We Test Everything We Sell (before we sell it)Jan Heine
In addition to making our Rene Herse components, we also distribute parts made by other makers. Our goal is to make products that don’t exist, not to duplicate what others already offer, so we work with SON in Germany, FMB and Berthoud in France, as well as Nitto, MKS, Ostrich, Maware and Kaisei in Japan to bring their excellent products to shops and individual cyclists in North America.
These products undergo the same testing as our own before we sell them. Basically, if you see something in our program, you can be assured that it meets our very high standards. And if something goes wrong, we stand behind it, rather than pass you along to the manufacturer.
Sometimes, a product doesn’t meet our standards, and we won’t sell it until it is improved. Berthoud’s ‘Sans Decaleur’ bag (above) is a great idea – a handlebar bag that doesn’t need to attach to the stem. With modern four-bolt stems, it’s difficult to integrate a decaleur (bag quick release) to hold the bag. Berthoud developed an internal frame made from carbon tubes that stiffen the bag. The bag attaches only to the rack underneath, but not the stem at the top.
As we do with all new products, we first ordered a sample. During our initial tests, the ‘Sans Decaleur’ bag seemed to perform well. The bag was stable and didn’t move even when riding on cobblestone streets here in Seattle.
When we returned from our first test ride, we noticed that the bag looked lopsided. The carbon frame inside had disassembled.
We reported this to Berthoud, and they modified the connectors to provide a tighter fit. After they sent the new connectors, we rebuilt our bag and continued our testing.
All seemed well with the improved bag, shown here on my Firefly (rear bike). We wrote a review for Bicycle Quarterly and placed an order for the bags.
Then, during a particularly challenging ride to test SRAM’s new XPLR group a few weeks ago, our ‘Sans Decaleur’ bag started to wobble again. This time, the carbon tube that connected to one of the tie-downs had broken. It seems like the ‘rebound’ of the bag on bumpy terrain had overstressed it.
Berthoud is working to develop a solution for this problem, too, by distributing the stresses better. The idea of the ‘Sans Decaleur’ bag has a lot of promise, but any product that we sell needs to be able to survive the rough terrain of the Cascade Mountains. If a product can’t be used for rides like the Oregon Outback, we won’t sell it.
Many BQ readers have been waiting to buy the new ‘Sans Decaleur’ bags. Please be patient a bit longer. You’ll see these bags in our program once they are ready for the real world. (If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll be among the first to know when they are ready and in stock.)
The reason we got into the business of making and selling bike parts in the first place was because we couldn’t find the products we needed for our rides. Our program is small because we sell only products that have proven themselves. Products that are the very best of their kind. Products that you can trust to work well, no matter how epic your adventures are.
The classic Berthoud bags are a case in point. The one on my bike for the recent Oregon Outback FKT has already lived through the Concours de Machines, Paris-Brest-Paris, and two rides over the Oregon Outback, plus many other adventures in the Cascade Mountains. Our approach means that it takes a bit longer until new products are available, but there’s a reason for that: When we’re riding far off the beaten path, the last thing we want to worry about is our equipment.
Photo credits: Mark Vandekamp (Photo 1); Rugile Kaladyte (Photos 4, 6)