Douchebags' The Savage Bike Bag really does a great job of protecting your bike. The internal cage arguably makes it more robust than many boxes, and it's very easy to assemble and pack. It is a little difficult to cart round airports and may be a struggle to fit in a car – and some extra protection might be needed beneath your drivetrain – but I don't think you'll be disappointed if you opt for one.
Pros: Very good protection, easy to use, collapsible
Cons: Expensive, clearance on the short side, difficult to move around
Douchebags started out making ski bags in 2012, and has since expanded its range to include backpacks, suitcases and this bike bag, The Savage. Why Douchebags? There's no real explanation, but you'll be pleased to know that only the initials 'Db' are printed on the side of The Savage instead of the full moniker, to save you getting sniggered at when you cart it through the airport.
It's described as "one bag to rule them all", and is suitable for pretty much anything with two wheels, from road to fat bikes.
For a bag it's not exactly light at 11.8kg; in fact it's heavier than some boxes, with a Bike Box Alan coming in at 11.2kg. That means you're all good for the majority of airlines (Easyjet's limit is 32kg, for example) but if you're flying with, say, Aer Lingus, whose limit is 23kg, then really you're limited to packing a light road bike and not much else unless you pay a hefty excess.
Having said that, the Savage is no ordinary softshell, with the internal 'Roll Cage' inspired by racing cars offering far more protection than most bags.
My main test trip started in Bristol and went on to Florida via Gatwick. I booked a one-way car hire to get to the airport on the way out, and would attempt to board a coach from Gatwick back to the South West on the way home, meaning life with the Douchebags was tested over a pretty comprehensive spectrum of scenarios.
When there's no bike in it, the Douchebags can be compressed to a claimed 35 per cent of its size, which makes it long and thin like a golf bag and it can still be wheeled around (I'd find this feature particularly useful when I arrived in the States).
For me, the sign of a decent product is one you can get to grips with without consulting the instructions... and the Douchebags passes with flying colours.
When I expanded the bag and unzipped it, I was a little daunted at the sight of all the poles, straps and extra attachments at first, but it's incredibly intuitive to put together and builds up into a cage that you attach your bike to.
Hardly any disassembly of your bike is required: you just need to remove both wheels, let down your saddle, loosen your handlebar and you're ready to start packing.
Douchebags recommends removing the cage from the bag to make it easier to mount your bike. You secure the bike in place with the straps, and there's a detachable 'bag' to slot your fork into. There's also a protector to stop your handlebar from making contact with the frame, so you can just strap it up flush with your fork.
Once that's done, you load the whole thing into the Savage in one go, then zip up the outer tightly around the cage. It acts like a tent, with your bike making no contact whatsoever with the bag.
The only things I felt needed a bit of extra protection were my chainrings, as I found the 55t on my TT bike didn't quite clear the ground. I decided to reinforce with some bubble wrap under the chainrings and chain to prevent any damage. While many frequent flyers swear by removing the rear mech to avoid a snapped hanger, I left mine on as it looked perfectly safe to me inside the bag.
> How to fly with your bike
I also had space/weight left over to put all my riding kit, gadgets, toiletries and helmet in there, so I didn't have to bother booking any additional luggage.
Car to plane
For the drive to the airport I only just managed to get the bag in my hire car, and on arrival it was quite a long walk to departures – and it's here where I feel the bag falls a bit short. You have to cart it around on its two back wheels (the only two wheels), which is a bit cumbersome and gets quite tiring as you're taking quite a bit of the weight. Some trolley-like swivel wheels wouldn't go amiss on all four corners of the bag.
The handle for pulling it along is just about big enough, and there are also inserts on either side to pick the whole bag up. These are quite subtle and awkward to locate, which I reckon is unintentionally a great idea because it means baggage handlers will find it pretty difficult to try throwing it around. The larger dimensions mean most average-size humans won't be able to get their arms across it, providing a further deterrent for potentially rough handlers.
On the other side I had another hire car to pick up, and this time I wasn't so lucky getting the Douchebags into it. I realised there was no option but to take my bike out of the bag, in the car park, and try to fit everything in separately, which could have been a nightmare but actually didn't take too long thanks to the bag's simple disassembly.
Similarly, on the way back I had to pack my bike into the Savage after returning the car, and managed to do it in seven minutes flat in the parking lot. I might have missed a strap or two, but the bike was packed perfectly securely even though I was in a bit of a mad rush. The long and short of it is – with dimensions of 145cm (length) x 87cm (height) x 30cm (width), it's not going to fit in most smaller cars when packed.
Landing back in the UK, I managed to board a National Express coach with the Douchebags quite easily (something that can be a problem with nitpicky coach drivers), as it slotted down the side of the luggage compartment taking up fairly little space width-ways.
All was well with my bike when I unpacked it after arriving home, and once again I got my bike out and rolled the bag up to store away in a matter of minutes.
In terms of value, there's no getting away from the fact that this might be the most expensive bike bag we've come across. Scicon's Aerocomfort comes in at £525, and you can pick up an Evoc Travel bag for around £300 nowadays.
> Buyer's Guide: 15 of the best bike bags and boxes
It's even at the very top end compared to hardshell cases, with Scicon's Aerotech Evolution and the Buxum Box Tourmalet being rare examples of boxes that are more expensive. With the amount of protection the Douchebags offers, it's probably fairer to compare it to hardshell cases, so you could say it's not THE most expensive, and worth splashing out on if you really want peace of mind.
Overall, the Douchebags Savage is certainly the most robust soft bag I've ever tested, and in terms of protection it's the bee's knees. The size might be a problem when you're attempting to load it into vehicles and cart it around the airport, but on the other hand this means it's much less likely to be dealt with roughly by rogue airport baggage handlers. It's also very easy and quick to pack, making for a largely stress-free packing experience.
Simple to use and very secure, but not the easiest to cart around
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Make and model: Douchebags The Savage Bike Bag
Size tested: Length: 145cm Height: 87cm Width: 30cm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Douchebags says: "Mountain bikes and road bikes - one bag to rule them all! Inspired by the lifesaving roll cages used in racing cars, the construction of The Savage centres around the unique and patented Db Roll Cage which will protect your bike in an exceptional way. Combining high durability, steadiness and compressibility. The Savage will redefine travelling with bikes."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Internal 'roll cage' adds protective structure
Hook-up system makes it possible to dock other Db luggage and packs to the bag
Secure fastening of the bike to cage
Internal stash pocket for pedals etc
Detachable fork protector
Integrated wheel compartments
Fits any size bike
Can be compressed and rolled up to 35% of its size
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Very high quality, built to last.
Rate the product for performance:
In terms of protection it's great.
Rate the product for durability:
No doubts, this is the most durable and secure bag I've tested.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
11.8kg is as heavy as some hard cases, but it will be fine on most airlines.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Could do with some better handles for carting through the airport.
Rate the product for value:
The most expensive bike bag I've come across, but it looks better compared with hardshell cases.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
In terms of protection and ease of use it surpassed expectations. It's problematic to get in a car and isn't the easiest to wheel around, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Durability, level of protection offered, how easy it is to pack and disassemble.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You have to carry it on the back two wheels, handles aren't the best, the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
One of the most expensive bike bags or cases we've come across. Scicon's Aerocomfort is £525, and you can get an Evoc Travel Bag for less than £300. I can only find hard cases that are more expensive, such as the Buxum Box Tourmalet and Scicon Aerotech Evolution.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes (if they could afford it).
Use this box to explain your overall score
For the money you'd want it to be perfect, and there are a couple of things I'd like ironing out before splashing out so much cash. But if you prioritise protection for your bike, it's well worth looking into.
Age: 27 Height: 179cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
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