This just arrived in the mail today, a new frame bag custom-made by my friend Eric in Anchorage. The picture's not great because I just slapped the bag on the bike during my dinner break, pump mount and all. But it seems to form-fit Pugsley like a fine glove, matching gray colors to boot, and it's so sleek and shiny. It's my first-ever custom-made piece of outdoor gear. I feel like I'm moving up in the world.
Eric's an engineer by occupation, and he's created these frame bag designs that have a lot of clever and innovative features - an internal mesh pocket, removable dividers that allow different compartments and also reinforce the already-obvious bombproofness of the bag. The top edge tapers out to allow maximum space without compromising your leg clearance. There's reflective strips on the webbing, heavy-duty zippers ... I keep discovering new stuff. It's a baffling concept to me ... to tell somebody, long-distance, "Uh, yeah, I'd like a frame bag for my, um, let's see, it's a 16-inch Pugsley," and have them return with something so idealistically perfect. What those engineers can't do.
Frame bags themselves are a cool concept ... it's all part of the dream of carrying all of your survival gear on your bike, but keeping it off your back and off the back rack. They're very popular in Alaska winter endurance races, where equal weight distribution is crucial to maximizing your snow floatation, and a lot of time hopping on and off the bike means any bulk on the back is going to demand a fair amount of wasted energy while constantly swinging one's legs over it. I estimate my frame bag can hold somewhere between 350 and 400 cubic inches of heavy gear, all in the bike's triangle. Seems a whole lot more efficient than a water-bottle holder and a bike pump mount.
Eric is currently making these for anybody who's interested ... "Handmade bombproof in Alaska, Full suspension bikes, cruisers, funky geometry, whatever you want!" Here's his MTBR Classified ad. Or e-mail him at stampeeding_wilderbeast at yahoo dot com.