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Traveling with your bike is one of the great joys for avid bicyclists. You get to challenge yourself by riding in new conditions and terrain, experience new and foreign places in a very intimate way, and it’s plain practical as you’ll have your transportation already with you.
But the actual traveling bit –the plane, car and train rides –isn’t always so easy with a bike.
First, there’s the challenge of getting your bike there unscathed. While some airlines will at least give you the pretense that your beloved steed will be taken gentle care of by taping “Fragile” stickers all over the box, the fact is that luggage handlers are anything but gentle.
Many people argue that there is nothing safer than packing your bike up in a cardboard box. It’s how they’re being shipped around the world for retail after all. While this might be true, have you ever tried hauling a cardboard box of that size plus your suitcase through airport terminals and onto public transportation? Doable, but certainly not practical.
Bike bag manufacturer Scicon has set out to make bike travel by plane as easy and comfortable as possible with the release of their AeroComfort 2.0 TSA bike bag.
About the bag
Price: 599 Euros/ 930 AUD, available online and at various retailers around the globe.
While this model is specifically fitted for a road bike, Scicon also offers a triathlon and mountain bike version as well as a hard case.
When you get the bag, it’ll be folded up in its stored-and-awaiting-the-next-trip position. When fit into the provided stuff sack, it’s approximately 110 cm in lengths, 90 cm tall and 25 cm around. It’s not small by any means and it weighs close to 9 kilos but you’ll be able to tug it away in your closet, garage or under the bed.
The bag contains a metal structure, Scicon’s antishock bike frame (ABF), and the rest is made of a padded and sturdy 840 Nylon material.
You’ll also find a small bag of accessories which include protective padding, steel quick releases, a mini pump, shoulder straps, spare parts, a TSA lock and a rear derailleur protector.
The bag in use:
During the reviewing process, this bag has been subjected to luggage handlers all across the globe. Here’s how it faired:
I found the Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 TSA bag incredibly intuitive to pack. While there are packing guides and videos available on the web, the little how-to guide inside the bag is really all you need. It may have taken me 20 minutes or so the first go-around and after that, it became a matter of mere minutes.
Unlike most other bags, you can keep your bike mostly intact. No removing of the handlebars, seatpost and derailleur necessary. You simply remove your pedals (optional) and wheels and that’s it! This is a major plus in terms of time spent packing and reassembling your bike once you get to your destination.
You will need to remove the quick releases from your wheels before slipping them into the allocated and well-padded compartments. And there is a small compartment for your pedals, quick releases and tools as well. The bag comes with steel quick-releases to secure your bike onto the bag’s antishock frame but they’re the same size as any other skewers should you prefer to use your own.
For extra protection, there is a rear derailleur protector that goes on the quick release, which is a neat feature because derailleurs, along with shifters, are among the first to get damaged during travel.
Once secured to the antishock frame, you cover the bike frame with the provided foam protectors and tighten the various snaps around the frame. Even before closing the bag, I was impressed with how securely the bike was fastened down.
The bag is also quite big with plenty of room for ‘extras’. The bag and bike together is pretty close to standard airline weight limits and in most cases, you’ll be paying the oversize/athletic equipment fee already anyway, so you may as well leverage that extra space. I’m not saying you should fill it to the brim and forgo bringing a suitcase –and placing any hard and heavy items in there is strongly discouraged as it could damage your bike –but I usually place my cycling shoes, helmet, water bottles and some clothes in between and below the bike frame. You do want to make sure they won’t be bouncing all over the place however.
Once the bike and the extras are securely fastened, there’s an internal strap to keep the whole case tightly closed. Then all you have to do is zip the bag shut and you’re good to go.
The bag comes with a TSA-approved lock but in the various TSA checks (note: bike bags do get checked often, especially within the US), that went missing quickly.
The external straps are easily snapped on to your choice of D Hooks but you will have to remove them before flight. Luckily there is an external pocket you can slip them into.
The four wheels generally make it easy to manoeuvre an otherwise big and awkwardly shaped bag around, however one of wheels did receive a knocking early on and jammed like a faulty shopping cart. As a result, the bag perpetually stirs to one direction, which makes lugging it around the airport along with othe luggage quite cumbersome. However, the people at SciCon are forward thinking and the bag comes with an easy-to-replace spare wheel.
It’s a great bag, among the best cases I have used. It’s by far the easiest to pack and it truly makes traveling with a bike so much easier. I’m also impressed with its heavy-duty nylon exterior as it shows no sign of tears, rips or fraying. The bag is however quite expensive and once packed, the awkwardly shaped bag doesn’t always fit in your average rental car or taxi.