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  1. #1
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    Review on Downtube folding bike bag. (2/10)

    I bought two of these for my wife & I's Dahons. Mine's a Curve D3, hers is a Speed D7.

    Today, I used the bag for the first time. Allow me to give you a blow-by-blow.

    The plan was to take it on the train to the station near work, ride to work, then ride to the hospital afterwards. (for physical therapy for my messed up thumb from the scooter crash in late May)

    7 AM - The bike is in the bag. I pick up the bag by the shoulder strap and carry it to the car. Some of the stitches pulled out near where the top of the strap is sewn to the bag. Upsetting, but not the end of the world; there are a LOT of stitches, after all, right? Right.

    8:45 AM - I get off the train at the station that is 3/4 mile away from work. While stepping down the steps to get off the train, the stitching that holds the strap that is sewn to the bag and is sewn in a loop to hold the plastic D-ring gives way. *POP* and I just barely keep the bike from falling onto the concrete from about 4 ft. up. I'm left holding the whole bag by one end of the strap, with my arm way up like a total idiot. "Damn!" says I. I got off the train, pulled out my trusty Gerber knife and cut the loop that was holding the other end of the shoulder strap on. Threw the shoulder strap in the garbage. Packed the bag inside itself, (nice feature, BTW) and strapped it to the luggage rack of my D3. Rode to work. When I got to work, I put the bag into my backpack. Carried the bike into work without its bag.

    3:00 PM - I'm getting out of work, ready for a sweaty ride to the hospital. It has been raining in Chicago for the better part of 3 weeks now. The sun has decided to come out in full force. The moisture in the ground is all evaporating into the air, and now it is 85F and about 99% humidity. I left the bag in my backpack. Rode to the hospital. Great ride, once I accepted that I was going to get soaked, either from sweat or rain.

    3:45 PM - I got to the hospital. Folded the bike, packed it into the bag. Went in, did my business, and came out.

    4:15 PM - Packed the bag inside itself again. This time, another seam of the bag ripped open. One of the seams that holds it together, actually. "Grrrr!" said Jeremy. I resisted the urge to throw in the nearby trash can. I can't figure out why I bothered to bring it home now. Now it is just going to take up space in MY trash can.

    Pros:
    Nice design, how it stows inside itself. Great zippers. Decent nylon material.

    Cons:
    No hand straps. The backpack straps are a joke. Carrying a folding bike like a backpack is a bad idea, as there is always something poking one's spine or kidneys. However, these are the only straps left, after the shoulder strap gives way. Crap sewing job, all the way around.

    Synopsis:
    Knowing that this bag would be used for a 20+ lb, one would think they could be bothered to do a decent job on the seams and reinforcement areas.

    I did have some clue going into this. The disclaimer on Downtube's website says that the bag is not covered by the warranty. I decided to take the chance & got burned. Twice. These bags couldn't have cost more than $5 to make, and $10 for Downtube to buy. The quality is just awful.

    I was generous and gave it a 2 because the zippers are good and the basic design is OK. Execution is the worst I've seen. If I were Chinese, I would be ashamed of what my country is doing to my stereotype.

    I think Yan is not including the bags with the bikes any more. Probably because he knows what I now know. Doesn't want to jack up the price of his bikes by including a quality bag.

    I haven't contacted Yan, as I think I'll get the cold shoulder, and a quick point-out to the wording on his website. I'm sure he'll read this though. We'll see.

    Moral:
    Buy cheap, buy twice. Buy once, cry once.

    Moral2:
    Don't let the fact that the bag is included with the 2007 closeout bikes bias your purchasing decision. The bag is 100% worthless.

  2. #2
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    If I were Chinese, I would be ashamed of what my country is doing to my stereotype.
    I have lately come to the view this is entirely the west's own doing. Sure, in South-East Asia they have a capability to make thing extremely cheap, amazingly sometimes even very decent quality, but I think it is the West's preoccupation with buying things at the lowest possible price that is the force behind cheap manufacturing. Price is king. The trouble is quality suffers, and landfills fill up. The old idea of buying something that is quality and repairable we have left behind, to our own long-term detriment.

    Connected to all this, is the result that the people who are involved in making cheap stuff suffer the worst working conditions and scandalously low pay. So it is a moral issue also.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  3. #3
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    I shamefully have to admit that you're right jur. But we are learning.

    The trouble comes in areas like this. I didn't really consider the $35 price to be rock-bottom-low. For that money, I should be able to do better.

    I'm going to schlep over to folder fanatic's website. She sent me a link a while back that I didn't get a chance to check out that I think has to do with making one's own bags. Plus, all the women in my family sew, so I can get some pointers, if I can't con one of them into spending 20 minutes behind a sewing machine.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Loch's Avatar
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    I've made my own bags which have held up very well.

    The Downtube bags have good material, if you are thinking about making a bag, you should think about just reinforcing the dowtube bag. I've done this also and it's doing pretty well, but not getting much use at the moment.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kabir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    If I were Chinese, I would be ashamed of what my country is doing to my stereotype.
    I would be if someone else is making one with better quality and with the same or lower price. Otherwise, I don't give a damn. You got what you paid for.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kabir View Post
    I would be if someone else is making one with better quality and with the same or lower price. Otherwise, I don't give a damn. You got what you paid for.
    I have to say, I'm surprised that I'm the only one who expects that for $35, one should be able to buy a decent quality bag. This is low tech stuff. Quite easy to make a sturdy one. It's not like I bought some $5 thing from ebay and am complaining that it fell apart. This is a name-brand, and not all that cheap.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Polaris43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    I have to say, I'm surprised that I'm the only one who expects that for $35, one should be able to buy a decent quality bag. This is low tech stuff. Quite easy to make a sturdy one. It's not like I bought some $5 thing from ebay and am complaining that it fell apart. This is a name-brand, and not all that cheap.
    As Jur said, buyers appear to be interested in only the lowest price but the other part of this equation is that sellers want to make a killing on every item.

    Think about it... as you said, the bag probably cost Yan (no offense Yan) $5 and he's selling it for $35.

    What if he paid $20 for a much better bag and still sold it for $35?

    Maybe that's now how it works out exactly but you know the materials cost a couple of bucks and the near slave labor that made it may cost even less than that so someone, somewhere in the supply chain is making a killing at $35.

    I guess there's greed all around, both on the buying and selling ends of the deal.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Lost in all this seems to be the fact that whatever the price of an item is, it should fulfill its intended function adequately. Of course, I know this depends on your definition of "adequately" but one time use isn't adequate in my books. I don't care if a bag costs $35 or $1, if it's sold as a bike bag.... it should be an adequate bike bag (or else why would anyone buy it in the first place? "Hey let's buy a really bad bike bag that doesn't work for $35!"). And though I have a reasonable expectation of lower quality for lower priced goods, I don't believe Jeremy got what he paid for -i.e Jeremy did not pay for a bag that would fall apart the first time he used it.

    Of course, there's a little common sense in that I don't think I'd buy a bike bag for a $1 without an expected inordinate amount of aggravation since you have to assume for that price -unless it's a super super sale item of course -it's probably going to be very iffy. But, if I did buy a bike bag for a $1 off someone, I would expect it to be adequate, and for the seller to be held accountable -granted practically that sometimes given a low purchase price it's just easier to write it off. In this case, I might contact Yan, but I'd have to balance that against how much time I'd spend doing so versus the $35. Things like this come into play for my purchasing decisions.

  9. #9
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Let me expand on our specific bags. A year ago the bags were very good quality, however they had bad zippers that broke. Hence we tried to get the factory to fix the zipper issue. Instead they gave us bags with horrible stitching and kept the bad zippers. We stopped buying all bags from the former supplier and found a very high end bag factory in Thailand ( not China ) to make our new bags. The bags on our website that are being sold for $29 share the same design as the old bag, however the zippers are very nice, the stitching is top quality, fabric is much thicker, and we added backpack straps.

    There is no correlation between our freebie bags and the ones we sell.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  10. #10
    jur
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    So there is a mystery developing. JZ's experience with the bought bags at $35 is bad. You state that the bags that are sold are excellent.


    ...?
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  11. #11
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    I am a little lost too ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    Yan:

    Well, my bag has backpack straps and the nice zippers, but I can assure you that the stitching is quite poor. I'd offer to send it back, but since I cut the other strap holder (the one that didn't come un-stitched) with a knife and threw the strap out, just so it wouldn't be in my way, I don't think you'd take me up on it.

    If you have checked the stitching through actual use, I suggest that you may not have gotten a true production sample. (i.e. maybe you got a special, high-quality sample.) That, or they changed things up after you committed to buy.

    I'd also like to add a clarification. The first thing that ripped out, the should strap, was indeed stitching popping loose. Either the thread is too small, the seam not finished properly, or the thread isn't strong enough.

    With the bag seam, I can't tell if the seam gave out or if the nylon just didn't hold the stitch.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JeremyZ's Avatar
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    I think I will try the other one. It hasn't been used. If it rips apart the same way as the first one, I will resist the temptation to cut off parts and throw them out and just send it back.

    From what Yan said earlier, since these were separate from the bikes, can I infer that they do have some sort of warranty?

  14. #14
    Senior Member downtube's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeremyZ View Post
    Yan:

    Well, my bag has backpack straps and the nice zippers, but I can assure you that the stitching is quite poor. I'd offer to send it back, but since I cut the other strap holder (the one that didn't come un-stitched) with a knife and threw the strap out, just so it wouldn't be in my way, I don't think you'd take me up on it.

    If you have checked the stitching through actual use, I suggest that you may not have gotten a true production sample. (i.e. maybe you got a special, high-quality sample.) That, or they changed things up after you committed to buy.

    I'd also like to add a clarification. The first thing that ripped out, the should strap, was indeed stitching popping loose. Either the thread is too small, the seam not finished properly, or the thread isn't strong enough.

    With the bag seam, I can't tell if the seam gave out or if the nylon just didn't hold the stitch.
    Did your bag come free with the bike? If so it is not warrantied. If you bought it separately it is warrantied.

    Thanks,
    Yan

  15. #15
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    i myself is a retailer, i dont import my own product just resale but once in awhile the suppliers will give you a lower quality batch of goods, and i think this is what happened, and Yan himself knows. thats why hes giving them away with the 2007 bikes and no warranty, its a freebie dont expect too much.

  16. #16
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    I've been a 2007 Downtube IV FS owner for three days now. So far the bike has been great; comfortable, and relatively light.

    The bag, which came free with the bike, worked fine on my first bus trip. However on the second one, I found a 2" separation in the seams. I've made two more trips with the bike inside the bag the split has not grown, nor have others emerged. I plan to use the bag as sparingly as possible now, but I'm not going to fuss if (by god) i actually have to PAY for a bag.

  17. #17
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    Here is an idea. How about stitching the bag back together and adding some stitch to make it stronger.

  18. #18
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    investing in a sewing machine would seriously cut into my hobbie budget

  19. #19
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    After the bag that came with my bike ripped on multible occasions, I sewed canvas reinforcements along the main seam. They've held swimmingly for two weeks




    sorry about the low quality of the pictures, they we taken with my mobile.

  20. #20
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    I purchased two of the Dahon El Bolso bags (less than $60 each from thorusa.com). They are a bit big for our Curve SL's, but the bags are very sturdy. I have had our bikes in and out of each bag a couple of dozen times. I have not carried the bikes for any real distance in the bags, just from the basement to the car and back. The bag is a bit bulky when folded and may not be easy to store while riding (this is not an issue for us as we do not use our bikes for commuting). The El Bolso comes with an outer bag to store it in. The outer bag has straps so it can be worn as a backpack. There are no zippers and the top of the El Bolso only closes where the handles wrap together, but it could easily be modified with straps/velcro or snaps to keep it fully closed. The El Bolso also comes with the red slipcover that retails for $20. I cannot comment on the slipcover's quality as I haven't used it.
    Last edited by nevets; 10-12-07 at 05:32 AM.

  21. #21
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    Bags are $37 now. Anyone use the new ones?

  22. #22
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    I ordered one with my new 9FS, havent had a chance to test. Will post my opinion soon.
    Last edited by hmirly; 07-28-08 at 07:27 AM.

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