Oveja Negra Threadworks – Bike Bags
by James Healy
When Gomez proposed I join him on the super sweet beach ride in the UP from Whitefish Point back to Grand Marais, MI I jumped at the chance. I knew it was going to be fun and beautiful…..and how often do you get a chance to do something that has never been done before?
In planning for the trip, I knew I needed some bike bags and being a professional seamster, I figured I would design and sew up some custom bags for myself. I’ve sewn bike bags before and I had all the materials on hand. Of course, the weeks before the trip I was overwhelmed with work and other things and found myself with no bags on the cutting table, much less under the needle.
I used to work for Melanzana in Leadville, CO and one of my former co-workers had recently started Oveja Negra Threadworks, producing stock and custom bike bags. Plenty of folks in Leadville ride the Colorado Trail for multiple days or have raced the Great Divide, so we’d seen how bike bags can lighten your load and make it possible to forgo traditional racks and panniers.
Fortunately, the Black Sheep had some bags in stock for me and could ship right away. I picked up the full set: Large ½ Pack Frame Bag, Gear Jammer Seat Bag, Front End Loader Gear Mount, their new Handlebar Pouch, and the indispensable Snack Pack Top Tube Bag. I was able to pack all my personal gear and my portion of the group gear in this full set and did not need to wear a backpack of any kind.
All the bags use the latest and greatest in materials, like Xpac VX21 & VX42, Cordura 500d & 1000d, Hypalon, YKK Uretrek water-resistant zippers, Nexus Cyberia SR buckles, etc. With a little Seamgrip application, the bags have become pretty much waterproof. Construction is extremely thoughtful and completely bombproof. I am thoroughly impressed.
The ½ Pack Frame Bag is a stock frame bag that fits a multitude of frame designs and they come in two sizes. The attachment system is super secure and adjustable enough so chances are you can get one for your fame. The Large fit my 616 Fabrication frame just about perfectly.
The ½ Pack allows you to access your water bottle cages, yet is big enough to store gear for a long day on the trail or for overnight adventures. I was able to carry an extra water bottle, rain gear, our stove and fuel, and some of the food. They are tapered front to back to allow for knee clearance and extra volume. They also feature a hydration port if you want to carry a water bladder, and the large has an interior stow pocket for keys and cash.
While riding along the beach, I really liked how the ½ Pack let me still use my water bottles and kept the bag up and out of the splash zone, leaving the bag and contents completely dry. This must-have ½ Pack is now on my 616 permanently and I really enjoy not having to carry a Camelback anymore.
The Gearjammer Seat Bag helped me haul a large portion of my gear without needing racks or panniers. I was able to fit in all of my clothing and the remainder of my food. It attached securely to my seatpost and saddle and did not sway or move about at all. There is a removable HDPE frame sheet which helps give the bag shape and stiffness. The sheet also acts as a waterproof fender, keeping interior items dry. The underside also features gear attachment loops and a rear light mount.
The Gearjammer utilizes a roll-top closure, working much like a dry bag. Currently the stock Gearjammer comes in one size, which was fine for our trip, but I’m sure you could get a larger “custom” bag for longer adventures.
The Front End Loader securely attached a stuff sack containing all of my sleeping gear and our shelter to my handlebars and top tube. The attachment system worked perfectly and did not interfere with any of my cables or brake levers. The Front End Loader is lightweight and features a foam core to increase stability.
The new Handlebar Pouch attached onto my handlebars, over the top of the Front End Loader. If I needed, I could have also strapped a sleeping pad in-between the Pouch and the Loader, but I didn’t need to on this trip. The Pouch gave me all the additional room I needed to carry more personal items, additional snacks, headlamp, a kite, rocks collected along the way, and many other miscellaneous items.
The Pouch also has additional gear loops on the front and some cool plastic loops allowing me to attach our map which draped over my stem and was easy to eye while riding.
Last, but certainly not least, my new best buddy: the Snack Pack Top Tube Bag. The Snack Pack puts all your favorite trail goodies at your fingertips. I had sewn some similar bags a few years ago for folks competing in the Leadville Trail 100 and love the concept. You can attach the Snack Pack to either your seatpost or stem. It’s fully padded and has HDPE side inserts which add stability and make it easy to open and close the water-resistant YKK zipper on the go.
I carried snacks, candies and my camera on the trip in the Snack Pack, often pulling out my camera while riding and shooting pictures or video. This bag has become a fixture on my singlespeed, carrying everything from snacks to a dog leash depending upon the ride. It attaches securely, has an adjustable stem mount, a removable intermediate top tube mount and fit perfectly with the ½ Pack and the Loader.
Overall, I found the Oveja Negra bags to be superb. The quality is outstanding, the attentiveness to design is brilliant and the functionality is fantastic. As a professional in the sewing industry I can be pretty picky when it comes to gear construction and was hard pressed to find any flaws with these bags. The only thing I would wish for is a slightly larger Gearjammer with an interior compression strap.
I know these bags are going to last me years and serve me well and I use them daily and can’t wait to take them out on my next multi-day excursion. If you’re looking for superior bags with custom design features but off-the-rack pricing, I highly recommend you check out Oveja Negra Threadworks.
Cheers! James Healy