This week has been a tough one for me. Over the weekend I managed to separate one of my ribs in a silly accident playing with Kate. I picked up a nasty stomach virus that wiped me out Monday & Tuesday. Apparently I didn't pay my dues with the stomach virus so I followed that up with strep throat. That put me at 102F fever and general man flu conditions for the remainder of the week. I'm sitting upright now but still feel bad. With all of that said, I'm upbeat because my new frame bag showed up in the mail today!
After breaking my Lynskey frame, I had to sell my last frame bag. They're custom to the frame itself so when the frame is gone the bag is useless unless you get a very similarly designed bike. As soon as I had the Black Sheep in hand, I contacted Eric at Revelate Designs (formerly Epic Designs - thanks for being evil, Specialized) to get one made for this frame. The workmanship and design of my first pack was great and this one is even better. Eric has added a few new features that are worth mentioning - but first the pack on the bike!
The pack fits the frame perfectly. The main storage compartment on my new bag is divided into two sections by a velcro wall. Each compartment has a separate waterproof zipper that is protected by a zipper flap on Revelate's new bags (great addition for gritty & rainy rides). The separate compartments allow me to keep fuel and other gear separate or open the storage up into one large compartment for more flexibility. The double top tube design of the Black Sheep significantly reduces my storage volume so this bag tapers larger as you move down and forward.
There is a full length map pocket on the left side of the bag. My last bag's pocket only went down half way or so. That keeps the maps from going square to the bottom but it limits what you can store in there (particularly gears). I don't mind digging a little so I asked for a full length pocket. The velcro pull tabs were left a little long for me to tailor them to suit my needs. I may lop them off completely and add grosgrain pull tabs. I'll ponder that for awhile before doing anything drastic. (clever ideas are welcome)
The velcro tabs have a new tapered gusset to take up the stress from the tension in the bag. This bag also has ultra-rugged material on the sides of the pack where it meets the frame. This is where the worst abrasion is because of dirt accumulation and the constant rattling associated with me picking horrible lines on the trail. I'm not sure that this is a new feature for Eric's bags but its an upgrade over my last frame bag and I'm a big fan.
Eric has added bright yellow liner to the inside of the pack for visibility when digging around for your whatzit. Admittedly, its minor but it shows that the guy that's making the gear really uses the gear and is very close to the community that uses his gear. If you take anything at all from this post make it this - Support cottage gear companies whenever you can. If you work with people that are active in the market they're serving you'll get infinitely better product & support compared to people that don't.