Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Well… Finally

As my prayers have been answered, I wonder if that means God does exist? Someone has finally made a decent garment bag for cyclists. Years ago, I knew a friend who rode to work, year round, through rain, sleet, hail, snow and whatever other crap floats over Lake Ontario to dump on Toronto. She rode in cycling gear and changed at work for her corporate job. She carried her fashionable office wear in a garment bag, slung over her shoulder like a giant messenger bag. Meanwhile, I too rode to work, wearing the same street clothes I wore at the office. Fortunately, I work in the software industry and as such I could wear whatever I wanted. Thus it was fine that I ruined many a pair of cheap Gap jeans or even worn out Levi's – well, it wasn't fine and every time I snagged the right leg of my trousers into my chain, or rubbed a tire against my beige corduroys, I cursed, loudly. I went so far as to carry an extra t-shirt but that was it. I really didn't see any great solutions for transporting fine clothing (not that I own any) on a commute. Today, I ride a bike with full fenders and chain guard to lessen the ruining of jeans, but it still drives me crazy that I would require a rack and full sized panniers to carry a change of clothes and shoes but still not be able to carry a suit jacket to work - or anywhere for that matter.

Hector and Marnie from the BBC series The Hour

Then one evening, I spied with my little eye, the answer I had long sought. It was in an episode of BBC's The Hour. The main presenter on the news program, Hector Madden, is brought a fresh suit by his wife Marnie. She delivers said suit in what appears to be a military duffle bag that is in fact, an ingenious rolled garment bag. A furious Web search resulted in finding many very cheap tri-fold garment bags. The only one of any real quality from Victrinox had all the charm of a Hartford, Connecticut layover and cost $300 USD. It looks fine for the traveling business man but I'm no Willy Loman. I still wanted something suitable for cycling.

Enter Henty. An Australian company that has created a contemporary garment bag designed for cycling commuters or as a small carry-on with room for a suit, sundries and even a pair of shoes. While I still might pine for something with the classic look of a Filson or a Herschel duffle, or even the great looking Abingdon bag from J. Crew (though I question it is as tough as it purports to be), I don't know if any of them has the ingenuity, compactness or affordability of the Henty Wingman. At just under $200 it's not cheap, but still well under the Victrinox, the Filson or J.Crew garment bags all of which look too bulky for cycling in any event.

I'm become a proponent of purpose-built products over anything hybrid (though I am fascinated with "convertible" transformer-like stuff) and I think that's why I'd prefer this Henty bag. The only question is do I order one now or wait until the end of April when their American store comes online? Also, I'm planning a trip to the UK in August for a wedding, and I'd really like to bring my bike to do a week of riding. This bag might solve some of the logistics of packing for a bike tour and a wedding.

UPDATE: A prompt reply from a Henty rep assures me that I should wait until the American site is up, but to ensure supply not for speedy shipping per se. Additionally, the Wingman will be a slightly newer, shinier model. Can't wait. I even have a new credit card to use (after yet another card was compromised during online shopping – can't Jack Dorsey fix this?)