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June 9, 2011
Lately I’ve found myself much more interested in products that make my cycling life easier, rather than the hi-tech stuff that’s supposedly going to make me go faster.
Over the past few days I’ve been doing some air travel with my bike and in a couple more weeks I’ll be doing a whole lot more. The bike bag I currently own is a Pika Packworks. I spent a lot of time researching bike bags and figuring out exactly what I wanted out of one as it’s something I only want to buy once. I’m awfully proud of that purchase, however I just discovered one that’s much better in terms of convenience. The Scicon Aerocomfort Plus.
My Pika Packworks bag is awesome. I have no post-purchase regrets whatsoever, but the one problem with it is that it takes a good 15 minutes of disassembly and packing of the bike. This is fine for trips where I’ll be riding lots in between arrival and departure, however short weekend trips become a bit of a hassle.
Since I had to go to Adelaide for the past couple of days with my bike (more on that tomorrow) I asked a mate if I could borrow his Scicon bag. Whenever we’re travelling home from races he’s always the only stress-free guy who has his bike all packed up a couple minutes before we head to the airport.
This thing is brilliant. You simply remove the wheels, put them in the side pouch, clamp the bike onto the bag’s internal frame, remove the rear derailleur, and you’re done. No messing with the handlebars, pedals, seat post, packing materials, etc. It literally takes a minute or two.
The other thing that made the bag so convenient and easy were its caster wheels. The rolled through the airport like a dream. However, the wheels that came on the bag were cheap, didn’t roll nicely (or straight), and basically fell apart after the first couple uses. My mate bought some new caster wheels and replaced the originals. After that the bag rolled like it was on a set of Lightweights.
This particular bag has only been used 3 times, but there is a considerable amount of wear in the material that touches the wheel hub. Scicon has reinforced this area on the inside but it needs more protection than what they’ve provided.
The bag itself weighs about 8kg, and with my bike and a few other bits weighed 18kgs. Australian domestic flights usually allow 20kg so this is perfect. The other nice thing is that since the bag is a softshell, it packs down nicely so that it can be conveniently stored. The one thing that people often don’t count on with a hardshell case is the amount of room it takes up when you’re with ten other guys. The weight of a hardshell case is the other issue. They can sometimes weigh 15kgs and you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for excess baggage fees at the airport.
I saw an ad on cyclingnews yesterday that there is a promotion on these bags right now and you’ll save $200. These bags retail for $795 in Australia. If you can get the promotion price of $595, then its cheaper than you’ll find on Wiggle at $616.
In summary I think this is an awesome bag. In particular, it’s very good for short trips where assembly/disassembly is too much overhead. It folds down into a third of it’s size when not being used and is relatively light so you don’t need to worry about excess baggage fees.
I’m not 100% confident of the longevity of this bag. This Scicon is showing signs of wear already after only 3 trips. By comparison, I’ve used my Pikapacks bag ten times now and it’s looking to be indestructible. The caster wheels are in need of an upgrade and some reinforcements in the material should be considered. However, it seems that all of the cons can be easily rectified with DIY solutions.
If you’re one of the lucky buggars heading over the the Tour de France next month and are looking for a bike bag you might want to give this one a shot. You can read a thorough review of this bag here.
If you’re undecided on a bike bag and want some more opinions, my mate Tim from TourdeFranceTips.com has some good bike bag comparisons. I’ve also written my thoughts on getting a hardshell versus a shoftshell bike case here.