Summer is here,
it’s blistering out there and just yelling at you to “go ride” new routes and regions. In a couple of months things will cool down and that same call will be heard again – perhaps tempting you to warmer climes.
But, being cyclists we nearly always have that beautiful carbon horse to tag along, – and we have to look after it. After all, if it arrived in bad shape it’s not only a dent to your bank balance, it could scuttle an entire trip.
To this end we trust in the powers of padded protection, to save our steeds from the indifferent treatment of airport baggage handlers.
This is the point where we
need to decide; total protection or easy handling, bulk
The bike box is the full service personal bodyguard when it comes to bike travel. But it does have downsides; firstly it requires a strip down of your bike, and it’s also a heavy option, one that takes a big chunk of your economy class baggage allowance. And then of course it mightn’t fit well in the car or taxi. It’s not easy to bundle onto a transfer bus, and it almost requires
a hotel room of its own.
The opposite end of the scale has there is the budget happy cardboard box. It’s cheap, or free, is a tad cumbersome to manoeuvre, but it can be broken down, folded up and deposited at the other end, making it an ideal option for touring or place to place tours.
My bike’s usual suit of armour comes in the form of the lightly padded bike bag, and in 30 years of carting bikes around, this humble piece of kit has carried my bikes to more than 50 different countries around the world – not totally without incident or the occasional bruising, but it’s a price I’m prepared to pay for something that weights in at less than 3kg, can be pushed into the back of a rickshaw and then folded into a backpack.
Enter the Hybrid
Italian manufacturer Scicon have been making some of the best bike bags and boxes around for decades now, and they offer something that registers on both ends of the scale–and something that sits squarely in between, the AeroComfort 2.0.
This bag is something of a hybrid, made from well-padded Ripstop nylon and comes with skate along wheels and a metal ‘anti shock’ base frame. So prepping your bike for travel is just taking out the wheels and skewers, let the tyres down a touch, take off the pedals, lower the saddle, clamp and strap your bike into the frame, partition the wheels, put your sharp bits into the compartments and away you go. The whole process can be tuned down to six or seven minutes in all.
The quality of the bag’s construction is top notch. The bag can be pulled along on its wheels or carried via a detachable shoulder strap.
So what are the downsides? Firstly the bag steps in at around 9.5kg, some five to six kilos up on the simple padded bag. Its dead weight equates to a round half of the usual 20kg economy class baggage allowance. Throw the bike inside and a pair of shoes and your spares and you’re all weighed out.
The other issue is that this bag is designed to have your bars left in place, which makes it pretty wide and vulnerable at one end – and when you check in a bike the standard three questions are; “Have you taken off your pedals, let down your tyres and turned the bars?”
At $500 this bag is not a cheap option, but given its construction and quality it’s fair value for money.
But with its slight bulk and weight, for me, it’s not the choice for lightweight trips on a tight baggage allowance. However, for competitive outings, assisted tours, and where I don’t need to carry excess gear this is a definite wise choice of bag.