A bike is designed to carry one thing: A human. Burden it with anything else, and it will be a fight. Eventually, it may end up just shaking it off in protest. Like how my cat shakes off his top hat and monocle, even though they are absolutely adorable. Our bikes have made no lasting effort to help us carry our stuff, with the notable exception of a water bottle. Brands have finally managed to outfit nearly every bike with at least two little threaded holes on its frame, and it appears that they’re pretty proud of themselves for even pulling that off. Because unless it’s on a bike that just barely fits a bottle, most manufacturers just drill those holes in the middle of the downtube like a BMW double parking in the loading zone. That just won’t do. The era of the tube strap is here, and the era of the compact frame bag is coming. Or at least, I think it is. Our bottles need to make room as the line between mountain biking and bikepacking continues to blur. That is why, on three of my personal bikes, I’ve put my bottle somewhere it doesn’t belong with the help of the Wolf Tooth B-Rad Base.
The “Base” part refers to the fact that there is an entire ecosystem of B-Rad widgets from Wolf Tooth. You can mount a tube strap to it. You can mount a small roll-top bag to it. You can mount two bottles side by side, or one slightly off center. It’s like a roof rack that can carry a ladder or a canoe, depending on what accessory you bolt onto it. But my favorite utility offered by the B-Rad system is its ability to shift your bottle position down or up the tube in order to make room for other storage solutions, whether they’re from Wolf Tooth or not.
There are three lengths available in the B-Rad Base. The 2, the 3 and the 4 (pictured). I happen to use the 4 on my commuter bike to move my bottle several inches to the bottom corner of the front triangle to make room for a large frame bag. But on my other two bikes the B-Rad 3 offers all the range I need. On my Scott Ransom, I’ve slid the down-tube-mounted bottle down closer to the shock (after checking for proper clearance at rest and at bottom-out) so that I can fit a medium-sized Evoc Multi Frame Pack without the bottle having to fight for space to be pulled out of its cage. On my Trek Stache hardtail, I’ve slid the seat-tube-mounted cage down to the bottom bracket to allow the rest of the frame to be filled with a custom-made full-triangle bag, with a corner cut out for the now neatly tucked bottle cage.
I’ve used it on bikes I’m reviewing that are a tight fit for 20-ounce bottles in their default positions, but can fit 24-ounce bottles comfortably if the cage were just an inch lower. I just recently used one on the Forbidden Dreadnought to repurpose an accessories mount under the toptube to hold a second in-triangle water bottle. In that case, I could also fit a tube and a small accessory bag.
The B-Rad Base is as elegant as a part like this can be, which means that it is slightly clumsy. It adds four millimeters of height, which in some cases is enough to negate any space-savings you’d get by sliding the bottle down by twenty millimeters. Because triangles. And the longer B-Rad Base designs require zip ties for extra support, and stick-on padding to prevent the base from rattling, flexing and damaging the frame. I should also mention that every bike that has had a use for the Base has been a size large or XL where there’s enough real estate to play with bottle positioning. But chances are, regardless of your bike’s size, whoever designed it was not thinking of maximizing space for other on-bike storage options. Take a look around the bottle in your front triangle. Imagine adding the space below it to the space above it. Or vice versa. Think about the stuff you carry in your pack on every single ride, and think about putting less weight on your back, your shoulders and your saddle. This may be the way to do it.