Some time last winter…in a galaxy, not that far away……our amigo Tupper Becker from Becker Design helped us run a contest on the Weekly Dose of Fat that gave away a bunch of his “Forty Below” down-tube bags. Tupper, is a very generous and giving type of individual and he offered, both Greg and I a full set of custom bags. Otis had just gone purple and I wanted to choose something that was subtle and could play off of Otis’s Purple Anno Pimpness. I suggested a dark camouflage that’s an almost black version of green. Green and Purple go together like peas and carrots and the first installment of the trio of Becker Custom bags came to me in early Spring as a part of a batch of ‘Forty Below’ bags that Tupper manufactured in his workshop , located in Fairbanks Alaska. Installing that bag, reminded me to create a cardboard tracing, so Tupp could sew a matching custom frame bag that turned out really nice, with lot’s of extra features and surprises. The final installment was delivered during one of the most beautiful autumn riding seasons in the last few years. The top tube bag came in the matching dark camo, with a blaze orange interior and like all of Tupper’s designs, offered an increased internal volume, when compared to other brands that I’ve owned or tested.
Tupper’s Top Tube Insulated Bag – I’ll start with the bag that I use the most. I carry cameras while I ride. I carry a mirrorless digi-cam and like to bring a fish eye lens along sometimes. I own other top tube bags from Oveja Negra and Revelate and the Becker has a larger capacity than either of them. Tupper used a purple contrast stitching on all 3 bags….an idea that came from our familiarity and the man’s good fashion sense. The bag has insulated sides and uses the same heavy duty zippers found on the frame and down-tube bags. As you can see, (above) I can fit more than just my camera and lens in the new bag. Now I have room for snacks and a couple of dry hats.
Becker Custom Frame Bag – I’m a big fan of frame bags. My first frame bag was a home made bag sewn by my amigo Cale and I’ve owned two custom frame bags, designed and sewn by Oveja Negra and another Amigo, Barking Bear Bagworks along with an ‘off the shelf’ frame bag from Revelate that I bought at the world famous Speedway Cycles in Anchorage AK. I also run a half frame bag on my Surly Crosscheck, that is a stock sized bag from Revelate Designs. When compared to all of those bags, the Becker is bigger and better! You’re probably thinking, “How can it be bigger ?” The Becker bag is wider than any of those other bags. I can fit more into the main compartment of this frame bag, but the main compartment is really just the tip of the iceberg on this bag. Tupper built in a couple of surprise pockets that come in very handy for keeping things organized.
The Drive Side – One of the things that I asked for, when Tupp and I talked about the features that I was looking for was and extral long set of pump straps to accommodate a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive XL Pump. Tupper added a slash internal pocket, nearest to the drive side and a really well hidden slash pocket in the deepest recesses of the far side with a velcro closure. There’s also a velcro stiffener/partition that is common in most frame bags. Other frame bags that I’ve tried, Are narrow near the seat tube and flare to a wider capacity up closer to the head-tube. Tupper took full advantage of Otis’s wide Q-Factor with zero interference with the bio-mechanics and that resulted into the ability to swallow more gear that any other bag that I’ve owned or tested.
The Other Side – I like to throw my keys and wallet or phone in the ‘map pocket’ side of frame bags. Anyone that knows me, understands how important it is for me to keep track of my car keys. I manage to lock them inside my truck on a semi-regular basis. The Map pocket is about five inches deep and runs the length of the top of the bag. (above the secret stash pocket that’s accessible from inside the the drive side main compartment).
The 40 Below Down Tube Bag – This bag takes it’s name from the fact that it’s rather well appointed to hold a few cans of beer along with the arctic temps that make Fairbanks Alaska one of the coldest cities in the civilized world.
Tupper was one of the first bag makers to offer a down tube bag. The functionality of this bag goes far beyond (sing it with me) be-double-E-double-R-you-en – Beer Run. Tent poles, fishing poles, fuel bottles, kites, bongs, and any other items that are long and thin can hitch a ride in the Forty Below. The weight of the gear is carried near the bottom bracket, and that helps keep the center of gravity nice and low under touring loads. The sizing of the bag is absolutely perfect. With the biggest tires that I run (Bud) mounted to 100mm rims, there’s no tire/bag interference. I keep my Tools and a Tube in this bag, along with a large water bottle or a couple cans of gnectar.
I’ll be running these three bags on a long term test on my favorite fat-bike Otis, but so far, these things are gnome proof. They should be, because they were designed for my particular and sometimes peculiar riding style. The frame bag that Tupper designed and made for me is the best frame bag that I’ve ever owned or tested. The really cool thing about working with an artist like Tupper, is the fact that he can make a bag that fits your specific needs. We talked with Tupper on Fat-Bike Radio and he told us that the most common custom frame bag option that he gets are built in holsters for folks that feel more comfortable in bear country, knowing that there’s a magnum close at hand. Tupp also designs and manufactures custom dog sled bags and we really can’t talk about Becker Design without mentioning the fact that Iditirod Trail Invitational Champions, Jeff Oatley and Heather Best run Becker Bags, in what is the ‘Superbowl’ of Alaskan fat bike racing. So this matching set of fat-bike luggage will get regularly abuse on my Fatback, Otis, over the next year and we’ll let you know how that goes. Otis just had it’s third birthday. Otis is one lucky bike!
You can learn more about Becker Gear at – www.beckergear.com