Bedrock Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag Review: Domain master.
Handmade in Colorado, the new Bedrock Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag is built for mountain bikers looking to pack a minimal kit and disappear down a twisting ribbon of singletrack. After a few hundred miles, here’s our review…
Just a year ago there was no such thing as a dropper-post specific seat pack. There must have been a handful of folks scheming and sewing in dimly lit rooms over the winter, because several such bags popped up like daffodils this spring. As luck would have it, one of our favorite bag makers, Durango based Bedrock Bags, was one of those responsible. The Bedrock Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag was modeled in style and function after their popular Coconino seat bag using a new and adapted version of the Rail Wing. We took it out on a few hundred miles worth of bikepacking trips to give it a shot…
As bikepacking continues to grow and attract new niche user groups from within the cycling community, more and more singletrack-centric mountain bikers are taking notice. For those new to the concept, and to get even more granular, those on full-suspension rigs without a large frame triangle, figuring out how to pack the necessary gear on their favorite trail bike can be challenging. One hinderance is the fact that over the last couple years hydraulic dropper seat posts have become synonymous with trail riding. To avoid straps rubbing and damaging the stanchion of the seatpost, that likely meant riders had to remove the dropper and install a rigid one for use with a standard seat pack. All too often riders ditched the saddle pack altogether in favor of a massive backpack, which raises the center of gravity and adds an unnecessary element of discomfort. It was only a matter of time before companies devised ways of making seat packs play nicely with droppers. There are now four or five on the market that serve the purpose, and a couple specifically made for such an occasion, including Rogue Panda’s HiLine, Porcelain Rocket’s Albert, and the one in review, Bedrock Bags’ Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag.
Since the advent of such bags there’s no need to forego the dropper, and with a little care and planning, trail slayers don’t have to change the way they already ride. Thus carrying the essentials for a couple days simply means packing the bike you want to ride without making any mods, riding more of what you like, and sleeping under the stars in between.
For any nerds of the 1980s out there, the Black Dragon is not named after the fictional Dungeons and Dragons creature. I asked Joey Ernst of Bedrock if that was the case before I learned the true muse for the name. “No, not at all. We wouldn’t have any idea on that front… are you a D&D fan?!” Joey replied. “Nah, I just saw it in a Google search.” Joey then explained that most of their products are named after geologic layers in the landscapes from around the southwestern US and Durango, Colorado where they hand make each of their products. Black DRA-gon is a sandstone formation deposited in a marine environment, found near the San Rafael Swell in central Utah.
The Black Dragon is connected to the bike by way of two pieces of hardware. As with most classic seat packs, the primary strap that carries the weight of the bag is threaded through the saddle rails. Bedrock takes this a step further with a lightweight two piece aluminum clamp called the Rail Wing. This allows the rail strap to overlap the angled “wings” that cradle the top of the bag and help prevent it from swaying side to side. The system clamps to the saddle rails with two bolts that sandwich the rails — each side has a protective rubber layer to keep the rails from getting scratched. The new version of the Rail Wing — made specifically for the Black Dragon — has a hook on either side which catches the looped end of an elasticized strap wrapping the middle of the bag, making loading and unloading much easier. Further serving this purpose, as well as keeping the bag in place, the underside of the Wing is laminated with a layer of Velco hook which sticks to the loop side stitched onto the bag itself.
The Wolf Tooth Valais
The Black Dragon was designed to work with the Wolf Tooth Components Valais, the second piece of hardware needed when installing the Black Dragon with a dropper seat post. The Valais is a plastic clip that snaps onto the top of the seat post and clamps into place with a thru bolt. Acting as a shim for the bag’s seat post strap, the Valais protects the stanchion from the rub and abrasion that’s inevitable when bounding down bumpy roads. The Valais features an umbrella shape at the bottom to overlap the larger side of the post, keeping the strap from sliding down onto the stanchion and thereby maximizing the post’s travel.
The Valais reduces the travel of the dropper seat post by around 1.25″ (32mm). Wolf Tooth offers the Valais in 25mm and 26mm models which fit most dropper post stanchions. In addition, the Valais can serve as an emergency clamp; while dropper posts continue to improve, in the off chance that your post’s locking mechanism fails, the Valais can be used to keep the post extended in order to comfortably pedal out of the backcountry.
I tried out the Black Dragon with the Valais on the 150mm PNW Bachelor, the 125mm Crank Brothers Highline, and the yet to be released 150mm Crank Brothers Highline. On both of the 150mm dropper posts I was able to utilize 80% of the travel (on the Viral Skeptic hardtail as well as the Salsa Deadwood). The 125mm Crank Brothers Highline retained a little over 70% of its travel. Keep in mind that I have long legs; some riders may not be able to use as much of the dropper’s travel depending on their height and bike setup.
Each of the two main buckles from the removable Rail Wing strap have a locking cam and attach to the corresponding female end of a webbing strap. The strap is double bar-stitched to a triangular piece of rubberized fabric which is stitched into the body of the bag. Along with an HDPE stiffener that runs 3/4 the length of the Black Dragon’s bottom, these triangles cradle the rear of the bag and help maintain its shape and stature.
Two additional straps connect to a buckle at either side of the roll-top and serve to both keep the bag closed as well as pull the rear of the bag up and forward. The positioning of these straps does a remarkable job at keeping the bag from sagging downward like other bags often do when loaded. While this is a welcome characteristic, if the bag is packed really full, its upward stance can impede getting your rear end over the back wheel while picking down steep technical terrain. But then again, with the ability to drop the saddle fully on a 150mm dropper post, this was hardly an issue for me.
The Black Dragon is a relatively small bag. Bedrock specifies about 5-7 liters, depending on how far you roll it up. They recommend a minimum of three folds. I was able to fit a change of clothes, a puffy down jacket, toiletries, and a couple other odds and ends. Basically, the ideal scenario for a two or three day trip. I might consider the available space a little too modest for longer trips though. However, the Black Dragon’s diminutive size should be an added benefit for smaller riders, especially those on big tire bikes. With this bag, vertically challenged folks may actually be able to get the clearance they need to use their dropper posts as well.
- Stitched and crafted in Durango, Colorado.
- Well-made with solid, proven materials.
- Very compact and perfect for smaller riders or those with minimal space between the saddle and tire.
- The Rail Wing does a good job inhibiting side-to-side sway.
- Velcro on the Wing and bag makes installation easy.
- It’s also easy to remove for packing and unpacking in the tent.
- Not waterproof like several other bags on the market; a dry bag or cuben stuff sack (I used one from Zpacks) is an easy remedy though.
- The opening can be a little tight for larger and bulkier items.
- If you are looking for a full volume seat pack, you’ll likely find the Black Dragon a bit small.
- Volume 5-7 Liters
- Weight (with Rail Wing, Valais and bag) 412g (14.5oz)
- Place of Manufacture Colorado, USA
- Price (with Rail Wing/Valais/Cinch strap) $200
- Contact BedrockBags.com
The Bedrock Black Dragon Dropper Seat Bag is an interesting and well-conceived saddlebag system. The Rail Wing hooks paired with the looped center strap allow the bag to quickly attach and detach, making the bag easy to pack and unpack in the tent. Additionally, the Rail Wing itself does a good job at keeping seat pack sway to a minimum. The compact design of the bag along with the Wolf Tooth Valais work well together to allow of a 150mm dropper seat post to utilize as much as 80% of its travel.
As mentioned, the only issue I had with the pack is the size of the opening; I usually like to keep my seat pack to a minimum, so this was generally fine, but when rain was in the forecast and I stuffed my dry change of clothes into a cuben fiber sack for protection, it was challenging to get in and out of the opening. However, for those looking for a minimal pack to maximize the dropper’s capability, the Black Dragon is a good option for consideration.
Like the Coconino and other bags by Bedrock, the Black Dragon is constructed with rugged materials, plenty of extra bar stitching and reinforcements, as well as top notch craftsmanship. I have about 400 miles on this pack so far, and with a little cleaning, it looks as good as new. I would expect it to go for about as long as I can.