DIY: Roll-Top Framebag

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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.
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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.
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What’s that strapped to the framebag?
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A machete! Tucked into the “bra” for easy access when descending into overgrown trails on my upcoming trip into the Sierras.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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