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Fat Tuesday #2 – Frame Bags

Mukluk with Salsa Frame bag by Revelate Design

If you’re looking to saddle up for extended rides, fat bikes can present a unique problem: few rear rack options exist for these extra-wide frames. Traditional rack setups make an already-bulky bike even bulkier when lumbering down tight trails.

One solution to the problem is a frame bag, a carry system that makes use of the bike’s inner triangle. You may have noticed these large bags used on the Tour Divide, the race featured in the cycling documentary Ride the Divide. These bags provide ample storage for gear needed on long rides, and Salsa and Surly have put them to work: both companies turned to Revelate Designs to create these bags to fit their specific fat bike frames.

Frame bags aren’t just a solution – they have their benefits, too. While rear rack systems hang loads from the sides of the bike, a frame bag brings your load closer in and lower down on the frame. Both adjustments in load placement help to improve your riding stability, so you can be a little more confident with off-road handling. Frame bags also make a great place to keep a hydration bladder. Both Surly and Salsa bags have internal dividers to separate the bladder from your gear, along with a port to route the bladder tube through the top of the bag. A 100-ounce bladder can easily fit inside this compartment.

Okay, so frame bags are pretty handy for fat bikes. Still, there’s one question we regularly hear in the shop: “Why do I need that big of a bag?”

From food and water to spare tubes, fat bikes trips can come with particular storage needs. The 17-mile trail your mountain bike rips in one summertime hour could take four to five hours through the snow by fat bike. That half-day trip will require more food and water, and more storage on the bike to carry it. And if you like to be prepared for flats, consider that oversized fat bike tubes will take up plenty of storage space. A smaller compartment on the non-drive side of the bag offers a great spot for this, along with everything else that might otherwise go inside a saddle bag — patch kit, pump, multi-tool, gels. You’ll find that the extra space in the frame bag will also come in handy for other, non-fat bike necessities. Allotting some space for clothing will allow you to remove and store your layers as the day warms, or to add layers as night starts to fall.

The bag attaches with durable velcro straps

Attaching the bag to your bike is easy: a series of Velcro tabs wrap around the frame. The straps can scuff your frame a bit, though. Prevent any damage by using clear helicopter tape, found at many auto stores for protecting rocker panels on cars from road debris.

Frame bags are sized according to your fat bike frame size, and are available for:

Salsa

Surly

Salsa also offers frame bags for other, non-fat bike models like the Fargo and Spearfish. Surly offers bags for mountain style bikes such as the Ogre, 1×1, Karate Monkey and others. If you have a non-Salsa or Surly bike, you may be able to fit one of these bags to your frame. Check out the following size charts:

Size Charts

Surly size chart

Salsa size chart

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