A Simple Solution for a Simple Problem: A Shovel Research Rod Steward Review


A Simple Solution for a Simple Problem: A Shovel Research Rod Steward Review

Does it get much better than small makers addressing niche demands within a niche sector of the bike industry? I don’t think so. One of my favorite parts about running this website is showcasing and highlighting cottage industry bike businesses. Shovel Research is a small machine and fabrication shop that makes well-designed products that address a niche demand. One of which is its Rod Steward, a bag support designed for the Fab’s Chest by Ron’s Bikes, but as I found out on my Rivendell Bombadil, it works well with a Rivendell Sackville BagBoy bag.

Let’s check out a quick review below…

Excellent product photography by Shovel Research

When you order a Rod Steward, it comes in 100% recyclable cardboard packaging. Inside the kit, you’ll find a U-shaped piece of aluminum, some hardware, and a rod with two threaded holes. The bent U rod has “Rod Steward” embossed on it, which is made possible by CNC milling. Within the hardware envelope, there are bolts, nylok nuts, and two c-clamps. This is everything you need to stop your bag from drooping in one simple kit.


The setup is easy. First, ensure the Rod Steward will work with your fork or seat stay. You don’t want the U rod to be bent or spread too wide. It should fit in its desired location without any bending. If it fits, mount the c-clamps loosely around the U rod legs mid-fork or mid-seatstay to the hourglass-shaped bosses (the kind with no backing, allowing the bolt to pass all the way through). Loosely set it up, eyeballing the appropriate height for the bag support rod. In general, you want the weight to be slightly tilted back toward the saddle.

Feed the rod through the bag loops on the underside of your bag. Now, most handlebar or saddle bags have MOLLE nylon link webbing, so if your bag doesn’t, this support will not work. Once the rod is through the bag loops, use the provided M5 bolts to attach the U rod through the bag support rod, then double-check the support rod’s height and clamp down on the c-clamp bolts, making sure to use the supplied washers. I added a dab of blue Loctite to my hardware to be extra safe.

This is a very abbreviated outline of the installation process, so please defer to Shove Research’s Installation Guide for your installation.

My Use Case

Not every touring or commuter bike needs a rear rack. Yet, not every touring or commuting bag can be self-supported, either. In the case of my Sackville bag, it not only drooped onto the tires when I had heavy items in it, but it also pulled on the cantilever brake line. The Nitto Wire Guard solved the latter problem, but I still had to figure out how to support the Sackville bag from tire rub.

While at the Philly Bike Expo last year, I bought a Rod Steward from Sal, the designer and fabricator behind Shovel Research. Initially, I planned on using it to support my Fab’s Chest bag on my Sklar Tourer, but I ended up going with front and rear racks on that bike instead for other reasons.

So there I was, sitting there with this beautifully designed $100 bag support and nowhere to mount it. That’s when I realized it might just work on my Rivendell. Undoubtedly it did and required no modification. One note: Shovel Research makes an 11″ width and a 14″ width in the bag support rod. So be sure to measure your bag width before ordering.

I’ve been using it for about six months and haven’t had to re-tighten or worry about anything. It enables the bag to *support the weight of a twelve-pack of sparkling water, no worries, which is about all I’d load this bag down with, to begin with, and best of all, there’s no side-to-side swaying either. The Rod Steward is a bag support, by using a 45º angle to triangulate the load.

What’s really cool about the Rod Steward is Shovel Research makes an optional dynamo light mount for it as well!

Simple problems need simple solutions, and that’s exactly what the Rod Steward is.


  • Cheaper than a rack (usually)
  • Simpler than a rack
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install
  • Made in the USA
  • Shovel Research can make custom-sized Rod Stewards for you (email them)
  • Support small makers!


  • Might not work with every use-case
  • Not intended for carbon forks
  • Sometimes they’re sold out

Here are some usage notes that Shovel Research laid out and should be posted here:

  • This product cannot be used without a bag. Never ride your bike with the Rod Steward attached and no bag.
  • Not intended for use with carbon forks.
  • *This product is not a rack replacement! It’s designed to triangulate the hanging weight of the bag against your fork or frame in order to reduce movement over rough terrain, not to lift its full weight.
  • If your bag does not have enough room to hang from the bars or saddle loops, then this accessory is not designed to work with it. In such a situation, you should support the bag with a traditional rack.

Check out more at Shovel Research.