We couldn't find what we wanted.
Why does any product need to exist? Why take the time, the money, and the effort and stress to create something new from nothing? Creating something doesn't even mean it will sell, so why create something that might just lose a bunch of money?
You’re reading this on our website that sells our product because lots of bad gear bags have been sold to cyclists. Lots of cycling bags missed the mark and left consumers like us wanting and needing more.
We didn’t intend to start a business that made The Bag. We were just trying to solve a bunch of problems we had as cyclists.
- The stuff we used on our rides was everywhere - closet, garage, pantry, bins, bags etc
- Losing gear in the garage and in the car
- Showing up to ride without things you thought you had, or forgot to grab
- Not having gear we need when weather or conditions change
- Too much time spent packing and unpacking
- Having to store travel bags while we're not traveling
- Putting our stuff into a "gear bag" or bin, then having to dig and search for it. No actual organization. Just a big 'ol contained pile.
- Never having a place for our wet, muddy stuff.
Our list of needs wasn’t that long, nor complicated. But not a single product came even close to meeting all of them. So, we’ve ended up here, now, with Parc and The Bag. We solved our own problem.
We decided that our ideal solution combined some sort of garage/indoors gear organizing system with a functional travel bag that eliminated any digging/searching. Simple, right? Apparently not.
Why most “gear bags” or “race day bags” stink...
As we said, existing products just didn't satisfy our list of needs. The reason they couldn't meet our needs as cyclists boils down to two key characteristics -
- Versatility (or lack thereof)
- Organization (or lack thereof)
Let's paint pictures to illustrate our point. Three scenarios.
Scenario #1: Sometimes, we ride from our house. Perhaps a late evening loop around the surrounding neighborhoods, or a weekend morning coffee ride. We go to the closet, pick out our kit, get dressed and head to the garage. From the shelf, we grab our shoes. Pull the helmet from a hook. Rifle through your drawers for a spare tube and a tire lever. Oops, run back inside to the pantry for a Clif Bar. It's chilly, but I can't remember which bin has the arm warmers. Is that the same one where I stuck my gloves? Last stop is the tool box for some chain lube and a rag. Ok, all set, time to... oh, wait. Nope. Where's my Garmin? Ok, found it. Great, and we're off.
Scenario #2:Other times, we are meeting friends across town, driving to the start of the ride. Perhaps we're headed out of town for a whole weekend of riding. We run around the house, gathering our things and throwing them into the back seat of the car. Maybe we are using a duffel bag, or an existing cycling specific "gear bag". We pack up, we go, we ride and then we come home and unpack.
Scenario #3: There's a race across town, and we're riding our bike to the race. This happened regularly in Chicago! No car, but you still need all your gear. We all know if you don't take something, you're guaranteed to need it.
There are plenty of decent products that solve one of the scenarios. But, not a single product, before The Bag, solved all three. If you're already going to have all your gear organized in the garage, why would you want to remove the gear and re-pack it in something else? The perfect solution to both scenarios would keep your gear organized at home, on the road, and in-between, requiring no unpacking and re-packing. Like taking the garage with you.
This is what we mean by versatility. Single use (just for home, or just for travel) is just not ideal. If you have a travel bag, but you're not traveling, then it sits unused, taking up space. If you have an amazing garage setup, why would you want to just dump your gear in a pile in a bag or bin?
One professional cyclist & gravel racer who tested The Bag called The Bag "the take-it-all Bag!" As in, don't just grab a few things, take it all!
Solution:The Bag is built to be excellent home storage AND your travel Bag, allowing you to take all gear you might need on the ride without any packing. Carry The Bag to the car and you're ready to go! Or zip it up and ride to your destination. You will use The Bag every time you ride.
No scenario/solution breakout here, but let's talk about what real organization is. A true system for organization is NOT:
- Just more pockets
- Bigger, deeper pockets
It doesn't matter how many pockets you have! We maintain that the true measure of organization is whether or not you can grab each single item without moving other items. To do this, you need to be able to see your stuff.
To do this, you have to take into account every item. How good is a big, deep pocket if you're trying to store a spare chain link, a derailleur hanger and a couple tire levers? They'll be lost in the abyss! Shoes on the other hand, or a helmet, needs a totally different space. Gear that's often wet? Or gear that you want to keep dry? It all needs its own space.
Once you figure out which items you're storing, you think about how often are you going to need each item. Certain items may be grabbed every time you use the bag. Others may be true "just-in-case" items. You don't need them front and center.
Lastly, how do you keep items near other similar items, without creating a pile? All clothing in one place, or all your tools together. Organizing systems must take all of this into account.
A bag, or something else?
First, let’s back up one step. We’re already talking about bags, but really a bag is just one way to store and transport stuff. Just like a bin is. Or a box. It’s a potential solution certain problems. But is it the best solution?
The first, and biggest problem is the combination of bags, bins, drawers, pockets and closets that have combined to make a mess of our cycling gear. The gear that we use most often should not be in eight different places.
We should not have snacks in the kitchen, arm and leg warmers in the closet, extra socks in drawers, tools in the garage drawer, gloves in a plastic bin and your extra tubes and multi-tool somewhere on a shelf.
When our stuff is scattered like this, just getting out the door to ride means visiting all those spots, searching for and remembering to grab all these things.
This is time that you’re wasting, stress that you’re accruing, and ride time that you’re giving up. This also means you’re leaving yourself susceptible to forgotten items that ruin rides. We’ve all shown up to ride without our shoes or helmet or other critical piece of equipment. It sucks!
There’s no need for this. If we store all of our stuff in one place, then it’s all there when it is time to ride. This seems simple, right? Yet, we don’t do it. So, our first principal for The Bag was that it has to be a one stop shop. We want to go to one place, get all the stuff we need and then throw a leg over our bike and leave.
If we’re going by car, we want to go to one place, grab all of our cycling gear at one time, and put it in the car without moving any individual items. We want to be confident that we’ve forgotten nothing.
Too much packing
Now if you use a bag or a bin or some other gear transportation, you know that without a single place for all of your gear, you do a lot of packing. Retrieving your things from umpteen different places around your house, shoving them all into a bag or bin, putting them in your car, going to ride, returning, and undoing all the work you did hours prior. Then, that bag or the bin sits empty while you’re not using it, taking up space.
To us, this is a nonstarter. We don’t like packing and we don’t like having unused single-use objects lying around the house. Why would we buy an organization solution for at home, and also buy a bag meant to take our gear out of our home? Why shouldn’t those be the same thing? Well, now they are. The Bag is equal parts home storage and travel bag.
Lack of specific organization
If we’re gonna talk about home storage our next pet peeve was the lack of dedicated storage built for our cycling gear. We have plastic drawers, metal drawers, toolboxes, plastic bins, giant reusable bags, etc., but none of them were built for cyclists. The best solutions we can find for any type of cycling gear organization were small wall-mounted shelves meant for helmets, shoes, and sunglasses. Most incorporate a bike rack of some sort.
So, with The Bag we set out to build cycling specific storage. What does that mean?
That means that our big items like helmets and shoes are treated with the same respect as the tiny items like spare chain links, CO2 and spare tubes.
When we say respect, we mean accessibility. You are only truly organized if you can access every item in your possession at any moment. This is especially handy when it’s race day, and you’ve raced back to your car before the start, because you forgot your gloves.
To enable this sort of grab and go organization we looked at all the gear we use regularly. Then we organized and built our pockets to hold that gear. You’ll see that The Bag has three cinched mesh pockets. These are “quick grab pockets” built specifically for the items you’re most likely to grab as soon as you get out of the car or every time you ride. This may include a spare tube, your computer, or your heart rate strap. You’ll see clear vinyl pockets - some big, some smaller. The volume on the smaller pockets was intentionally limited to make sure that nothing got lost in the bottom.
There’s nothing worse than what we call a “black hole pocket.”
You can probably guess from the name, but a black hole pocket is where gear disappears. You throw it in, and then you have to turn The Bag inside out to find it again. That’s not organization, and it’s annoying.
We put four mesh pockets on the inside of the lower large interior pocket. Those four interior mesh pockets were included because every time we filled the large pocket with our extra kit, our gloves and socks tended to get lost. We wanted to know exactly where each pair of gloves, our spare socks and shoe covers were. There’s no reason gloves should be getting lost amongst jersey, vests, arm and leg warmers.
All of The Bags that we looked at during our research phase failed these previous criteria in spectacular form. Black hole pockets everywhere! Small items were not given the same thought as larger items. No attention was given to how quickly you could access items. And across-the-board, every bag was designed to be used only when traveling.Innovative, versatile, unique
The link between all these criteria, that allows The Bag to be truly innovative and unique, is the versatility of carry options. If The Bag didn’t have different modes, it wouldn’t be useful at home and on the road. It would also be a single use bag.
At Parc, our team has pretty much ridden and raced bikes however you can ride and race. We put all of that experience and the needs of each discipline into The Bag.
All together, we like to think that we created a “gear solution” or “gear system,” not just a bag. The Bag is built to be your unwavering companion, there for every ride and race. Like having a soigneur at your side, handing you what you need at all times. Yes, there is a small, simple joy in organization. But, it’s more than that. There is an enormous amount of joy in thinking about riding your bike, and actually riding your bike, instead of digging maniacally for those warm gloves you swear you brought.