Q: Between the pandemic and my newfound love for unpaved roads that I had never contemplated riding, I need to carry more stuff on my rides. I’m considering a bag of some sort. What are your thoughts on location, bars, frame, saddle, maybe even a rack?
When it comes to on-bike supplies, I normally go a bit overboard and carry too much. With that said, I have pared down and no longer take two of everything. When it comes to storing, I like to split things up a bit. I have my repair bag, which has a multi-tool, tubes, lever, valve core tool, tire boot, patch kit and CO2. You want this bag to be tight, meaning you don’t want things to have room to move. If they move, they make noise, and it can wear a hole in a spare tube. I normally run this bag under the saddle.
Now, when it comes to the extras, like food, water, clothing and whatever else, I’d say behind the head tube is the key. Burrito bags are convenient if you don’t want to stop but still reach things, just keep them small. You want to minimize the weight on the front end. It affects handling, and even a little can change things a lot. I only run one if it’s small with a few snacks. This is a great alternative to stuffing a jersey pocket full. I prefer the top tube bag for a few at-speed snacks.
If I need more storage, my next spot is in the frame, under the top tube above my two bottles. This keeps the weight fairly low, and it is controlled because it straps to the top tube and seat tube. The size of this will depend on your frame design, but remember, you want it to remain narrow so your legs don’t rub on it. I use two side exit bottle cages so that I can still easily access my bottles with this style bag. The real downside to this option is if you have to hike-a-bike, you can’t shoulder the bike, but I rarely get myself into those situations.
The other option for a bag with more storage is a large under-saddle bag. I have used these a few times, but in my opinion, they do sway back and forth a lot when full. Not that big of a deal, because it’s so far back and over the rear wheel, but then I have to find a new location for my normal saddle bag.
The key is to really prioritize what you need to carry. I like my jersey pockets to be empty and light and let the bike carry the weight. I also don’t ride with my pump or other tools in my pockets in case I hit the ground. The last thing I need is an aluminum pump getting forced into my spine as I try to roll out of a dirt nap. A banana, on the other hand, just makes a mess if you land on it.