An article and review by Bullet
I’ve begun outfitting the Farley for bikepacking and longer winter rides where I like to have a few extras just in case the weather turns, or I end up out longer than anticipated. As I mentioned in my review of the Farley, I had some concerns with the lack of rack attachment points. So far, with some creative engineering, I feel I have successfully overcome those obstacles.
The single mounts on the fork left me feeling like I would have to resort to a full rack and pannier system for the front end. Not a bad option, but more than I really wanted to go with. I have also been struggling with hydration since the cold weather has set in with my Camelback freezing up. The Farley has a triple mount on the down tube but is set too low for a Salsa Anything Cage to fit it without the bottom of the cage hitting the seat tube. I’m sure this is due to the small 15.5” frame. The inside of the frame triangle is also too small to fit my 40oz Hydro Flask which I have come to rely on to keep my lemon ginger tea nice and warm. What I ultimately settled on was a modification to fit a Salsa Anything Cage and standard water bottle mount on either side of the fork. I secured the two cages to the single rack mount through the lowest mounting hole. Then I used a 1 ¾” hose/pipe clamp to secure the upper portion around the fork leg. I used a ¼” thick piece of rubber to make a small pad to sit behind the top section of each cage for proper spacing and to prevent it from grinding into the paint. I also used an old inner tube cut into strips to provide a buffer and grip under the clamp. I made sure not to over-tighten the clamps. I just snugged them up until the cages felt solid. I know I can always tighten them up a little more should they loosen up over time.
I wasn’t crazy about how the straps that came with the Anything Cage held my Hydro Flask in place. The stainless steel bottle didn’t want to sit firmly in place even with the straps as snug as I could get them. A few years back, I discovered a Velcro product that has become a mainstay in my gear. It is a simple strap of Velcro with the hook on one side and the mating loop on the other. There is a slot on one end where you can pass the opposite end through before securing the strap to itsself. Long story short, I used a 23” pair of these instead of the standard straps and got a much more secure fit. The standard straps will be great for securing something softer like a stuff sack full of clothes or food.
So far this system seems like it will work out very nicely. I will be getting a second Anything Cage in the Spring before we start getting serious about some bikepacking so I can carry a dry bag with gear in it.
One thing to note is that different bike manufacturers place the fork mounting bolts differently. The Surly Puglsey has the mounting bolts facing back toward the rider. The Salsa Mukluk mounting bolts face forward, away from the rider. And as you can see on the Farley, the bolts face out.
Another reason I wasn’t anxious to use the cage mounts on the down tube is because I knew I wanted to use that space for a frame bag. Frame bags are a great way to use what is typically wasted space on a bike. Revelate Designs does not have a model-specific frame bag for the Farley. It is too new on the market, so I went with one of their small universal fit bags. I had a couple concerns when I ordered the bag from Mad Dog Cycles in Orem. I wasn’t sure how good of a fit I was going to get with a universal fit bag with the unusually shaped tubing on the Farley. I was also hesitant to spend $140. Seems pretty steep for something so simple.
Both of my concerns were quickly put to rest after I started using it. The fit was excellent. I think I could have gained maybe an inch more space at the very bottom of the bag right above the bottom bracket if it had been custom made for my frame. No big loss there. The materials are excellent and the craftsmanship couldn’t be better. I wish I had gained more storage space with it than I did, but I can only blame my stumpy legs for limiting the frame size and not the bag itself.
The bag secures snuggly with several Velcro straps. The only modification I made was to run some repurposed pieces of inner tube under the straps. The fabric is a bit coarse, and I was concerned that over time they would wear down the paint. I know it’s a bit anal, and it may not make much of a difference, but it made me feel better.
I want to talk briefly about Revelate Designs as a company. Being a product designer and manufacturer myself, I appreciate the fact that this company is based in the United States (Alaska) and that their products are 100% made in the USA. I believe in supporting my community and my country at the grass-roots level whenever I can. My products are all made right here in Utah, and my materials are all sourced as close to home as possible; first Utah, then the other states when I can’t find them locally. As I understand it, Revelate Designs is primarily a 2-man operation. And they are cranking out a high quality product at a reasonable price. More times than not, you actually do get what you pay for, and Revelate Designs frame bags are no exception.
For a more detailed review of the Revelate Designs frame bag, see:
Finally, I added a Timbuk2 Goody Box to the top tube. My primary purpose for buying this bag is to be used for our True Grit 50 mile race in March. Having plentiful nutrition at my fingertips will be very nice. I did a bit of online research before ordering this, again through Mad Dog Cycles in Orem, and I found that many of the reservations people had about the bag were justified. First, the smart phone pocket just fits my iPhone 5 if I take it out of the case. So that feature is kind of useless, but I knew this could be an issue going into it and didn’t feel it was a must have feature for me anyway. No big deal there. There are two Velcro straps on the bottom to fit around your top tube and two more to fit around your stem. The rearmost strap fits just fine on my top tube, but the one closest to the head tube didn’t even come close. Once again this is due in large part to my small frame, but even larger aluminum frames now days are very thick at this point and would pose the same problem. Not to worry though. My Revelate frame bag came with a Velcro strap, similar to the ones I like to carry, to go around the head tube that was not necessary and was removable. I cut a piece off of this and was easily able to extend the strap that was too short on the Goody Box. Problem solved. I ran into a similar problem with the straps for the stem and solved it with the rest of the Revelate strap. The end result is that the Goody Box is secure, quite functional, and well made. At $35, it was a good deal even with its shortcomings. If I had to do it over again, I would take a second look at the Revelate Designs Gas Tank. At $55 it is a bit more expensive, but I know the quality would be exceptional and I would be supporting an American made product rather than an American company importing Chinese made goods.
Please don’t get me wrong with all my “support America” rambling. I am not anti-China or any other country for that matter. I believe we need to support our local economies as much as we can no matter where we live. If you live in Germany or Canada or China you should be looking for products made as close to home as possible to do your part to support your local economy and your country’s economy. I would rather give my hard earned dollar to my local bike shop, Mad Dog Cycles in this case, than to some other guy who couldn’t care less who I am other than someone putting money into his bank account. Develop a relationship with your local shops. As you support them, they in turn will be there to continue supporting you. How sad would it be if all our little brick and mortar shops gave way to the impersonal web store and behemoth retailers.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. To sum things up, I am happy with the choices I’ve made in my latest gear purchases. I’m looking to add a rear rack and panniers as well as building myself a handlebar system. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just go to Revelate Designs, but I do find a certain satisfaction in building my own gear when I can. Of course, sometimes I find I have just reinvented the wheel.