Author Topic: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags  (Read 4493 times)

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Offline Laszlo

Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« on: December 18, 2016, 06:40:37 am »
Hi there,

during my planning I stumbled upon a question/decison I have to make according how to attach my stuff at my bike.

I´ve been traveling with the classic setup - Ortlieb rack bags in the rear with a extra bag on top and a few things in the front at the handlebar in the past...but looking at the modern frame bags from Salsa or Revelant this seems to be an option but wonder about the pros and cons from each "bagging-system".

What do you use?
What is your experience?
What´s to avoid?

Lets start some discussion about it...

Offline bikemig

Re: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2016, 10:24:24 am »
I understood the OP's question a bit differently. Instead of just adding a bag (say a large seat bag) to the usual panniers, you also have the option of going with all soft bags attached to the frame. That will reduce the volume of stuff you can carry, lower the weight (racks are pretty heavy), and improve handling.

I've been thinking of going to a rackless set up but the lower volume is, at least for me, a potential stumbling block.

Assuming you run 3 revelate bags (I'm using their bags for illustration purposes):

(1) Seat bag, around 14 liters capacity;
(2) Apidura frame bag around 12 liters (I couldn't find the capacity on the revelate bags);
(3) handlebar bag (large revelate around 18 liters).

44 liters isn't much but you can also add bags to the forks. A pair of salsa anything bags gets you to right around 54 liters. REI has a decent introduction to lightweight camping; their website suggests 45-55 liters for lightweight backpacking:

The advantage in weight savings is significant. First, of necessity you carry less stuff. Second, you save the weight on front and rear racks (maybe 3 pounds or so).

You can gain a fair amount of capacity by replacing the revelate seat bag (14 liters) with a carradice camper long flap in the rear (24 liters).

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2016, 10:07:36 pm »
I've been curious about this as well. At the very least, even if you don't take less stuff, you spread the load over the whole frame, and you can organize it so that you can get at me things without in one who's bag to get at something at the bottom.

One concern I do have is that it turns the bike into more of a sail in a cross-wind

Sent from my SM-T817V using Tapatalk

Offline RonK

Re: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2016, 03:17:29 am »
What do you use?
I use Bedrock Bags for my main frame bags. A Coconino saddle bag, an Entrada handlebar bag (drop bar) and a Bedrock custom frame bag. From Bike Bag Dude I have three Anything cage bags and two chaff bags. These are further supplemented by a large and small Oveja Negra snack bags on the top tube.

It does amount to a lot of small bags but I'm determined not to wear a backpack as many choose to do. It is rather astonishing just how much can be packed into frame bags though, as these pictures will attest.

What is your experience?
I'm a veteran of multiple tours using a conventional touring rig with racks and panniers. But since most of my touring involves air travel I've grown weary of disassembling and packing my bike, worries about excess baggage charges and the effort of pushing a loaded touring bike over hilly terrain.

I've recently built up a Salsa Fargo and fettled it with the bags mentioned above. The Fargo is a versatile machine which when fitted with road tires is quite at home on pavement tours, but can also be fitted with wide rubber for back roads touring, fire trails or even a little single track - or something in between for mixed surfaces. These days I'm more motivated to get off the busy highways and explore than to follow the conventional routes. I have not been on a longer tour yet, that will be in April - work demands permitting. But I have been on some mini tours locally to shakeout my bags and packing arrangements. And plan another for the week after Christmas.

What´s to avoid?
Overloading. Bike packing is akin to ultralight hiking. Space is at a premium so you must be disciplined about what you carry, and what you do carry must be very compact when packed - and of course lightweight. Equipped for three seasons I expect to carry around 10kg with bike packing bags vs the 20kg I typically carried with conventional panniers.

I could go on but there is already a wealth of information on bike packing sites. I suggest a visit to will inspire and on the forums at many of your questions have already been asked and answered.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 03:20:29 am by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline zzzz

Re: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 10:12:09 am »
I use  the smallest size panniers Arkel makes (18L?) and a frame bag and a pair of fork mounted straps by Cleveland Mountaineering.

My first tour I only had the panniers and was packing 15 lbs. I decided I really needed to take a couple more things on my second tour so I just loaded them up on the rack but since my touring bike is just a regular road bike w eyelets, having the extra weight mounted high made the bikes handling kind of iffy.

I got the frame bag and the fork system just to spread out the weight. A ride in the desert means the fork bags are loaded w water. Going across BC/Yukon I had all my rain riding gear in one and my tent in the other.

I don't have a big frame (i'm 5'6") & the frame bag goes around a water bottle so it does not hold a lot but I put small stuff in there thats relatively heavy. The toiletries bag goes in, bike tools, maps.

All this leaves my panniers lighter and with some room left if I need to load up on food for a long stretch between towns.

This set-up has worked very well for me. The spread out load has made the bike handling issues go away. I'm still pretty minimal @ at less than 20lbs but I  have enough capacity to carry what I need. Walks in Trees was concerned about feeling a sail like effect, I have yet to hit a really bad cross wind on the 3 trips I've taken since I got this stuff but I have not noticed that being an issue to date.

I'll give a shout out to Jeremy Cleveland @ Cleveland Mountaineering. His "Everything Bags" for the forks is an excellent set-up and his frame bag fit perfectly, was reasonably priced, and done in short order. he is also a great guy to deal with.

And if you want to see my set-up, my bike is the bottom picture on this page, the light blue Spectrum.


Offline driftlessregion

Re: Discussion: classic Rack-bags vs. "modern" frame bags
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 03:32:05 pm »
Not to get too far off topic, but the  handling of a true  touring bike is excellent with weight on the front.