Ten Great Mountain Bikes For NICA Kids

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Mountain Bikes For NICA Kids

Your little mountain biker isn’t going to be so little much longer. If those years of waiting for her or him to keep up with you have not already gone by, don’t blink. It will happen fast.

As your kids get older they will continue to enjoy outdoor adventures and learning new skills on their mountain bikes with your family. However, since friends will become increasingly important in your pre-teen/teen’s life, you’ll want to be sure that your mountain biking activities include friends.

Hardtail Mountain Bikes for NICA Riders | Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes for NICA Riders

You may have already heard about the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). Founded in 2009, NICA develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. American kids in grades 7-12 may have the opportunity to join a NICA mountain biking team. Participating on a NICA team leads to making new mountain biking friends and having even more fun on bikes. As of 2018, NICA has 25 state and regional leagues, and 6,450 coaches who are working with over 14,500 student-athletes from nearly 800 high schools in the United States. Since 2009, participation in NICA has grown 30 to 40 percent each year. Although there is an element of competition and racing, the purpose of NICA is to support student-athletes in the development of strong body, mind, and character through their efforts on the bike. NICA is a great experience for young riders. Here are 10 bikes that may work for your young rider as they become a NICA racer.

Hardtail/Front-Suspension Mountain Bikes for NICA Riders

Pivot LES Carbon Race 29er X01 Eagle mountain bike for NICA racers

Pivot LES 29 Carbon Race X01 Eagle | $4,199.00 USD

The 2018 Pivot LES 29 Carbon Race X01 is a cross-country hardtail that combines efficiency with smoothness. These characteristics will help your racer build skills and keep up with the competition. Using leading edge carbon fiber and their proprietary hollow-core internal mandrel construction design, the engineers at Pivot have created a light frame (2.8 lbs including drop outs) tuned to minimize athlete fatigue on cross-country terrain. To keep the energy transfer steady, Pivot added Boost 110mm front and 148mm rear dropout spacing and ultra-stiff Boost wheels. The LES also features Pivot’s patented Swinger II dropout system which enables you to run both 29” and 27.5”+ wheels. Whether you choose to go the traditional shifting route or opt for Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting componentry, the innovative Pivot Cable Port System ensures that all cables, housing, wires and batteries are neatly tucked away for the ultimate in weather and impact resistance. The LES is available in sizes S- XL for riders between 5’4″ and 6’7″ with a minimum stand-over height of 28.5 inches.

Diamondback Overdrive Carbon 29er mountain bike for NICA kids

Diamondback Overdrive 29C 1 Carbon | $1,999.99 USD

The Diamondback Overdrive 29C 1 Carbon is a great lightweight race ready bike that’s surprisingly affordable. Overdrive 29C 1 Carbon components include a RockShox Recon Gold RL fork with 100 mm of travel. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes will help your racer effectively control speed. And the simple SRAM NX single-ring drivetrain will keep ‘em moving. The big 29inch wheels will help maintain speed and easily roll over technical features. Here’s a bonus – the stock wheels are also tubeless compatible. The nifty Diamondback Overdrive 29C 1 Carbon is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’4” to 6’4″ with a minimum stand-over height of 30.5”.

Santa Cruz Highball CC X01 Mountain Bike for NICA athletes

Santa Cruz Highball CC X01 Bike 2019 | $5,399.00 USD

The Highball CC X01 is the leading carbon hardtail race bike in the Santa Cruz line up. Santa Cruz has fine-tuned the Highball CC X01 to be light and fast. By using lighter, stronger, and more expensive carbon fiber, Santa Cruz made the Highball CC as stiff and strong as their C-level frame, with significant weight savings. The frame has room for three water bottle cages for those extra hot race days or long explores out on the trails. The internal cable routing creates a sleek appearance while protecting the cables from the elemens. This also helps keep the bike shifting smoothly. The Highball comes with SRAM’s elite XO1 Eagle Drivetrain complementing a 12-speed gear range – giving your racer the gears they need to climb and descend with speed. The Highball’s, hydraulic disc brakes (SRAM Level TLM) will slow your racer down quickly and safely. Fox Float Performance Elite suspension will smooth out the chop, and can handle larger obstacles with ease. Race Face wheels and Maxxis Aspen tires provide the traction and confidence needed to charge technical singletrack and high-speed corners. As with all Santa Cruz bikes, the Highball CC X01 includes a lifetime frame and bearing warranty for original owner. The Santa Cruz Highball CC X01 is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’1” to 6’1 with a minimum stand-over height of 27.8 inches.

Ibis DV9 X01 Eagle 29er mountain bike for NICA riders

Ibis DV9 X01 Eagle Bike 2019 | $4,799.00 USD

Ibis designed this lightweight carbon hardtail for maximal versatility. Your NICA rider can race this bike on one day and head out to explore the trails the next. The DV9 was inspired by CEO Hans Heim’s XC racing daughter. His two design goals were maximal versatility and a price-tag affordable enough to pay for it with a summer job. The 2019 Ibis DV9 X01 Eagle Bike has a 2.65 pound full-carbon frame that can be customized with 100 to 120mm suspension travel. Its frame geometry has more slack than traditional XC bikes which means this bike won’t hold you back on more technical trails. The DV9 frame also boasts two water bottle cage mounts, versatile cable ports, Boost hub spacing, a threaded bottom bracket and allows tire clearance for up to 2.6″ wide tires. The X01 Eagle version of the DV9 comes with a SRAM X01 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain provides an ultra-wide gear range so you can climb tough hills and accelerate on the flats. Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power. Ibis’s 938 aluminum wheels come with Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6″ wide tires that are tubeless ready. Ibis DV9 X01 Eagle is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’0” to 6’6 with a minimum stand-over height of 27.4 inches.

Orbea M30 29er Mountain Bike for NICA racers

Orbea Alma M30 29″ Bike 2019 | $2,499.00 USD

The Orbea Alma is a light cross-country carbon hardtail that retains rider comfort for long and technical rides thanks to Orbea’s 4×4 Technology. The Alma incorporates a fourth member into the front and rear triangles, creating a quadrangle, which deflects impacts at the joints, while providing a comfortable yet stiff frame. The 2019 Orbea Alma M30 features frame updates that provide a lower center of gravity to increase stability, a lower front end for better traction on steep and loose climbs, and shorter chain-stays that allow you to maneuver through technical sections with confidence. The internal Direct Cable Routing provides a sealed inner wire for the length of each cable. The Orbea Alma 29 M30 is stocked with the RockShox Reba RL Air fork which features 100mm of suspension travel. The SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain provides you with a big 11-50 1×12 gear range. The Orbea Alma M30 29″ is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’1” to 6’6 with a minimum stand-over height of 28.1 inches.

Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes for NICA Kids

Yeti SB100 Carbon GX Comp for NICA kids

Yeti SB100 Carbon GX Comp Bike 2019 | $5,999.00 USD

The Yeti SB100 Carbon GX Eagle Comp Bike is a full suspension carbon fiber mountain bike that will help your racer attain new heights and descend from those heights quickly and safely. The SB100 frame features newly redesigned Switch Infinity for 100mm of travel and allows space for a bottle cage and longer dropper seatposts. The frame also has internally molded carbon tubes inside the frame so cable routing is easy. The SB100 Carbon GX Comp Eagle edition includes a Fox Performance 34 SC fork with 120mm of travel and a Fox Performance DPS rear shock. The drivetrain features a GX Eagle 12-speed shifter and an X01 Eagle 12-speed rear derailleur. The crankset is an X01 Carbon Eagle crankset with a 30 tooth cog and is paired with a SRAM 1275 Eagle 10-50T cassette that provides excellent range for climbing and descending. The Shimano XT brakes provide dependable stopping power. The Yeti SB100 comes with DT Swiss M1700 wheels with a Maxxis Aggressor 29″ x 2.3″ tire on the rear and a Maxxis Minion DHF 29″ x 2.3″ tire on the front The Yeti SB100 is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’3” to 6’2 with a minimum stand-over height of 28.5 inches.

Santa Cruz Blur C S mountain bike for NICA racers

Santa Cruz Blur C S Bike 2019 | $4,399.00 USD

The 2019 Santa Cruz Blur is true XC race machine designed with podiums in mind. With a frame coming in at just 4.54 pounds, the 2019 Blur is the lightest full suspension Santa Cruz frame. The carbon frameset includes VPP (virtual pivot point) suspension design to create a bike that is ultra-efficient. This bike also includes a dual remote lockout for the fork and shock so your racer can maintain top efficiency. The Blur C S comes with a Fox ultra-light step-cast 32 Performance fork effortlessly smooths out the trail in front of you and Float Performance DPS rear shockwith 100mm of rear VPP travel offers the perfect amount of forgiveness over the bumps. The SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain gives you the gear range to climb the steepest mountains and sprint the descents, and SRAM level TL brakes give you incredible stopping power and modulation. The 29” wheels roll over everything in your path and provide exceptional rolling speed. As with all Santa Cruz bikes, the Blur C S includes a Lifetime frame and bearing warranty for original owner. The Santa Cruz bikes Blur C S is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’1” to 6’1 with a minimum stand-over height of 28.4 inches.

Salsa Deadwood NX1 29 plus mountain bike for NICA athletes

Salsa Deadwood NX1 29+ Bike | $2,799.00 USD

The Salsa Deadwood NX1 29+ is a short travel full suspension rig based on the Split Pivot Spearfish/Horsetheif platform. The Split Pivot rear suspension eliminates unwanted suspension movement during acceleration and braking for maximum traction and pedaling efficiency while racing. The Deadwood includes a RockShox Recon RL 120mm travel fork and RockShox Monarch RT3 Debonair rear shock. The deadwood aluminum frame is designed for ample tire clearance— rear tires can range from 2.6 in. to 3.0 in., in widths of up to 45mm rims via Boost 148 spacing. The frame geometry pairs slack trail bike style geometry—68° head angle and 45mm BB drop—with travel amounts usually reserved for steep race bikes. 6066-T6 aluminum stays create a strong, lightweight frame. Salsa Deadwood NX1 29+ is available in S-XL and should fit riders ranging from 5’6” to 6’2″ with a minimum stand-over height of 28.4 inches.

Niner Jet 9 RDO 29er bike for NICA kids

Niner Jet 9 RDO 29er | $5,300.00 USD

The Niner Jet 9 RDO 29er’s updated trail geometry powers up climbs and rips down descents. The Race Day Optimized (RDO) carbon frame construction gives Niner precise control over where material is and where it isn’t, letting the engineers reduce weight where it’s not needed while ensuring stiffness and durability at key areas of power transfer. The 2019 JET 9 RDO comes with 130 millimeters of front travel and the included dropper post allows you to clear out some cockpit space so you can maneuver the bike easily on descents. The CVA suspension is designed specifically around 29-inch wheels to keep the big-wheel platform balanced between taut under power and supple while rallying over rocks and roots. New internal tubes for easier cable routing and maintenance. The SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain offers a massive range of gears. The 2019 JET 9 RDO is available in XS-XL with a minimum stand over height of 26.5 inches.

Pivot Mach 429 mountain bike for NICA racers

Pivot Mach 429 | $5,199.00 USD

Pivot’s 2018 Mach 429SL Carbon 29 Race X01 Eagle Complete Mountain Bike is a perfectly dialed full suspension ride built for speed. The Mach 429SL has 100-millimeters of DW-link suspension to eat up obstacles. The 2018 Mach 429SL has stretched out rear-axle geometry and the flexibility to swap a 29” wheelset out for a plush 27.5+ hoop when your kid is not racing and wants to head out to explore backcountry trails. The Mach 429 SL lightweight frame is made from Pivot’s hollow-core carbon fiber – engineered for maximum structural strength, with minimal material. The frame is backed with Pivot’s new 10-year warranty. The Mach 29SL boasts a Fox Float DPS Kashima coated shock that’s been fine-tuned specifically for this frame which offers settings that are designed to offer you a plush feel when heading downhill, with control over damping for fast climbs. It uses a Fox 34 Performance fork that offers 120mm of travel to match the rear shock, and when pairs with the Fox Float DPS in back you’ll find it soaks up blows and smooths out any ride. The Mach 29SL compiles an assortment of GX Eagle and X01 Eagle components for a massive gear range and snappy shifting. The Mach 29SL is available in S-XL with a minimum stand over height of 27.7 inches

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 Review

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Trailcraft Maxwell 26 at Trailside Bike Park

Meet the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. You don’t have to worry about making any modifications to this kids’ mountain bike designed for 26 inch wheels unless you purchase one of the frame only sets. Our son Tyge had the chance to try out one of the Special Build models in orange with a 32-tooth chainring. The price of this kids’ bike is $2,599.00 USD.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 at Trailside Bike Park

Five Ways to Purchase A Maxwell 26

One of the most interesting things about the Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is the fact that you have five different options. You can purchase one of the ready to ride models, like the Pro XT M8000, the Pro Deore M6000, or the Special Build Maxwell 26. You could also buy just the Frame (which comes with the frame, the headset, the derailleur hanger, and the seat collar) or the Rolling Frameset Package. This makes it incredibly easy to customize (or not) for your kid’s exact needs.

Performance Boosters

This kids’ mountain bike has 28h Stans Crest MK3 wheels paired with Joytech Boost Hubs. For tires, you can choose from 2.25 inch Schwalbe Nobby Nics or a pair of 2.1 inch Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. The aluminum spindle has 152mm direct-mount cranks and the Horst link suspension system is designed to take on an uneven patch of trail with ease.

Rockshox Judy air fork on Trailcraft Maxwell 26 kids' bike
Schwalbe Rocket Ron mountain bike tire on the Trailcraft Maxwell 26
Trailcraft Maxwell 26 kids' mountain bike
Trailcraft Maxwell 26 brand detail

Depending on which model you choose, the bike either comes with a Rock Shox Reba RL fork or a Rock Shox Judy fork. The former is on the Pro XT and the Deore models, while the others feature the latter. Since both options are designed for high performance, the choice really is yours.

A Rockshox Monarch RT with 120mm of travel is the rear shock for all Maxwell 26 builds. All models include a Trailcraft Precision Sealed Cartridge headse and Trailcraft lock-on grips.

At-A-Glance Numbers For The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 With Special Build

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COST

$2,599.00 USD

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STANDOVER HEIGHT

26.5 inches

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DRIVETRAIN

1 x 10

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WHEEL SIZE

26 inches

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WEIGHT

About 26 pounds

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AGE RANGE

Approx. 10 – 13

Brakes And Drivetrain

Our demo bike featured Shimano M396 hydraulic disc brakes. The more we have been able to demo and test kids’ bikes, the more our riders appreciate this brake technology. Well designed hydraulic brakes enable kids to control their speed efficiently without tiring out their hands and arms. This means longer rides and and more fun for the entire family.

The Maxwell 26 Special Build is powered by kids, but that power is sent to the wheels via a 1×10 Shimano drivetrain composed of a Zee 10 speed shifter with Deore derailleur. Our model even had a rear cassette with a 46-tooth ring.

Trailcraft Maxell 26 Special Build brake detail
Front chainring and crankset on Trailcraft Maxwell 26
Detail of rear drivetrain - Trailcraft Maxwell 26

Sizing Specs And Geometry

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is designed to fit young riders who are approximately 10 – 13 years old with a minimum inseam of 27 inches; and who are 4ft 10in tall to 5ft 2in tall. The chainstay length is 420mm (millimeters), while the wheelbase is 1.082m. The angle of the seat tube (74 degrees) and the head tube (68 degrees) are designed for comfort while on the trails. On top of this, the bottom bracket height is 320mm, and the standover height is 675mm. All of this adds up to a very well-designed mountain bike.

Not only is the Trailcraft Maxwell 26 a high performance, lightweight mountain bike designed specifically for kids, but it also comes in four different colors – neon green, deep orange, turquoise, and orange. Trailcraft branded Lizard Skins protective chain slap wraps are fashioned around the chainstay and seat stay tubes on the drive side. Cable ports for an internally routed dropper are included. The quick-release seat collar made it easy for Tyge to adjust the saddle height when the terrain told him to. It’s these details that make the ride even more enjoyable.

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is a full-suspension kids' bike

Riding The Trailcraft Maxwell 26

We say it over and over –  a proper fitting child’s mountain bike enables your young-un to benefit from all of the research and development that goes into a high performance bike like the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. Because our rider fit the bike so well, he was able to use it as it was intended.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 getting put through its paces

Getting on the bike for the first time, our kid was immediately comfortable. The bars on our Maxwell 26 were about 10mm wider than his normal bike. This allowed him to have a more “open” stance as it forced his elbows out a bit more.

The 46t rear ring on the Maxwell 26 made climbing easier for our kid.

As previously mentioned, our demo bike featured a rear cassette with 46t ring. When we hit our first tough climb during a test ride, Tyge down shifted and started chugging away. After a ascending a couple dozen yards, he said “Wow. This is a lot easier than my other bike!” This bike’s drivetrain allowed our kid to obtain new heights when getting to the top of some hills. We did run into some hike-a-bike (for all of us) during our demo period, but again – the weight of this bike makes it easier to push it up a hill, too.

Trailcraft Maxwell 26 climbing the Big Thunder Mountain Trail
The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 handling the rough stuff
Good lightweight kid bikes are good for pushing too

When the trails we rode got technical on climbs and descents, the front and rear 120mm suspension performed beautifully. The lock out on the fork was used when climbing smooth surfaces and switched to the open position for choppy terrain. The Rocket Ron tires kept kept our rider on-trail and in control – even through a few loose sections on Thunder Mountain Trail.

The Maxwell 26 in the skate park
This artificial berm was no match for the Trailcraft Maxwell 26
The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 was very maneuverable in the terrain park

Maneuvering the bike through a terrain park and skate park were done with enjoyment and ease. The combination of the crankset length, bottom bracket height, and 26-inch wheels made getting through features and over obstacles a fun time on the bike.

The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 is one of the best kids' mountain bikes out there

Is The Trailcraft Maxwell 26 The Best Kids’ Mountain Bike?

Taking into account the build quality and weight of this bike, you’re not going to find anything better in the do-it-all category than the Trailcraft Maxwell 26. Pair it with a skilled rider and she or he will have no problem on XC rides, enduro races, dirt jumps and the in the bike parks. Compare it to other bikes. You will find that they are going to be heavier or not full-suspension. And remember, with the multiple build options Trailcraft offers, you can start with a fabulous frame and build this bike however you like.

Looking for something a littler smaller? If this bike sounds amazing, but is a bit big for your rider, check out our Trailcraft Maxwell 24 Review.

The Best Mountain Bike Racks For Families

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The best bike racks for mountain biking families

Are you ready for a real bike rack for your family’s mountain bikes? Tired of your mountain bikes getting scratched or damaged during transportation? In our opinion, these are the best bike racks for mountain biking families because each option holds 4-6 bikes; they all require a 2-inch trailer hitch and depending on how you arrange the bikes, they should not be touching each other. This results in safe, secure, damage-free transportation.

Kuat NV 2.0 Mountain Bike Rack With 2 Bike Add-On | $649 USD + $439 USD

The Kuat NV 2.0 is a bicycle rack that’s designed to be both stylish and durable. The original rack holds a total of two bicycles, but with the add-on option, it can handle up to four. This rack has an adjustable front tire cradle system, meaning that your front wheel won’t be dangling in the air or spinning around while your vehicle is in motion. This keeps your mountain bike extremely secure. The rear wheels are held in place with a strap.

On top of this, it has a foot assisted pivot system. All that you need to do is tap the pedal on the bike rack, and it will automatically pivot downward, making it simple to remove the bicycles. The rack itself mounts onto your vehicle’s trailer hitch with the included hitch lock and hand tight cam system. The cable locks, which lock your mountain bikes onto the rack are fully integrated into the device. Basically, your bikes aren’t going anywhere, until you loosen the locks by hand and remove them.

If matching your bike rack to your vehicle is a priority, then you’re in luck. The Kuat NV 2.0 comes in two different colors: gray metallic with orange accents, and black metallic with gray ones. The frame is made from metal, and the entire rack (the original without the add-on system) weighs a mere 52 pounds. Overall, the Kuat is designed to hold bicycles that have a tire diameter of between 20 and 29 inches, although a separate adapter is needed for the ones that are between 20 and 24 inches.

Yakima HoldUp Mountain Bike Rack with 2 Bike Add-on | $439 USD + $319 USD

The Yakima HoldUp calls itself the “serious bike lover’s rack.” This seems to be the case, as this mountain bike rack boasts that it only takes seconds to load and secure your bicycle to it, no matter the size of your wheels. It’s designed to help you cart around bicycles of all types with wheels that are between 20 and 29 inches, no adapter needed. It can also hold models with disc brakes, full suspension, and through axels. Really, there’s not much that it can’t handle.

The main model of the Yakima HoldUp securely holds two bicycles in place while you’re on the road, thanks to its SKS lock system. There’s an additional adapter called the HoldUp + 2 that attaches to the initial rack, allowing you to double its capacity. No matter which model you have (the initial HoldUp or one with the add-on connected to it) you can adjust the amount of space in between the bikes to keep them from bouncing into one another as you drive from one location to another.

The Yakima HoldUp comes in black with red accents and attaches to your vehicle’s trailer hitch. When you’re ready to load and unload, the rack tilts downwards to make this a breeze. You won’t have to lift the bikes over your head, potentially injuring yourself or scratching the bike, while trying to move it. Once you’re done using it, the entire device folds up and stays out of the way.

Thule T2 Pro XT Mountain Bike Rack with 2 Bike Add-On | $580 USD + $420 USD

The Thule T2 Pro XT bills itself as a “pro” level rack, and it certainly lives up its hype. It’s a platform hitch rack that has a frame-free ratcheting arm. If you’re worried about your rack putting pressure on your bike’s frame, then this is the one for you. It holds the bikes by the tires, and even adjusts so that you have plenty of clearance between the two bikes that the initial rack holds. You can always choose to upgrade the system with an add-on that allows for two additional bicycles.

This mountain bike rack weighs a mere 52 pounds when empty, and comes in a solid matte black. This ensures that it will match any vehicle. You don’t have to worry about your vehicle’s color clashing! The Thule was designed to accommodate many different types of bikes. It can handle mountain bikes, as well as downhill and fat bikes, as long as the wheels are between 20 and 29 inches in diameter, and no more than five inches wide.

The patented HitchSwitch lever makes it easy to get the bikes on and off of the rack. All that you need to do is press that lever, and it will tilt downwards for easier access. Plus, you don’t need to use any tools in order to install the Thule T2 Pro XT on the back of your vehicle. The AutoAttach system is just as simple to use as the entire rack itself.

If security while in motion is a concern, then you certainly don’t have to worry about it with this mountain bike rack. It comes with an integrated cable lock and lock knob, both of which keep every in position no matter how bumpy the road is.

Alta Racks GPR

Alta Racks, Alta Six GPR (General Purpose Rack) for Mountain Bikes | $1,185 USD

This mountain bike rack is different than the other options in this article as the Alta Six GPR is a vertical bike rack. It can hold up to 6 bikes very well. The front wheels of your bikes are nested and secured in baskets. The rear wheels are secured against a horizontal metal bar. We had the opportunity to test one of these and could see why this style of bike rack is becoming more popular. Read our Alta Six GPR bike rack review and see if this is the winning solution for your mountain bike family.

Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel Bag Review

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Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag Review

When our kids were too small to carry their own luggage, we’d pack their clothes in with ours in the rolling suitcases we got for our wedding. As the kids grew and needed more of their own space, we gave them roller bags. Although it was nice for each of us to have our own bags, roller bags were not ideal for the way we travel. We almost always travel in the minivan. On road trips, we would get to our hotel, check in, put the bikes in the room and then make additional trips to the car to get 4 heavy roller bags. An extra trip to the car doesn’t seem like a big deal, but after a long travel day, neither grumpy kids nor exhausted parents wanted to take extra steps.

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag Review

Last year, we started the research to find the prefect travel bags for our family. We quickly decided on duffel bags instead of suitcases because of their flexibility, light weight and potential for freeing up your hands with the addition of backpack straps. After reading hundreds of reviews, we purchased Patagonia 60L Black Hole Duffel bags. Over the past couple of years we have used our Black Hole Duffels for all of our long and short trips.

The Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel Bag Has These Great Features

  • Tough polyester ripstop with highly weather-resistant TPU-film laminate
  • Durable water-repellent finish
  • Large opening to main compartment, zippered side pocket, mesh pockets in lid
  • Padded, removable shoulder straps for a backpack carrying option
  • Reinforced haul handles for easy carrying
  • Padded base protects contents
  • Burly, reinforced daisy chains for lashing
  • Internal compression straps
  • Stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage

Some Of The Numbers

Weight: 2 lb. 7 oz.
Size: 25” x 13” x 10”
Interior size: 60L
Price: $129.00 USD

Appearance Of The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

One of the best features of these bags is that they come in a variety of colors. We purchased four different colored bags so each of us knows which bag is ours. This is helpful when rummaging for one particular bag in a packed mini-van and also lets each of us take care of our own supplies. Despite over 2-years of being used by our rough and tumble boys, they still look like new except for some very minor scuffing.

What fits in the Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel Bag

Exactly How Much Stuff Will Fit In This Thing?

  • 5 undies
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 3 shorts
  • 1 pants
  • 3 jerseys
  • 2 tee shirts
  • Swim suit
  • Towel
  • Regular shoes
  • Fip flops
  • PJs
  • Warm jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Bike shoes
  • Bike gloves

Water Resistance

A bonus! Since we live in the desert, our bags are more likely to get splashed with Gatorade or splattered with mud than doused in a rainstorm. Despite that, it’s nice to know that the bags will keep moisture out and can be easily wiped off in case of unexpected spills or storms.

Durability

These bags are tough! They have been packed to the brim, dropped and tossed onto the ground, and dragged on the asphalt. Amazingly, our Black Hole Duffels have no rips, tears or even noticeable worn spots in the rip stop laminate fabric despite the rough handling.

Wearing the Patagonia 60L Black Hole Duffel Bag

Backpack (and other) Straps For The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bags come with removable backpack straps which make them much more convenient to haul around than a suitcase. This feature frees up our hands to wheel bikes and carry luggage simultaneously. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable. The carrying handles on the top of the bag are long enough to easily sling the bag on your shoulder if needed, but not nearly as comfortable as the backpack straps. There are also sturdy carry straps on both ends and daisy chain attachments to connect gear/helmets to the outside of the duffel.

Don’t let the people online who say the straps are hard to attach scare you! These straps are easy to attach (see video of our 11 year old attaching both straps in less than 20 seconds).

To attach the straps:

  1. Slide the narrow side of the rectangular plastic fixture attached to the strap through the plastic D-ring on the bag
  2. Once the rectangular piece is all the way through, turn the piece sideways so that the piece attached to the strap is the same direction as the D-ring on the bag
  3. Connect the straps to the bottom of the bag with the easy click-in buckles
Compressed and stuffed Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel Bag

Interior

The capacity of the 60L duffel bag is perfect for bringing all of our mountain biking clothes and accessories for a weekend or longer trips. It’s big enough to hold each family member’s belongings and small enough to be packed into the hotel by a 9 year-old. There are two zippered compartments on the top of the duffle and a single side pocket that is accessible from both the inside and outside. These duffels hold everything we needed with room to spare.

But wait, there’s more! As if the above benefits weren’t enough, the entire bag (including straps) folds down into its own inside pocket. Great for storage!

Our family 100% recommends the Patagonia Black Hole 60L Duffel bag. It’s the perfect bag for our family mountain biking excursions.

The only thing I would change about this duffle is a larger top opening. The main top opening isn’t the same size as the bag dimensions. This means that you have to pull more things out to find items that might not be in the center top of the bag. However, this is only a problem when the bag is packed completely full, which is usually not the case.