We're pleased to announce the arrival of the latest product to our line-up: the Lioness. This is an add-on component to our existing Mountain Lion harness, providing a really handy place to store instantly accessible items but without getting in the way of the actual riding.
You would think that the design of such an item would be straight forward. Long term followers of Wildcat Gear will know how thoroughly we test out products before we release them into the wild, and the Lioness is no exception. When we sat down with our blank sheet of paper, the design brief started to get quite long:
- Maintain compatibility with the existing Mountain Lion
- Have an independent attachment system that avoids redundancy on other components when not in use
- Be secure enough that it doesn't flap about when fitted
- Have a large enough opening to be accessible with gloves on, even in winter
- Have enough capacity to stow a normal-sized cycling waterproof
- Have double-zipped access for left or right-handed operation
- Be compatible with a Jones Loop H-Bar®, which is a popular choice for bikepacking in this house-hold.
The design of the final product ensured that we've addressed each of these points completely. The starting point, and I think the most challenging part was designing the retention system. As ever, the simplest design was the best and having a separate strap/ buckle assembly mounted just outside the existing Mountain Lion straps provides a secure and suitably spaced attachment point for the Lioness straps. This also meant the design of the Mountain Lion could remain unchanged.
We found that the shape of the bag was crucial in ensuring it didn't move excessively. By creating a curved profile to fit around the dry bag we achieved two things; firstly there is a greater area of contact so friction works in our favour once the straps are done up tightly. Secondly, as the bag is tapered from top to bottom, the contents naturally gravitate into to the bottom of the pocket where they have less room to move about. The wrap-over zip works exceptional well with the curved profile, creating both easy access with gloves, giving lots of room to find even the smallest items (aided by the inclusion of two mesh pockets), and setting the zip forward enough to ensure compatibility with any handlebar, even the Jones Loop H-Bar®.
Lastly, was the overall size. Enough to be useful, but not too much to be cumbersome. After a particularly showery ride, my main tester reported that the pocket needed to have sufficient capacity to store a waterproof jacket, as the position was the most accessible for the on/off/on/off requirements of riding in the Welsh (or UK) climate. By creating the pocket just wide enough (but no wider) than the Mountain Lion harness itself, we made sure that we could maximise storage capacity without restricting mounting options to existing set-ups and without the bag being so big it hung too low and rubbed on the tyre. This latter point is also addressed with the design of the retention straps; you can adjust the rotational position to suit your choice of handlebar, size of dry bag, preferred reach from the cockpit and so on.
The final design is one that has been refined gradually over the last year. Before we could be confident you'd be happy with it, it was subjected to thousands of miles of real-world riding situations; Highland Trail, the 1100 mile Iditabike race, and many many long single and multi-day UK rides.