2 stars
Doesn't ring a bell

About

This is a full featured clock application. It has all the usual features such as alarms, stopwatch and timer. The app has a clear UI. Everything is as it should.

Except

Except that the alarm didn’t ring any audible bells. Well at least I got a long nap… This may not be the app’s fault per se. Maybe it’s something related to my particular phone (Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro), but nonetheless this unfortunately makes the application useless, for me anyway.

Still, go ahead and give it a try. Maybe it works better on your device. Just make sure to test it before relying on it…

Tested with version 5.8.1.


2 stars
Gimmick bottles with poor usability

Fidlock TWIST is a system for attaching water bottles magnetically to the bike frame. As the name suggests, you have to twist the bottle in order to get it off.

The system works alright, bottles won’t fall. It may also be possible to install these to positions where normal bottle holder can’t, since they typically require some space above the bottle to be able slide it off. These only need the space for a little twisting motion.

That’s it for the positive sides. It’s very inconvenient to place the bottle back to it’s magnetic mount. Basically you have to feel around randomly until it clicks, or look down, which can be dangerous on a road. Traditional bottle holders are way more convenient to use.

Unless you really need to install a bottle to a tight spot in your frame, it’s not worth it vendorlocking yourself to Fidlock. A gimmic product range.


4 stars
Near perfect backpack pannier

Primer

Panniers are a staple for carrying stuff on your bike, but sometimes you need to lock your bike and continue on foot. Standard panniers tend to have some sort of carrying straps, but they aren’t very convenient off the rack. Ortlieb Vario PS rises to the challenge by doubling as a backpack!

The review

This isn’t the only backpack pannier out there, but based on my experience and research, it’s likely one of the best. Why? First off, the build quality is good, and being Ortlieb, it’s fully waterproof. As a pannier it functions just as one would expect. It’s really the backpack side that makes things interesting. And I say side for a reason. Unlike in many other backpack panniers, the rack mounts and the backpack straps are on different sides of the bag. This gives room for properly implementing both.

The only hiccup this product runs into is in the backpack mode. There’s a plastic bottom plate, which unfortunately has a tendency to burrow into one’s lower back. Unless remedied, this can make the backpack really painful under a heavier load. Luckily the bottom plate is detachable so one can just take it out, or put some padding to it’s edge. Still, this is a rather dumb design flaw in an otherwise great bag.


The bottom plate is shown in lighter grey. Otherwise one can see that the bag is quite roomy. (Credit: Ortlieb. Fair use)

The verdict

Despite the one flaw, Vario PS is still probably the best pannier backpack out there. If you’re ever riding with just one pannier, this is a near perfect choice.