Top Tube Bag Stabilizers: Are they worth it?
Floppy top tube bag got you down? Using a short stem and running out of room for straps? We’ve been testing three of the best top tube bag stabilizing solutions from Rockgeist, DrJ0n Bagworks, and 76 Projects to see who does what best. Find photos, specs, and our thoughts on each of these clever little devices here…
Although velcro and Voile Nano Straps do a solid job at keeping top tube bags and feed bags where they need to be, using a dedicated stabilizer can help inch your bikepacking setup closer to perfection. The most common issue is a lack of headset spacers and a short stem, a combination found on most modern mountain bikes that results in limited real estate for straps or just a messy setup altogether. Back in 2017, Drj0n was the first to offer a solution with their DeWidget, a 3D-printed floating ring that provides a slot for your top tube to attach to and rotate freely. Since then, we’ve seen a few other interesting options pop up, and we decided to get them all in one place for top tube bag stabilizer roundup of sorts. Find our thoughts on each below, including key specs and what they do best.
The Rockgeist Spacelink is an impressive direct mount solution for both top tube bags and feed bags, providing a secure connection that can be positioned either above or below your stem. The Spacelink is made in Asheville, North Carolina, out of 6061 Aluminum, and comes with a stainless steel bolt to lock bags in place. It works by replacing any 5mm headset spacer, and the machined channel allows your bags to spin freely as you turn your bars. It’s an elegant solution for bikes with short stems, and although it might work with other accessory bags out there, it’s specifically designed to work with Rockgeist’s feed and top tube bags with vertical webbing bar tacks.
I’ve been using the Spacelink for nearly three years now, as it’s made its way between various bikes, and there’s no question that it’s one of the most refined options available. The machining and finishing are top-notch, and the design is fairly unobtrusive when mounted below your stem (although it provides better stability on top). I’ve tested it with both the Rockgeist Honeypot and Cache Top Tube Bag, alongside a short mountain bike stem, and it performs exactly how it should. Since the webbing on the bags simply slots into the Spacelink, it might not be quite as stable as a dedicated Voile Nano Strap attachment, for example, but overall I think it does a pretty good job and looks great doing it. It’s also the only option in this roundup without moving parts, due to the integrated channel, which may mean a longer lifespan.
- For both top tube and feed bags
- Made from machined aluminum
- Low profile
- Not compatible with all bags
- Reduces some range of motion
- Material: 6061 Aluminum
- Weight: 36 grams
- Place of Manufacture: North Carolina, USA
- Price: $29.95 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: Rockgeist.com
DrJon Bagworks DeWidget
I’m a big fan of UK-based Drj0n Bagworks’ innovative line of problem-solving components. Since reviewing their G-Funk Handlebar Strap Deck System, I’ve been following along closely to see what other clever designs are in the works. The DeWidget is one of DrJ0n’s earlier designs—replacing a headset spacer with an integrated rotating clip that attaches to nearly any type of top tube bag out there. It is made in the UK from 3D printed nylon, with the same clean finish as the rest of their components, and retails for just £15 (~$20 USD).
For those looking for more attachment points, Drj0n introduced the Double Dangler as a feed bag mounting solution. The Double Dangler uses the same rotating design as the DeWidget and can be retrofitted to work alongside it or can be used by itself. I found the DeWidget to work great with shorter stems when there’s limited room for straps, and the rotating clip spins freely and smoothly when riding. With a heavily loaded top tube bag, it was actually almost too smooth, and sometimes resulted in a wobbly bag if it wasn’t attached securely to the top tube. I love how simple and low-profile the design is, and the price can’t be beaten.
- Extremely smooth
- Nice finish
- Almost too smooth to add much stability
- Material: 3D Printed Nylon
- Weight: 7 grams
- Place of Manufacture: UK
- Price: £15
- Available From: Backcountry.scot and Wildcat.cc
76 Projects A.S.S. (Anti Strap System)
76 Projects A.S.S. or Anti Strap System is made up of two parts: the ASS Clip and ASS Slider. Together they provide a completely strap-free solution for your favourite top tube bag, or they can be used separately depending on your setup. The components are made in the UK from 3D printed laser sintered nylon, and can be purchased together for a complete system or on their own. The ASS Slider replaces the bottom straps on your top tube bag, by creating a quick-release mounting point that either mounts to top tube bosses or adheres using the included VHB tape. A second adapter is mounted directly to the bottom of your top tube bag, and the two slide together for a secure setup. The ASS Clip uses a similar two-piece design, a beveled ring replaces a 10mm headset spacer, and the corresponding clip attaches directly to the front of your top tube bag. When clipped together, the ASS Clip helps stabilize the bag without limiting your bar’s range of motion.
The interesting thing about the ASS system is that it’s designed to work with bikes without top tube mounts and most standard, non-direct-mount top tube bags. 76 Projects provides a strip of VHB tape to mount the quick-release base onto the top tube and bags without holes in the base can theoretically be made and adapted to work with the matching adapter (as long as your top tube bag has a semi-rigid base). I could see this working well for anyone who prefers a direct-mount option but wants to easily swap their favourite bag between multiple bikes. As long as you’ve got webbing on the front of your top tube bag, for a horizontally positioned piece of velcro, you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues.
Although I was a little skeptical of the entire ASS system, the Slider and Clip work quite well together. The quick-release slider slips on easily and holds firmly in place, but doesn’t require much force to remove when needed. The same goes for the ASS Clip, which easily flexes over the beveled slots along the side of the clip. Since the slot goes around the entire clip, it doesn’t interfere with the bar’s ability to turn and is quite low profile. I tested the system on a bolt-on Revelate Designs Mag-Tank 2000, and although there is a little movement/flex throughout the entire ASS system, it is solid and holds well. It’s important to use the system with a top tube bag with a rigid base, and not all are sold this way.
- Quick-release design
- Universal fit with lots of adjustment
- Top tube bags only
- Requires bag with rigid base or direct-mount holes for ASS Slide
- Material: 3D-Printed Nylon
- Weight: 15 grams (ASS Clip)
- Place of Manufacture: UK
- Price: £19.50 (~$27 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: 76Projects.com
I hate to disappoint but I refuse to pick a winner because I think all three of these clever little devices deserve recognition. They all manage to find a workaround for attaching top tube bags (and sometimes feed bags) to bikes with limited spacers and short stems, and do so in a unique, thoughtful way. Whether you actually require one likely depends on what bags you’re using and how your bike’s cockpit is configured. Ultimately, deciding on one of these options will come down to personal preference and how close to home you want to shop. No matter your choice, you’ll be supporting a small company that has kept manufacturing local—and that’s something worth celebrating.
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