The Zixtro Spark from Alt Gear is a pretty good frame bag.  You get a good amount of room in the bag and a nice looking exterior design.  The styling on this bag is more in line with mountain bikers rather than commuters if you’re paying attention to that sort of thing.  If you’re looking for a good frame bag to store your gear, then read on!

First Impressions

The Zixtro Spark, like it’s little brother the Birdie, is water resistant to keep rain out of your bag.  From the moment I opened up the Spark, my eyes caught the large zipper grips.  My first thought was, “Well, that’s a bit excessive.”  And then I figured that this is most likely very handy when you’ve got your full fingered mountain biking gloves on.  After using the zippers, I love them.  I like that they’re easy to grab.  The oversize grip is also handy for when you need to grab something out when you’re on the go.  It might be bad form to suggest this, but what the hey.  If you have your cell phone in the bag and it’s ringing, you can easily reach in and grab it.

When I was opening the bag, I expected it to open just a bit more.  It seemed that the design should allow for this, but it felt like it was catching on something.  I think that if the zippers wrapped a bit further back, you would be able to open the case a bit more.  Both on and off the bike, I feel that the case should be able to open up a bit more than it does.

Once I looked inside the bag, I liked the layout for your tools and other belongings.  The case has a designated spot for your multi-tool…as long as it fits.  I’ve got a Topeak Alien and it was too big to fit inside the designated spot.  Sort of a poor waste of space at this point for me.  You can’t remove the walls to make room for something else.

Construction

The construction of the Spark seems lower quality than that of the Birdie.  The Birdie’s interior felt  like the cloth was better adhered and more durable than the Sparks.  This is only my gut feeling and time will be the better decider in this case.  The exterior is a much better build quality than the inside.  The seams are nicely done and the zipper is waterproof which earns this case some bonus points.  That’s one point where some companies would have skipped over, but Alt-Gear put in the extra bit to get waterproof zippers and I think it adds a lot.

Installation

The Spark installs very easily onto your bike.  Just slip the included Velcro straps through the loops on the bag and slide them around your frame.  Fasten everything up and you’re ready to ride.  Keep in mind, though:  Easy on, easy off.

Check out the video below to see how it looks installed.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid review. Alt-Gear contacted me and asked if I would review some of their gear.  This review is as unbiased as a review can get when something new is given to you for free.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

The Zixtro Birdie case has an interesting look to it.  The sharp design of the case gives it more of an extreme mountain biking look, but after sticking it on my bike, it looked right at home on a commuter.


First Impressions

When I opened up the packaging, I immediately noticed the design of the Zixtro Birdie.  It’s not something that will sit on your bike unnoticed, so keep that in mind.  I like the lid design, though.  It’s nice to have a full length, fairly rigid lid that opens up wide enough to get access to your tools/gear inside the case.  The Birdie’s design is meant to be water resistant since the lip of the lid comes over the body to keep rain out of your gear.

Construction

The build quality of this case seems to be decent.  The hinged lid, while not made of polypropylene like most polymeric live hinges, should hold up for a long time if it is not stressed during use.  Luckily, the design of the case allows the lid to be opened very easily and there is no need to pull the lid back far.  The interior of the case is fabric lined and has a fabric divider to keep goods separated.

The material is also waterproof so that if you find yourself riding in the rain sometimes, you don’t have to worry about things inside this case getting wet.  The lid clamps over the body and has a nice sturdy catch to keep it fastened tight.  If you don’t have many tools to carry in this case, I could imagine that it would be convenient to hold a cell phone and keys in the Birdie while out on a ride.  It would have to be a smaller cell phone, though.  My Samsung Galaxy SII wouldn’t fit inside the case, but a flip style phone would fit in easily.

The Birdie is big enough for a multi-tool, a tube and a few smaller things like a patch kit.  Figure on two larger things and a few smaller things being able to fit in here comfortably.

Installation

Putting this case on your bike is a breeze.  Keep that in mind, too, because taking it off is also very easy.  The Velcro straps that the Birdie comes with make the placement of this case very versatile.  I came up with five different configurations in three different locations on a bike that it would be convenient to put the case.  Two of those locations are pictured in the gallery above and the third would be on the back of the seat post attached to a free floating rain/mud guard.  My bike doesn’t have one of these installed, but if yours does you could take advantage of this option.

Check out the video below to see how it looks installed.

To see more cases, check out Alt-Gear.com.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid review.  Alt-Gear contacted me and asked if I would review some of their gear.  This review is as unbiased as a review can get when something new is given to you for free.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

I’ll be honest; I haven’t used a case for my phone while biking before.  After using Alt Gear’s DriKASE, I can’t see riding without my phone in front of me.  There are many products out there that meet the needs of the biker that wants to put their phone on their handle bars for easy access.  There are laughable products and more serious products as well as those from Alt-Gear.com.

First Impressions

Opening up the DriKASE from it’s package, I immediately like it’s size in comparison to the Z-Case.  The DriCASE has a sleeker look and feel to it.  It looked like it was plenty big for my phone, too.  Upon attempting to put my phone in, though, I realized that I was a bit off.  My phone fit snugly inside the case.  I have a Samsung Galaxy SII and I wouldn’t recommend putting anything larger than 5 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide in this case.  You should check your phones dimensions before purchasing this case.

Once I had my phone in the case, I was glad that it fit so well.  There wasn’t any concern for it sliding around inside the case or getting crooked on the ride.  I kept the pad that comes with the DriKASE in to take up some of the thickness room that my phone lacked.  I felt that it kept my phone from moving around in the case and also protected the back of the phone once it was installed on my bike.

I  liked the window on the back of the case.  I think that it is impractical when the case is mounted on your bike unless you have figured out how to mount your case perpendicular to your riding surface to record videos (or some other inventful use).  I can see that it would be nice if you were touring and wanted to snap a picture of something.  You could then just take your phone off your bike and pull up the camera to take a quick picture.

Construction

The build of the case feels durable.  The seams look to be ultrasonically welded which provide a strong, water tight seal for your phone.  The case is made all of plastic so you don’t have to worry about steel pins or screws rusting.  This is an important feature here.  There are products on the market that have screws to add adjustability to the case and these screws will rust after a while.

This is a fairly lightweight case and I can’t imagine that it would do well protecting your phone in any rough riding situation.  If you’re sticking to the streets for a commute or out on the road for a touring trip, I think that this would be a great case.  If you’re headed down the mountain and want to keep track of how many miles you’ve descended, I would pick up a different case.

Installation

Installing the case on my bike was easy.  There is a Velcro strap on the back of the case that allows easy installation and removal.  That’s the upside.  The downside is that the case could potentially bang around on the handlebars or stem.  I would say that if you have a better stem than I have, you wouldn’t have this issue, though.  My stem is an older style with a access for a brake line inconveniently routed through the middle of the stem.  I don’t have any cable coming through there now, so I just have an annoying metal riser sticking up from my stem.  I presume that this stem is pushing up on the back of the case creating a rocking point.

Check out the video below to see how it looks installed.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid review. Alt-Gear contacted me and asked if I would review some of their gear.  This review is as unbiased as a review can get when something new is given to you for free.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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