It goes against conventional wisdom to think your bike will make it through a commercial flight in what amounts to a cycle-shaped haversack.
We’ve all seen the baggage handlers launch luggage off those airside carts as we stand there helplessly, jaws agape, silently head-banging the terminal window.
This potential for abuse was driven home on a flight from Palma last year when I was told in no uncertain terms that the bike I was presenting in its softbag would not be insured by whatever non-existent policy the airport was employing and therefore must be taken to a different luggage point.
This and many other allusions to destruction swam around my mind as I packed up my favourite bike for a flight to Nice in a Scicon Aerocomfort 2.0. This is a bike bag so soft that it will actually fold up into its own sack for storage.
But it’s used by six ProTour teams and ten pro cycling teams in all. The more I spoke to people to gauge whether my bike might make it to the other end, the more I discovered that a lot of cyclists swear by the Aerocomfort 2.0. This is comforting in itself, especially when Scicon have a perfectly adequate hard case in their arsenal.
The main advantage of the Aerocomfort is useability. You can pack your bike in ten minutes easily, less after a bit of practice, I would imagine. It’s a simple case of taking the wheels off and attaching the bike to the internal frame of the bag. No dropping of the seat or removing of the bars - everything else remains in place. This might well fill you with horror: what about all those things sticking out that could snap? It did me, if I’m honest.
In reality the most fragile part of a bike is the dérailleur, and Sci-Con provide a very effective guard that slots over the skewer to protect that. Everything else can withstand a reasonably hefty knock. Nothing is going to put up with being run over by an Airbus or whatever other potential hazard exists out there on the runway and when you look at it like that, hard cases begin to look a bit excessive.
My bike was almost in the exact condition in which I had packed it when I arrived in France - the right shifter had been knocked in towards the stem, but was undamaged and required only a bit of adjustment to return it to its rightful position. Otherwise things were exactly as they should have been, including that fragile derailleur, and the wheels which are packed in their own zipped compartments alongside the frame. The proof was in the riding and the 140km gran fondo the following day was completed without a hint of a mechanical issue.
The Aerocomfort 2.0 is light, and easy to move around the airport thanks to a couple of padded straps which will also allow you to shoulder the bag should you feel that way inclined. There are plenty of nifty little pockets and details that you will find a use for. But best of all you don’t have the issue of where to store it when it’s not in use, thanks to its foldable nature.
If it wasn’t for the knocked shifter this bag would be getting full marks but in light of that it might be a good idea for Scicon to come up with some kind of brace that would fit between shifters and prevent that happening. It’s also handy for you to employ some extra padding in the form of pipe insulation tube. Scicon do provide pads but you can never have too much frame protection.
Summary: A bike bag that delivers in looks, portability (helped by its 7.9kg weight) and ease of packing, but most importantly delivers your bike in one piece. And for that, it is priceless. Highly recommended.
* Sci-con also produce an extremely versatile wetbag that doubles very nicely as hand luggage, especially when used with the smaller strap from the bike bag.
4 / 5
This article was first published on www.thetimes.co.uk/onyourbike on June 5 2015