Banjo Brothers Frame Pack Review
Frame bags are cool again. The basic form has always made sense, even if fashion concerns and the buying trends that go with them kept them from the public eye in recent memory. Back in the day it was high fashion to sport a triangle bag on your mountain bike, and now with long distance gravel and endurance riding seeing a surge of interest frame bags have found new popularity.
Banjo Brothers Frame Packs are available in two sizes, small and medium, to fit most conventional diamond frames, with long straps that can wrap around tubes up to 3″ in diameter. The main pocket has access via a full length zipper on the drive side, with a flat zippered pocket on the non-drive for a wallat or cell phone with an interior key lanyard. The Banjo Brothers frame packs were introduced to the market over a year ago, and I’ve been using a pair of them since on all day rides, on my mountain bike and on overnight trips to help carry the load.
Moving cargo weight from your body to the bike makes more and more sense the longer the ride, and once on the bike frame packs can help expand capacity or move weight to a more central position. Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I’ve found that I prefer the feel of a bike with the weight centered and below the top tube as opposed to in a handlebar or seat bag. That said, pair a seat or bar bag with the medium frame bag and with some careful packing you should have enough cargo space for some serious adventure.
Mounting the bag couldn’t be easier, though you’ll likely have to trim the straps if you have anything but the fattest tubed bike out there. The downtube strap prevents the bag from swaying and the latch helps to hold it tight and secure, but I wish the latch was on the bag itself as I’ve found that it can interfere with downtube cables. I’m a fan of carrying a full length frame pump on really long days, and the straps of the Banjo Brothers frame packs are enough to wrap around and hold a frame pump in between it and the bag. Reflective piping never hurts, and if nothing but the sound of tires on pavement is your idea of zen you’ll appreciate the no-rattle zipper pull cover.
In terms of real-world capacity I’m able to fit a couple of tubes, patch kit, multi-tool, medium hand pump and an energy bar in the small bag. Pack carefully and I can fit all of the above, a more substantial snack and a compact rain shell or vest in the medium sized bag. Banjo Brothers says that the medium frame pack will fit a 70 oz hydration bladder, potentially useful for your next RAAM attempt. In my experience the bag is pretty water resistant, nothing I had inside ever got soaked, but not completely waterproof for electronics in a storm.
The Banjo Brothers frame bags require roughly 15″ of space on the underside of the downtube to fit lengthwise, and fit best on conventionally shaped road and cyclocross frames. With care you can avoid most cable interference issues, though with some small and medium sized frames the frame packs may block water bottle access. For most riding I choose the small size, but the medium is what I’d go for to maximize capacity for all-day epics and overnight trips. After a year of use I find them an important part of the bag collection. The bags are available for less than $35 each at your local shop or direct from Banjo Brothers.