DIY: Roll-Top Framebag

Good morning, handsome.

I’ve been making framebags for about 3 years now and my conclusion is that zippers suck. They suck to install and then they bust. In just one week, I busted the zippers on my framebag, my top-tube bag, and a jacket. I threw them all in my gear closet and stomped away.

Then I stomped back to the gear closet, took out my sewing machine, plus a seam ripper, and got to work. It was surprisingly easy to retrofit a roll-top onto my previously zippered framebag. I ripped out the zipper and opened a couple side seams to lay the bag flat. I dove back into the gear closet to harvest buckles and webbing off a Camelback and fanny pack, both of which by the way had busted zippers. All told, it took about 5 hours of seam-ripping, sewing, scrounging, swearing, and finally satisfaction. The bag works great.

Porcelain Rocket will make you a custom roll-top framebag called the Orbiter starting at the fancy price of $250, but I do really hope you make your own. See also a full review from Pedaling Nowhere and more pictures of expedition tested Porcelain Rocket roll-tops on Cass Gilbert’s Instagram.

Previous incarnation of my framebag sporting a recycled YKK metal coil zipper that busted 6 months later.
Previous incarnation of my framebag sporting a recycled YKK metal coil zipper that busted 6 months later.
Overstuffing a grit and sand splattered zipper makes it sure to bust.
Overstuffing a grit and sand splattered zipper makes it sure to bust.
Ta Da! You can see the seam where I ripped out the worn zipper from my framebag and installed a roll top. I also added the “bra,” a pair of buckles reinforced with webbing.
What’s that strapped to the framebag?
A machete! Tucked into the “bra” for easy access when descending into overgrown trails on my upcoming trip into the Sierras.
It works well to run the “bra” straps run under my cables. The webbing is long enough loosen and allow me to get into the bag without unbuckling it.
No more digging around for a multi-tool that slipped to the bottom of the bag. The gaping maw of my roll top framebag provides easy access.
As for the rest of this setup, I’m running an extra long stem, which accommodates the Ortlieb + Revelate handlebar bag set up surprisingly well. My camera goes up front for easy, waterproof access.

A tall stem and rigid fork means I can tuck a tent or Thermarest under the whole kit.
Happy camper.

5 thoughts on “DIY: Roll-Top Framebag

  1. That is a fantastic fix. I want to go on rides like you do. I’m starting my research now. Checking out your blog now! Take care of yourself out there! 🙂 Best, Koko

  2. Ever since I saw this I’ve been planning to make my own…. thank you very much Ginger for the inspiration! I’m ordering my fabrics right now actually! The only segment I’m having a hard time thinking of how to do is the triangular shaped piece at the bottom of the “bra” strap.. would that be a cut out piece with an edge burnt or..?

    1. Yup. I cut out a triangle from a fat piece of webbing and sealed the edges with a lighter. I then bar stitched the triangle into a horizontal piece of webbing that runs the length of the bag and then bar-stitched on the bra strap. Send me a pic when you’re done!

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