The bagels taste strange.
Forget to add one or more ingredients? Or did you add the wrong ones? Organize your baking shelf so ingredients are in the order required by the machine manufacturer. Take them all out when you begin, and put each one back as soon as you've used it.
Bagel bottoms are burned.
Using a thin aluminum cookie sheet or aluminum foil? Bagels tend to bake hotter and faster on Teflon-coated baking sheets. Try a lower temperature, a longer baking time and a darker baking surface than shiny aluminum. Place the pan just below the middle of the oven, not at the bottom rack position. Also, check your oven's temperature with an oven thermometer. Or adjust the baking time and temperature.
The bagel seems too dense and tough.
Boil the bagels too long? Boiling too long can make the dough dense and tough. There may also be mixing problems; too much flour or too much whole grain flour will amke the dough heavy and dense. Measure carefully. Add gluten to the dough an dextral liquid to dough.
Weather can be a factor too.
Dough was improperly kneaded.
This is more likely to happen when kneading by hand or with a food processor or heavy-duty mixer. Dough must be worked long enough to activate the gluten and make the dough elastic. Stretching dough while kneading is necessary for activating gluten.
Dough doesn't rise.
Is the yeast old or was it improperly stored? Yeast should be used before the expiration date on the package and, once opened, it should be refrigerated.
How do you store the bagels properly?
Bagels stale rapidly. They should either be eaten while they're fresh or stored in the freezer. Defrost them quickly (under a minute) on Low in a microwave, or at room temperature, and then toast. Or cut in half before freezing, and toast the halves directly from the freezer.
Honey and molasses are hard to measure, because they stick to the spoon.
When recipes call for both oil and sticky sweeteners, such as malt syrup, honey or molasses, measure the oil first and use the same spoon for the sweetener; it will slide off the spoon easily.
I live in a high altitude.
All bread books caution that in areas that are 3, 000 feet or more above sea level, high altitude adjustments may be required. There are no exact rules and some experimentatioin should be expected. I tested six basic rfecipes at 6, 000 feet (Albuquerque, New AMexico, in winter), and found no consistent difference in the amounts of ingredients needed. Some recipes require a little extra water, but that may have been for a variety of reasons. Even the boiling time remained consistent, although some people who live at high altitudes reported that they boiled the bagels for up to 6 minutes. Longer than that made them hard as rocks.
The Best Bagels Are Made At Home by Dona Z. Meilach Isbn 1-55867-131-5