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Mountain bike frame bags | Backpacks alternatives

Frame bags are not very popular with mountain bikers mostly because you don’t see many people with frame bags on their tube and everybody has just made a false understanding of these as well.

Here are some of the main false reasons why people avoid frame bags on mountain bikes.

  • they don’t look great.
  • Bags may shake or drop off.
  • the frame may get scratched
  • bags are not waterproof or they may not be suitable on muddy tracks. 
  • they may produce noise. 
  • Not enough space.
  • Drawbacks

Well in this article I will cover all of the misconceptions about the frame bags and how they are great and useful for mountain bikers as much as road bikers.

Just to clarify I am no advocate for any company or I am paid for anything related to frame bags I am just writing this article because I like frame bags I use them myself and I found them very useful.

Frame bags types :

Before we get into the pros and cons of frame bags and why they are disliked or vice versa, here are some of the frame bag types that you may wanna know in case you don’t know the different types.

  • triangle frame bags
  • top tube frame bags
  • 0.7 bike tool bag
  • hard shell frame bags
  • full suspension frame bag

Here’s some explanation about all the misconceptions people have.

Frame bags look:

I am not a very big fan of frame bags shape or style either but they don’t look downright ugly as well almost all of the brands of frame bags provide many color schemes that can almost always match the bike frame, Frame bags are often based on the most favorite colors of the bikes as well which are usually

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Orange

And frame bags almost always come in these colors they are even available in other colors as well like greyish, green, purple, and other colors.

The unique color variations of the frame bags make them stand out less and even add to the style of your bag.

Bags shaking or dropping off:

This is I think the biggest misconception among mountain bikers that the bags may fall off while aggressive riding.

Frame bags are not as loose or mellow as you might think them to be, The straps are sturdy enough to hold the bag at the same position even if you are cruising at a high speed so you can be sure that they won’t drop off and keep intact even if you are on really rough tracks.

Will Frame bags may get in my way :

Frame bags are really slim about 2 to 3 inches wide and the stips that are attached to them are strong enough to keep them in place even if you are on rough tracks.

There are even sturdier frame bags with more staps to ensure they remain in the same spot.

So it’s almost impossible for the bag to slip up and end up in your legs or get in your way.

If you are worried that the frame bag may flap a lot and get in your legs way while paddling then the chances are slim to 0 since it’s so tightly held up.

will frame bags scratch your bike :

Frame bags do not scratch the bike since the straps are made up of cotton or some soft material so chances of the bike getting scratched by the straps are none.

But sometimes if the tracks are muddy or the dirt finds their way under the straps they may incur some scratches but don’t worry I have got you covered there.

There’s a tape called helicopter tape it’s extremely useful, cheap, and protects the bike frame from scratches and it won’t peel off the bike color when you try to get it off as well.

If you apply helicopter tape on where the straps go it will protect your bike from scratches even in the worse weather conditions.

Here’s a short guide on how to apply the helicopter tape easily.

Here’s how I and most people do it.

  • wet the place where you are thinking of applying the tape (possibly some sope or a detergent mixture)
  • after that apply the tape you should be able to easily adjust the position of the tape.
  • helicopter tape is transparent so it will blend in with your bike color.
  • usually, it is safe to remove it after 1 or 2 months (in my experience) also you can use the soap method again to remove it without a hitch.

Are frame bags waterproof:

frame bags come as both waterproof and non-waterproof, nonwater proof frame bags are usually cheaper and mostly road bikers use them as they are not in most cases exposed to weather and mud, while on the other hand mountain bikers are exposed to them and as such these bags can be really handy.

Since mountain bikers are usually exposed to weather and mud on an almost daily bases in rainy seasons and in winter frame bags can prove very useful.

Do frame bags make noise :

Frame bags don’t make noise frame bags are usually made of clothes, plastic, or leather all of which don’t produce noise there is already enough noise from the chain that the noise produced from the bag is inaudible.

All that flapping of chain and tires grinding on the pebbles and braking create much more noise than a little bag snapping around.

What and how much can you carry in a frame bag :

Storage is a big problem as well as a big concern, especially for us mountain bikers, and to top off the style and everything what could you gain by frame bags, how much storage do they provide and what can you expect to carry in a bag this small.

As it turns out there isn’t so much space in frame bags to fit your bed in them but there is enough to fit these things altogether.

  • your phone
  • some cash or wallet
  • Multitool kit
  • tubeless patch kit
  • Co2 inflater or any other mini pump
  • trailside snacks
  • spare tube if you run tubes
  • and other repair stuff

and some more stuff that you can force into it, but even then they provide a lot of space especially if you are on a long journey it’s a very good product to keep your tools separated and not get mixed up with the other stuff.

Drawbacks :

Now, frame bags are not perfect, in the past people have suffered more from frame bags than they had benefited from it but over time the technology has evolved and so did the quality.

But even if the quality has improved quite a lot over the years but there are certain areas where they still fail.

Mountain bikes design :

Mountain bikes are so much popular and their popularity is rising day by day unlike road bikes, new designs are introduced every year to improve their performance and provide a better rider experience.

That being said there are some designs of mountain bikes where your favorite style of frame bag may not fit.

Take this bike for example

as you can see if we add the triangular frame bag to this bike it may get in the way of the rear suspension.

Of course, there are still other bags that may address the problem better like round bags but you will be compromising on some valuable space.

Long journeys :

If you like to travel lightweight then frame bags may not be the best option for you hydration packs would be a much better option since you can carry the water and your tools in one go, It would be a hassle to use both bags.

you can use a frame bag and bottle handle and use them as a combo if you don’t like to carry stuff on your back but hydration packs would still be a better option for long journeys.

Frame bag material and their cons :

frame bags are usually made of fabrics and what do you suppose happens when you use them for a long time without giving them a proper wash? They start smelling

this may sound obvious to you but if you are using your bag only for tools and not getting it off your bike even after it survived some rain or moist weather.

Well things start to get ugly and it’s less of a bag material con but more of a fault on your end you may start to dislike it and even blame the manufacturer but still, it’s the same with every bag so if you decide to buy a frame bag remember to give it a wash as well.

Conclusion :

While we might not like frame bags for their looks but they do offer some space for the tools while this might not be a very bright idea to you for now but they lift off some weight on your back and they are pretty useful if someday you got up from your bed and decided to go on a long trip.

Frame bags do hold potential and some of us may change our minds in the long run based on how useful they are.

Let me know in the comment section what you think of frame bags and what the biggest drawback of frame bags according to you.


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