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  1. #1
    BWF
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    frame bag. yay or nay?

    Over the last several years I had only been riding my Surly Long Haul Trucker. I used it for local day rides, forest service roads, and of course, tours.

    I had been longing for a more aggressive off-road bike that would allow me to ride single track in the summer, snow in the winter, and maybe some back road tours.

    I purchased a Surly Necromancer (fat tire bike) back in April and have been having so much fun on this bike that my Long Haul Trucker has been sitting in neglect.

    I am now on the path of preparing for a tour on the Necromancer so my attention has turned to what equipment to use to best carry the load.

    The bike is equipped with brazes for panniers, however the rear wheel is offset, therefore a rear rack would not sit directly over the wheel center. This is probably less of a problem than I think it is. However, the Tubus Cargo rack that I already own is not wide enough to clear the 4Ē tire, so if I go the pannier route I assume it would require that I buy Old Man Mountain racks especially for fat tire bikes.

    I initially attached an Arkel Randonneur rack with Tailrider on the back that I had already owned, thinking this would bypass the rear wheel offset problem and would also function to some extents as a rear fender. This proved to not be ideal as the Rando rack wiggles over bumps.

    So now Iím thinking of going the frame bag route, such as Revelate Designs or Porcelain Rocket. I think the sling on the handlebar to hold a drybag and large bag mounted under the saddle should work well but am not sure whether to get a frame bag for the inside triangle or not.

    I would like to know what others of you that have experience with frame bags think of them. My Necromancer is the 16Ē size, so I do not have much room in the triangle to begin with due to the small frame size.

    Revelate Designs makes a $165 frame bag that is a custom fit for my bike. If I buy this, it takes up the area of the 2 water bottle cages. Are frame bags suitable for carrying water, i.e. in dromedary bags within the frame bag?

    I am wondering if the only advantage for buying a frame bag is that it would be long enough to contain my tent pole, but for this, I would be fine with just tying the pole on to the top tube.

    If I donít buy a frame bag, Iím not sure I can squeeze all my gear into just the handlebar and saddle bags. I have Salsa Anything Cages on order that should help with extra gear on the fork. I donít know yet either if I will want to carry a light weight bladder bag on my back with additional storage capacity.

    It seems to me in addition to getting the load capacity correct, the placement in how it is carried for off-road handling is important. So donít I want to keep water carried in the triangle in the 2 existing cages where it will remain low centered?

    So what makes a frame bag worthwhile if it means giving up the bottle cages?

    Yay or nay?

  2. #2
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    will be going full frame bag on my fargo just as soon as i can.
    i've done the jandd bag with bottles, and now a tangle and gas tank and jerry can.
    full frame bag for me.
    and i think it will fit on my IF (rando rig).
    and should fit on my pugs.

    with tangle:

    ready to roll, day 2 by mbeganyi, on Flickr

    with an anything cage and dry bag:

    IMG_8242 by mbeganyi, on Flickr

    with the jandd:

    Salsa Fargo by mbeganyi, on Flickr


    want to go full frame and get a bladder in there (as well as on the fork for the fargo), and have cook kit and tools and other such things in there.

  3. #3
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    Seems to be a good idea with suspension bikes. I have done lots of forest touring and single tack with panniers, I bought specilized MTB panniers which can't come off and are not oversized. Regular racks work fine. Frame packs are pretty stylish these days but unless I had suspension, very tight or deep trails, or wanted a small bag with a lot of windage, I probably wouldn't go for it. For one thing I sometimes need to lift the bike from within the main triangle, and I like the layout I have in there as it is.

  4. #4
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Frame bags as noted have pluses and minuses. I have been using the Epic/now Revelate Tangle frame bag for several years on my BG RNR and mountain tandem. It began as a way to expand carrying capacity a little bit. I use only 2 front panniers and a dry bag stuffer on top of the rear rack. This system has worked well for about 25 years. The net result for me has been positive with the only negative the limitation in water bottle size I can use below the frame bag. Shelter poles and stakes, wind vest, snacks, neckerchiefs, 1 liter Platypus bladder, cell phone and short wave radio all fit inside with convenient access.

    I have tried limiting my gear to fit the standard bikepacking setup of frame bag, saddlebag and handlebar roll and bag without success so far. It may never work for me but it is nice to see innovations that offer new options even to us traditionalists [whatever that term means these days]. Now if I can only reduce the amount of weight on me AND the bike I will be climbing the passes a lot faster.

  5. #5
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    I purchased a full custom frame bag from Carousel Design Works 5 years ago and it is never off of my Litespeed Pisgah.

    The bag has top and bottom compartments with a zipper that can be opened to make it into a single compartment. I usually carry two bottles in the top, cell phone, sweater.
    The bottom holds 2 tubes, pump, tire levers multi tool, chain breaker and spare parts. I also stash my trail lights in the bottom compartment.

    I also purchased a "gas tank" bag from Epic Designs which holds my eats. I'm very pleased with both bags.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    do you feel like you are riding a horse, or do they keep the width thin?
    sub 4"

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I use a revelate tangle (touring size) on my LHT for regular rides (I don't tour yet). I use a MSR Dromlite 4L bag in it; which is enough water for a metric. It can be tough fitting the whole bag in the tangle when it's full though; I have to loosen the velcro straps to get it to zip closed. I use a camelbak insulated tube and it works great on any ride. Can't fit much else if the water is in it though.

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    I'm currently waiting on a frame pack made by Greg Wheelwright who goes by the name 12wheels on bikepacking.net forums. It's part of my attempt to minimize my gear enough that for all but the longest trips, I can go completely rackless. On trips where I need a lot of supplies or lots of insulation or whatever, I could always add a rear rack and some panniers, either my big Ortliebs or maybe some smaller, lighter ones.

    I like the rackless/bikepacking idea a lot because it makes riding singletrack a lot more convenient, not to mention greatly reducing weight - and encourages me to bring less unnecessary crap, which also reduces weight. The idea is to maximize available space on your bike for minimum weight. In a standard non-FS bike setup, you have a big empty space inside the frame that at most holds two water bottles (so maybe 45 oz of water total and maybe a frame pump) but a frame pack turns that into numerous liters of storage space - so you can store way more water, plus food and/or other stuff. It also keeps weight centered on the bike, improving handling.

    Revelate's framepack is one option, but there are several other smaller manufacturers who make cheaper versions. There's a thread in the bikepacking forum of mtbr, and a couple threads on bikepacking.net by some of those guys. I don't know how the quality compares, but I assume it's comparable.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    What about water? The frame bag seems like a worthwhile option if you use a Camelbak but not so great if you use water bottles. Looks like you would lose space for at least one water bottle and maybe two.

  10. #10
    nun
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    I like the simplicity of frame bags and their use of space on the bike. But there seems to be a tendency for them to multiply so the bike ends up with 5 or 6 bags strapped to the frame and their limited capacity also forces many people to use a backpack. If you are going off road a lot I think they are the way to go, but I would not use them for regular road touring

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
    What about water? The frame bag seems like a worthwhile option if you use a Camelbak but not so great if you use water bottles. Looks like you would lose space for at least one water bottle and maybe two.
    A full frame pack gives you enough space for far more than the amount of water bottles you'd be missing, using a water bladder.

    It does eliminate the spot for a water bottle, but I use a water bottle mount on top of my top tube, as shown here http://www.kingcage.com/products-waterbottle-cages.html so I have easy access to water.

    Or you could get a custom cut frame pack that leaves a spot for a bottle.

    I like the simplicity of frame bags and their use of space on the bike. But there seems to be a tendency for them to multiply so the bike ends up with 5 or 6 bags strapped to the frame and their limited capacity also forces many people to use a backpack. If you are going off road a lot I think they are the way to go, but I would not use them for regular road touring

    If you have too many bags strapped on it means you have too much stuff. If your load is small enough, why not use them for road touring?

    Obviously if you choose/need to bring a large amount of things, it's not the way to go - but if you don't, or if you want to force yourself not too, they're a great weight-saver.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    BWF, My younger daughter is a fan of frame bags. The key is to find the right bag for the bike. She finally found one that allowed a single water bottle to mount on the down tube and when filled didn't interfere with her legs when stuffed full. I don't remember that bag's manufacturer as the bike was stolen about three years ago.

    Brad

  13. #13
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    Don't know how handy you are with the sewing machine but you can make your own bag. You can work around the bottle mounts with a custom bag. I looked at these sites:

    http://type2fun.wordpress.com/2010/0...ear-frame-bag/

    http://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/how...vy-596676.html


    And watched this video:

    http://youtu.be/oWDRiexLA0I

    Ordered what I needed from here:

    http://www.rockywoods.com/

    I don't have any picks of the finished project but I really enjoyed doing this myself. My sewing skills are terrible but the bag came out half decent.

  14. #14
    BWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    do you feel like you are riding a horse, or do they keep the width thin?
    sub 4"
    The full Revelate Designs one that is custom fit for my bike is 5.5" at the head tube and tapers back. The total volume of the bag is 425 cubic inches.

  15. #15
    BWF
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    The Tangle bag appears to offer a good combination of additional storage without giving up bottles. But the problem for mine is the small interior space of the triangle. I'm going to have to get the full frame bag or none at all. As you can see in the photo of my bike, I can hardly fit the second water bottle in the cage...

    DSC00761.jpg

  16. #16
    BWF
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    So it basicly comes down to whether or not I can carry more water in a frame bag than what the 2 bottles can hold. From the sound of what others have posted so far, the bag is capable of carrying water without any problem. I was wondering if the heavy weight of it would cause the bag to sag and was also wondering how it would handle over rough terrain.

  17. #17
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    Don't know yet as I don't have my frame bag yet, but AFAIK pretty much everyone keeps food and water (i.e. heavy stuff) in their frame packs, including on rough terrain. In a rackless setup, that's the best place for heavy things. Second best would be at the bottom of the saddlebag, I guess.

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