Hi all, I am looking for advice from fellow mountain bikers-- particularly those who have very small frame bikes. I’m currently optimizing my carry-along equipment to not always have to wear a pack when I ride, but I’m finding it difficult to find a solution that works with having such a small frame bike (for reference I’m riding a Cannondale Habit 4 size small).
Ideally I’d like to be able to bring along (at a minimum) a mini pump, multitool, tubeless repair kit, spare tube, & tire levers. I have previously tried to fit everything in a tidy bundle strapped behind/underneath my saddle, but I don’t have enough clearance over the back tire when my dropper is down and the rear shock is compressed. The frame itself presents some challenges with regards to storage-- I hardly have space for a 16oz water bottle in the cage.
There’s quite a few ways to do this, I’ve probably done most of them at some point. My setup is aimed at multi-day bikepacking hence some items you might not expect.
Pump: many pumps come with a mount that fits the water bottle bosses - you just undo the bolts holding the cage and slip the mount between the cage and frame. You just have to be careful that your crank and foot clears the pump.
Repair kit: I use a Jerry can style bag that fits in the angle between top tube and seat tube. It sits on top of the top tube. Mine has: CO2 cartridge and adaptor; chain tool; zip ties; tyre levers; sewing kit; tin with tools, spare bolts, mech hanger, tubeless anchovies; super glue, other bits and bobs.
Depending on the size of your inner tube you might have fun (sic) getting everything in. I tend to strap an inner tube (if I even carry one) somewhere on the frame, wrap in a plastic bag first. Looking at your frame you should be able to fit one in the junction between top tube and down tube above the shock.
Single tire lever, plug kit, CO2 and inflator wrapped inside the tube, strapped to the frame.
I haven’t had to tube a tire in years now. I still carry one on big XC events and rides. And since my E29 has the SWAT box I keep one in there too, but that has been in there for 4 years now (just inspected it, still good). I have had to plug tires though, and CO2 gets me going.
Unleash your inner roadie and get a jersey with pockets on the back! You’ll get most of what you need in there. Alternatively there are some bibs that you can wear under your baggies that have cargo pockets. That way you can still look rad whilst shredding the gnar!
Depending on how much tire rub you’re getting in the back, it looks like you have room to pare that down a bit. I’d try getting the tube on the back of the saddle but leave off co2 maybe? Looks like there’s room for a tube in front of your shock too. I’d then echo the advice to put your pump under your H20 cage. Specialized makes cages with a small multi-tool attached which could be an option. I’m also a big fan of just running “roadie” jerseys as @AndyGajda has mentioned, and I do that and use some “stash” style bibs from Zoic if I want to look less XC and more trail. A decent amount of stuff fits in the pockets in either case and it’s sometimes more convenient to have at hand.
It takes a little effort but as I’m sure you know, riding packless is so much better.
ditch the pump, or carry it in a pack if you need it on longer days. short days, just co2 that you can probably put in place of your saddle bag.
That said, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use small multitools, a major pain in the ass. I only use separate ball-end hex keys or a multi tool with separate hex keys (Blackburn Wayside is my go to multi-tool).
Some of this has already been stated but I’ll cover my setup thoroughly anyways:
Tube: I’d fit one under your water bottle holder at the bottle of your frame. Looks like a perfect spot. Bike shops sell nice little belt straps that work perfectly for holding these (fit your tire levers in the middle of your tube - if you need them they’ll be when you have the tube out. Pump: Get the mount that shares the waterbottle holder mounts and fits out to the side. Works great. Tools: EDS kit in your steerer tube. Has pretty much all the tools you’re likely to need. You can ditch tire levers if you want to but I’d still try and bring them along as they’re bound to come in handy Bacon strips: you can buy little kits that store these in your bar ends. If your grips don’t allow this (or you don’t want to do this, then you can consider the next row) Fanny/Hip bag: Mine is pretty much empty except for a few small items (keys, phone, wallet, a few variations of quick links and spare deraileur hangers for my two MTB’s I have). Advantage here is if you want food or bring a light jacket you can always put those items in here. Some of these items you can just ride with in your shorts, but after a few crashes and hurting my legs from car keys or damaging phone screens, I’ve found the hip bag to be the best solution for this. Bonus thing about my hip bag, is I can bring an extra water bottle - you just have to made sure you get the right one.
Good luck. Everyone’s ride set-up is variable based on your situation; how long you ride, how far you get from civilization, do you ride solo or with friends, etc. So tweak to suit.
One word of caution:
Avoid bar plug storage unless you have lots of patience or really good mechanical capability.
I have the tools that are stored in your bars and replace bar plugs. After installing them the first time, I realized that the fit is pretty fragile - they’re often based on rubber compression inside the bar, and it’s really difficult to get that to fit right.
I wouldn’t want to put one of those back on my bar after using it - I’d probably spend 10 minutes or more reinstalling it.
For a MTB, it also puts the tool weight at the most influential points on the bike:
at the front, requiring more force to pull up the bars to get the front wheel over an obstacle
at the ends of the bars requiring more force to turn them
I know it’s not a lot of weight, but especially for riders with less upper body strength, still worth considering and optimizing…
Thanks all, I really appreciate all the advice, suggestions, and input.
I decided to give the Lezyne Tubeless Flow Storage bottle cage a try. I figured I could still fit a mini pump on one side and only carry one CO2 (rather than two). This checks retaining my water bottle storage off the list, as well as having a multitool and CO2 cartridge.
Hoping I can store a spare tube/tire levers/tubeless repair kit in the top corner of the frame.
I’m not opposed to wearing a jersey or adventure bibs and sticking things in my pockets, but I have very few jerseys to being with and would prefer not to drop $$$ on pocketed bibs if I can figure out an alternate solution. But these are solid back up plans if I just can’t get it all to fit on the bike.
One of the best riders I know defaults to full Lycra on most rides. Drops us uphill and downhill. I love it. I enjoy trolling MTB bros who are bothered by skin tight clothing, I’ve transitioned into preferring baggies on most rides but I get it!
I’ve found top tube solutions to work great, even though I don’t have a small bike. I use the jerrycan that someone linked to above for my toolkit. I’ve got two mtb’s and switching it between them is a piece of cake. I also have a behind the stem bag from the same company with a magnetic opening that I put on for longer rides when I need more nutrition. Did that set up for Leadville and it worded a treat.
Alright I think I figured out something that will work for my bike (rather, my spouse who did a better job at googling things than me did), decided to post my solution here in case anyone else with a small or unusually shaped frame could benefit:
Wolftooth B-RAD system bottle offset: this nifty bracket allowed me to mount my bottle cage ~9mm offset from the center, which gave me more flexibility with mounting the bottle cage at the ideal height to avoid the curved part of the frame at the bottom/cable housing for dropper post and the rear shock under the top tube. I was worried this would make the bottle/cage jut out wayyy too far to the right, but once I had it installed I couldn’t believe how much clearance there still was between the crank and the set up. Aesthetically it wasn’t as offensive as I thought it’d be either, which was a nice bonus!
Lezyne flow storage cage-- tubeless loaded: This right-handed side load bottle cage is similar to the Specialized roll cage I had in my frame before, only it has a clever below-the-cage container with a multitool, CO2 adapter, and tubeless patch kit inside. The cage also has velcro straps that can hold 2xCO2 tubes or 1xCO2 and a mini pump.
I still will probably look into top tube storage for convenient snack access, or just wear a lightweight fanny pack or jersey with pockets for the miscellaneous stuff. What I really wanted was to have all the essentials on the bike itself so that I don’t ever find myself stuck out on the trails with no tools or water
Thanks again to everyone for all the suggestions-- even if I didn’t respond I tried to keep up with the thread and read them as they came in. This is an awesome community and I really appreciate you all!
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