(Updated — see below)


PART 1     LITTLE BITTIE  BIKEBAGS



For the past few years, it seemed that bikebags were getting larger and more expensive. But the popularity of tiny folding bikes seems to have pushed the market in the other direction. Tokyu Hands now offers two that are much, MUCH smaller than the traditional ones.


This model, the Tioga Cocoon, is quite a bit smaller than the smallest bags up to now, and a bit less expensive (3,780 yen). More importantly, being made of nylon, it’s light as a feather! (Not sure how well it will wear, though.)


The bag is even designed to allow you the option of leaving the rear wheel on the bike so you can roll it (rather awkwardly) in front of you as you walk.





The other one, bearing the brand name Mont-Bell, is a bit heavier than that and quite a bit more expensive (6,800 yen),  but it’s the most compact one I’ve ever seen.



(Update: Belatedly I note that the Tioga Cocoon will actually fold down to about this size too!)


I plan to buy the Tioga Cocoon in the near future to confirm that it actually fits a large road bicycle frame (the salesman said it did, but he didn’t know about the smaller bag), and to try to gauge whether the bag material will wear as well as the conventional bags. Stay tuned...


PART 2     BIKEBAG UPDATE



So here is the photographic proof that a large frame road bike will indeed fit in the tiny lightweight Tioga Cocoon (with the seatpost sticking out -  it’s designed to carry a bike that way; you could always remove the seat and stick it in the bag):


(Later I’ll post another photo showing the rear wheel left on but the chain off so you can roll it.)



The bag also folds up to about the size of your palm. And did I mention how light it is? Lastly, the material does seem pretty tough.


Some caveats are in order:


  1. -Since it’s a tight fit, it will probably take you longer to pack the bike - no more 3-minute rush jobs.


  1. -More importantly, note that, if you carry it like this, the most fragile parts of the bike - forks, chainring and derailleur - are all on the bottom. So if you drop it, you’re sunk. (I’ll experiment to see if it can be carried more safely.)


The verdict: if I’m on a long trip and will be packing and repacking the bike — and ESPECIALLY if I’m entrusting it to baggage handlers on a bus or airplane — I think I’d want to take a regular bikebag, at least until I get used to this one and also figure out a way to protect the forks, chainring and derailleur.


But this bag is going in my bikepack permanently from now on (yes, it’s that light; use a lighter strap than the ones they’ve provided and you’ll never know it’s there). That way I’ll always have a solution if I suddenly need to take a train or bus home.


UPDATE (JULY 2018)


Since these reports were posted, the bikebag market has continued to evolve, and thankfully the direction appears to be toward lighter, more compact bags. There also appear to be more bags that are designed specifically for road bikes.


The two major players are still Tioga and Ostrich (Azuma Sangyo), which now markets bikebags under the “KABAN” brand (“kaban” meaning bag or briefcase):



(As you would expect, the Chinese character behind the word KABAN on the package is the character for “kaban.”)


On average, the Ostrich bags seem to be more expensive than the Tioga offerings. But they’re extremely well made and there are many different types; you can browse through the many options in the second half of their catalog (in Japanese) here:

http://ostrich-az.com/catalog/ostrich_catalog_2018_150ppi.pdf


On the Tioga side, the Tioga Cocoon mentioned above is still available. Tioga also offers three new types that are not much heavier than the Cocoon, all designed for road bikes: the Flex Pod (¥5,200) and V-POD (¥5,600), lightweight bags that apparently have no wheel pockets and do not come with the end bracket (which we don’t use most of the time anyway). The difference between the two seems to be mainly that the V-POD is more compact (small enough to fit in the bottle cage, though putting it there means you won’t be able to hydrate properly!).  There is also a Road Pod (¥5,600) which appears to be a standard bikebag with wheel pockets that comes with the end bracket.



Since there are so many varieties, you should probably go to a fairly large bike shop to ensure the best selection — smaller bike shops and stores like Tokyu Hands are likely to offer only a few of the many varieties available.

 

Bikebag Trends

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