Frame bags are a fundamental part of a bike’s luggage. They help you hold all your gear, no matter light or heavy while maintaining a lower center of gravity. They’re also relatively cheap to make. The benefits of being able to hold so much gear, especially when you have a full pannier setup on the front and back, are huge for those who need it.
Due to their efficiency, these bags are in trend, and many brands are selling them online. But you might find them a bit expensive or challenging to come across one that fits your taste and your bike’s frame perfectly.
Packing for a week-long tour and can’t afford any space-wasting? No problem.
Frame bags do come pre-made and the biggest disadvantage with buying them is their price: $70 or more is not unusual, and they don't fit your bike that well either. The market remains open for DIY ones, so let’s get down to it!
The best things about making a frame bag are:
- It's really cheap (it should cost you less than $10 if you have all the required materials),
- You can easily customize it to your needs,
- They fit perfectly due to the exact measurements of your particular setup and
- Most importantly: YOU MADE IT YOURSELF!
There are two main types of framebags:
The classic flat bags
These ones offer the most volume inside, but they take up space on your fork/handlebars and face possible problems with shifting forks, cables rubbing against it.
This one keeps the shape of a regular triangle bag, while still offering more volume than one (it’s wider). The main problem is getting an appropriate mount point for this kind on your frame; otherwise, they can feel bouncy when you hit bumps or potholes in the road. Also, some people say that they interfere with shifting setups like STIs.
It's important to remember that some models of forks have specially designed holes for a mounting system of handlebar packs.
This article will focus on making a classic flat framebag.
- 1 yard X-Pac fabric (for top and main triangle)
- 1 yard Cordura (for zipper panel sides, bottom, back, and staps)
- 8” scrap cord
- Nylon upholstery thread
- 1-yard water-resistant zipper coil
- Sew-on tape fastener hook and loop (2 yards of one hook and loop of 2” and 1 yard of other loop and hook of 4”)
- Water-resistant coil zipper slider.
Required Tools for DIY Bikepacking Bag:
- Sewing machine
- A cutter
- High-quality fabric scissor
- Measuring tape
- Acrylic ruler
- Cutting mat
Creating a DIY bikepacking bag is simple but it requires some time. It will take up to 3 or 4 hours, so do not rush and focus on quality.
Make a Template of DIY Bikepacking Bag
First of all, create a template of your DIY bikepacking bag using cardboard. The size and shape should be precisely similar to what you want. After cutting the board, you can draw the straps on it to avoid any mistakes later.
Cut the Triangle and Sides
Place your DIY bikepacking bag template on the X-Pac and cut the fabric in triangle shape according to the template. Just make sure to keep an extra 3/8” material at the sides for the seam.
Use X-Pac for the top, whereas Cordura for the bottom and back to enhance the abrasion resistance.
Make the zipper and Pannel
Instead of cutting a space for a zipper in the panel of your DIY bikepacking bag, the ideal way is to make the zipper strip separately and then replace a vertical portion of the panel with it. You can sew the zipper on either side (right or left) you want.
The process of making a zipper strip begins with determining the length and then cut an extra 1.5” of a zipper. After sorting the size, stitch 2 pieces of Cordura at both ends of the strip.
To mount the zipper first, you will have to cut the triangle into 2 pieces and then sew the zipper. Any extra fabric on the sides should be eliminated. But do not cut the excess fabric, instead, overlap it to hide the stitch.
Make the Straps
You can use Cordura with Velcro tape to make the straps with different color accents. This will look good on your DIY bikepacking bag but also take a lot of your time. So if you want to create simple straps, you can use Velcro tape as most professionals do. Make sure to keep a little extra fabric on the sides in case you need it later.
Sew the Bag Inside Out
The last step is to sew the DIY bikepacking bag inside out. To avoid making a mistake, draw the straps on the triangle so when you are sewing, no problem occurs. Keep track of everything because working inside out can be confusing.
After sewing, recheck the stitches you can also double stitch some places, and you will be all set.
If you are looking for a DIY bikepacking bag, but do not know how to make your own, this article offers the simplest instructions. Anyone can create a custom framebag with their preferred shape and size. In addition, zipper panels offer a nice space to add extra pockets for smaller items.
Also, keep in mind that more expensive fabrics will result in an overall more durable framebag. At the same time, you should consider buying several yards of Cordura because it is quite expensive and hard to find in some places.
Before you start sewing, make sure to use a high-quality thread and needle, because these items will determine the durability of your bag.
Finally, do not rush at any point during this process, focus on quality rather than speed. Good luck!