Well blow me if it isn’t another review. And so soon after the last one as well! Remember? All about the Ortlieb Office Bag? No…?
Anyway, today I shall be talking all about:
The Monkii system is an attempt to use the water bottle mounts on your bike for more than just carrying liquid. The range was created by Free Parable Design – a company in Taiwan with a rather nice website. At the moment their total range consists of the Monkii stuff, a trailer, and some bike polo mallets.
To use Monkii accessories you screw two small circular studs into the holes that a bottle cage would normally use, then lock the accessory in using some slots on the base. It’s probably easier if I just show you Free Parable’s video…
All clear now? Good. The idea is you can quickly whip things on and off and between bikes – ideal if like me you share a single set of tools behind everything in your fleet.
As shown in the video there are two types of slots that use the same studs – one that connects with a ‘pull straight down’ action and the V Type, which requires a push up then down. Cyclemiles are the (very helpful) UK distributor, and when I spoke to them on the phone recommended the V Type for most applications as it makes the connection with the bike a bit more secure.
As well as the studs you can get a tube clamp with the studs built in, which I use on the seatpost of my upright.
I can confirm that the plastic slot-to-stud connection shared by everything in the Monkii range is very secure and works really neatly. There are some issues with the slot-to-accessory connection, which I’ll come on to later.
The Monkii Wedge
The Wedge is a tool roll with a plastic-Monkii-slot-base (there has to be a better way of writing that…) on the bottom. My cunning plan was to stick some studs on the seatpost of the upright and under the seat of the recumbent and be able to swap my toolkit from bike to bike with ease. Unfortunately Metabike placed the recumbent’s under-seat braze-ons right next to the chain making the location unusable for anything wider than a pump, so that knackered that. Instead I took the plastic frame off the roll and just carried the thing inside my pannier for the first few months, although I’ve been using it as designed since Christmas.
The roll bit of the wedge is made from a heavy duty polyester/nylon fabric and is held shut by velcro. It’s not quite as secure a closure as I’d like, but just about works. Inside (from right to left in the photo below) you’ve got a spanner/tyre level holder, two small pockets with velcro closures, a zipped central pocket which is big enough for two 622×35 inner tubes, and finally two fairly pointless elastic loops (I say pointless because there’s nothing to stop whatever’s held by them sliding straight out of the bottom of the roll). I’m assuming these are intended to hold a pump, but they’re far too tight to get my minipump in, and the bulge would also stop the roll closing effectively.
The zipped bag and tyre lever holders work well. The two velcro-closed pockets are both the same size, which means it’s a bit of a squeeze to get a multitool in either. They could do with making one taller and the other smaller.
The entire thing is definitely functional rather than pretty – there are a few loose threads on the stitching, for example – but it all works well enough as a tool roll (pump loops excepted).
The big issue I have is with the connection between the plastic slots and the rest of the wedge. There’s a Y-shaped bit that sits through some elastic on the base of the roll and then two ‘wings’ that go in neoprene pouches on either side. Viz:
The problem is these wings aren’t particularly fond of staying in the pouches. Whilst mounted on the seatpost I’ve twice gone over speedbumps at a sensible speed and found the wedge has worked free and is dangling; only held by the elastic around the Y-shaped bit. I think part of the problem is that the slot frame is pretty bendy plastic, but overall it’s just not a great design. Which is a real shame.
[Edit, April 2014: CycleMiles was kind enough to send me another Wedge, which didn’t have this problem. I wrote an update here]
I really want to like the wedge. The idea is neat, the Monkii attachment system works exceptionally well, and the tool roll bit is ok. However, the connection between the slot frame and the bag just isn’t strong enough – you certainly couldn’t use it off road and it’s not really suitable for commuting either unless you can avoid all potholes, bumps and other nasties.
It doesn’t look like this would be a problem with the other bits in the range – the mono frame bag is much more rigid and the bottle cage has a robust looking strap to lock the bottle in.
Sadly the wedge with it’s current design just doesn’t work unless you’re willing to stick a strap around the whole thing to hold it together.