LUGGAGE: Formosa Saddlebag Review.

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k1dude
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LUGGAGE: Formosa Saddlebag Review.

Post by k1dude »

I first saw mention of these saddlebags in a Consumer Reports blog post. I followed the link provided to www.formosasaddlebags.com. It turns out the product was invented by an American that lives in Taiwan. He's an English teacher that rides a scooter everyday and he needed better storage options. So he developed the product for himself. But so many people began to ask for one, he started selling them. They have sold well in Taiwan and he recently began selling them here in the US.

The website seemed poorly constructed, but the product intrigued me. So I ordered a black pair in large using my credit card through PayPal. They also come in red and blue. Large is supposed to fit any 80cc to 125cc scooter. But the Buddy 50cc is the same size as the Buddy 150cc, so I wasn't sure how that would translate as far as sizing. I ordered the large anyway and it seems to be the right size for my Buddy 125. Although, I wonder if the medium would have worked as well since it's for a 50cc scooter.

The price of $32.50 is reasonable. But the final price is $50 which includes $17.50 for shipping. The shipping seemed a little steep until I got the package. It turns out the bags ship directly from Taiwan.

The saddlebags came wrapped in a plain clear plastic bag inside a plain cardboard box. There is no art on the package nor instructions in the bag. Fortunately the installation is fairly intuitive.

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The product consists of two water-resistant nylon bags sown to a neoprene seat cover. The seat cover stretches over your seat. The smaller of the two bags goes on the side your exhaust is on. It's a smaller bag so it won't touch your exhaust pipe and melt. To secure the seat cover to your seat, a cord is provided to cinch the neoprene under your seat.

Without instructions, I first threaded the tie cord through the perimeter loops on the underside of the seat cover. But then I realized something must be missing. One of the interesting features of the Formosa Saddlebags is they have underseat storage in addition to the bags. So I wondered if there was a storage net that was missing from my package. I went back to their website and found my answer in a photo under the “Shopping” link. You're not supposed to thread the cord around the perimeter, you're supposed to start criss-crossing the cord after the first 2 loops on the sides. The criss-crossed cord is what provides you with some additional storage. You can also find the instructions under their “How to Use” link.

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But, that nifty underseat storage takes away the ability to keep your full-face helmet under your seat. It would be fine for those scooters that can't fit a full-face. But for the Buddy, which can, it's a drawback. That is unless you're one of those riders that doesn't store your helmet under the seat. Some of us take our helmets with us and some of us use our D-rings to hang the helmet on the grocery bag pins next to the seat hinge. Others have so much junk in their pet carrier they can't fit their helmet in there anyway. So you have to judge for yourself if it's an acceptable trade-off.

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After you tie the cord, you're ready to roll. It probably took less than 5 minutes to install. I might change one thing in the future. I'd like to be able to install/remove the saddlebags quickly. So instead of tying the cord every time, I might install an S-hook or something similar to make it quick and easy.

For those of you that like to keep your Buddy pristine, you might not like the fact that the bags rest against your cowls finish. I don't know if the nylon bags will remove your paint over time, but there is that possibility. Perhaps in future editions of the product, microfiber cloth or something similar could be sown underneath the bags to prevent that from happening. That's assuming there's a problem to begin with. For those of you that like a well worn looking scooter, it won't matter either way. But I'll be keeping my bags rolled-up when I'm not using them just in case.

I did notice one underseat perimeter cord loop leftover on the outside front of my seat. I guess since the product is for all scooters, our hinge prevents us with Buddy's from using that loop. It's not a negative in any way. It's just an observation. In fact, some enterprising rider might figure out a use for it.

I tried rolling-up the bags into the storage configuration. I found that since they use a coated nylon to keep water out, it's fairly airtight. So you have to open the zippers first. Otherwise it'll be like trying to roll up full balloons. Don't roll them up too tight or you won't have any hook and loop left to attach it to. When they're rolled up, it looks like you have two rocket launchers attached to your saddle.

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I noticed when the exterior flap covers the bag, some zipper is still showing on the front part of the bag. I imagine that if you're traveling at high speed in the rain, you might get some water in the bag through that small part of the zipper showing. I could be wrong, but it might be something to look out for. Until I find out otherwise, I think I might put my laptop or other electronics in a plastic bag just in case.

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Now for my first attempt at using them! I rode to the grocery store with the bags unrolled and empty. I wanted to see if they would flap around at high speed. I was pleasantly surprised. I took them up to 50 bmph with nary a movement. I noticed my hamstrings touch the bags when I put my feet down at stop lights. But it wouldn't cause any problems of any kind that I can think of even when fully loaded.

I only had a light grocery run (1 gal. non-fat milk, 1 qt. whole milk, and bananas), so I didn't get to test them with a huge load. But let it be known, these bags are HUGE and can hold a lot! I loaded both milks on one side just to see if the load would shift the seat cover. It didn't. But as a general rule, you should always try to keep your load evenly distributed between the two bags. I also wouldn't put any groceries that need to stay cold in the smaller bag over the exhaust.

I did find out that you have to carefully think ahead and plan your loading and unloading strategy. I was so wrapped up in playing around with loading the bags and taking photos, that I didn't get my gloves, hi-viz vest, and Xena case out of the pet carrier first. My helmet was also still attached by the D-rings to an underseat pin. So I had to unload the groceries out of the bags, get my stuff out of the pet carrier, and start all over. I wouldn't put something you need to get to in the pet carrier when you have heavy stuff in the saddlebags. If you have a top case, put the stuff you need to get to in there.

After my groceries were loaded, I noticed the bags sag. They certainly aren't the prettiest storage option out there. They don't hold their shape like a Prima bag (topcase). But a Prima bag doesn't hold as much and can't roll up out of the way when you don't need it. These bags aren't going to win any beauty contests though.

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I got home and everything performed as it should have. Or so I thought until I got off the scooter. I noticed the larger of the two bags rested against my center stand foot rest. When the bag is loaded with heavy milk jugs, it sat against the foot rest when the center stand is folded in the upright position. That makes it hard to find the foot rest to lower your stand. I also don't know if a heavier load might lower your center stand a little and make scraping your stand a little easier. It didn't appear to do that, but I didn't have a real heavy load in the bag to find out. I imagine with some scooters this wouldn't be a problem. But with the Buddy it is. I don't think it's a serious problem, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

All-in-all, I think Formosa Saddlebags are a worthy product at a good price. They are well made, water-resistant, and appear durable. They can carry an incredible amount of stuff and they roll up and out of the way when you don't need them. I know I will be using mine a lot. Practical is the word that comes to mind. With further use, I'll update this review if needed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did offer to help the inventor try to establish distribution of his product at some of my area scooter stores. I will not be receiving any form of compensation. I will be doing this as a favor to him. I also disclose that I did not send him a copy of this review. He has had no input or influence on my review.
Last edited by k1dude on Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rayk
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Post by rayk »

Nice review. Great pictures. Kudos for your disclosures at the end.
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newslinky
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Post by newslinky »

Yes nice review. I have the cowl protectrs on my scoot and am wondering how any saddlebags might rest with the protectors in place. Your pics at least give a bit of help in visualizing what the end result would look like. Thanks!
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Post by ericalm »

Moving to reviews section!
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jimsr55
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Formosa Bag Price

Post by jimsr55 »

When did you purchase your saddle bag and was it from the formosabags.com website? I went there recently to purchase one for my scoot but don't think it will fit with the king & queen style seat. Also the price was $109.20 for any size.
Oparu
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These bags are on sale at Danny's Scooter Shop

Post by Oparu »

If anyone is in the Boston area or south of there, Danny's Scooter Shop is having a going out of business sale and these formosa saddle bags were there on sale for $29.99. I got the large black ones for my buddy 125 today. They also have a lot of other scooter stuff (e.g. clothes, cases, windshields, etc.) on sale, so if you need any scooter stuff, they might have a good deal for you. Oh yeah, they're at 105 Memorial Drive, Avon, MA. They have limited hours now because they're winding down their business. You might want to call if you're interested in going. Their website is: http://www.dannysscootershop.com/
Oparu
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few more pics of these bags on my blog

Post by Oparu »

I just posted an extension of this review with a couple of my pictures of these bags on my blog and cited your review in my post.
http://bostoncheapeats.blogspot.com/201 ... eview.html

These bags can hold about 3 full grocery bags of stuff!
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PeteH
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Post by PeteH »

Checking out the original vendor's website, (a) price (shipped overnight) is now $55US, and (b) the bags now ship from the US.

I really like the clever roll-up-when-unused design.
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