Sunday, January 08, 2006

Review: garment bags for commuting bikes

For years I've had a fairly popular Commuting/Touring Bike page on my site. It's old and changes little, but bike touring in 2006 is not all that different from touring in 1986. So the page still works.

Today I received a submission for the page. It's very detailed, so I'll excerpt only a portion of it. I'd like to be able to link to the full article however. This blog is just the vehicle. Here's the article from Thom B of Chicago:
Well, I bought a 2004 Jamis Ventura (touring road bike), which is quite a bit lighter than my Jamis Aragon (cross/hybrid). I turned the Aragon into an Xtracycle, which does not have a rack and so cannot fit either bag anymore.

I ended up using the twowheelgear bag exclusively on the Ventura and tried listing the Jandd garment bag on craigslist. (Didn't get a response yet, I guess I should relist. Putting it up in the middle of November probably wasn't very timely.) There are some things I'd change about the twowheelgear bag but just the basic design alone does it for me.

I don't like the way the Jandd bag only hangs off of one side, and folds the clothes right in half. The Jandd will keep a few items 'pressed' (a suit, shirt, pants, etc) but does not easily accomodate a full load of shirts from the cleaners. The twowheelgear's way of distributing the weight of the clothes over both sides of the rack also reduces the 'fold' in them. There are good straps for securing them inside.

It's about half of the cost of the Jandd. (Remember the twowheelgear is sold in canadian dollars.)

I took the twowheelgear bag on an MS 150 ride and did the century loop both days (200 miles!) and no problems. Its many pouches and smart organization kept all my tools, spare tubes/tires, changes of clothes, sunscreen/bugspray, etc. easily accessible.

There is an angled hook design where the bag attaches to the rack that just slightly slants it backwards at the bottom. I have big feet and my heels don't catch on the bag. I used to always catch my heels on the Jandd grocery panniers.

The straps that hold the bag onto the bike rack don't have enough velcro on them, IMO - we ended up removing their velcro strips and putting longer ones on so that it would have that much more sticking power (call me paranoid).

Similarly, the two-strap system sometimes comes apart and you have to re-thread one strap through a 'D-ring' on each side to reconnect it. Not the end of the world, just a little annoying. I have some ideas for the company that I may send them, a way to prevent that from happening on a future revision of the product.

I wish that the bag itself was just the teensiest big wider and longer - sometimes I feel like the shirttails get a little folded over, but nobody ever sees those.

There is a curly strap loop hanging off of one side of the bag. Presumably this is to hang the bag lengthwise, eg on a hook when I get to work to keep the clothes straight. Sometimes that loop taps the spokes. Little worrisome, but doesn't happen that often.

I don't want the shoulder strap hanging off while I ride, so I detach it. Then the plastic buckle taps the part of the rack which angles up nearest the seatpost. Not tragic, just annoying. It makes me think something is broken.

The Jandd bag is made with more heavy-duty materials and zippers. Though it might force twowheelgear to raise prices slightly, it would be worth it for them to do so (IMO) because they could be more competitive on quality.

I also like the Jandd's bright yellow waterproof cover. I'm thinking about wintertime and how all that wet snow & ick has affected the twowheelgear. The bottom can get pretty crusted with dirt and salt residue. In fairness, I just have the rack on my road bike (yeah yeah, cardinal sin) and no fender, so there's that to consider.

As it is, I leave my clean clothes in dry cleaning bags when I bring them in. I've never had an issue with clothes getting ruined by water/muck soaking through, etc. There are thin plastic panels inside of the twowheelgear bag, between the 'bottom' (when putting shirts in) and the 'inside' (sides closest to the wheel when attached), and they keep things ridgid. The zipper on the twowheelgear bag sometimes catches on the dry cleaning bags but by 'leading' the zipper with my fingers, I can usually prevent that from happening.

I like the way the Jandd bag attaches to the rack, those little 'underhook' devices with elastic (held in place by a small cross-strap) and the 'spring clip' device which secures the strap attached to the clip that pulls down against the top of the rack, holding the two in opposition. It holds well, but is harder to take off and put on.


Katie said...

Any chance you still have that guy's contact info? I'd love to see if he never sold that bag. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Check out our new Classic Garment Pannier hitting the market this spring!
This pannier has all the updates that were mentioned as shortcomings in the review...Upgraded material and zippers, new mounting system and custom rain cover with loads of new features including a padded 15" laptop pocket.