Product Reveiw: Gup Gum Gear Custom Frame Bag

With all of the long distance gravel rides I have been doing, being able to carry the necessary water and the self-support tools I need put me in the market for a quality frame bag.  I did some research and came in contact with Neil Cary, whose small Twin Cities based company Gup Gum Gear handcrafts some great custom frame bags.  Neil has competed in many gravel grinder centuries and and his creations have been used by cyclists in the Arrowhead 135, TransIowa, TripleD, Tuscobia and numerous other gravel century races.  He uses what he makes and comes highly recommended.  With a resume' like that, a frame bag from Gup Gum Gear would be able to withstand whatever terrain I could throw at it, not to mention it would be convenient for around town or commuting.

I met with Neil to discuss the style of frame bag I was looking for and we talked about gravel riding, what features I would like implemented and color choices.  He instructed me on how to create a template of my frame's front triangle making sure to note the location of all cable stops and the derailleur.  Once he had the template he was ready to get started.

Image Credit:  Gup Gum Gear

This bag would be used primarily for long distance gravel but also for mountain biking and rides around town.  I needed it to be able to carry a hydration reservoir and all of my self-support tools (multi-tool, tire levers, CO2 cartridges & inflator, tire gauge and chain breaker).   The design I discussed with Neil would accomplish this and still leave room for carrying a light jacket or other small items I may need on a ride.

Neil told me that Gup Gum Gear frame bags are handcrafted from quality materials and come with the following features:
  •  XPak side panels (Black or Red)
  • YKK #8 Water Resistant Zippers
  • Ballistic Nylon perimeter 
  • Padded down tube and seat tube sections 
  • Large drive side compartment
  • Half height non-drive side map pocket
  • Hydration tube port

Image Credit:  Gup Gum Gear

One custom feature I wanted was a CO2 cartridge bandoleer in the non-drive side map pocket.  This would hold the cartridges secure and make room for my tools.  Neil hadn't had a request for this before but was up for the task.

He got to work on my bag and sent me these photos of its progress.

Image Credit:  Gup Gum Gear
Image Credit:  Gup Gum Gear
Image Credit:  Gup Gum Gear

The project was completed quicker than expected and I couldn't wait to strap it on my bike.  The fit was perfect, the Velcro straps held the bag very secure and now it was time to load it up with my tools and Hydrapak reservoir for a test ride.

One of the first places I tried it out at was the Minnesota River Bottoms.  While riding I didn't even notice I had a frame bag on, it didn't interfere and held all of my gear without jostling around.  Even with my small frame triangle the bag was big enough to hold my 70 oz. reservoir for hydrating on-the-fly.  The large YKK #8 zipper pulls did create some jingling but that was easily remedied by weaving paracord zipper pulls onto them to reduce the metal on metal contact.  They silenced the noise and made it easier to find and unzip the pockets while riding.

My new Gup Gum Gear frame bag has become a permanent fixture on my bike.  With or without the hydration reservoir in it, it's nice to have the extra cargo space for whatever I may need (water bottles, gloves, jacket, etc.).  This winter it will come in handy for carrying all of the necessary cold weather gear.  Changing weather conditions require the addition or removal of clothing layers and now I have a place to put them.

With the occasional rain or winter time slush, riding conditions aren't always dry ones.  I asked Neil about the water resistance of the materials used for the bag.  He told me, "All exterior fabrics on the bag have a dwr (durable water repellent) finish, so splashes and light rain won't be much concern.  Obviously the tube port on the top isn't going to be waterproof."

The quality and craftsmanship of the Gup Gum Gear frame bag was top notch and so was the personal customer service Neil provided.  They are not mass produced, each one is made to order for the specific dimensions of your frame and is a one-of-a-kind.  I would highly recommend any cyclist in the market for a custom frame bag to get in touch with Neil.  If you live in the Twin Cities area he can meet up with you for a beer or cup of coffee to discuss the specifics of your project.

For product information and a photo gallery of Gup Gum Gear designs, visit www.gupgum.com or the Gup Gum Gear Facebook page.  To contact Gup Gum Gear for more information or ordering, send an email to gupgumgear@gmail.com.

Disclosure:  Gup Gum Gear provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.  

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