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Sci-Con Aero Comfort bike bag: Easy in, easy out
By Jeff Jones
Sci-Con's Aero Comfort bicycle bag is an easy to use, travelling cyclist's friend. It has a number of simple but handy features that make it an important travelling accessory, as Jeff Jones found out.
Italian company SCI-Con claims it has "the largest and most complete range of cycling bags and accessories to satisfy all the requirements of its customers." Having been in business since 1980, SCI-Con has certainly built up an impressive array of such products, which include saddle bags, sports bags, and various types of bicycle protection bags.
The ultimate protection is a hard shell bike box (SCI-Con also makes these), but these can lead to problems at various airports due to their weight. A hard shell bike box can weigh 15-20 kg by itself, and when the bike and luggage is added, the excess baggage charge is potentially horrendous. Of course, many airlines allow bikes on board for a modest additional charge, or for free if you're lucky. Bike bags are lighter, afford a good degree of protection, and are a lot easier to lug around than the basic level of protection, the cardboard box.
The Aero Comfort
Cyclingnews recently had the opportunity to test SCI-Con's Aero Comfort, which is its middle of the range bike bag. Besides being large and red, the Aero Comfort has several nifty features that make it a distinct improvement over my existing, and rather battered bike bag.
The bag is made of sponge padded nylon and has an anti-shock metal frame inside. The bike, sans wheels, attaches to this, much like a home trainer. There are two front fork attachments - one which allows the forks to sit 'straight ahead' as they normally do, and another that allows the forks to be turned sideways, avoiding the necessity to remove the handlebars. Because the fork attachments are rigid (they can slide in and out of the frame), the bike's head tube angle and fork offset must be exactly right for the sideways attachment to fit properly. In the bikes we tested, we found one fitted fine and the other did not. In the latter case, the forward facing attachment could still be used without problems.
The bag also comes supplied with a pocket for keeping your skewers, tools etc. in, three foam pads that can wrap around the frame, a couple of Velcro straps, and a metal rear derailleur protector. All of this should greatly reduce the need for bubble wrap and towels, although these have a dual purpose for a traveller.
The bag has two carrying straps for hauling it around, as well as four caster wheels, meaning that it can be wheeled wherever the ground is smooth enough. A word of warning: Don't mistreat the wheels, or they will eventually fall off. Then it becomes rather taxing on your shoulders to carry a 20 kg bike along with 30 kg of other luggage. I speak from painful experience...
Ease of Use
The Aero Comfort's six step instruction sheet is simple to follow, and a standard racing bike can easily be packed in under 15 minutes. We tested it using the packing materials supplied with the bag, and packed a complete racing bike in 8 minutes, and unpacked it and put it together again in 3 minutes. Not bad!
How it's done
The wheels come off first, before placing the bicycle frame onto the anti-shock metal frame and attaching via the two metal skewers. The rear derailleur protector is placed between the bike's rear dropout and the skewer nut. Depending on which fork attachment you are using, the handlebar may have to be unfastened or rotated at this point. After putting the foam pads on the frame, the wheels are placed either side, on top of the pedals. These are secured using the Velcro straps, and the bike bag can then be snugly zipped up.
There is no need for a lot of unbolting of bike parts, meaning that this process should be quite easy, just as unpacking it at the other end should be. This is an important factor for a racing cyclist who is regularly moving around, and SCI-Con has done its homework on this one.
Who uses them?
SCI-Con recently confirmed a deal with the US Postal Service team who will be using their Aero Comfort bags throughout the 2003 season. In addition to USPS, The Navigators as well as the Colavita Bolla and Sierra Nevada/Clif Bar professional teams will be using them next season.
Images by Cyclingnews / Paul Mirtschin
Dimensions (folded for storage): 300mm x 275mm x 900mm (12" x 11" x
Pro: Relatively light, plenty of protection, easy to use, easy to carry
What do you think of the SCI-Con Aero Comfort? Let us know