by Ray Birks
With the rise in popularity of bikepacking and adventure cycling, those who either can’t afford a bikepacking-specific bike or just want to retrofit their existing bike to carry more gear, often need to be able to attach more stuff to their frame. In my case I have both a retrofitted fat bike I use for bikepacking with narrower wheels and occasionally my hardtail cross-country bike that I’ll take on shorter overnighters. Neither of them have enough dedicated mounts to carry everything I need so having a flexible, reusable mounting option is necessary.
In the past I’ve used, and recommended, the King Cage USB mounts but after extended use I’ve found that the metal on them can weaken and give out. I found this out the hard way when two of my mounts fell off on a very rocky stretch of the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands, Utah. Luckily I was able to repack and pass some gear off to a partner who had extra space.
In the quest to continually strap stuff to my bike so I don’t have to carry it on my back I came across the Topeak Versa Bike Mounts. These mounts tighten on to your frame wherever you can find space in order to carry an extra water bottle or bag cage. This system includes a mount with mounting bolts and an adjustable strap that can fit tubes 20-60mm diameter for lots of different frame types and location potential. I’ve ridden with them for a few months on one overnighter as well as knocking around on local trails and here are my thoughts.
Price: They are inexpensive. The King Cage USB mounts are $6/a piece minus shipping while the Topeak mounts are currently $12 for two on Amazon. I have not seen them sold at any local bike shops but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.
Installation: These are very easy to install, remove and adjust as needed. The strap is like a hose clamp that has a plastic 4mm allen worm bolt used to tighten it to the frame and I found that when the bolt starts to slip you know it’s tight enough. To attach a water bottle cage or frame cage you’ll need a 3mm allen key. Having to use two separate sized allen wrenches is not a big deal but is a minor annoyance. Compared to the King Cages these are much easier to mount and adjust. The straps are very long and I ended up trimming the excess after installation.
Durability: The maximum load for one clamp is labeled as 3.3 pounds so I’m assuming between two clamps you could comfortably carry something in the neighborhood of five pounds or more. I’ve carried a tent fly in a biking bag (2 pounds) on one side and a full water bottle (1.5-1.8 pounds) on the other and neither mount budged.
Flexibility: The mounts give you a lot of flexibility on where you want to add gear. You can add them to your frame, forks or seat post. I use them on my front forks since not many suspension forks have mounting places for gear. Included in the package is a piece of rubber to place between the frame and mount to use as a shim for a snug fit and also protect the frame from scratches and wear.
Adjustment: Again, a minor thing, but you do need two allen wrenches for the whole system, one to add components like a bottle cage and one to adjust the position.
Plasticy Feel: These are made from engineering grade polymer and although mine have not budged a millimeter since I’ve installed them, they have a plasticy feel to them that makes my mind think they’re not going to stay put. Therefore, I’m constantly checking to see if they’ve moved. So maybe that’s more of a con about my mental state than the actual product.
Fit: Again, you could chalk this up to my mind playing tricks on me but the fact that you can’t crank these down when you tighten them makes me think they’re not snug. But the reality is they haven’t moved even on technical single track with lots of rocks and bumps. I may have even left the ground on occasion with no discernable movement, so this con could actually be a pro.
Straps: The straps are quite long and although this may seem like a plus because they can eventually be trimmed, I didn’t want to trim too much in case I had to put these on a different bike or different location. You’re left with excess strap that sticks out and looks odd. I ended up going to the hardware store and bought some small rubber rings and slid them around the strap in order to reign in the excess. It would be a small, but nice addition to include those in the package.