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The Topeak Elementa Strap is constructed to the company's usual high standards, but on the first descent over rough tarmac, on its first test ride, it fell off and got run over by a car. The hook and loop fixing might be ruggedly put together, but it's simply nowhere near sticky enough to keep your spares attached.
Read our guide, 15 easy ways to carry stuff on your bike, for more ideas and options.
The fact that this failed completely within four miles obviously makes any other observations moot, but for the sake of completeness – and in case Topeak upgrades the hook and loop part – I'll observe them anyway.
This is a neat, minimalist way of attaching spares under your saddle, and while the upside is easy access, the downside is that your cargo is open to the elements and sat right over your rear wheel.
It's strongly stitched from tough webbing, and there's a rubbery surface in just the right area to grip an inner tube securely. The rest of it, where it's not covered with hook and loop (Velcro is the best known example of hook and loop, but Velcro is a trademark and this is not Velcro), is attractively patterned with a subtle Topeak logo.
The elastic cord loops for an inner tube are stitched right in, but the two smaller ones for accessories are actually on their own small chunks of hook and loop too. That means you can adjust where they sit on the strap. In my case it also meant I could go still further back up the road to find my multi-tool, because it had separated completely.
In case you think this failed because I overloaded it, it was only holding a road tube, two plastic tyre levers, and a very small multi-tool. Topeak pictures it with CO2 in there as well (as do our studio shots). And in case you think my roads are too rough (Welsh backroads are a special kind of rough), Topeak mentions 'trailside' repairs in the Elementa's blurb.
Frankly, I can't see this lasting four miles off-road, though as there's a 'medium' version for gravel and a 'large' for mountain bikes, it's at least technically possible they use different stuff that actually sticks.
You'll need a small multi-tool for this, by the way – or at least a narrow one – or it won't fit through the loop. My 52mm Lezyne would not go in, while a 44mm-wide Crankbrothers one would but only with a fight. Eventually I found a 34mm Mini 9 MT from, ironically, Topeak to send bouncing down the road.
I had concerns about the strength of the closure from the start, so I wanted to be very sure I was attaching it right. The packaging wasn't really any help, but it does have a QR code that's supposed to send you to 'How to use Elementa strap'. It didn't, though – it just took me to the product page. So I just had to spend time peering at the marketing images to work out what was going on.
And here, as if by magic, Future Steve interjects: Upon seeing this review, Topeak fixed that error and made a useful instructional video, which is an impressive response.
Topeak also informed me the problem was my 'error' – I left the little tool-holding tabs stuck where they're supplied, and as they're shown in the close-up of it fully loaded on Topeak's product page.
Apparently you're actually supposed to take the tabs off, thread the strap onto your bike but leave it undone, put the tabs back on, half do it up, stuff your tools into the loops, and then finally do the rest of strap up. That way, if (and frankly when) the closure fails, your tools physically block the strap from pulling back out of the buckle. Then none of it can fall off. Your stuff will dangle and clang about against your seat or frame instead.
While the instructional video shows the person sticking the tabs back on outside of the buckle, it doesn't stress just how important doing this is.
Unfortunately, it also does nothing to address the actual problem, which is that the Velcro-like stuff is very weak. Jamming up the buckle as a failsafe is all very well, but personally I don't feel you should have to. All the other straps and seatpacks I've used or tested have stayed put and not needed a failsafe, simply by virtue of sealing strongly in the first place.
And once again as if by magic, Future Steve disappears, bit by bit like the Cheshire Cat until only his sigh remains.
Because this hook-and-loop stuff felt surprisingly weak right from the off, I know I had this strapped on as firmly and securely as possible – I triple-checked it. I also decided to trust it was up to the task, because every other Topeak product I've personally tested (or bought) has been solidly effective at the very least. This is an unfortunate exception.
The multi-tool, by the way, still works perfectly despite its trip under a 4x4.
With some actually strong hook and loop or, dare I say it, Velcro, the Elementa Strap would be a well-built and simple way to keep your spares accessible/cover your tube in filth/rust your tools/delete as applicable. As it is, it's a well built and simple way to lose your stuff.
This doesn't work, so even at £0.00 the value would be poor – tubes, multi-tools and CO2 inflators all cost money to replace. At £19.99, though, it would be rather expensive even if it did work.
Granite sells its Rockband for £8.99 via Amazon, and that's intended to attach to your frame – arguably a better place as it's not quite so exposed. Presumably you could attach it to the saddle rails just the same.
Stretchy, naturally grippy PU straps from Voile can be had from around £8, in various lengths and with plastic instead of aluminium buckles if you worry about scratches. They're very versatile and have a well-earned reputation.
With an effective closure this would be another well-built, nicely designed product, if not the cheapest option. With the very weak hook and loop tape that it has, however, it's unable to stay attached on rough roads and is consequently a complete non-starter.
Too feeble to stay attached – this is a nice strap rendered useless by a very weak closure
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Elementa Strap
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Topeak says: "Simply load your essentials with included straps and attach to saddle rails, seatpost, or downtube with hook and loop fastening strap. Included 2 detachable nylon straps allow quick removal and access of any attached gear for trailside emergencies and repairs."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Polyester hook and loop fastening strap with built-in bungee strap / 2 detachable Nylon straps
Hook and loop fastening strap with anti-slip and scratch-free fabric
Saddle rails, seatpost or downtube
72 x 3.8 cm / 28" x 1.5" (L)
69 x 2.5 cm / 27" x 1" (M)
50 x 2.5 cm / 20" x 1" (S)
47 g / 1.66 oz (L)
33 g / 1.16 oz (M)
28 g / 0.99 oz (S)
Very well put together from rugged materials (I'm ignoring the performance of the hook and loop here).
It doesn't stay attached, so it's no use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's great until you go for a ride; rough roads shake it loose and it falls off.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It fell off the bike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Same price as the Huck Enduro Strap, but quite a lot more expensive than others.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
With a reliably strong hook and loop closure, this would be a seven, and if it had that and was half the price it could even be an eight. But the grip of this strap is feeble and it failed its first test almost immediately – if it can't stay on, unfortunately it's useless. I've stopped short of a 1 ('Appalling') because, while this is a fundamental flaw, it's the only flaw. The design is fine; it's one part of the spec at fault.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,