The idea of swapping a hard case for a soft bag put the fear of frame cracks into our reviewer. But actually, it all turned out ok...
In the past few years, I have become something of a bike travel box/bag snob. By which I mean I’ve only allowed my bike to travel within the hard case market leader, so deciding to trust the Scicon Road AeroComfort 3.0 TSA Bike Travel bag – bag being the operative word here – was quite a leap of faith.
However, when unwrapping the Scicon AeroComfort 3.0, which helpfully folds in upon itself ready to be crammed under the bed, I was pleased to discover a hard skeleton in the shape of an integrated frame stand.
The ‘internal frame defender’ has been strengthened for the new 3.0 model and is the stroke of genius that made all the difference: it allows you to remove the wheels, and use the skewers – quick release or thru-axles – to lock the bike into place. This means that the bike is held rigid below the padded outer shell, dramatically reducing the risk of damage as twisting and movement within are limited.
The chain hooks over a T-bar at the rear, whilst the front of the internal frame used to attach the forks extends to suit the length of your bike.
I did find attaching the rear QR skewer a little fiddly, as the bag couldn’t be unzipped far enough to completely expose the area. Notably on the outward journey, I left a bit of slack in the quick release – and though my bike arrived undamaged, it had slipped off the frame. For the return, I was more careful and experienced no repeat.
Despite a bit of faffing with the rear, which I’m pretty sure would dissipate after a few practice runs, packing the bike was notably quicker than it has been with any other system I’ve used. The wheels go into designated pockets, the frame goes into the stand, and a selection of straps secure it further.
The saddle, top tube and handlebars are protected by added padded sheaths and there’s reinforcement at the shifters – though I’ll admit I shoved some extra protection in there, too. Then, it all gets zipped up, and secured via a ‘Travel Sentry’ approved padlock. All in, from start to finish, packing the bike took about 20 minutes.
The format meant I didn’t have to undo a single bolt, twist the bars, or even adjust my saddle height (note – that last one might not apply to taller riders). This will be music to the ears of those with complicated integrated componentry, or riders who tend to bodge even the simplest of spannering.
It did however mean that the handlebars stayed completely as they come – making the front end of the package quite wide and a little bit tricky to fit into our bright yellow hire car.
My handlebars are 36cm in width – clearly the bag works with the wider bars that most people would be running, but the front end bulk would no doubt be more noticeable. The shifters are protected by added pouches of padding but an impact would not be desirable.
Moving the case around the airport is made fairly easy via eight precision ball bearing wheels, all which rotate 360 degrees for nimble handling – an improvement on the 2.0 version. There’s a strap which attaches at the front (and is removed before flight) which can be used to pull the whole thing along.
I found the bag wondered very slightly – I usually had to keep one hand on the front strap and one on the top of the bike to move in a straight line – but I’ve used much worse.
At 8kg, the whole package is relatively light too, which meant even with weight restrictions on luggage I could pack pretty much all of my riding kit inside. There’s a wealth of handy pockets for just that, with a ‘gear bag’ designed to sit behind the forks too. This is meant for shoes and a helmet, but I’d always take these in my hand luggage (just in case the bike doesn’t arrive and you need to hire for a day).
At £529, this isn’t a ‘value’ item and its not a softbag you’d choose over a hardcase with finance in mind.
If chasing absolute, optimum security, personally I’d still opt for a hardcase. However, knowing that my bike was rigged up and immovable meant I had no concerns flying with the Scicon Road AeroComfort 3.0 TSA – you’re getting a very secure deal, plus ease of storage and a load off your mind when moving around the airport.
To sweeten the deal, Scicon has a special Black Friday offer available from November 23 to 26 during which an all black ‘Stealth’ version will be available at a rather stonking 40 per cent off, on sciconbags.com.
A hard case would always be our preference when safety for the bike within is the number one concern. However, this option from Scicon keeps the bike rigid, massively reducing the chance of damage. The fact that nothing - aside from the wheels - need be removed, it's lightweight and folds up for easy storage might well swing it for those happy to make a small compromise.