I purchased a Scicon AeroComfort Plus Bike Bag in Team Milram colours in October 2010 from Wiggle for a landed cost of AU$427. This review reflects my usage of the Scicon AeroComfort Plus Bike Bag. I have flown with the bag and my Look 555 on five flights and the bicycle has come through safe and sound, despite the bag not fairing so well.
Aerocomfort Plus is the solution for cyclists wishing to protect their precious load in case of frequent travel by plane, and who do not want to use rigid bags. Sometimes rigid bicycle cases are hard to fit inside a small car. Aerocomfort Plus offers the flexibility and lightness of a soft bag, combined with the stability and safety of a hard case.
- Manufactured in Nylon 840 with high density foam inner padding. Designed to withstand tear and abrasion, engineered to absorb shocks.
- ZIP fastener (spiral 8) with double stitching and double slider
- Ergonomic design: it smartly follows the shape of the bicycle frame and handlebar to save space in your trunk!
- Facilitated 3Â¤4 opening for easy bike stowing.
- Double anti-shock pads in the handlebar zone. It is removable.
- Equipped with Anti-shock Bike Frame Support structure (TP 101 00 05 03).
- Double padded inner pockets for bike wheels, zip-locked.
- Adjustable holding strap.
- Inner pocket for tools, zip-locked.
- Extra strong train wheels (SP 010 53 09 18). Diameter 40mm with bearings. Soft compound for a smooth ride.
- Ergonomic handle for easy lifting and steering.
- Name-tag holder with privacy cover.
- Designed to mount bicycles up to max. size 65.
- Easy washable. Most critical parts can be substituted.
- 2-year SciCon Worldwide Warranty.
My first use of the bike bag was on a five sector trip, Perth – Sydney – Auckland – Brisbane – Denpasar – Perth, so it got a bit of use transiting through numerous airports. This owner review is based on this trip.
Packing the Bike Up
The manufacturer suggests that the bag will take frame sizes up to 65 cm; my Look 555 is a 58 cm frame with 44 cm handlebars. I am struggling to see how a larger framed bike if it had wider bars would fit without removal of the bars and/or lowering of the seat post. That said I was with a little jiggling and experimenting with zipping procedures able to pack my 58 cm Look with the handlebars in place and seat post as set up. However I found that my STI shifter levers did bend in and hence upon removal I had to straighten them. Not a big issue but still it did result in some damage to my bar tape which needed replacing and really given the manufacturer’s claims shouldn’t have happened. Removing the anti-shock pads may have provided that extra bit of room to avoid this.
Packing the Bicycle
Scicon AeroComfort Plus bicycle bag packing instructions can be found here. What follows is my approach/experience.
The packing procedure involves removal of the wheels which are packed into the wheel zip pockets on each side of the bag.Â The wheels provide some structure to the bag. The bicycle frame is then secured to the bike frame support structure using the supplied quick release levers. There are two cylinders of foam provided with the bag along with a bracket designed to be fitted to the bike to protect the rear derailleur.
My preference is to wrap the frame so I used black pipe cladding which I found in the plumbing section of my local Bunnings store. This is sold in 1.5 metre lengths and in various diameters for a cost of approximately $8.00 per length. I just cut it to the length of my tubes and then split the cladding and secured it to the frame with cable ties.
As mention a protector for the rear derailleur is also provided. The protector is secured via the quick release lever as shown in the photo. Based on my experience this protector is effective in protecting the rear derailleur
The bike itself is secured into the bike frame support structure via a fork mount and a rear stay mount. The AeroComfort Plus bag comes with two quick release skewers used to secure the bicycle to the structure. Based on my experience with these skewers (the bike came free on the way to Auckland and again on the last leg from of the trip the bike came free at the front) they are not the best. Despite my efforts to ensure that they tight they still didn’t hold the bike onto the structure properly. I would in future use my own wheel skewers. Given my experience getting to Auckland, from Auckland onwards I used a couple of tie-down straps to help secure the bike to the bag’s structure. I do believe this helped keep the bike in place on the last leg.
The bag comes with three internal straps, one at the front of the bag, one at the centre and one at the rear. I used these straps on the first two sectors in-combination with the supplied skewers and they proved ineffective in securing the bike. They need to be used with better skewers and the extra two tie downs in my view.
As I was flying most of the sectors with Virgin Blue and Virgin Pacific I took the opportunity make use of their policy of treating the bike bag as weighing 5 kg of my baggage allowance and packed my helmet in between the rear stays. I also packed my shoes and cycling clothes at the bottom of the bag. At Denpasar the bag weighed in at around 17 kg.
The final aspects of packing was putting the wheels in the wheel bags, stowing parts in the parts pocket and zipping up the bag. The wheels are the only components that need to be removed from the bike. This is a big plus in my view. The wheels go into two wheel pockets on each side of the frame. The wheel pockets are of a decent size. One thing that is lacking is any protection to reduce the wear points on the bag from the hubs (see above photo). In future I will use the plastic packing disks that came with my Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels which hopefully will reduce the chance of further damage to the bag.
The bag also comes with zipped pocket for storing small parts. I really didn’t find it useful as really unless you have accessories removed this is not much to put in it. For example pedals stay on the bike.
Once everything is in the bag, comes the last little hurdle: zipping it up. The zips are nice solid types and seem quite robust. However, the tightness of the fit around the handlebars actually made it quite difficult to get the bag zipped up. It took a bit of fiddling to get the two zips working together to have it all come together. This further reinforces my view that my bike size is close if not at the limit of the bag’s capacity.
Flying with the AeroComfort Plus Bicycle Bag
As alluded to early in this review I have flown with my Look 555 in the bag on a five sector trip, Perth – Sydney – Auckland – Brisbane – Denpasar – Perth, so it got a bit of use transiting through numerous airports. In addition to the flying, the bag was carried in four cars: a Subaru Imprezza hatchback, a Volkswagen Golf hatchback, Toyota Corolla hatchback (rental) and a Bali taxi. It fitted into all vehicles okay including the Volkswagen Golf where it need to share the space with two suitcases and three people. The photo shows the bag in the Golf; not the best look but it worked! I wouldn’t be holding my breath but to get into cars of a smaller size than those mentioned.
Getting around the airport was also very easy with the bag. The bag comes with what Scicon describe as extra strong train wheels which have a diameter of 40 mm, come with bearings and a soft compound for a smooth ride. Well they did work really well for me on various surfaces. I find the bag easy to either pull along from the handle at the front or to push from the top. It tracked easily, not heading off on is own. The bag also comes with two carry straps but hanging it off your shoulder is a short-term option in my view.
My only worry would be that the bag when empty is still fairly bulky so leaving it at an airport might not be practicable. I would be interested in others experience of this aspect.
Outcome of the First Two Sectors at the Hands of Virgin Blue
The first two sectors that I flew with the bag where from Perth to Sydney and then on to Auckland with Virgin Blue. These sectors are where the bag coped a fair bit of damage; in fact when I retrieved it at Auckland Airport the bike was askew in the bag and it was a real pain to move the bag along. It turned out the bike had come free from the frame but thankfully was not damaged. The photo above and the photos below show some of the damage that the bag coped after these two sectors.
It should be noted that whilst the outside of the bag did get damaged even though Scicon indicate it is made of Nylon 840 which is designed to withstand tear and abrasion, the internal structure of the bag is okay and the bike was protected. Still it is not a nice look for sure.
At Home – Warranty Outcomes
Back at home I recalled Sciconâ€™s statement that its bags where covered by a two year warranty. Whilst Scicon’s website has a warranty page the link to the warranty document does not work I did contact Scicon about this and and whilst they have been very prompt to reply to emails I have not been successful in obtaining a copy of the actual warranty document.
The above notwithstanding as I purchased the Scicon AeroComfort Plus from Wiggle, the United Kingdom online bicycle retailer I decided to approach them for their views on the damage. Their initial response was please send the bag back and if the damage is covered under warranty then they will refund the postage cost. On the face of it a reasonable request, however a check with Australia Post showed that the return postage would be around $290; ouch! I then brought this to Wiggle’s attention along with photos of the damage and asked if they felt this was likely to be covered under warranty, hence justifying the return of the bag.
Wiggleâ’s response was that based on the postage cost (I had referred them to the Australia Post postage calculator so they could verify my reported cost) and the photos recording the damage that they would give me a full refund for the bag which I have now received.
So at the end of it all, I still have the bag, I have a full refund and whilst it has external damage I do believe it is still functional and I will continue to use it for the near future.
For the price initially paid I am a little disappointed with the Scicon AeroComfort Plus bicycle bag and would probably not replace it in the future with another one. This is mainly because I am not happy with the securing of the bike to the frame but that view may change with the use of my own wheel skewers. Also the extent of the damage after two flight sectors was disappointing. That said the bag did protect the bike well, it is easy to move around the airport and packs into smallish cars okay.
What do I like about the bag?
- Easy moveability around airports;
- Not having to strip down the bike to pack it up. Having travelled with a bike box I really appreciate this!;
- The relative ease it will go into small cars.
What I don’t like about the bag?
- The ease with which the outer surface coped damage on two flight sectors;
- The poor quality skewers supplied to secure the bike to the frame within the bag;
- Tight fit around the handlebars.