Gear Luggage

S Bag Buckle Source (USA)

These buckles from Amazon (USA) are the correct “Stealth” (made by National Molding) type used on my S bag flaps:At $7.45 for 25 buckles, these are quite economical, and useful for many non-Brompton projects, as well.  I’m glad to have them, since my local EMS has been out of these buckles for a month now, and no one seems to know when they  might turn up again.  I’d be glad to support the local [chain] store, but that’s not easy to do when no one knows when, or if, the product will return.  (It hasn’t escaped my notice that the quantity price is less than a tenth of the individual price, either.)

Clicking on my order history at Amazon brings up this page; the Amazon reviews include a lot of complaints about the wrong size buckle being sent.  My specific order was filled by M Y House ;  I don’t know if this was a vendor issue, or something else, but my buckles arrived exactly as described, correct in both form and type.  I didn’t chose the Amazon first-choice vendor because I suspected that was the source of the size  problems, since most people would have chosen the first offered vendor rather than looking further.

You can order from MY House by clicking on the “2 new” below the delivery notice (to the right of the Amazon image), and then placing your order with M Y House from the listings that show up. “Super Saver”  shipping applies.

(I have no association with either Amazon or M Y House, except as a rate-paying customer.)

Gear Luggage

Bend Dexter Flap for S Bag

The last thing I made before my ill-fated trip to pick up my Brompton (no Brompton yet; see previous post) was another flap for my S bag:

The Brompton S bag, has a removable cover, so I’ve been entertaining myself by making custom flaps. This one is Cordura (1000 weight) in chrome yellow and dark green. The strip — bend dexter, in heraldry — is ornamented with Demeritwear badges, which I enthusiastically collect.

Deciding how to arrange them took some fiddling:

As you can see, I originally went for bend sinister, but  decided against it. Nothing sinister going on here, no sir.

The main part of the flap pattern was re-drawn, cut to make room for the green strip, and the strip sewn into the resulting seams.  I was concerned that sewing the band directly on top of a complete yellow flap might make the flap too stiff across the area of the stripe.

Each of the badges has some personal meaning, but, together, they make for a colorful, distinctive, decoration for my bag. Besides, they’re just plain fun!

Other than the badge band, construction was identical to my previous flaps.  (You can see most of the assembly process here.)  I did add the heavy vinyl to the interior; the Cordura, on its own, wasn’t quite heavy enough when lined, as it was, only with ripstop nylon.

Pictures on the Brompton, eventually, when it arrives.

My Brompton

Soooooo . . .

I was supposed to pick up my Brompton last week. When I ordered it, I was told the approximate arrival date, which I double-checked when the marketing guy at the shop said it sounded too early.  The guy who does the orders, though,  told me that my Brompton was scheduled to be built in August, and to ship to the shop by September 10.

That was as fast as I’d been originally told, and a lot faster than the marketing guy had said.  I emailed him back, and Marketing Guy said that Order Guy was the one who knew, and that his dates should be good.

I was careful to avoid bombarding the shop with requests for status reports, but sent an email on the 9th, requesting my Brompton’s status.

On the 10th, Order Guy told me that my Brompton was on a delivery truck, and due at the shop by the end of the day.


Or not, as it turned out.

I sent Order Guy another email, asking if I could pick the bicycle up on Tuesday (and reminding him that I wanted a mirror installed).

Order Guy said that Tuesday wasn’t possible, but I could pick it up on Wednesday. He also said that he’d added the mirror to the work order, and even quoted the exact text.  I emailed back, say that that works fine (I was coming into the city from another state), and “See you Wednesday!”

Soooooo . . . . I arrange things, and show up on Wednesday.

The (very nice, sharp) guy who wrote up my original order is concerned when he sees me walk into the shop:  He knows it’s too early.

Order Guy is very, very squirrelly, and rushes around looking for my bike, muttering things I can’t quite understand.

Then he tells me he made “a typo” in an email, and meant to write “not”, as in “your Brompton is not ready”. I point out that this does not explain two other emails confirming the bike’s arrival, and that I can pick it up on Wednesday.

He squirrels some more, still, apparently, looking for the bike.

At which point I ask him, point blank,  if my bike is “physically present” in the store. He says “yes”, but his body language screams “I’m lying — get me out of here”.

Nice Guy, who, I belatedly realize, has figured out long before that the bike is still in London, has been discreetly hovering. Order Guy stares at the floor in abject misery, and finally says that he doesn’t know what he was looking at when he told me that my bike was in.  “This has never happened to me before” he wails.  He says he’d do anything to fix it, even spend his own money.

Which is, sadly, irrelevant, since nothing is going to get my Brompton out of England until it’s built and shipped.

But Order Guy never apologizes: Nice Guy does. Nice Guy also sends me out the door clutching a copy of The Brompton Book (which I’d intended to buy when picking up my bike) and a DVD documentary, which proves to be excellent.

Nice Guy also gives me an invaluable bit of information: It’s usually a week, after delivery, before a Brompton can be picked up, under any circumstances. If my bike had been on the truck on Monday, I’ll still probably have had to wait a week to pick it up. That’s good to know for next time.

I like Nice Guy. Nice Guy has been patient and thorough, all through this process (custom bike; ordering is complicated for a newbie like me). I feel as if Nice Guy is looking out for his customer in a way that Order Guy seems to miss completely.

Order Guy falls more than a bit short. Spending fifteen minutes looking for a bicycle he knew wasn’t there — and claimed, at one point, was, though he certainly knew by then that he’d messed up hugely — represents a real low.

Oh, and Order Guy apparently put the text about the mirror only into my email, not the work order. When I re-confirmed that it had been added to the work order as I was going out the door, Nice Guy had to add it. I guess all of Order Guy’s emails were “customer service theater” — you know, kind of like TSA’s approach to security. Or who knows, maybe somebody else’s work order now has a request to add a mirror appended.

So, five emails  since the order was placed, carefully confirming both expected delivery and [cough] actual delivery, and not one of them were accurate.

And I still have no Brompton.

Order Guy said that the new date was October 10, but he appeared to pull the date out of nowhere.

I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to see it by December. Unfortunately, I’ll be regarding the next email with some skepticism, and I’m guessing that going to pick up my Brompton won’t include the same heady thrill this trip did.  I’ll be coming from elsewhere again, later in the fall, and I’ll be wondering, the whole trip, if the bike is *really* there.

So sad.

Image from flickr.


Nice. Really Nice.

Is anyone else as in love with this logo as I am?  Here it is on the S bag strap pad:

So perfect.

(Kool-Aid? What Kool-Aid? I don’t know what you’re talking about!)

Gear Luggage

A New S Bag Flap

My S bag has a removable flap, so I’m entertaining myself by making variations as the whim strikes me.  This one’s made of canvas meant for outdoor furniture. Most of those fabrics are utterly hideous, so I was very happy to find this one, which was more “neutral” than “hideous”.

It seemed a little too neutral once I’d finished putting it all together, so I added the embroidered patch to break up the expanse a little.

You probably can’t make it out, but the bicycle wheel has a valve stem (!) at about 11 o’clock.  The patch came from a great little company called Demeritwear, which has a an amusing collection of patches — de-merits, I guess, to keep the scouting organizations from getting all huffy.

For this version of the S bag flap, I used a much heftier vinyl between ripstop layers than the one I used in the prototype. The vinyl was too heavy to pin, so I used office supply clips to hold the layers together, removing them one by one as I stitched.

I zigzag around these edges (everything except the outer fabric) before adding the hook-and-loop tapes and the buckles, since I don’t want the stitching to show on the front.  Here’s how the inside of the flap looked just before I attached the front material and finish everything with the binding:

Normally, I’d melt the edges of the ripstop used for the lining and interlining, but, since the raw edges are completely encased, I didn’t bother.

A couple of years ago, I bought some shower curtains that used nylon buckles as a design element. No curtain rings were necessary; the fabric was held across the rod by the buckles and webbing.  I cannibalized the buckles, creating a lifetime supply for my stash, and used the short webbing strips to on this S bag flap — so I didn’t have to melt the ends of the webbing either.


A Fine Read

You know, this anticipating business is taxing.  Mr. Diarist came home from the library the other day with this book, though, and I’ve spent several happy hours reading it, and, hence, somewhat distracted from my present, Brompton-less, state.

The McConnons’ Road to Valor. is essentially a biography of Italian bicycle racer Gino Bartali, but interwoven through his story are all sorts of corollary histories:  the development of the Tour de France; fascism, bicycles and propaganda in Italy and in Germany; the social history of much of Italy during Bartali’s early years, and more.

Though I have no interest at all in competitive sport, I was hooked from the very first pages, and especially taken with the acknowledgment of what bicycles meant, particularly to the young in villages like the one from which Bartali came.  Two wheels, in the early 20th century, meant unheard-of mobility, and the potential for equally improbable freedom.

[Gino] and [his brother] Giulio rode on their bikes all over the countryside near Florence, with a band of their classmates like a herd of Tuscan horses that galloped in the grasslands nearby.  “I felt like one of those foals,” Gino said, “the young horses who ran with their manes in the wind without the slightest restraint.”

Bartali was an internationally famous bicycle racer and a Tour de France record-holder, but who among us — among those of us who love cycles — doesn’t have, at times, moments as glorious as those Bartali describes? But you  needn’t be a cyclist, a history buff, or a sports fan to enjoy this utterly fascinating read — anyone with a lively and curious mind will find it entertaining, and a fine way to while away the hours you might otherwise spend yearning for some treasure of your own, which has yet to arrive, should you find yourself in that particular situation.