One always experiences a certain sense of foreboding when waving farewell to one’s bike at the airport check-in. As it disappears down the conveyer belt, you can only hope that the baggage handler charged with the responsibility of ensuring that it is safely stowed away in the hold when you take off, is a keen cyclist with a full appreciation of the fragility of your aero wheels and rear derailleur.
Protection is everything and, not surprisingly, the majority of bike boxes on the market are hard shell, providing sturdy and robust protection for the contents. Bike bags, on the other hand, may not offer the same reassurance, but they will still provide a high level of protection, with the added benefit that they can be easily stored when not in use, both at home and abroad.
The Italian brand, SCICON, has over 30 years of experience in designing and manufacturing bike bags and boxes and throughout that time has worked alongside many professional teams and riders to develop their products, ensuring they meet the specific needs of the cycling enthusiast.
Furthermore, Scicon enjoy the endorsement of the pro peloton too: Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff team, the boys and girls at Orica-GreenEdge and Cav’s former team mates at Etixx-Quick-Step, all use Scicon bags to transport their bikes between training camps and races.
SCICON claim that their AeroComfort 2.0 TSA is ‘the number 1 bike bag in the World’. Wheelsuckers’ member Mark Howard has been giving the stylish looking AeroComfort bag a comprehensive assessment and in the first instalment of a two part review, he focuses on its functionality and build quality. Will Scicon’s bold claims stand up to Mark’s forensic scrutiny?
In Part Two, Mark will be travelling to Mallorca and reporting back on how the AeroComfort performs and, most importantly, if it delivered his bike back home in the same condition in which it left!
First Impressions of the AeroComfort 2.0 TSA
The moment I took the AeroComfort out of the bag, I was impressed by the rugged, heavy duty quality of the Denier 840 nylon outer shell. It looks tough, feels tough and oozes quality. It is also well padded, with high density foam and mounted on a solid but lightweight impact-absorbing Anti-Shock Frame.
This frame provides a solid and stable base for mounting your bike and affords good all-round protection. In fact, so solid are the frame and bag that it stands up on its own, even without a bike inside!
The frame is mounted on 40 mm rubber caster wheels, perhaps a bit on the small side for gravel and uneven pavements but they’re solid enough and are bolted to the frame itself rather than the bag material. As such, they’re rigid, smooth and glide well (at least across kitchen floors and carpets). And they even have replaceable bearings - in the event of one of the wheels breaking, a spare is provided and they are easily replaced.
External lateral shield cups offer good protection to bike wheels hubs and cassettes and on initial inspection, it’s clear that all the components are of a sound build quality. The zip is large-toothed, robust and operates smoothly and I found no manufacturing defects to metal, wheels, fabric, straps or zips. All the stitching was substantial and intact. So far, impressive.
Quality construction and atttention to details are evident in every aspect of the AeroComfort
Ease of Use
One of the great strengths of the AeroComfort is that it is incredibly easy to pack, secure, transport and stow. Unlike most bags and boxes on the market, you only need to take the wheels of your bike to pack it up. None of that faffing about, having to take of pedals, bars and seat posts.
My bike is a large frame with 44cm handle bars and there was no need to make any adjustments to the seat post, saddle, bars or pedals. With wheels removed, the rear stays and front forks are secured to the solid “axle mounts” (Scicon helpfully include quick release levers, one of which has an integrated rear derailleur guard). And because the mounts are solid, there’s no risk of lateral compression to forks or stays. The front mount is easily adjustable to accommodate any bike size.
The compartments for the wheels are large enough to take a wheel within a padded wheel bag.
The wheels are stored inside interior zipped pockets that have good padding and large enough to accommodate wheels within wheel bags (should you be that paranoid about protection!). They are also well positioned to avoid conflict with the pedals.
Once your bike frame’s mounted on the chassis and the wheels stowed, it’s just a simple case of attaching padding to frame tubes, forks and bars and then using the internal straps to hold it firmly in place, like a seat belt system. Two straps over the bars, one over the saddle’s neoprene protective cover and one over the top tube. Pulled tight, the straps hold the side panels in place and the bag’s ready for zipping and locking.
Bagged up, showing the straps that hold the bike firmly in place
It really is that simple, but of course there are videos giving clear instructions. In all, it takes only about 10 minutes to pack your bike: no Allen keys or tape measures required.
Once packed, you’ll notice how well designed the shape and size of the bag is. It neatly accommodated my large bike and the internal strap system kept the side panels from sagging. With padded carry straps attached, it’s very easy to push or pull the bag around or lift over obstacles. Its shape and weight distribution allowed for a comfortable carry.
But the sound design doesn’t stop there. The bag has a zipped internal pocket for skewers, tools and small accessories. An external zipped pocket is handy for stowing the removable carry straps when you leave it in the caring hands of baggage handlers.
The bag comes with a lot of goodies; 2 Quick release skewers, 1 padded shoulder strap, 1 front hand strap, 2 handlebar pads and 2 tube protectors, an accessories bag, storage bag, neoprene saddle cover, rear derailleur protector, spare chassis wheel, a mini-pump and a TSA combination padlock. There’s also a tag to tie flight labels to and a permanently attached but concealed address label on the outside.
Protection: the AeroComfort 2.0 versus a Hard Shell Bike Box
Many cyclists taking their bike abroad, will opt for a hard shell case when travelling by air. That’s understandable – the hard outer shell provides a reassurance that your bike will arrive intact. One shouldn’t discount a bike bag though: they’re generally smaller, lighter, more comfortable and therefore easier to lug around. And then there is the ease of storage too.
Ultimately, even the best soft bag can’t afford the same level of protection as a good quality hard shell box and that’s the trade-off: ultimate protection for greater versatility.
Personally, I think the risks are minimal and I’m happy to use this bag to get my £3k bike to Mallorca and back. However, I will be addressing some areas of vulnerability by adding extra protection for my own peace of mind.
The derailleur guard, pictured below, is a little small in my view and provision of just two tube protectors is inadequate. I’ll go into more details about this in Part Two of the review, which will be published after I return from Spain.
Despite its solid build, the bag weighs in at only 9.2 kg (including padding and carry straps), so with airline weight limits of around 30 kilos, there’s plenty of scope for a big heavy bike and/or plenty of extra kit.
This is the first time I will be transporting my bike in a bag, but on my initial assessment I am entirely confident that the Aerocomfort’s build quality, ruggedness and level of protection (with a bit of tweaking) will ensure my bike arrives at my hotel in Mallorca in one, undamaged piece!
Ultimately it’s not as protective as a hard bike box, but it’s still tough. It’s lightweight and as it’s collapsible, it offers much greater versatility when it comes to transportation and storage. It’s also compact enough to fit in the back of a small hatchback, if you are intending to hire a car whilst away.
The AeroComfort comfortably fits into a small hatchback, in this case a Toyota Yaris.
The AeroComfort was comes with a global limited lifetime guarantee, so rest assured that Scicon are confident about this bag’s ability. I’ll find out soon and report back. Vamos!
The Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 TSA Bike Bag retails at £445, but if that price tag leaves you a little short of breath, then check out the link below for an exclusive deal that Scicon are offering Wheelsuckers' members. Just be sure to enter the code WHEELSUCKERS2016 at checkout.
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