If you regularly spend long hours in the saddle, whether to train or participate in a high-mileage cycling event, you know how important it is to stay fueled. A bicycle top tube box can help, and sometimes bigger is better.
This simple accessory, also called a Bento box, straps to the stem and top tube to keep essentials within easy reach as you pedal. The familiar sub-compact size accommodates an energy bar and a few gels. But I recently discovered an extra-large-size box made by Serfas (above). This stretch limo version delivers plenty of volume in a slim profile, and it’s scaled for endurance rides, which is probably why I found it in the triathlon section of my bike shop.
I’ve been using this box to carry all my nutrition for Gran Fondo events this season. I prefer to “brown bag” it, limiting rest stops to quick water bottle refills and bathroom breaks. For a 100-miler, my provisions included two PBJs cut into thirds and stacked into sandwich bags, a half a banana and two squeeze packets of Espresso Love GU. (It’s the miracle drug for steep climbs and late-ride malaise. Seriously.)
As seen in the photo below, the PBJs and the GU fit perfectly. The banana begins the ride in my back pocket and then migrates into the box as the PBJs are consumed. If you prefer, the box can as easily house a generous assortment of energy-boosting bars, blocks, gels or electrolyte drink mix packets.
The hinged lid with a simple magnetic closure flips open and closes easily, so you can keep your eyes on the road without fumbling. Despite its length, I’ve found that the box remains stable, even in a cross wind, so long as the fasteners are snugly secured. Be sure to cut off excess Velcro to prevent any potential rubbing or snagging on your shorts. In addition, if you ride a smaller bike, you may want to check that the length of the box does not interfere with your ability to straddle your frame when you lower your feet to the ground.
Finally, don’t forget to give a top tube box a wipe with a damp cloth as soon as you get home. You want your ride memories to linger. But sticky residue? Ew.
Serfas Large Speed Stem Bag $33 (Also available with a mesh top, below.)