- by Michael Bachman
- Published: 18 August 2016
I’d never taken a bike overseas before, so when the opportunity came up to spend two weeks in Italy & France ticking off some bucket list climbs, it was natural to want to take the bike I knew best – mine. This meant working out the best way of getting it there and back safely. Scicon stepped in and suggested the Aerocomfort 2.0 TSA. It’s used by many WorldTour teams, and they even have a World Bike Packing Championship, this year won by Nicolas Coosemans of Etixx-Quickstep, with a time of 3:01 ! I wasn’t that quick, but see what I thought as a 1st time user.
Seeing the bag for the 1st time
“How is that going to fit my bike with removing only the wheels ?” I mused quietly; my first view of the bag was a carton measuring 95 x 39 x 32cm. Fortunately, it all became apparent when I unpacked the bag to do a trial pack. Within the Scicon bag are a pair of Scicon branded skewers, protective pads (for the seat, bars (2 off), and top tube), Scicon branded frame pump, spare castor, rear derailleur (RD) guard and the front fork support with a neat zip bag to stow the parts when not in use, and which I used to stow a whole load of spare parts when packing the bike on the plane.
For storage, the AeroRoad has its own bag
All of the bits and pieces you will need
Despite never having seen or used this bike bag before, I found it very easy to work out and use during my trial packing. Even with the mudguards fitted on my bike, it was easy to work out what went where and how it all fitted together.
The finished result with bike and wheels safely stowed
Finally, one wet and windy Adelaide winter night, it was time to get the bike ready for the trip and get it packed. Mudguards were put on the shelf, road grime banished, new brake pads fitted, final chain lube applied, and spares assembled. From go to whoa, it took about 15 minutes to pack the bike, and that was taking my time. The only items removed from the bike were the front and rear wheels.
Ready to pack, quick assembly instructions are printed inside the bag
A black cage is provided to protect the rear derailleur and hanger
I deliberated whether I should remove the disc brakes from the wheels, but decided against it. I did, however, place them facing the inside of the bag. There was debate and discussion between fellow forum members regarding the removal of the RD. The AeroComfort 2.0 is designed so that this is not required due to the supplied (and very substantial) protector that is fastened with the rear quick release. During my trial packing, I found that if I indexed the RD to the inboard position, there was a large gap between the RD and the support frame. I then ‘manually’ tucked the RD forward (I was using a medium cage RD) so that it sat fully inboard in both planes and I felt that in this position it was well protected by the RD frame, as well as the base frame that the whole bike sat on. Tyres were then deflated, wheels inserted, straps tightened and it was done. Oh, last thing to do was to register the bag with Scicon and set a new code for the supplied TSA padlock.
The only precaution that I took over and above what was supplied with the bag was to place a length of Ø40mm PVC piping between the shifters to prevent them being misaligned if they got bumped (also a suggestion from fellow forum members).
Off the plane & in the car
We arrived at Milan airport and our bike arrived safe and sound as did the rest of our luggage. There were no obvious marks, rips or tears on the bag, so the confidence was high that all was good. Thanks to the well placed and high quality castors fitted to the bag, it was easy to move through the airport and I was even able to have my carry-on backpack sit on top whilst traversing the seemingly 2 mile trek to the car hire counters. It was certainly easier to move through the airport than my fellow cyclists who had either hard cases or cardboard boxes. Very useful when you have been travelling for close to 24 hours.
The elite cyclist uses travels in style with castor wheels
Heavy duty and durable zips and fastensers
Despite being relatively bulky, it easily stood upright in the rear of the van we hired, a Citroen C4 Picasso (and in the back of my wife’s Astra to get to the airport. Due to the width of the handlebars and not being able to turn them, it wouldn’t fit in the boot of my sedan), and presented no problems in fitting in the other bags around it. When we arrived at our destination, unpacking the bike was even easier than packing it. It took less than 5 minutes to get the bike ready to ride (pumping the tyres took the longest); the discs were still straight and true, and the RD was fine and no other damage was detected.
The other major benefit of the Aerocomfort 2.0 bag was that when it was not in use I could easily fold it down into a reasonably compact package, allowing easier handling when moving between accommodation sites. It packed into the supplied cover without fuss and was like an oversized sleeping bag in that respect. Win all around.
Final pack for return home
Looking back at the photos taken when repacking the bike for the final time, it took 21 minutes from go to whoa, but that involved taking time to photograph each step. I guess if I tried to recreate the WBPC time of Nicolas Coosemans I might easily get between 5 – 8 minutes, but for me that is not what the key advantages are of this bag.
I found that only having to remove the wheels (as you can see from the pictures, I even left the Garmin, lights and video camera on the bike), is such a bonus when getting the bike ready to ride again. Often, after travelling, the last thing you want to do is to spend 20 – 30 minutes reassembling position sensitive items like seat, seat post, handlebars and pedals, as is often the case with other hard case bags. It also means no need for special tools, reduced risk of stripping or breaking bolts, and less chance of damaging or misplacing components removed from the bike. While in a big English speaking city this may not be a problem, some towns we stayed in do not have an extensive range of parts or suppliers, and opening hours can create hassles depending on when you need something, particularly for road bikes when in the smaller towns.
One potential drama I found with the Scicon was that the rear hub mount is setup only for 130mm quick release, and my bike runs a 135mm quick release rear triangle. This was easily overcome with the natural frame ‘elasticity’, but I would have preferred to have some spacers included so that I didn’t have to rely on this method of securing the frame. Another potential issue is that the AeroComfort would not have been usable if I was running a thru axle, given that many disc road bike are these days (and my travel partner’s Trek Domane Disc is one such example). I presume that a thru axle version will be released soon.
I also noticed that, at 42cm, my bars are not as wide as some, but the bag would be a tight fit for large frames with 44 or 46cm bars. Additionally, my Volagi Liscio has a rather tall head tube for a 56cm frame (190mm), and there was just enough space to fit this in the bag. A bike with a CX fork or running a higher spacer stack/larger frame combo may be a bit of a tight squeeze as well. Bikes with an integrated seat post and large frame size may require some additional concessions, but I experienced no size issues.
Worth the investment ?
The AeroComfort 2.0 TSA is not a cheap option, but having used it to ensure that I had my own bike with me when riding some of the impressive European peaks, it is something that I would consider a worthwhile investment, along with insurance just in case things go wrong.
Aside from the minor drawbacks noted above, I couldn’t fault the bag, particularly in terms of quality, ease of use or presentation. It ain’t cheap, but it’s damn good.
The AeroComfort 2.0 TSA bike bag is available for purchase directly from Scicon in Italy (sciconbags.com) for €599 (ca. $885) however go to your local bike store where it will be cheaper.
UPDATE 22. August
Image of the PVC pipe bracing used as extra protection for the bars / bar ends to protect against impact.