Saturday, September 17, 2016

First look: Planet X Super Deluxe Bike Bag

Planet X and On-One are a well established direct-sell company with a decent reputation for well priced products.
Today I picked up one of their Super Deluxe Bike Bags (£89.00) for my upcoming trip to Nepal.
With a meagre 23kg luggage allowance I was in need of a lighter weight bag instead of my trusted Evoc Bike Travel Bag (which weighs in at a hefty 9kg).

I spoke to Planet X before travelling to confirm that the stated weight was indeed "just over 5kg" and was told that it was "virtually nothing". 5.01kg was the answer I got. This was important to me.
So when I arrived home I popped it on the scales. Guess what? 5.9kg, that's 890gms more than I was told. In my book that's just under 6kg not "just over 5kg".
Bad start, don't lie to your customers.
After removing the unnecessary shoulder strap (it's a wheeled bag after all), a pointless small accessory pouch, and the padded wheel bags, it weighed in at 4.5kgs. Much better.

Aside from that my first impressions of the product are reasonably favourable.

The materials seem robust and the build quality, for a budget priced bag, looks good. The main material is a heavy denier canvas-type fabric similar to Cordura. The reinforced trim areas look like a Nyplax tarpaulin material. The internals are lined with a thick wipe-clean silver coloured rip-stop that is ubiquitous in all of these bags.

It seems to be reasonably well padded on the external walls which is promising. At this price point it's unfair to expect too much other than rudimentary protection.
Internally there are a couple of long zip pockets for storing pedals, skewers, and such like, and some webbing straps for cinching the bike in place.
There were a number of exposed metal rivets in the bottom which I have covered with duct tape to prevent them from damaging the frame.
I've also added one or two bits of additional foam, one piece sits under the bottom bracket and one piece to protect the bottom of the forks. It doesn't come with any internal protection apart from the padded wheel bags.

The padded wheel bags add considerable weight, roughly 800gms each. Simple single-skin wheel bags with axle protection would suffice, so I've chopped off the external skin and removed the foam padding. I wouldn't recommend doing this but I'm looking to save a little weight where possible. The foam padding was an eye-opener, it looked like the kind of cheap stuff used to pack apples, so I'm going to assume that a similar type, albeit a little thicker, has also been used for the main compartment.
The bags will take a 29" wheel, just, but it's a bit of a tight squeeze.

The external grab handles look solid enough.

The wheels, and skid plates, look OK but are spaced at 115mm which means, in my experience, that the bag will need careful manoeuvring to prevent it from regularly toppling over. On my Evoc bag, for example, the wheels are spaced at 330mm and it is considerably more stable. 

There are quite a lot of very similar looking bags out there, normally own-brand products, selling in the same price range, this one does appear to be a bit better than some I've seen.

Labelling it as "Super Deluxe" is probably a bit misleading, I think maybe just "Bike Travel Bag" would be more suitable. When I return from Nepal I'll post a full review here.

The pointless accessory pouch. I've no idea what it's for.

The grab handles look good.

The wheels are pretty standard but are too close together for good stability.

Wheels and skid plates.

The padded wheel bags.

The internal view with side pockets, and the exposed rivets at the base.

The wheel bags have received some surgery.

My new slimline version of the wheel bags.

A few bits of foam and duct tape added for necessary frame/fork protection.

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Thank you for looking, see you soon.
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Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

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