place on one side, the tyre lever clips to the other, and there's a little housing for the CO2 inflator head on the end.
The Presta inner tube valve slots into a hole in the other end (the hole is large enough to take a Schrader valve if you wanted to swap at a future time) and the tube wraps around the outside. Once secured with a hook-and-loop strap, nothing can move, and the inner tube valve is safely hidden away so there's no chance of it ever damaging the rubber – not that I've ever found that to be an issue.
This isn't Specialized's most high-tech innovation ever but it works as promised, although you might prefer more than one tyre lever and/or the ability to carry a second CO2 cartridge.
The CO2 inflator head pushes into place on the inner tube valve and you control the flow by twisting the cartridge in or out. Although simple, it does the job well.
It's certainly a neat little system and there's a lot to be said for keeping everything in one place; it means you're less likely to forget something important, for a start, and there's no danger of the CO2 inflator head, for example, getting lost.
You can get three 16g CO2 threaded cartridges for £10, so £3.33 each. That means the mount is effectively costing you five or six quid.
Of course, go online and you could buy similar parts cheaper from other brands, especially if you bought in bulk, and hold them together with a rubber band out of the back of the kitchen drawer. You might have been doing this for years. Fair enough! But if you do want a compact kit of essentials for getting you back on the road following a flat, here you go – this little lot does a good job.
Personally, I'd be more inclined to buy the Road Tube Spool as a constituent part of Specialized's Road Bandit (also £27, although the inner tube and CO2 cartridge aren't included) to work with a SWAT-compatible saddle, such as the Power Expert (£110) that we reviewed last year (SWAT stands for 'storage, water, air, tools' and it comprises various means of squirrelling away ride essentials until they're needed).
SWAT saddles have threaded mounts moulded into the base. The Road Bandit bolts to the underside of the saddle and holds the Road Tube Spool in place with a tough Velcro strap. Essentially, it does the same job as a little seatpack, as you can see here.
Overall, Specialized's Road Tube Spool With Tube and Cartridge is a handy way to transport the bits you need for changing an inner tube, but I'd be more tempted by the extra utility of Specialized's Road Bandit.
Neat way to carry the essentials needed to get back on the road following a flat
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Road Tube Spool With Tube And Cartridge
Size tested: 16g CO2 cartridge, 60mm Presta valve
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?
Specialized says: "The Road Tube Spool is a simple, compact system that'll carry everything you need to fix a flat without weighing you down. To do so, its design allows for a spare tube, with up to an 80mm valve stem, to be rolled-up without damaging the tube. Meanwhile, the Spool easily holds a lever, CO2 cartridge, and a valve head."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Specialized lists these features:
* Ingenious design allows a spare tube to be rolled up, while protecting the valve stem from rubbing a hole through the rubber.
* CO2 valve head and two-sided tyre lever snap into place for compact and secure storage.
* Holds a single threaded 16g CO2 cartridge.
* Fits up to 80mm-long tube valve stems.
* Hook-and-loop strap holds everything securely in place.
The Presta stem of the inner tube included is 60mm.
It's a simple design but pretty clever. The CO2 inflator head and cartridge and the tyre lever all clip into place.
It does a relatively simple job well.
There's not a lot to wear out or go wrong.
Assuming you don't want everything rattling around in your pockets, the alternative would be to use a seatpack, a pouch or a bag. This adds very little weight.
You could buy all the parts cheaper online, but not the spool itself. I've not seen anything directly comparable from other brands.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The various parts all do their jobs well and the spool is a handy storage system.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It holds various bits together neatly.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You only get one tyre lever, which is fine most of the time, but there's just that occasional stubborn rim/tyre combo that requires two.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I've not seen anything that's directly comparable. The alternative would be to use a seatpack or a pouch, or to sling everything loose in your pocket.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd be more likely to buy Specialized's Road Bandit.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
It does the job it's intended for well, getting you back on the road quickly after a flat. It's a good product, but I'd see more point in buying Specialized's Road Bandit, of which the spool is a constituent part.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.