We catch up with Kedan Griffin, who is the Bike Bag Dude, the man behind some of the world's most coveted bikepacking gear.
AMB: We see a lot of bikepacking bags coming out of the USA, and from the UK as well. As an Australian business – what’s it like competing with bigger brands overseas?
BBD: A bigger market means there are more players. I was worried when big companies started coming out with a range of products, but then we soon realised that the manufacturing restraints of China worked to our advantage. I do a lot of things differently to other makers and anything mass-produced inherently has the same problems, regardless of the brand that is having them made.
AMB: The materials you use don’t really come from the bike industry, what can you tell us about them?
BBD: We use laminated sailcloth that is produced in Germany - it is the lightest and strongest fabric that is available. The most important factor is abrasion resistance. The PVC gear that is mass-produced falls down at this point. It all comes down to how long you expect the gear to last and these days there are enough choices to appease any budget. The good old saying rings true - you get what you pay for.
AMB: A bike can take people just about anywhere – do you think equipping riders to take more and travel further is a key part of what BBD does?
BBD: We started out catering to a lot of people doing rather extreme races around the world. Events like winter ultra marathons in America where temperatures get as low as -40 degrees Celsius. When you build gear that can handle those sorts of extremes, you know it will handle any other sort of adventure that the not so extreme rider will undertake as well. Couples doing trails like Munda Biddi in Western Australia are becoming more and more popular and if you are dragging your partner out for an adventure, you don’t want your gear letting you down and making it a horrible experience.
AMB: Cutting custom templates, filling requests and mailing out the bags – it all sounds tiring. Where does the drive and motivation come from?
BBD: I think you have to be very driven to keep at something for 6 years and to do a full workload by yourself is just too much. I have help now. A young guy, Ash, has been with me for a couple of years and is very good these days. We vary our tasks depending on how we feel on the day so it keeps us fresh and not bogged down doing repetitive work. It is the main reason I love doing so much custom work as the schedule changes all the time. We ask for clients to send images back to us so we can see the gear on the bike, and also to feel proud about the fact that our gear has helped someone undertake an awesome adventure that they may have not done with the old traditional pannier style touring set up. Credit card touring will get bigger and bigger as it is a simple approach with a few more comforts.