Drj0n Bagworks G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System Review
UK-based Drj0n Bagworks has been tinkering away over the last few years, silently releasing some intriguing minimalist 3D-printed mounting solutions designed with bikepackers in mind. We got our hands on the complete Drj0n G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System and got out on a few overnighters to see how it fared. Find photos, details, and Miles’ thoughts on this minimalist handlebar setup here…
I seem to have incredibly good luck stumbling upon interesting Instagram accounts early in the morning—or maybe it’s just a well-executed algorithm at work. Regardless, I discovered Drj0n Bagworks in March and soon after I had a DeWidget G-Funk Clamp and DeWidget Strap Deck in my hands. When paired together, the two unofficially form the G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System, with a total weight of just 61 grams—weighing less than any cage or harness we’ve reviewed to date. Before diving into the review, I asked Drj0n to share some background on his business. Find that below.
Who is Drj0n Bagworks?
Jon Meredith is a family doctor / general practitioner in Scotland, who started bikepacking in 2008. In 2009, he and a friend planned a trip to the Picos De Europa in Spain, where the idea of being self-supported but also packing very lightweight clicked. It wasn’t long before Jon began dreaming up ideas for a totally stripped back setup for S24O bikepacking trips on some of the bigger mountains in Scotland. This included a number of lightweight bag setups, as well as an early all-mountain hardtail design. By 2013, he was still just making bags for himself and friends, never selling them, and started considering fabricating his own components rather than simply modifying existing ones. This led to Jon’s first lathe purchase.
With the help of some friends (and YouTube) Jon began to machine metal. One of his early ideas was to mount bearings to headset spacers and add a slotted ring to create a zero-wear top tube bag mount. This rotating top tube / stem bag mount is now known as the DeWidget—named after a brake modification he and his friend made copying a cannondale force forty brake actuation lever back in their school days. After realizing there was no real load to justify the use of a bearing, the first DeWidgets used a simple bushing system and were machined from delrin. Since this was so labour intensive, Jon looked into getting the DeWidget 3D printed from nylon, which is how they are made today. The Strap Deck design came soon after, which is available in multiple sizes and works best when set up in conjunction with a pair of Voile Straps.
Jon continues to be inspired by makers like Rick Hunter, Scott Felter, Rob English, as well as his friends Sean Chaney and Mark Bentley, and hasn’t stopped turning napkin sketches into usable prototypes. Currently, Jon is working on a lightweight zip-tie-mounted auxiliary bottle boss—but is unsure if it will be 3D printed or integrated with a countersink bolt. Stay tuned for more details on the Drj0n Barnacle. COVID-19 has slowed down his ability to test parts on long rides but he’s been happy with how things are developing.
Drj0n Bagworks G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System Review
The G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System consists of two Drj0n products—the DeWidget G-Funk Clamp and DeWidget Strap Deck. The G-Funk clamp is a minimal handlebar clamp that provides a secure place to mount the Strap Deck, which then can be used to lash a small drybag or tent in place for bikepacking. Both components are made from 3D printed nylon, and extremely lightweight. The G-Funk Clamps are flexible enough to easily open up to fit on any standard 31.8mm (or 35mm) handlebar without removing grips or controls, and use a cross dowel nut and button head bolt to keep everything in place. The Strap Deck simply mounts to the clamps, using the included bolts, to create a cargo cage-like platform for mounting a small drybag, lightweight tent, or sleeping pad. The design allows the clamps to be mounted in several different orientations, positioning the Strap Deck in front or directly below your stem. Drj0n included eight tiny nylon washers to space out the Strap Deck from the stem if extra clearance is needed, but they aren’t required. It’s worth noting that the large Strap Deck I tested uses standard bottle cage spacing, so it can also be used as a minimalist cargo cage on the downtube or fork leg.
Installation is simple, but due to the setup’s lightweight design, there are a few places where things can go wrong. First, the bolt needs to be aligned with the cross dowel nut and should thread in smoothly. If it isn’t smooth, stop. The other tip is that the entire system requires very little torque, less than 2 Nm apparently, so it’s recommended to snug the bolts until they bite and check for movement. If the clamps rotate on the bars, tighten slightly, and repeat until there is no movement. If the Strap Deck is going to stay on the bike for some time, it’s recommended to add a touch of blue loctite to the threads. It’s meant to be more of an ultralight setup, and as such, the weight limit is 3.7 lbs (1.7kg). This setup is not designed to handle the weight of expedition-style packing, but when installed and packed properly, it’s a minimal and effective piece of kit.
While riding, the G-Funk clamps and Strap Deck practically disappear. The unloaded setup is low profile and lightweight, and has no effect on bike handling or feel. Paired with a lightly packed drybag, it ends up feeling similar to a minimal harness setup but with the benefit of increased rigidity and no pesky buckles and nylon straps. Although handlebar harnesses work great, they have been known to loosen up on long rides, and the majority of them are better suited to larger dry bags. The G-Funk / Strap Deck combo offers more adjustment, a completely rigid design, and the clamp-on adapters hold firm no matter how rough the terrain is. However, due to the lack of headtube strap and diminutive size of the Strap Deck, larger loads have the tendency to bounce around a bit. It’s better suited to small drybags in the ~7L range or around 4.5” (11.5cm) in diameter. The medium (11L) Revelate Pronghorn drybag I’ve been using with it is still too big in my opinion, and a smaller circular drybag would work better.
Careful positioning of the G-funk clamps is important for a solid setup, and after trying out a few different orientations I’ve found positioning the Strap Deck downwards provides the most stable setup. This allows the load to be cinched up under the stem, and minimizes how much the drybag can bounce around. It puts the load in a great position for technical riding and is definitely suited for lightly packed endurance-style riding or mountain biking.
I’ve installed the handlebar system on a few different stem / bar combinations, and some work better than others. First, the width of the stem’s clamping surface may limit compatibility, since the Strap Deck only allows for a few millimeters of wiggle room—which is further limited by the handlebar’s actual clamping surface. For example, I tested the setup on the new Sim Works Little Nick Stealth Bar, and the clamps were right on the edge of the 31.8mm area of the bar. Nine times out of ten it’ll work just fine, but it has its share of quirks. This may not be a big deal to some, but I’m pretty bad at keeping track of tiny parts, and loose washers and little bolts tend to get away from me.
Since receiving my version of the G-Funk clamps and Strap Deck, there have already been some changes. The included nylon washers to space the Strap Deck out away from the mounts have been swapped out for a thin steel washer and two black anodized aluminum spacers. The button head bolt itself has been replaced for a flanged head bolt for more surface area on the Strap Deck, although they do have a shallow head, so good quality hex keys must be used. A larger Strap Deck (Strap Deck Double Trouble Triple) and a 35mm G-Funk Clamp have since been designed and made available through Drj0n’s distributors. Although early adopters might feel a little left out, I think it’s great to see the Drj0n’s progression, and expect some great products moving forward.
Drj0n Products and Where To Buy
Drj0n Bagworks has partnered with UK-based Wildcat Gear and Backcountry Scot to distribute his products. So far, both are restocked as inventory becomes available, so it’s best to keep a close eye on their websites as well as the Drj0n Bagworks Instagram page for updates. There are currently a few different products in Drj0n’s lineup, which I’ve outlined below. Overall, I think the pricing is very competitive and well worth the money, as long as you’re aware of its limitations. I’ve included pricing in both Pounds and US Dollars, as well as links to Wildcat Gear’s website for each item.
- Low profile and lightweight.
- 3D printed in the UK.
- Always improving on the design and product offerings.
- Strap Deck can be used on standard bottle mounts as a cargo cage.
- Not compatible with all bars and stems.
- Limited to 3.7lbs of gear. Might not be enough for everyone.
- A few small parts to keep track of. Don’t lose them!
- No headtube strap means larger loads will bounce around.
- Model Tested: G-Funk Bar Clamps (31.8mm) / DeWidget Strap Deck (Large)
- Material: 3D Printed Nylon
- Total Weight: 61 grams
- Place of Manufacture: UK
- Price: £45 (~$56 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: Drj0nsWanderings.Wordpress.com
I love the way Drj0n Bagworks operates. By taking advantage of 3D printing, they can produce prototypes quickly, put them through the wringer, and update designs as needed. Even since I received my G-Funk Clamps and Strap Deck, the design has been improved, and we can only expect it to get better. With that said, the concept remains the same, and for a minimalist handlebar setup, it works great. The 3D printed nylon construction has been quite durable so far, and I haven’t been afraid to really cinch down on the Voile Straps. As mentioned in my review, there’s certainly some room for improvement and it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for newer bikepackers since a good experience relies on a rock solid setup and tightly packed drybag. Overall, though, I’ve been impressed and will be sure to continue using the handlebar setup this summer as restrictions on camping and travel start to ease up.