Gravel Issue #017

How to carry your things on the bike – 7 must-have solutions to carry your gear

It’s cold, it’s wet, you’re in lockdown and nothing could make you venture outside? We know the feeling, but it’s time to prepare for a reboot. We’ve selected the best products to get you back out there, offering convenient solutions for carrying all of your gear.

Granite Stash RCX Multi-tool

We’ve all been there before: you lost track of time as you enjoyed your espresso and porridge at breakfast and now you have to rush to meet your friends for a ride. You grab an energy bar, CO2 cartridge and a spare tube, stuff it into your jersey pocket, and off you go – nobody wants to be the person that keeps everyone else waiting. Of course, the one time you forget to pack your multi-tool, you hear a bolt rattling loose somewhere on the bike, forcing you to concede that you haven’t done any maintenance and also left your multi-tool at home. Enter the beautifully machined Granite Stash RCX multi-tool, which you can store on, or rather in the bike, always there when you need it. While you’ll find tools and spare parts hidden in the handlebars and steerer tubes of many mountain bikes, this type of storage solution is yet to gain traction in the drop bar scene. However, the Granite Stash RCX was developed precisely for this purpose. The bracket replaces the expander in the steerer tube, allowing you to store your multi-tool under a dust cap where you’d usually find the top cap of the headset. The tool itself features the most common Allen key sizes as well as a valve core remover and several spoke wrenches. Loose or lost screws? Never again!

Price: $ 54.99

Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon

Nice bike, no question about it, but where do you store your things? The solution is hidden in the down tube. The Californian brand uses the hollow space inside the carbon frame as storage space, hiding the hatch beneath the bottle cage. Though nothing new for triathletes, you will rarely find a solution like this on road or gravel bikes. A plastic insert serves as a box for tools, tubes and snacks, and you’ll even find space for a lightweight rain jacket inside Specialized’s SWAT storage compartment. A simple, elegant solution! Not only does it look clean, but storing things inside the frame keeps them dry and free of dust. Besides, now you can take some of the weight out of your jersey pockets and shift it much closer to the bike’s centre of gravity. The design has trickled down from the mountain bike sector, having debuted on the Specialized Stumpjumper, and we can only hope that this idea will inspire more manufacturers. Still not convinced? We haven’t done any tests, but we’re confident that the SWAT box also saves at least a few watts compared to a handlebar bag.

Price: € 5,799.00

Tesa 56192 insulating tape

Insulating tape is often used to neaten up Di2 cables or conceal your first miserable attempt at wrapping handlebar tape. But for bikepacking? In our opinion, no packing list is complete without a roll of decent insulating tape. Stick some to the frame where your frame bags attach or might rub to keep the paintwork protected. It also works well for attaching provisions such as gels, bars or bananas directly to the bike where they’re easy to reach – the MacGyver look is an added bonus. Smaller bike, bag and equipment repairs also form part of this all-rounder’s repertoire, offering unbeatable value for money. There’s no denying that we’re fans.

Price: approx. € 1.50 for a 10 m tape

Tailfin Cargo Cage

The Tailfin Cargo Cage is an all-rounder and a gorgeous one at that! For those not yet familiar with the concept, cargo cages get bolted to conventional bottle cage bosses, and while they look good on the bike, they’re also very convenient. There’s no limit to how you can use them: attach a sleeping bag in a dry bag, tent poles, a bottle with fuel for your cooker… You get the idea.

The cargo cage is made from a single piece of aluminium, designed to be as robust as it is practical. There’s no shortage of loops and openings to tie down whatever you choose to put in it and two slots in the back hold straps in place. The Tailfin Cargo Cage comes with a small plate that gets bolted to the cradle’s foot, providing additional support for heavier cargo and doubling as a bottle opener. More and more bikes, in particular bikepacking and gravel bikes, come standard with bottle cage bosses underneath the down tube and on the fork legs. It’s a match!

Price: from € 50.00

Rapha Cargo Bib Shorts

Do you usually find yourself with too many things to stuff into your jersey pockets or prefer wearing a loose-fitting shirt rather than Lycra? Rapha’s Cargo Bib Shorts could be the solution. Two back pockets and one pocket on the outside of each leg make them the ideal piece of clothing for every ride. With the pockets empty, you can happily wear them in a crit race, while the pockets expand nicely to provide additional storage space for food, spare parts and extra clothing for those epic rides. The back pockets are nice and high, well out of the way of the waistband if you choose to wear regular shorts over them to complete the casual look. This all-rounder is available in women’s and men’s versions, with different shaped shoulder straps. While women benefit from extra-wide straps that protect the chest, a low cutout at the front gives men an easy exit. The water-repellent, heat-regulating material and three reflective strips on the back and legs offer added comfort and safety. Rapha Cargo Bib Shorts: the bibs for all occasions.

Price: € 230.00

High Above The Lookout

The longer you ride, the more you’ve got to pack. Enter The Lookout from High Above. Measuring 23 x 13 x 8 cm, this hip bag offers the extra storage space you need. Three inside pockets keep all of your items neatly organised and the robust, waterproof nylon outer keeps the contents nicely protected. Moreover, the waterproof outer pocket offers quick and easy zippered access to your smartphone for that perfect, last-minute shot of the sunset.

All zippers are waterproof and have a short cord attached so that you can open them while wearing gloves. You can customise the bag by mixing and matching the colours of the cords and you also have the choice of three different buckles. A highlight of The Lookout is that you can attach an additional outside pocket for a water bottle. That way, you’ve got added water carrying capacity for those sweltering summer days. Or you can use it to carry your water when leaving your bike behind to reach the summit and view at the top of the mountain – an unlikely scenario, we know.

Price: from $ 115.00

SILCA Mattone Seat Pack

We owe a lot to our office brick (Mattone means brick in Italian). After all, this saddlebag accompanies us on almost every test and production. The SILCA bag, made of waterproof Cordura fabric has a volume of 0.61 L, just enough for a spare tube, CO2 cartridge, multi-tool and some change – in case you have any left after purchasing the Specialized Diverge Expert Carbon. The bag gets securely lashed to the saddle via the help of a BOA dial, as you might be familiar with from your shoes. The zipper on the back gives you quick and easy access to your things even when it’s attached to the bike and the bright colour of the inner fabric makes it easier to find items inside. You’ll be hard-pushed to find a storage solution for your essentials that is more compact, lighter and more elegant than the SILCA Mattone Seat Pack.

Price: € 54.95

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Words: Simon Preß, Tobias Hörsch, Philipp Schwab Photos: Manufacturers