Review: Mountainsmith Bike Cube Deluxe

Really, all you need is a bike. If you’re healthy enough to ride, all you need is a bike. Period. But then again, should you take a tumble, it’s better to live to ride another day rather than end up in a vegetative state while your surviving relatives debate the merits of continuing life support for this 180 pound inert object with brain activity equivalent to a head of broccoli. So you need a helmet. And then, getting a bug in your eye at 25 mph is a real downer, so you need shades. Then, one day, you wake up and realize your regular shoes are just no good for mountain biking. And you need special gloves. Of course, bikes also require maintenance, so ya gotta have tools, lube, spare parts and much more. On and on it goes.


Face it: mountain biking requires lots of stuff. Keeping track of stuff can be hard. Transporting stuff can be annoying. That’s where the all-important bike bag comes in. The bike bag is a lot like the gym bag, but more complex, because gearing up for an epic ride is more complex than gearing up for a half hour on the treadmill in front of ESPN. Mountainsmith has created a fairly unique twist on the old rectangular bike-bag-based-on-a-gym-bag, the Bike Cube Deluxe.

First Impressions

It’s a good thing I’ve had the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” burned into my psyche pretty much from birth. The Bike Cube Deluxe is a very bright, vibrant, fire engine red. I personally tend to like more subdued colors. And while it’s a little large for such, the cubic shape makes it look like a bowling bag. Not that I have anything against bowling, but taking a bowling bag biking just seems to violate multiple laws of nature. The size, shape and color had my wife thinking I’d picked up a second job: delivering pizzas! But the fact is, the Bike Cube Deluxe is a serious bike stuff organizer and hauler. It’s built solidly, out of quality materials, and is loaded with features.

Bike Cube Deluxe Features

  • Tri-panel load access
  • Organizer pockets for tools, food and accessories
  • Interior shoe & clothes divider
  • Coated mesh for ventilation
  • Fleece-lined eyewear pocket
  • Roll-up bike tool organizer
  • Removable, padded changing mat
  • Adjustable shoulder strap included
  • Padded haul handle

The Bike Cube Deluxe is also compatible with Mountainsmith’s modular systems, which allow the simultaneous transport of multiple Mountainsmith products in one convenient–albeit large–container.

The bag is made out of durable, heavy duty, rip stop polyester held together with robust stitching and sports a whopping 3,147 cubic inches of carrying capacity.

At first these all seemed like features I would really appreciate, with the exception of the padded changing mat. Why do I need a changing mat? And wouldn’t I be better served by just leaving the mat out and making all that space available as extra carrying capacity? More on that later.

Reloading the Bike Cube Deluxe after a very muddy race
Reloading the Bike Cube Deluxe after a very muddy race

Geometry Lesson (skip this paragraph if you’re not part math geek)

That impressive storage space comes courtesy of Mountainsmith’s selection of a cube as the shape for this product. The cube, geometrically speaking, is the most efficient way to achieve maximum volume. Consider a cube measuring a mere 10 inches on each side. The total volume (length x height x width or 10x10x10) would be 1000 cubic inches. Now, let’s turn that cube into a rectangular prism with equal exterior dimensions. We deduct 4 inches from the width and add it to the length, so now our calculation is 14x10x6 which only equals 840 cubic inches: a significant decrease in volume with similar exterior dimensions. It seems, the cube is the way to go.

Experience with the Bike Cube Deluxe

While I made the Bike Cube Deluxe my primary hauler the instant it hit my doorstep, it faced its first real test when I took it to the Rumble at 18 Road mountain bike race in Fruita. This was the first time I had to pack it with all the apparel, gear, tools, and calories I would need to give me the best footing for a race far from home. I found the multiple storage options within each of the three sections of the Bike Cube made everything quite easy–not just the having enough room for everything, but also being able to keep things organized. Clothes, food, and tools all had their own compartments. Since I generally drive with the same shades I ride with, the fleece-lined sunglass container in the middle compartment was used as a cell phone keeper (it would also serve well as a convenient GPS protector). The roll-up tool case is both convenient and makes great use of space.

The race turned out to be an absolute mudbath, and then I realized the value of the changing pad. It was most welcome having a place to change my shoes outside the truck without sloshing around in the mud or getting my truck all dirty. The changing pad is a keeper.

The changing mat proved to be of significant benefit after the muddy Rumble at 18 Road
The changing mat proved to be of significant benefit after the muddy Rumble at 18 Road

Two weeks later, the Cube really rose to the occasion when we hit the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race. In this case, my son was racing as well, and we were able to load all necessary gear for the both of us into the Cube.

That intellectually-satisfying geometry does have one minor drawback. When the Cube is filled to capacity and it has achieved full width, it can be awkward to carry over long distances, even with the comfortable accompanying shoulder strap. I found myself trying to swing the Cube behind my back and keeping it there with my elbow rather than having that wide thing bouncing off my hip with each step. However, it’s not overly cumbersome, as my son throws it over his shoulder and rides with it to deliver newpapers.


Final Analysis

One minor quibble aside, the Bike Cube Deluxe is a rugged, convenient, capable way to organize, store, and haul your bike gear, and at $79.95 full retail, a reasonably economical way to do so. If you like the concept, don’t need all the extras and want to save a few shekels, the basic Bike Cube, available in basic black and without the shoulder strap, roll-up tool case, and changing pad, can be had for $49.95.

Thanks to Mountainsmith for providing the Bike Cube Deluxe for review!