Cedaero Custom Frame-pack Review – by Dustin Marsh

I’ve been using framebags on all of my adventure oriented bikes since 2013. After good clothing, I would put a framebag as second on my list of must-haves for winter fatbiking. When I adopted a new Salsa Beargrease last summer, I began the search for my next bag. I introduced Cedaero in my product spotlight https://fat-bike.com/2019/11/product-spotlight-cedaero-bags/ and rambled about the materials and zippers in the Top tube pack review. https://fat-bike.com/2020/03/cedaero-top-tube-pack-review-by-dustin-marsh/ After daily use commuting through a Wisconsin winter, racing, hauling groceries, and jumping fires, I’ve been able to get a good idea of how this pack will perform long term.

During a Fat-bike.com cruise to Duluth, Minnesota with Gomez and Ervspanks, we took an evening excursion to visit the home of Cedaero. What we found was a perfect adventure hub. Cedar Coffee Company, SpokeNGear Cyclery, and Cedaero are all sister companies under one roof tucked away in a grove of Cedar trees. A round of Americanos warmed us all up as we browsed the well stocked bike shop.

Every shop has their “thing”. SpokeNGear is all about getting out and exploring. We got to the wall of bike packs and remembered we were there to check out the bag making operation. The owner, Dan, brought us behind the workbenches and into the production room. A few rows of sewing machines were surrounded by bins of bag parts waiting to be stitched together, a wall of fabric rolls, boxes of zippers, and some elevated bike storage space. I didn’t quite understand how the bikes got that high, but I guess it was over my head. As we chatted about the workings of the company, Dan explained his passion for making high-quality products that won’t end up in a landfill any time soon. After 34 years in the industry, he knows a thing or two about making top-notch gear. He told us that Cedaero will not sell “off the shelf” frame packs because they just don’t fit well. Plenty of businesses offer t-shirt sizing on generic packs based on a “standard” frame shape. Every frame pack leaving Cedaero is custom made to fit perfectly and outlast the bike it is made for. They use real-life robots to perfectly cut every piece of fabric. I’m definitely wrong, but I’d like to think laser beams are involved. 

As the end of the workday rolled around, Dan informed us that we didn’t have to go home, but we couldn’t stay in the bike shop all night. We ran a bucket brigade of bikes to get all the adventure bikes displayed on the patio safely tucked away in the shop for the night, then convinced him to meet us down the road at Castle Danger Brewing. I was inspired by all the cool gear and shiny toys and left the shop with a serious case of “I need to get lost in the woods”. Beers were enjoyed and stories passed around of the best and the worst rides

The wavy stripes, along with the extra driveside zipper add a challenge to constructing this bag. I was seriously impressed by how neatly everything came together. All of the stitching is even and smooth, there aren’t any wrinkles or bulges. When I first mounted the pack, I was worried that it wouldn’t fit inside my frame. The fit was so perfect that the pack could survive a few miles of trails and not fall out without using any of the velcro or bolts. All of the bolt holes for mounting to bottle cage bosses line up exactly where they need to be, which is wild considering they used a picture I emailed them to lay out the size and shape. Most of my framebags from other companies have issues with the velcro tearing where it is attached to the bag. On the Cedaero pack, the velcro seems to be stronger, there is no sign of fraying or stress after intentionally shoving too much into the bag multiple times. Velcro holds the upper part of the pack in place, and 4 stainless steel button head cap screws keep the bottom from dropping out. Not having a whole bunch of straps on the downtube made quick bike washes much simpler, and all the bag took to clean out caked on mud was a brush, some soap, and a quick hose blast. I was surprised how easily I was able to clean the pack after a salty Wisconsin winter of commuting every day. The DWR coating on the fabric and zippers was able to keep all but a few drops of hose spray on the outside where they belong.

The extra stiffness of the thin foam panels keeps the zippers nicely lined up. There’s no need to fuss with the tension of straps to get the zipper to glide. On all of my other bags, I’ve caught myself needing both hands to get a zipper to open or close. Even when overstuffed and dirty like me after a good buffet, I haven’t needed to do anything other than pull lightly on the tab to slide the zippers on my Cedaero. That stiffness also makes every Cedaero pack look super clean. There is a small downside to that though, it can be ever so slightly harder to put bigger objects like growlers into the pack. I did manage to stuff 3 mega rolls of toilet paper in the bag, but I found it better suited for bringing flowers and a growler home safely. 

Some smaller details are also worth mentioning. At the front of the top tube panel is a flap that allows access for hydration hoses, cords for lights, and bottle rockets (untested and probably not approved). The interior of each bag is lined with Silver Lining 200 denier nylon, which makes it way easier to find that last fun sized candy bar that you desperately need to get home. When the horizontal divider isn’t in use, the velcro flap rests flat against the side of the bag, not ripping up your beloved wool arm warmers. The velcro also covers the opening for the lower zipper when it isn’t being used, so you don’t accidentally release your trunk monkeys all over the land. I really like that the non drive side pocket doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the bag. It stops a few inches short, which eliminates the map pocket black hole, where items get too far down to see or feel, and before long you have a sample of petrified jerky, a mouse hole, or a sasquatch. Just below the main zipper is a set of small pockets just big enough for multitools, keys, or a team issue snickers bar. I call it my snack holster. Initially I didn’t see much use in this feature, but once I figured out some good ways to capitalize on those little pockets I was able to save a lot of searching for the smaller mid-ride necessities.

There are two minor annoyances with this bag, other than wanting one for each of my bikes. The lower drive side zipper pull has a plastic end cap that hangs just low enough to click against the bike frame when fully zipped. I’ll replace the zipper pull with some paracord or something similar eventually, but it isn’t bothersome enough to actually look for my paracord. The other trouble spot is the cool strapless setup. Those stainless screws will rattle against whatever is next to them in the bag. Perhaps a small flap of fabric would be enough to eliminate that noise.  

I bought a Devil’s Kettle after touring the Cedaero workshop. This nifty handlebar bag has the unique feature of a Black Magic magnetic closure system rather than the more popular cinch style closure. A few small magnets will keep the flip top either open or closed. This feature is a game changer for me, I really suck at remembering to cinch my feed bags after grabbing a handful of whatever junk food I stuffed in them that morning. The flip top does a much better job keeping rain out than a cinch top, enough that I am comfortable throwing a phone and charger in to keep them dry on a rainy day. While not removable, the liner of the kettle is easy to pull inside out for cleaning. Around the perimeter of the bag is a band of webbing that doubles as an attachment point for the onewrap velcro stem strap, and a convenient place to lash a portable bottle of hand sanitizer, or maybe a couple fresh cut daisies. In addition to all the high quality materials used on the other bags in the lineup, the kettles use a stretchy but taut fabric to form two pockets on the front of the bag which work great for stuffing with empty wrappers. Back to the little details, the fork crown strap uses a sewn-on velcro tab to keep the loose end from flopping around. No more tying 18 knots in the loose end to keep it from dragging on the tire! The Devil’s Kettle is listed at $64.95, and another fiver will get you the Devil’s Kettle XL, with another two inches added to the height to fit taller water bottles and more burritos. 

It is evident that a significant amount of planning has gone into the Cedaero frame pack design to bring all these elements together in a highly functional, beautiful, and durable product. Customer service has been great, and the products they sell are of the highest quality. I will be purchasing more Cedaero products after this experience, because I know I will be thrilled with them. 11.5 out of 10 danger gnomes.

Custom full frame bags start at $199.95, with upcharges for additional features.

Map pocket: $25

Second drive side zipper: $25

Multiple colors are $5 each

Vertical divider: $15

Single color Tank Top packs: $54.95

Add $15 for custom color combinations

Cedaero.com is the place to go for pretty bike pictures and more information about their products.

About Gomez 2576 Articles
Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.

2 Comments

  1. Great review Dustin, entertaining AND educational!

    I to love my Devil’s Kettle, just the right size to carry a crowler home from the local brewery, just wish I had grabbed a second one while we were hanging out with Dan.

    Cheers buddy!

    • Ditto, except the part about not buying two, since I bought two…but I might have bought the taller size if I had to do it over again. But there are no do-overs in gnome hunting or fire jumping.

Comments are closed.