Tested: Oveja Negra Superwedgie Frame Bag
Made for suspension, made for bottles, made in the USA
-Works on many full-suspension designs
-Available in two sizes
-3 liters for small, 4 liters for large
-Made in Colorado
-More comfortable than getting an actual superwedgie
-Won’t fit every bike
-Requires careful strap adjustment
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With everything up in the air in 2020, My partner and I shifted our summer focus from racing to our local bikepacking route, which just so happens to be the Colorado Trail. We knew it would be a huge physical, mental, and technical test, but the magnitude of the goal actually turned out to be the perfect escape—when the headlines got to be too overwhelming, we turned all our energy to riding and researching gear. My approach to bikepacking is both pragmatic (everything has to be light, affordable, multipurpose) and a little whimsical (good vibes only). In other words, I want everything to work well, but I also want to like it—when things are tough, good gear made with good intentions can make all the difference. Which is why I knew from the start that I wanted to include Oveja Negra in my setup.
The Salida- (formerly Leadville-) based outfit is led by a wife and husband duo Lane and Monty Willson, who strive to keep materials and manufacturing as close to home as possible. They have a serious background in the business (both came from made-in-Leadville apparel brand, Melanzana), but they and their team of badass local female needleworkers make bikepacking look super fun—which helps if you’re scared of your objective.
It starts with their brilliant names: a bar bag is a “Chuckbucket,” a full frame bag is a “Bodega,” and a more compact version is the “Superwedgie.” They also bring in artist collaborations to add color to limited edition bags; and if you want to go more sustainable and/or one-of-a-kind, you can choose a “wack pack,” made from mismatched scraps from other bags. They embody a sort of South-American-influenced, anything-goes retro punk vibe that I wanted with me on the ride—there was also just something irresistible about a bag made so close to the trail by fellow Colorado riders.
Despite almost everything in the bike world being sold out this summer, I finally found a frame bag that would perfectly fit my medium-sized Pivot Mach 4 SL (or our photographer’s large-sized Transition Patrol): the Oveja Negra Superwedgie, size large. I’ve been sporting an Oveja bum bag for years, so I wasn’t surprised by the quality when the Superwedgie arrived (along with a handwritten note and a handful of candy). The burly Uretek sealed zippers, heavy-duty X-pac fabric and clever mounting straps all checked out in terms of quality. It’s an impressive package for $100 (or $95 for size small). Plenty of overseas-manufactured bags go for significantly more but don’t offer the same thoughtful design as the Superwedgie.
The bag attaches to the bike with an extended Cordura velcro sleeve along the top tube and three rubber-reinforced velcro straps along the down tube. An adjustable ratchet strap around the headtube tensions the bag to keep it in place without needing a seat tube attachment—ideal for a water bottle, or in my case, rear suspension. Most traditional-looking frames with a vertically oriented rear shock (Trek, Transition, Kona, Scott, etc.) should work with the Superwedgie, but have a look at the size chart provided by Oveja Negra to see where you stand.
Keeping the rear side of the bag free of attachment points would have been an especially tough problem to solve—without the support of the seat tube, it could easily have sagged, bulged, or just slipped around. But once mounted, I had no problems with it—a testament to the strength of the fabric and construction. I found that it expanded just enough laterally for flexible packing, without ever becoming floppy or awkward.
One side zipper gives you access to the generous main compartment, in which I stashed a gallon bag of oatmeal (breakfast for 7 days), an old Talenti gelato container (for cold soaking meals), my instant coffee, gels, and whatever bars I couldn’t fit anywhere else. The other side opens to a slimmer pocket with the same footprint, perfect for your map, candy, toiletries, or other small items.
It’s a subtle thing, but I also loved that Oveja Negra put the main compartment zipper on the drive side of the bike—so when you lay it down or lean it against a tree for the night (drive side up) you can still reach the majority of your stuff.
The bag is not waterproof—but on the day when we got rain, everything stayed dry. I imagine that unless you leave your bike laying on the ground in a heavy downpour, its natural position (under you and the top tube) will keep it mostly protected. In terms of other things getting in, I did lose some oatmeal to squirrels—but it turned out that I’d left a zipper open in my post-ride stupor, so it wasn’t a failing of the fabric or stitching.
One thing to note is that if the top-tube strap is too tight, it can put some extra strain on the zippers, which becomes more pronounced as they get gritty. I didn’t have any problems with my bag, but my partner got a sticky zipper on his (we were running the same bike/bag setup) by the end of the trip.
Fortunately we were able to call the Oveja Negra headquarters, and we stopped by our way home from Durango. Lane personally did some quick zipper rehab, shared the tip on not over-tightening the top tube strap, and gave us a free tube of zipper lube (yes, that’s a thing) for the future. She spent way more time than she needed to in the parking lot, sitting on the tailgate of the Uhaul we’d rented to get home and swapping socially-distanced stories about the trail. At the time, none of us knew I’d be writing this review—that’s just how they roll.
Find it at ovejanegrabikepacking.com
Photos: Anthony Smith