Regardless of what type of bikepacking you do, planning is a crucial step in making your trip work. One thing in particular is the way you carry bags on your bike. Customizing your bike bag configuration using zip ties, velcro, and tape is convenient, and likely something you have done in the past. The ability to personalize the way you set up your rig is a thing of bikepacking beauty. Whether you have experienced it or not, bikepacking bags can cause rubbing, and eventually damage to your bike. It’s easy to ignore the issue and strap bags to your frame, bars, and saddle –  however, if you want your bike to last, it is best to take precautions. There are some simple steps you can take to protect the paint, carbon finish and the integrity of your bike as a whole.   Saddle Bag: This may be the least of your concerns, but still can lead to problems. Most saddle bag straps that wrap around your seatpost come with a membrane. This membrane prevents the bag from slipping down, while protecting the seatpost finish. If the bag is absent of this particular feature, then a great option would be to use something with a sticky outer membrane to prevent slipping. Something like Frameskin will do the trick. It will also protect your seat post, especially if it’s of the carbon variety. If you’re completely committed to protecting every part of your bike where a bag connects, then don’t forget the saddle rails. There is a lot of friction on those rails. Bikepacking Bag Protection   Frame Bag: Whether it be a top tube bag or a frame bag, this is generally the most affected area. Maybe some of you want that mark as a reminder of your accomplishments. Just know your bike may drop in value, and become a bit more difficult to sell down the line. Velcro is the main culprit in frame rub. This can be because either the velcro is too tough, or dust, sand and grit sneaks in between the velcro and frame. Bikepacking Bag ProtectionThere are few options available right now that will save your frame, starting with the bag itself. A few manufactures are thinking ahead and using a Velcro that is soft to the touch which will help prevent scuffing up the paint job. For example, Bike Bag Dude, is going with a product called One-Wrap by Velcro on all of his frame bags.   Bikepacking Bag Protection On the other side of the spectrum, Revelate Design is selling frame protection tape to adhere directly to your frame. Although we have yet to use Revelate’s specific product, we have used something similar from 3M. It can leave a sticky residue after you remove it, but nothing a little rubbing alcohol can’t solve.   Handlebar: Be it carbon or aluminum, handlebars see a lot of wear from your handlebar bag system. The amount of maneuvering combined with the weight load make the bag prone to bouncing and shifting. Even in the best case scenario, this will make an inch wide mark from your webbing or velcro. We have used electrical tape in the past, because it’s light and cheap, but often comes with an extremely sticky residue and tends to shift around when it is adhered to itself. The folks at ESI that make the silicone grips recently released a new non-adhesive silicone tape. This multi use product was made for protecting your bike from cable rub and adhering your bar tape down. This stretchy and flexible product sticks to itself, and is extremely strong. The best thing about this tape is that it does not leave any sticky residue. IMG_6227
Bikepacking Bag Protection
Webbing strap mark on a carbon bar.
Bikepacking Bag Protection Cable Rub: Some brands come with internal cable routing which is a great way to prevent rubbing on bikepacking bags, but not so a great when you need to replace a cable in the backcountry. Externally routed cables can prove to be a pain, especially if the cable lines are installed inside the frame triangle. If you’re planning on stuffing your frame bag to the max, then you will likely run into cable rubbing against your frame. In order to prevent damage to your frame, it is crucial to put down something like Lizard Skin Clear Skin. Although zip ties are great, in most cases they create more run when in contact with bikepacking bags. Try to avoid using them where your bags could potentially rub against them.
Bikepacking Bag Protection
A scary amount of cable rub after the Colorado Trail Race this year.
Bikepacking is all about trial and error, but one thing you may not want to sacrifice is damage to your frame. Bike bag manufacturers are very knowledgeable about bag rub. If you are concerned about it while making a purchase, ask them what they would suggest you use to protect your bike. We all know how expensive bike parts are these days, and if you can prolong the life of your bike as a whole, that is money in the bank.

10 Comments

  1. I use a product called Shelter by Cantitoe Road. It’s made just for this and works extremely well.

  2. An old inner tube wrapped in electricians tape works well (the tube prevents the sticky residue you mention) and its cheap too! Also the rubber helps to stop the packs from moving around, works especially well on the seatpost

  3. The loop side of one wrap holds tons of dust and dirt and will do a great job of “polishing” your metal and wearing through paint on your carbon. If you really care about the stuff, use helicopter tape.

  4. For dozens of other tape options, cruise around McMaster Carr’s web site. Lots of polyethylene, polyurethane, silicone, etc. choices. Perhaps looking for “surface protection tape”…
    http://www.mcmaster.com/#surface-protection-tape/=u7e84b

  5. How about plain old electrical tape? No sticky residue and cheap as can be.

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      Jeremy, If you have had luck with it great. But We have not, in our experience tt tends to leave a lot of residue and stick after you take it off. Especially if you are out on a long trip, and there is some rubbing on the tape. Maybe it comes off after a short while on the bike?

      Thanks for your feedback.

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