There’s a constantly expanding range of clever storage solutions on the market that allow you to streamline your gear and go backpack-free.
On-bike storage options can be as simple as attaching a saddlebag, or bottle cage, to your frame, but there are also neat tools that integrate into components.
Consider how often you’ve used some of your tools — if you’re not heading into the wilderness, do you really need to prepare for every mechanical eventuality? Do you really need that shock pump? Those three-year-old energy bars? That bottle of chain lube? Streamlining and consolidating will make it much easier to fit stuff to your bike.
1. Bottle cages
If you have bottle bosses on your bike frame than chances are you can find a storage system that bolts on to them. Some of them incorporate a bottle cage as well, others are independent of the cage and go underneath or alongside an existing bottle cage. Some systems are more in-depth than others and hold things like pumps/CO2 canisters as well as multi-tools. More compact designs just hold multi-tools of varying size and capability. Before you buy one, it’s a good idea to do a bit of measuring of your bike to see whether it can accept a storage bottle cage without it fouling anything (rear shock, seat tube etc).
2. Frame straps
Before dismissing these as merely glorified Velcro straps, read on. The better frame straps are surprisingly well thought through but their features are all too easily missed. They are also frequently incorrectly installed, so be double-sure you read/watch the instructions when using them for the first time. The things that separate frame straps from basic Velcro straps are choice – and placement – of specific non-marking non-slip material and bungee cinch loops. These little aspects are what keep the strap from wearing away your bike’s paintjob as well as doing the job of keeping all your bits from falling out all over the ground when you come to take the strap off the bike to use something stashed in it.
3. Hidden in handlebar
You can’t fit much inside your handlebar but as a place to stash the more rarely used ride-saving spares, handlebars are great. Having said that, you can get whole multi-tool systems that fit inside your handlebar ends if you really want to. But these tools are often rather fiddly to access, assemble and operate. The space inside your handlebars is better used for stashing things like tubeless repair kits and chain tools.
4. Fork steerer
Similar to using the inside of handlebars, except using the larger diameter hole which is your fork steerer. There are plenty of cool tools and spares out there that fit down inside your fork steerer, accessed from above via various ingenious ways. Your fork steerer is surprisingly capacious and ther are steerer storage systems out there that have pumps/CO2 canisters, chain powerlinks, tubeless repair kits as well as fully-featured multi-tools! Some of these designs require some pretty in-depth installation (such as tapping a thread into your fork steerer), or possibly a proprietary stem, whilst others require little more than a longer star fangled nut bolt and a hammer.
5. Tool bottle
Take a tip from the roadies and simply go for a tool bottle. Obviously it takes up space that could otherwise be an actual water bottle but if you have multiple bottle bosses, or use a bumbag/backpack, or just want something for a quick blast local ride where youc an survive without a drink for a bit, a tool bottle is a cheap, quick and effective solution.