Scicon have taken some of the best bits of their hard cases and combined them with some of the best things about soft bike cases. The result is the favourite bike bag of the pro teams: the Scicon AeroComfort 2.0 TSA.
Whilst pro teams prefer soft bags that allow easier packing in their team trucks, us amateurs are more interested in ultimate protection and since 1999 I have travelled about with my bike using a trusty Scicon hard shell bike case. I’ve flown to most of the usual destinations for a cycling Brit: Majorca obviously, elsewhere in Spain, Italy, and the Canaries, but also to less obvious cycling destinations, like Barbados for example. My Scicon hard case also been to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, though not with me.
Its a tough case and has seen a good 14 years of service with only minor wounds; somewhere along the way it lost one of its small wheels to clumsy baggage handlers (or so I was told!?). Its been lightly packed and – after a notably successful stage race in Italy – heavily packed full of goodies, but no matter its always done that most important job and protected my precious race bike, whether it was steel, aluminium or more recently carbon. So can the best of both worlds Scicon AeroComfort, soft bike bag with a hard base really offer a similar level of protection and peace of mind to my hard shell bike box..?
My old Scicon hard shell case is so good that I have no real desire to part with it. The only concern would be the locks, which gave up the ghost years ago, necessitating a large strap to offer added security, and the way it looks as the light grey exterior has picked up a few scratches and scrapes, along with black marks and dirty looking scuffs. Its not quite as impressive as it once was but as I am only stood with it for limited periods in transit to and from the airport check-in, it doesn’t really bother me.
Once we arrive at the destination or return home its stashed away for the duration; and this is perhaps the biggest issue with hard cases – when not in use they take up a lot of space. At home mine has to occupy the shed, far too much of the bike bit of the shed actually. In a hotel room its always there in the corner menacingly taking up much needed space; not so much of an issue if I’m on a training camp with like minded souls, but can be a major issue if I’m with my partner and the kids. The Aerocomfort should solve this issue as it can be folded up and stowed away conveniently. It folds into a package just over a metre long and comes with a bag in which to store it. They have thought of everything.
This should also overcome the other major issue with the hard cases, which is finding a taxi that they will fit in! Travelling to and from the airport becomes a logistical nightmare and can be expensive when you are hauling a hard shell bike box around with you. From here to the airport is usually £50 in a cab; realistically you need a people carrier to get your bike box in and then you can be looking at double that. Same can apply at the other end as well…
With the Aerocomfort you can get your bike out and store it in the boot of a normal saloon car, folding the bike bag up on top of your frame. At least that’s the theory. I can see a number of issues with that, but am going to try it and see how I get on. Let’s hope my taxi driver is having a good day. Scicon themselves market the Aerocomfort thus, ‘The AeroComfort TSA 2.0 is the perfect solution for cyclists wishing to protect their precious load when travelling by plane but don’t want to use a hard case, which can (for example) be difficult to fit inside small cars.’
The Aerocomfort uses Scicon’s clever ‘Antishock Bike Frame’ mated to a hard shell base and anti-tear material to offer both support and protection to your bike. Interestingly the Antishock Bike Frame is designed to protect all the important bits of your bike from not just impacts but also vibrations. Unlike pure soft bags you also get the stability of a hard case, which means that it can stand up on its own and handily includes wheels for transportation around the airport. It really does appear to be the best of both worlds.
The bag also has Scicon’s ‘Inside Stabilizer System’ which combines adjustable straps, a saddle cover and foam rolls to hold the bike steady in the Antishock Bike Frame.
The other advantage over the hard shell bike box is that with AeroComfort you don’t even need to remove the handlebars. The bag itself is very roomy and so far with the two frames we have tried it with, there’s plenty of room for a few extras, should you so desire. Wheels have their own individual padded wheel compartments with ‘external lateral shields cups’ for added protection. Incredibly – and I had to double check this – you do not even need to remove your pedals. No wonder the pros love these bags. When packed these sit just below the wheels.
The structure of the bag itself adds more protection to your frame when the wheels are placed into their own double padded pockets either side of your frame. The bag, like all soft bike bags, does rely on the inherent strength of your bike and bits to resist baggage handling. The unfolded handlebars in particular seem to be vulnerable with this bag, despite some extra foam padding that you fix into the inside of the bag using velcro fastenings. I will be taking a set of one piece carbon bars on my first trip so lets hope it keeps them in that one piece…
The Aerocomfort also features ‘fastening self-healing zips’ which sound amazing…
At 7,7 Kg it will more than double the weight of any bike but is still reasonably light. Once packed it measures 118 cm long, by 25 cm wide and about 90 cm tall. RRP is £470 (550 Euros) which isn’t cheap but if you travel enough to justify the outlay, and then weigh up that cost against damage to your bike and lost ride time, it seems more reasonable. You can find good discounts by shopping around online. A hard shell box will cost you nearly double that.
You’ll be seeing quite a bit of this bag over the next few months on CycleTechReview.com and BritishCycleSport.com. First up though we have a trip to Tenerife to deal with together. Check back to see how the Scicon Aerocomfort and I – or more importantly, my bike – get on.
In the meantime rather than making a video of me trying to calmly pack my bike into the Aerocomfort, here’s a much prettier member of the Scicon team to show you how it’s done properly (even if she does sleep in her cycling kit)…