Porcelain Rocket Orbiter: Roll-top Zipperless Frame Bag
The next generation of frame bags are zipperless. The Porcelain Rocket Orbiter frame bag uses a roll-top design inspired by long-term bikepacking expeditions…
The bicycle frame bag is perhaps the most efficient storage option of a lightweight setup. Utilizing the empty space within the triangle of the frame, the frame bag not only remains aerodynamically unnoticed, but it also places the cargo in the perfect position in order to maintain a low center of gravity.
Some may correlate the birth of bikepacking with the invention of the frame bag in the mid-00s, specifically created for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race. Of course, all inventions are influenced by a predecessor; perhaps the modern day frame bag was inspired by the stiff leather ‘frame cases’ used during an experiment in 1897 when the 25th Infantry pedaled from Missoula to St. Louis to test the viability of bicycles for military use.
Fast forward 118 years and Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket created the Orbiter frame bag to help push the concept a few steps further. The design of the Orbiter was inspired by the classic roll-top dry bag as well as hundreds of dollars worth of zippers trashed by the intrepid Cass Gilbert as he was pushing the boundaries of where a minimal bikepacking setup can go. Standard zipper-based bags simply don’t weather the rigors of a rugged long-distance trip. I have also had two heavy duty frame bag zippers fail from a combination of dust and grit working its way into the teeth, overstuffing the bag, and the hundreds of opens and shuts that accompany a long tour. While not necessarily required for ‘average use’ by the weekend bikepacker, a zip-free bag may be crucial for a long-distance ‘big trip’.
One great benefit to the Orbiter’s roll-top design is the expandability. Most framebags are made to a set volume with a 2-3” width and triangular sides with a zipper opening. Overstuffing a framebag is inevitable, and this stresses the zipper on the side panel, especially when joggled through rough terrain. The traditional zipper design has a finite amount of space, whereas the Orbiter’s topside-loading roll-top allows the bag to bloat and contract with the amount of cargo. This is a great feature for being able to carry food over several days, and is irreplaceable during a long trip. Expandability was requisite during a recent trip on the Kokopelli Trail where 10,000+ calories of food was on my 3-day menu.
After being fastened to the frame with sturdy velcro straps, the Orbiter roll-top is secured by two cinch straps attached to heavy duty triangular struts in the center of the panel. The straps wrap over the top-tube and pull a second pair of struts which allow it to tauten around the cargo.
The Orbiter Framebag will be available soon on the Porcelain Rocket store with a base price of $250… fancy materials or features add cost, of course. A zipperless frame bag such as the Orbiter is well worth the investment for long-term use, and essential on overseas trips where dust, overuse, and hearty packing are part of the adventure.