Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flying with Scicon Technical Bike Bags

Get your bags packed, we’re going on a trip!

I know I was freaking out flying with my bike to IM Boulder last week!  (wow...feels like two weeks ago!)  I was originally thinking I was going to drive from Kansas City and have it be a family trip where we visit some family and race a half ironman. That was then, this is now.

Plans evolved and I ended up flying solo to the event. My wife was just too worn out and trying to manage two young children while traveling AND managing a nervous triathlete husband was just not in the cards. I don’t blame her. I had a place to crash to save money and it turned out cheaper to fly thanks to Frontier offering regular priced checked bag fees for bikes!

More on the whole traveling to a destination event later.

The problem at hand was I didn’t have a bike travel case.
Off to the trusty internet for my traveling solutions. Of course I hit DCRainmaker’s blog for his traveling tips. He advocated a soft case over a hard case as hard cases have a shorter life span and for airlines that hit you with bike fees, the bag is less conspicuous. I was sold.

Which one to use? There are a lot out there ranging from $175 to $600 depending on the comfort level you want to buy. This is where I ran into Scicon Technical Bags on twitter. I performed a little research, struck up a dialog and low and behold they were in with Man Versus Triathlon and I had a bag.

The Scicon AeroComfort Plus was what they hooked me up with. It’s a soft vinyl case bag with lots of padding.

I put them to the test for IM Boulder and MVT, and here’s what I came away with:
  • The side flaps had a zippered pocket for wheels and extra padding. I took no chances and wrapped the hubs with Styrofoam and they slipped right in and fit perfect!
  • The bag has ample padding without becoming too bulky or clunky.
  • Sturdy sippers.
  • Sturdy handle straps to carry the bag by if needed.
  • Ample space for the bike and some of your gear if you want to stow it in the bag and free up room in your carry on.
  • The bottom is tied to a metal frame that has adjustable supports for the fork and rear wheel bracket. In the end if you didn’t want to use it, you could take it out but I know I felt more comfortable knowing my bike was secured and the fork would not be flopping around.
  • Material appeared to be pretty sturdy.
  • There’s a nice strap on the inside that connects the flaps together for extra support after you zip the bag shut.
  • Wheels on the bottom and a pull strap on the front! Need I say more?
  • It’s a nice looking bag.
  • It comes with a handy cinch bag to place the empty bag in when storing to keep it nice and tidy.
  • It’s a nice bag and they like to advertise what they provide. WARNING : BIKE INSIDE : HANDLE WITH CARE was pasted on both sides plain as day. To a ticket counter, that says “charge me a huge fee!”. I ended up creatively applying some black permanent marker to the BIKE INSIDE portion as to not tip off eager ticket agents.
  • The bag is designed so that you could leave your handlebars on in place. I don’t know about most of you, but there’s no way I’m leaving handlebars on for a flight. It’s a little bit of wasted space and makes the bag a little larger than it needs to be.
  • I wish it had straps on the outside to cinch it up on the exterior to avoid any slack in the bag. Smaller the better for traveling.
  • It could have used a few more pockets on the inside for stuff like pedals, seat and post, misc gear, etc. They had one, but I’m greedy and wanted more.
  • Scicon is based in Italy. You can buy direct from them but shipping will be a killer. There are several retailers in the US that carries them, but they are pricey. Always remember, though, you get what you pay for.
In the end, the AeroComfort bag worked great for me.

I packed, traveled and came back in one piece and had no major issues. The stress of hoping I would have a bike after a flight that wasn’t scratched up or in pieces was quickly dissipated when I landed safe and sound back home Sunday night after the race. I would not hesitate to use their bag for any future traveling with either of my bikes (and I LOVE my bikes – just as my wife).

*Writer’s note, Scicon provided the AeroComfort plus at no charge for review and did not influence the writer for a positive or negative review.

You can also see my Examiner write up HERE.


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