Gramm Tourpacking Diamond Bag Review: Ultramodern Rando
Building on years of experience crafting custom bags and racks, Berlin-based Gramm Tourpacking teamed up with framebuilder-owned Allygn Components to create the innovative Diamond Bag and Rack system. Inspired by classic rando bags, it’s ready for bikepacking. Find a thorough examination of the state-of-the-art bag featuring photos from six months of riding with it all across Europe here…
When selecting bags for a tour, I’ll almost always choose a top-opening handlebar bag or a basket bag over the standard drybag roll up front. For all but the most technical trails, I find that the ease of packing and retrieval granted by a large cavern with a simple flap can’t be beat. And as I seem to enter premature middle age in my mid-20s, I’m feeling the pull of the classic rando bag, the medium-sized, cuboid archetype that sits atop a lightweight front rack, providing quick access from the saddle to all the essentials a randonneur—or indeed any rider—might need on the move.
Yet while high-performance synthetic fabrics and polymers have started replacing time-tested leather and brass on many current models, the boxy silhouette and perhaps puzzling decaleur attachment remain mostly unchanged, presenting opportunities for innovation, which the women behind Berlin-based bag manufacturer Gramm Tourpacking understand at a deep level from their combined decades of riding and touring experience. Sitting at the intersection of the local bikepacking and brevet scene, I can’t imagine a better group of people to shepherd the classic rando bag into the 21st century while respecting its purposeful origins.
After over a year of intensive development, Gramm rolled out the Diamond Bag with the matching Allygn Components Diamond Rack atop the stunning Fern Ultra Rando at kolektif bike fair earlier this year (find my coverage in the Related Content grid below). It immediately captured my attention in a way no classic rando bag ever has, and happily, I got to put the pair to a long-term test this summer and fall. I expected to go back and forth between it and my other, larger bags, but the Diamond Bag’s amazing versatility—not to mention sleek, attractive lines—made it a fixture atop my all-terrain rando bike for everything from day rides to multi-week tours.
Priced at €249, Gramm’s modern rando bag is in-line with other high-end offerings by the likes of Swift, RuthWorks, and Gilles Berthoud, although the deep integration with the Allygn Diamond Rack (sold separately) really makes it one of a kind. I’ll examine all the facets of the integrated Diamond rack-and-bag-system in this in-depth review.
Gramm Diamond Bag Overview
Tapering on all sides, the 7.5-liter Diamond Bag looks sleek and stealthy. It’s not just aesthetics; there’s a functional reasoning behind all the angles. By narrowing toward the front, there’s extra clearance to the sides for inward-swinging road brifters. At the rear, the slight overhang shields a cable port from rain before reversing to make space around the tops of the handlebar. The Diamond Bag is great for shorter riders who might otherwise have problems getting bags that fit between narrow drop bars, and with the rack support, there’s no chance of tire rub either. The continuous internal hard liner wraps from front to back, granting intrinsic rigidity to the bag. I can report that it held its shape over any terrain I threw at it.
The simple origami-like closure is extremely satisfying to fold and unfold. It’s kind of a hybrid that merges the waterproofness of a roll closure with the easy access of a flat lid. Unhooking the Fidlock magnetic latches and lifting the top reveals all the contents at a glance—very convenient for reaching for an apple, a jacket, or a pair of binoculars while on the go. There are two open mesh pockets on the inside for keeping small items organized. I find the hot pink liner on my review bag absolutely fabulous, but the all-black lining on the stock bag plays nicer with other colors, though it will make finding small items inside a bit harder in the dark.
The top folds back down against itself along pre-creased edges in the tall sides, leaving no gaps for ingress, and the Fidlock latches snap back into the female pieces thanks to magnetic attraction. They’re rattle-free and can be operated blindly. The folding closure works best when your stem doesn’t extend much beyond the fork crown (looking at the bike from the side) so the lid has space to clear the bars.
I find the compact 7.5-liter bag to be an ideal standalone size to carry everything I might need on a long day ride or brevet. The rigid compartment swallows a tool roll, spare tube, pump, down jacket, hi-viz vest, gloves, snacks, toothbrush, and reflective seat pad with room for a large sandwich. The unique kinematics of the closure don’t take well to overstuffing, but there are a few ways to stretch the bag’s capacity. Left open, the tall sides allow a surprising amount of food to be carried a short distance to a nice lunch spot. Converging bungee cordage on the lid keeps light items affixed, although a more conventional criss-cross pattern might be more effective. At some point, I may redo the bungee netting to decouple it from the magnetic snap latches. Some slim side pockets would be nice but might also make what’s already an intricate design even more challenging to produce.
The bag is constructed from the new X-Pac RX36 material, which contains 100% post-consumer recycled polyester made from typical PET bottles. The material is certified climate neutral, and according to manufacturer Dimension Polyant’s data sheet, the recycled polyester face fabric resists abrasion at least as well as the nylon on regular X-Pac. That’s perfect for bikepacking bags, where abrasion is the primary failure mode. In my own use, I’ve found the polyester fabric to be impressively hard-wearing. Six months and thousands of kilometers in, my pre-production bag shows minimal fraying at the contact zones with the rack—much better than nylon would fare, in my experience. It’s a moot point, though, because the final design was upgraded with a grippy and ultra tough Hypalon panel on the bottom, putting my concerns about the bag’s longevity to rest. The rest of the bag still looks and functions like new.
This first batch of stock Diamond bags is a big step for Gramm, as it’s the first time in their seven-year history they’re having bags sewed externally by a partner company. For a small business like Gramm, this move doesn’t actually save costs, and they still carry all the responsibility for sourcing materials, quality checks, packaging, and distribution. Rather, relying on an expert partner in Portugal alleviates the sewing bottleneck, which means Gramm can offer their unique bags to more customers while maintaining their high standard of quality. I certainly can’t discern any difference compared to the custom bags they continue to make in Berlin, and founder Kristin assures me that the contract work is top-notch and conducted under ethical conditions, or else she wouldn’t go forward with this approach.
One with the Allygn Diamond Rack
The bag is really only half of the story, as it forms an integrated system with the matching Allygn Diamond Rack, a framebuilder-owned company from Berlin. The unique small-batch racks fall into the same category as the lightweight yet sturdy Tumbleweed racks that get much love here on the site, and they come in at a similar price point of €195 ($176 without VAT). The wedge-shaped Diamond Rack comes with all the hardware so it can be mounted to nearly any bike and features thoughtful guides for dynamo cable routing and a headlight mounting tab.
A traditional rando bag usually requires additional bracing by a rack tombstone and a decaleur to keep them from flopping around. Once mounted, they’re left in place. The Diamond Bag, on the other hand, attaches and detaches in seconds thanks to the burly Hypalon-backed velcro flaps that loop around the front and rear tubes of the rack. No additional bracing is needed due to the bag’s intrinsic rigidity. Tensioned up, the two parts move as one, even without the rubberized base that now comes standard. Racks other than the Diamond Rack may be compatible, but only the original is guaranteed to fit and work as intended. A second batch of bags due in the first quarter of 2023 will be modified to fit select lightweight front racks from Nitto, Rene Herse, and Velo Orange, based on extensive in-house experimenting.
The velcro on the Diamond Bag is easily the slickest attachment system I’ve used, and unlike all my other handlebar bags that also feature D-rings and a strap for off-bike action, I actually make use of this functionality because it’s so quick and convenient. The velcro was my other longevity concern besides the X-Pac base, but now that I’ve put the velcro through accelerated wear testing, going through hundreds of cycles of removing and reattaching the bag while on tour without any apparent degradation, I believe it should be good for many years of regular use.
For randonneuring, bikepacking, etc.
The 7.5-liter capacity is ideal for carrying all I need and more on day rides and brevets, but I was missing a grapefruit or two of packing space on our rough-stuff tour in the Dolomites this summer. Remember, there’s no overflow capacity on this bag. With an abundance of Voilé straps and friends willing to carry our shared supplies, I got it all buttoned up in the end—barely—though we had no tents, just bivy bags. The lean bike looked and rode great, but what you don’t see is all the stuff bursting out of my vest pockets at all times. If you’re maxing out your typical handlebar roll and seat bag setup, the reduced volume means you’ll need extra space elsewhere or riding mates who take pity on your predicament.
As if I didn’t learn my lesson in Italy, I repeated the struggle on my solo ride down to Budapest in September. It was a no-brainer, though, because the rando bag was a revelation for carrying oddly shaped items that don’t pack well and made going into supermarkets and cafés with my valuables a breeze. Cycling through endless thought loops along the mellow Danube River, it crystallized in my mind: The “quintessential” bikepacking bag setup, as seen on this singletrack-heavy website, just isn’t for me. Rando bags, convenient and super flexible, are amazing for travel by bike. I want the freedom to collect pears from the roadside without having to worry about where to stuff them.
So, after hitting peak ultralight this year in Italy, I’m getting into the idea of micro-panniers with a modern rando bag like the Diamond Bag up front. It should be ideal for my style of all-road touring that falls somewhere between singletrail bikepacking and four-pannier world-crawling, and I’m eager to validate the idea on an extended tour next year. If anything, I’d welcome an extra few centimeters in all dimensions for a little more volume, but perhaps that would be another bag matching the wider footprint of the Allygn Grill Rack.
Gramm Diamond Bag Specs
- Size: 270 x 170 x 200mm
- Weight: 500g
- Place of Manufacture: Portugal (stock black) / Germany (custom color)
- Volume: 7.5L
- Price: €249 (stock black) / €289 (custom color)
- Manufacturer’s Details: Gramm-Tourpacking.com
- Compact size works well on small frames and with narrow drop bars
- Unique folding closure with magnetic latches grants quick access to contents
- Seamless and stable integration with the Allygyn Diamond Rack
- Rigid construction holds its shape over any terrain and eliminates the need for a decaleur
- Reliable velcro straps make the bag quick to remove and reattach
- Looks great on many different types of bikes
- Low volume if you’re used to a drybag roll or other kind of handlebar bag
- Pricy in combination with rack, but you get top quality and value for your money
- Requires rack provisions on the fork
- Overflow is limited to what you can slide underneath the bungee netting on the lid
- Black liner on stock bag is not ideal for finding dark items inside
The Diamond Bag is an impressive collaboration by Gramm and Allygn that demonstrates the important role small custom manufacturers play in bringing fresh ideas into the bikepacking space. Innovating on every aspect of the classic rando bag—from the shape to the bag closure to the mounting and the materials used—the team left no stone unturned in developing a truly state-of-the-art bag that looks equally at home on a steel randonneur as on a carbon racing machine. Both rack and bag are of impeccable quality and super durable, and together they form what amounts to a highly custom solution made available at a reasonable price point given the intensive R&D and small-batch manufacturing.
While not designed specifically for bikepacking, the rigid structure, tough X-Pac RX36 recycled fabric, and rack mounting means the Diamond bag holds up over any terrain. It fits nearly every frame size and drop-bar setup out there, as long as the fork features the necessary mounts. Uniquely accessible thanks to its clever folding lid, I expect the versatile Diamond Bag will remain the centerpiece of my bikes that are equipped with the lovely Diamond Rack, especially as I move toward a micro-pannier setup that will more than compensate for the smaller size.
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