FenderBag Origins

By Unknown - December 07, 2017

I still remember the first ride that I ever had to walk home from

I was a teenager on my first mountain bike and when I got that flat tire it was a cold slap in the face on what had been another joyous ride. I was deflated in every sense of the word.  It hadn’t occurred to me that you could get a flat tire on a mountain bike. I have had flats on my BMX bike, on my trusty ten speed  and even on my dirt bike which luckily went flat slowly allowing me to ride it home, but the mountain bike was new to me and it seemed invincible with its stout frame and big knobby tires.  I didn’t even own a helmet or a multi-tool so having a pump and a spare tube was just not something I had acquired yet. That first flat only taught me to be careful, it was the next flat that left me walking for miles and convinced me to take my meager savings down to the bike shop a buy my first hand pump because there is nothing worse than the feeling of being helpless.

I began accumulating pumps and tools and head to toe rain gear to handle just about anything my beloved mountains could dish out, but carrying them with me on the bike has always been a challenge.  At first I used a waist pack to carry my tools and tubes but it was small and I often resorted to tying my rain jacket around waist as well.  I got my first Camelback and my first jersey with pockets from a local shop team sponsorship and I immediately loaded them up.  I would stuff my jersey pockets full and then stuff whatever else I could into bladder compartment of my Camelback until I got a hydration pack with more pockets and then I loaded them up too.  I was heavily loaded but I was not helpless.

At some point I got tired of having so much stuff on my back, 

I was tired of the straps cutting into my shoulders and of having the whole pack come up and hit me in the back of the head when I went to bunny hop over a big log or the way it would float above my back when I was in the air off a jump only to slam down on me when I landed.  Wearing the hydration pack wasn’t something I enjoyed it was something that I just got used to.  I still have some old jerseys with the shape of a hydration pack etched into them from all of the UV exposure.

The real story of the FenderBag started on the Grizzly Helena trail which runs along the western edge of North Park in my home state of Colorado.  The Grizz as we call it is a savage beatdown of a trail that runs for almost 40 miles most of it consisting of technical single track with endless creek and river crossings, long hike-a-bike sections and some spectacular scenery.  Riding the Grizz in 2011 as part of a full supported three day tour it started to rain on us just after lunch as we rode into the most remote northern section of the trail.  Despite being August the rain was icy cold and left a trace of snow across the top of the Park Range up above us and despite my warm hat and trusty rain jacket I was freezing cold. I start riding as inefficiently as possible to keep warm, climbing out of the saddle to maintain some feeling in my hands, running up the hike-a-bike sections and when I got to the creek crossings the water, which I knew was ice cold felt strangely warm across my numb feet. Lucky for us the support van came and met us at the trailhead. I was never so happy to be in a stuffy vehicle with the heat blasting.

This wasn’t the first time the Grizz had taught me some hard lessons and this lesson was an easy fix.  I already owned some decent rain pants and a warm long sleeve shirt, but I was running out of room in my hydration pack. I could either invest in a new larger pack or try to put it on my bike.  I had already done some mountain bike touring where I loaded up my suspension bike for 3 or 4 day of self supported riding but that gear had its drawbacks. The handlebar bag puts too much weight on the bars and made steering on technical terrain too sketchy.  The frame bag couldn’t carry much since like most suspension frames there wasn’t much room there.  The seat post rack could work but the rack itself weighted in at almost three pounds which was as much as I wanted to carry and it sat up too high limiting my off the back of the saddle ability, a problem I has discovered on my first lightweight tour when I came to a super steep descent and learned that there was no off the back of the saddle with all my gear there and my choice was to take a header or eject, I choose to eject but it was a moment of terror that I didn’t forget.  The seat post rack also had this dead space between the flat of the rack and the seat tube that seemed wasted.  Why not put a bag as close to the seat tube as possible and as low as possible next to the rear wheel?  I took the air out of my shock and pushed the frame down into the rear wheel to see how much space I had and traced it out on a piece of paper.  That was the start of the first FenderBag.

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