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February 26, 2014 Comments (0) The Gear

Mapdec – Squaredec Map Board

Adventure racers are a very innovative group of athletes. I can’t tell you all the countless times we’ve had to engineer, modify or create a piece of gear at the starting line or on the race course. Also, since orienteering and adventure racing are not considered mainstream sports here in the states we are often left without any suitable choices for AR gear. This is where the engineer in all of us comes forward.

It’s funny because we always see another team’s design and think, “Hey, we could recreate that.” I hate to say it, but seldom does it ever turn out like you had anticipated. It’s a little  like those Pinterest “fails” you see everywhere. You put all you have into it but it just doesn’t turn out right.

The Mixed Nuts Adventure Racing Team had created their own map board and it was surprisingly lightweight and functional. But all good things come to an end and the hardware snapped at our last race and the map board flew into the woods never to be found again. Good thing our map fell off first or that would have made for an interesting race!

After looking into getting a real map board for our upcoming season we found that almost all designs are manufactured and sold overseas where orienteering is a national sport. Our friends over at Mapdec came to the rescue with this super sturdy, lightweight map board for every racer. Whether it be in orienteering, tour cycling, or adventure racing.

When our SquareDec map board arrived it came in three main pieces, the handle bar mount, board mount, and  of course the map board.

The map board itself is 225 mm x 225 mm of ultralight poly-pro designed to withstand a beating which all adventure racers and orienteerers will deliver at some point or another. We are just hard on our gear and that’s all there is to it.

Mapdec has made the assembly of the SquareDec super easy but we figured we’d run through it anyways just so you get a better idea of what you’re getting when you purchase one.  The bar mount is made of the same super strong poly-pro material and fits bars up 31.8 mm. The bars we tested it on where slightly tapered and a few millimeters bigger but it still managed to have a very secure fit.

All you need to do is screw them down finger tight but any racer knows that is no easy task after 24 hours of racing with ice cold hands covered in mud. That’s why Mapdec has outfitted the SquareDec with these easy to use large head screws for quick adjustments in any conditions.

In addition to the ease of assembly of this board, Mapdec designed it to use all hardware that can be assembled and adjusted with your standard bike tool. On the fly adjustments are  made simple and quick. We didn’t experience any during our test but had we, this would have made it that much easier.

The counter sunk bolts secure the plate to the mount without any friction. The felt circles reduce vibration and unwanted movement while navigating on the bike. This is one of those things we wish we would have thought of when engineering our first board. Simple yet effective.

A 16 mm button bolt through the deck and plate are secured with a locking nut to ensure that your board will be intact when you reach the finish line. We even found that the board is very tight and sturdy but still has free range of motion when navigating which is very important to us.

You can see by the design above how the SquareDec can be super light. There is almost nothing to this product at all. We love that aspect while racing because the more parts you have, the more parts that could malfunction.

With 31.8 mm bars you do not need to use any packing or rubber to fill gaps. Just screw finger tight to close the gap and you’re ready to go. Simple, fast, and very user friendly.

Mapdec suggests that you mount the board on the left side of your headset to have a better line of sight with the map, however for longer races I also have a mounted headlight so I chose to mount it on the right side. I have tried both ways and they are both very comfortable and allow plenty of knee room.

In order to sell their map boards overseas Mapdec has to carry some pretty costly insurance. So, as of now, these are not sold in the U.S. until someone makes a large enough order to make it worth their company’s expenses.

We would love to see these sold in the states so if anyone is interested in placing an order for an online store or retail store contact them directly.

After putting the SquareDec to the test we have found it to be a very versatile map board. Whether you’re touring, racing, or just navigating your local trails this is the board is right for the job. Lightweight and durable and gets a thumbs up here.

Map boards aren’t the only things Mapdec sells either. Go check out their website at mapdec.com.

See you on the trails!

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