A quick introduction as this is my first post. I’m a middle-aged time poor dad who loves to get a million miles away from the daily grind as much as possible. Bikepacking helps me get away from things and if you’ve ever met me on the trail I’ve probably been stopped, taking photos or eating snacks. I have a leisurely pace but a big appetite for adventure.
So I have a secret bag fetish. No, I don’t have a wardrobe at home full of leather, straps and glitter but I do have an assortment of bikepacking bags I’ve bought over the years to support my various bikepacking ambitions. I could probably kit out a full expedition team now! However, the purchase of a Mason ISO earlier in the year with its small frame threw up some challenges, I had nothing in my wardrobe that fitted. Leaving it late after the bike arrived I only had three days before I was due on my first bike packing trip of the year up in the Cairngorms to sort a frame bag out. I settled on an off the shelf solution from Apidura. It wasn’t a great fit, but it was the best I could do with the time I had. Although I ended up using that bag for all of my trips this year, I really needed something that fitted the frame better so I had my heart set on something bespoke.
Over the past few years I’ve been admiring the work done by Ross at StraightCut Designs and seen some pretty cool design ideas on various bikes. Also being local to me meant it was a no brainer so I booked in a face-to-face consultation. I could’ve done the remote photo fit, which was an option, but as I’m 8 miles away I wanted the full personalised experience!
Before the consultation Ross emailed across a few links so I could get familiar with the different materials, colours and construction options I had. Although I’d settled on colour options ahead of the meeting it wasn’t until I spent time with Ross looking over the myriad materials that I really figured out what I wanted. He really knows his stuff and our conversation really helped me nail down the final design and materials used.
As with everything, there’s a process to follow, I’d brought my bike to the consultation so we could take some photo fit pictures to make sure the various bottle bosses and other fixing points were taken into consideration when designing the bag. The ISO has a lot of bosses and some tricky angles.
Next up we talked through the various construction options, I was originally keen on a split design with a removable lower section. Although possible, I settled on a full frame bag with dividers built in. I was also keen on a more robust bottom panels so chose a really tough recycled material, black to avoid showing up too much dirt and thick to prevent items poking through and to protect from scuffing. The rest really came down to selecting a cool colour combo from mid weight and lighter materials, both inside and out. I’d selected Velcro strap fixings for the down tube and seat tube and lace-up across the top tube. Somewhere in all this I also decided on adding a top tube bag to the order figuring out it was best done together.
With my consultation finished I left Ross to his work. Later that day I received the mock up you see below. It gave me an idea about what it was going to look like on my bike and a chance to switch colours or make final tweaks. I was pretty happy with what I saw so no changes were made.
Weeks later I got the email, “your bag is ready, we can deliver”. Having been in person to order I was keen to collect in person, plus I’d stripped my bike for an overhaul and thought it would be a good chance to get some decent photos without any of the clutter in the way like wheels etc.
I was pretty blown away by the finished article, the quality of the build, the stitching, and the material. It really felt like a solid bag and the colours really suited the bike well. The materials are all quite different weights and textures, the bottom panels are super tough and rigid which will help retain the heavier items I carry and the top strips although lighter still have a tough feeling to them. The liners are a very bright coral colour continued on the zip hoods so you can see what awaits inside which was a nice touch.
A custom bag isn’t the cheapest option to go for especially with so many reasonable off the shelf solutions available, but I’d chosen the Mason with a view to riding it for many many years so sorting a bag that optimised my carrying capacity on this specific frame seemed like a good investment. I’m also a bit of a bike tart, I like great quality, things have to match and I do like to be different! I think what Ross has come up with really hits the spot and exceeded my expectations. I’m super chuffed with how it turned out and already have plans for a matching front rack bag.
Last modified: 5th December 2022