If you purchased a new bike in the last year or two there's a good chance it has two little bolts threaded into the underside of the top tube. In theory, they're supposed to be for mounting a tube or tool holder, providing another way to take some weight off your back while riding. It's a simple feature to add onto a frame, so it's not surprising that it's showing up on more and more bikes, or at least on the ones that don't already offer in-frame storage.
There's only one problem – there aren't that many accessories out there that actually make use of those two bolts. After mentioning this frame feature in a bunch of articles and videos I sort of assumed that a relatively inexpensive option was already on the market. As it turns out, I was wrong. Yes, Wolf Tooth
makes a nice US-made metal bracket and strap for around $30, but all of my internet sleuthing couldn't uncover anything less expensive.
How about more expensive? You bet. Pivot offers their Ninja Tool Dock, which was created in conjunction with Topeak. It holds a 16 function multi-tool, and will leave your wallet $53 lighter. Not fancy enough for you? Well, High Above
just came out with their Gemini MK1 Payload Platform that goes for a whopping $69 USD. Part of the reason for that high price is that it's made in the US out of very high quality materials, including a Kevlar-reinforced hypalon strap to hold everything in place.
The Payload Platform has magnets integrated into it to hold a CO2 and a master link, and it comes in anodized purple as one of the color options, but that's still a lot of money for such a simple item, even if lasers are used to produce it. There's also the fact that the strap isn't all that stretchy, which makes it more difficult to cinch everything down. I ended up doing some modifications, and after some digging around paired a velcro strap with a multi-tool pouch that was just big enough to hold a Schwalbe Aerothan tube. Yes, I know that's an expensive tube, and here I am writing about the lack of affordable tube holders, but I also don't flat very often, and it's crazy light.
High Above's Payload Platform has magnets in the base plate to hold a master link and a CO2. The strap isn't stretchy, though, which makes it hard to cinch items down. A little pouch and a velco strap created something closer to what I wanted.
Here's what I'm picturing: a plastic bracket with slots in it that'll accommodate a rubber ski strap or a velcro strap, one that weighs next to nothing and costs under $20, ideally closer to $10. The edges should be nice and rounded so they don't jab my thighs, and I'd love it if it was made from recycled plastic. Basically, something like a Pedro's tire lever with modifications that make it better suited for holding a tube. Zine
, a small company in Germany is making something pretty damn close to what I envision, but at 29.95 € it's still not exactly cheap.
I even got Brian Park, Pinkbike's head of editorial, in on the project. He's been messing around with a 3D printer this winter, and printed off a couple brackets that weighed in at a Dangerholm-approved 5 grams. The first ones are a little narrow, and probably need a groove added to keep a strap from slipping, but they're better than nothing, and I'm way more likely to put them to use than the pedals that he printed
It's a work in progress (version 2.0 will be wider to keep the tube and strap from shifting), but I feel like something like this that was reasonably priced is the ticket.
The end result of all my hunting is that I'm convinced a window of opportunity has been opened by the addition of these two unassuming top tube bolts. I'm all for supporting the smaller companies, it's just that I don't think this should be an expensive accessory. There is a place for the fancy anodized options, just like how there are titanium and carbon fiber water bottle cages, but there's also plenty of room for someone to step in with even more options. Who knows, if a clever plastics engineer can make something that's function and affordable I might even buy one or two.