I recently wrote a review of the Scicon Aerocomfort on Cyclingtime.com and was focused on reviewing it from a roadie perspective it is a bag that is designed specifically with the road bike frame in mind. However, it is possible to pack a large 29er mountain bike into the bag. It does require the trusty allen-key to take the handlebars off to make the bike fit and a bit of adjusting here and there to make it work.
Scicon are one of the official sponsors of the Mongolia Bike Challenge and provided me with their Aerocomfort to try with the 29er Orbea Alma I raced on at the MBC. Packing the 29er took alot longer than packing a standard road bike but I am happy to report that it can be done and the bag is even more stable than the road bike. Perhaps it is the added weight; the combined weight was just over 18kgs without any extra stuff packed into the bag. After I packed some clothing, tools and bike gear, it was slightly overweight at 23kgs, but the check-in agent did not bother to charge excess fees.
I came up with some outlined steps needed to pack the 29er effectively into the Scicon Aerocomfort bag:
1. First put the chain into the big chain ring
2. Remove both wheels, deflate the tire pressure, and squeeze them into the padded side pouches. It takes a bit of doing, but you can zip the pouches completely closed.
3. Mount the 29er frame onto the Scicon internal rack – make sure the suspension forks are fastened securely and the rear derailluer guard in place
4. You will need to push the sliding section of the rack all the way forward to its maximum outreach – the length of the 29er is considerably longer than the road bike!
5. Once you have the bike secured to the rack, you’ll need to remove the handlebars and turn them side ways to tape onto the forks.
6. The stem will need to be rotated so that it is pointing back at the seat post (make sure you re-tighten so it does not move during transit)
7. You can leave the saddle and seat post intact
8. The pedals can also stay on the bike
9. It would be advisable to use some bubble wrap for some extra protection. Make sure that the handlebars are bubble wrapped and secured onto the frame/forks.
10. You can add a few extra items such as clothing or shoes into the bag before zipping closed. When I flew to Mongolia, the bag weighed in at around 23 kilos and just escaped extra baggage handling fees. If you are flying within Asia or on most international flights, the bike bag travels for free. If you are in North America, it is a challenge to escape baggage charges. But sometimes you still get lucky, depending on the airline you choose to travel with.
11. Extra tip: If your rear derailluer looks like it is going to be vulnerable, you can always unscrew it and place in the middle for peace of mind. I now do this with my road bike, but the mountain bike seems to be fine to leave on.
Despite the extra trouble to pack the 29er, the Scicon bag worked like a charm. I was able to wheel it hassle free through the airport to check-in and baggage handlers seem to treat it with more respect and the bag often comes out separately and waiting for you upright. I have not had any damage happen to the 29er in the four times I have used the bag for mountain bike races (two for Mongolia).