Monday, March 12, 2012

@Sciconbags Aeronaut Saddlebag Review

Ever catch someone checking out your saddlebags?  No, not the bulging areas of fat on the upper outer thighs, in a way that resembles saddle bags being carries on a horse.  I’m talking about that necessity of any rider, the bike saddlebag.

If you’re a newbie, pay attention!  You will need a saddlebag at minimum for flat tire repair gear.  If you are out riding on the road and have no spare tube or CO2, then I hope you have a cell phone to “phone a friend” to get your butt back home.  Or, maybe you like riding your rims to get back home?

There are tons of options out there.  For the minimalists, you can get a tube, CO2 cartridge with trigger, tire levers and a patch kit into a fairly small and compact saddle back.  But, you’ll have to be advanced in the economics of organization to fit everything in and be able to zip it closed.  Most saddlebags come with Velcro straps to attach to your seat post and seat rail.  If you happen to be riding a carbon fiber seat post, this may not appeal to you… strapping Velcro and fabric that could potentially rub the finish off.  You can even get a HUGE saddlebag that you could fit a couple of CO2 cartridges, tubes, levers, patch kit, spare tire, GU, sport beans, cliff shots and a PB&J sandwich in.  It may not help with trimming the pounds off your ride, but you won’t go without.

All that goes to what I’m going to share about the aeronaut saddlebag by Scicon.  If you remember (hopefully you read EVERY ONE of my posts to the letter – ignoring the spelling and grammar), then you read my review of the Scicon AeroComfort Plus bike bag.  Scicon has hit the market with the aeronaut saddlebag and I’m here to tell you about my experience with a loaner they let me review.
  • Mine was yellow.  You can’t miss it.  I hope your bike color theme matches the one you get.  From what I have seen online, they have black as well.  You shouldn’t have a problem finding a color that matches your bike.  As we all know, fashion is a major component of triathlon, like the fifth discipline.
  • It weights in at only 99 grams.  For you hard core purists not wanting to add LBS to your ride, it’s a good substitution for the standard zip up saddlebag.
  • The fun part is in the installation.  All told it took me 5 minutes.  It’s simple even for less mechanically inclined.  There are no tools required, a few twists, clicks an snaps and it’s on.  One word of warning, of you wrench on it too hard, you may damage it.  I won’t call the aeronaut fragile, but mine is a little loose after torquing a little too far looking for a snug attachment of the seat holder to the hard shell.  Even after that and 15 miles of 20 mph winds and hills, it stayed on.  Also, be sure to not lose the spring and nut for the attachment screw!  When you disassemble to attach to your bike, these are loose parts you will need!
  • The design is unique from what I have seen.  The hard shell allows you to stuff your junk in and you slide on the elastic cover.  This allows for some items to not exactly “fit”, but they will be secure after you apply the elastic cover.  Friction holds it on and off you go.
  • The capacity is a little less than your smaller typical saddlebags.  Luckily they include two flatter tire levers which I had to use instead of my standard levers I had.  I also usually leave my tube in the box to avoid pinches, but had to take it out.  No problem since the aeronaut has a hard shell that holds the tube nicely.
  • Aerodynamics drive the cycling world.  If it catches wind or breaks wind (more of a dietary issue), it’s got to go.  The design is obviously completed with aerodynamics in mind.  There should not be a loss from your old bag to the aeronaut.
  • I’m curious about rips.  I jammed in my patch kit which has pointy corners.  You can see it stressing the elastic cover and I’m crossing my fingers that as long as I don’t mess with it, it won’t be a problem.
  • It’s from Italy.  I hope this does not offend anyone’s sensibilities.  I don’t think the Italians have done anything to Americans that would warrant an embargo of saddlebags from Italy.  I could be wrong.
Overall I kind of like the aeronaut.  It’s took some getting used to and I’m sure I will need a couple hundred miles of road riding before I trust that it’s still on the bike after torquing it too much on initial install.  It fits my gear and if I need to get into it, all I do is peal back the elastic cover and there it is.  After having my fair share of flats, I know it was a little aggravating to have to dig stuff out of my old saddlebag and have that narrow opening to jam everything back into for the rest of the ride.  I’ll be leaving the aeronaut on my bike from now on.

** Writer’s note, Scicon sent the aeronaut free of charge and in now way influenced this review.

Final install!

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